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Cutting Edge > Visualization > Tools for Creating Visualizations > UNIDATA IDV

UNIDATA IDV

Information provided by William Capehart, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences at the South Dakota School of Mines.
The Integrated Data Viewer, IDV, is Java-Based Utility for viewing standardized Meteorological Data, mostly information compiled through the UCAR UNIDATA network streams. Viewing perspectives include traditional contouring and vector plots, as well as 3-D rendering of various fields including and especially current forecast model, observation, satellite and radar products (which is IDV's primary strength). IDV also can currently access select government and university data sources for real-time weather data.

To Order

Freely downloadable from UCAR (registration required)at the Download Page. Data Access is limited to the UCAR Acceptable Use Policies.

The Data is to be used for academic and research applications only. IDV or the commercial data streams available on its installation are NOT for commercial or decision making applications.

Cost

Free download.

Platform Support

Can be used on PCs, MACs and select UNIX/LINUX platforms. The following specifics are from the UCAR/UNIDATA Web Page:

The IDV runs on any platform that supports Java 2 version 1.4 or later (FCS versions only), and Java 3D version 1.2.1 or later. The IDV is known to run on the following operating systems.

  • Windows: 98, NT, 2000, XP*
  • Linux: RedHat 8.0, 9.0 **
  • Solaris/SPARC: SunOS 5.8 (Solaris 8)+ ***
  • Mac OS-X 10.3.1 or later ****
Solaris/Intel does not yet support Java3D. If other platforms fully support Java 2 (version 1.4 or higher) and Java 3D (version 1.2.1 or higher) (e.g. AIX, IRIX) , they should also work. Your graphics system must support 3D; make sure you have the latest video driver for your graphics card. This is included in the Windows operating system. On Linux the driver must support GLX, an X windows system extension to OpenGL programs.

* You must have Direct-X version 8.0 or higher installed on your Windows system if you use the Direct-X version of Java 3D (your own install or the version supplied with the Windows InstallAnywhere installer for Direct-X).
** The version of the Mesa library that comes with RedHat Linux may be incompatible with Java 3D from Blackdown. If you experience X server crashes when exiting the IDV, you will need to build and install Mesa from source available at http://www.mesa3d.org.
***OpenGL must be installed for Java 3D to run on Solaris/SPARC.
****Java 3D must be installed for Mac OS-X. You can download it online.

The prospective user should be advised that the faster the processor and higher the memory, the better. Read UCAR/UNIDATA Web Pages for details.

Data Formats

IDV can accept specifically formatted files discussed here:

Currently, IDV's distribution contains links to various university and government sites who serve their UNIDATA feeds through a web server.

Integrating with other Tools

IDV can read specific model output files, but best works with connected to one of the server sites that provide and distribute UNIDATA products. (Once again, see the UNIDATA Acceptable Use Policy). Connection to external data sources is subject to change pending traffic. User institutions are encouraged to develop their own data services for IDV.

IDV also has collaborative features that include chat and other peer-to-peer resources.

Data Analysis

Tool contains the means to calculate various fields using a pre-set collection of functions as well as the means to create your own.

Output Options

Displays can be captured as JPEGS or Quicktime (MOV) formats

Usability

IDV requires a basic knowledge of meteorological analysis and understanding of the products involved. The interface is intuitive but is best used on a fast platform with considerable memory.

The Java interfaces and download from distant sites may create a more sluggish viewing experience. 3D Rendering of Isosurfaces may also slow the interface down. However, IDV's ability to render in 3D (e.g., jets, isentropic surfaces, IPV surface, etc) without much difficulty to the user (not to mention being able to access a larger supply of meteorological data) makes it a powerful teaching tool.

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