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Version 1.9 released

New features

Returning archive users may have noticed some changes in our user interface lately. What follows is a description of the most significant ones.

EIS line fits

We have been working for a long time to implement line fitting for narrow-slit EIS observations with more than a handful of exposures, in order to produce intensity (I), velocity (V), and line width (W) maps for all prominent emission lines. In a fully automated process, Gaussian profiles are fitted to up to 10 emission lines per data window.
Line identification and labelling
The tooltip labelling of the images should be relatively clear, e.g. "Fe XI 180.4 �" where there is little doubt about the identification, e.g. "184.22 � (Fe VII/Ni XVI)" when there is a potential problem with the identification, and e.g. "Fit at 264.45 �" where no likely identification is available. In the latter two cases, the wavelength reported is the median wavelength from the line fit - not an emission line's nominal wavelength, as is the case when the identification is relatively firm (e.g. "Fe XI 180.4 �"). Also, please keep in mind that the labelling (and the wavelength calibration) is fully automatic and without regard to what solar features are observed, so use with caution!

Although the line fitting is able to handle moderate blends quite well, it will not handle close blends - so be careful, use the images only as a guide, not for publishing!

Line and product selection
While testing out the results of line fitting we discovered that browsers (and the computers they're running on) easily get in some trouble when showing all available images. No wonder, since 3 "products" (I + V + W) times 10 or more emission lines, times 50 result page lines means 1500 images on each page! So, we've made a drop-down menu to choose between combinations of I, V, and W.

In addition, you can select the emission lines of interest - this will show only those line fits that may be among the selected lines (median line position no further than 0.05� from the nominal wavelength). As an alternative, it is possible to limit the number of emission lines with another drop-down menu, by selecting no specific lines. In that case, lines are included in order of decreasing (median) intensity until the limit is reached.

Another way to be nice to your browser is to reduce the number of result lines shown per page.

New and improved grouping system

The archive's grouping system is intended to bind together multiple observations/files into meaningful chunks. Each chunk is presented as a single line in the search result pages. From the very beginning, however, the grouping system has been somewhat deficient in accomplishing just that - in particular for XRT files. This is partially due to the unforeseen lack of any "planning information" in SOT and XRT FITS files, and partially due to the great differences in the operational "style" of the instruments. Late September 2008, however, we introduced new grouping categories "Fine" (default), "Very fine", "Medium", and "Coarse" that work much better than the original categories. The old grouping categories are still available, but they may be taken away at some point in the future, unless they prove to be useful for some of you.

Timeline images

The leftmost column on grouped result pages now includes a "timeline" image as a background. The shaded columns on a timeline image indicates the starting times for all the observations covered by the result line. Time goes from left to right, spanning the period from the first to the last observation on the current result page. This makes it easy to see which result lines are overlapping in time or not, and at the same time it gives an idea of the cadence and "compactness" of the group.

Zoom, Retrieve, URLs, ASCII

You can now easily select e.g. a set of concurrent groups in the leftmost result column, and "zoom in" on them by pressing the zoom button at the top or bottom of the result listing.

The two retrieve buttons (retrieve selected/retrieve all) have been replaced with just one: If no files are selected, all files (on all pages) in the current search are included.

The "URLs" button is at the request of some of our users. As with the retrieve button, only selected files/groups are included if a selection has been made, otherwise the entire search is included. The files are sorted according to the current sort settings for the result page.

The "ASCII" button behaves similarly, but shows the data for the currently selected columns for each file in a tab-separated ASCII format. This is in fact the output used by our IDL archive client, the OSDC object. The first line shows the number of returned lines and the number of files matching the search criteria*. The second line is a tab-separated header with column NAME:type information. Then follows the actual tab-separated data for each file.

Thumbnails: on (and other sticky settings)

Since a majority of requested search result pages include thumbnails, we have changed the default setting to "on" rather than "off". At the same time, we have made the thumbnail setting "sticky", storing your last effective setting in a browser cookie, which is then used as your new default.

The "sticky" nature of the thumbnail setting has also been applied to several other properties: field selection, grouping, auto-inclusion of search fields on result pages, sorting direction, and the number of lines per result page. Since the "Reset" button now activates your defaults, we've added a "Full reset" button to activate the global defaults.

Faster & better tooltips

Assuming you have JavaScript enabled, thumbnail labels now appear regardless of your operating system/browser settings, and they appear a lot faster than before. Many thanks to Walter Zorn for his wz_tooltip package!

TinyURL button

The archive is designed to include all details of the current search in the URL. This means you can refer to a search using the URL**. The URLs can get very long, however, causing some practical problems. The TinyURL button will create a much shorter URL that can easily be included in emails without breaking, etc.

Future improvements

Although we think the archive works quite well the way it is, we are by no means "done" with the development. To give you an idea of the future direction for the archive, here are some of the things we will work on in the future:

Goodbye to "no cookies nor JavaScript required"

You may not be aware of it, but the basic functionality of the archive is available even if you turn off JavaScript and cookies. It behaves slightly differently, but it works. Developing pages with this in mind, however, is very cumbersome. So we will keep the current interface available, but new developments may require both cookies and JavaScript. This will allow e.g.:

SOT/SP Level 1D images

We hope to be able to provide SOT/SP "Level 1D" images soon, as well as limiting SOT/SP searches to find only those files that correspond to a level 1D product. This has been requested by several users, and we wholeheartedly agree that this would make the archive much more useful for SOT/SP. But it's not entirely trivial to implement in a seamless way, so it may take some time.

SOT & XRT "planning information"

Unfortunately, the SOT & XRT fits files contain no "planning information", i.e. the "who and why" of the data. So far, that has made it impossible for us to make this information available for searching and browsing. We hope to correct this by "patching" our database with information from the SOT & XRT archive at LMSAL.

Group properties (e.g. cadence)

The new grouping system will make it more meaningful to implement new, searchable values such as group (min/max) cadence, group duration, etc. This has been requested by several users.

Co-observation searches

Eventually, we want to get to the point where you can ask the archive to find instances where instrument X observes with program A and instrument Y observes with program B, at the same time, on the same solar feature.

* For the ASCII listing, paging is turned off, which means the two numbers are always equal.

**Note that the actual contents of a search result page may change over time, as the contents of the archive changes! In particular, referring to a specific set of observations by its page/line position in searches that do not specify EPOCH_START & EPOCH_END is futile.

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