Autoplot Abstract: Autoplot is software developed for the Virtual Observatories in Heliophysics to provide intelligent and automated plotting capabilities for many typical data products that are stored in a variety of file formats or databases. Autoplot has proven to be a flexible tool for exploring, accessing, and viewing data resources as typically found on the web, usually in the form of a directory containing data files with multiple parameters contained in each file. Data from a data source is abstracted into a common internal data model called QDataSet. Autoplot is built from individually useful components, and can be extended and reused to create specialized data handling and analysis applications and is being used in a variety of science visualization and analysis applications. Although originally developed for viewing heliophysics-related time series and spectrograms, its flexible and generic data representation model makes it potentially useful for the Earth sciences.
Getting Started

Click the Start Autoplot link and then select any of the bookmarks.

See the help page for usage instructions.



Autoplot is an interactive browser for data on the web; give it a URL or the name of a file on your computer and it tries to create a sensible plot of the contents in the file. Autoplot was developed to allow quick and interactive browsing of data and metadata files that are often encountered on the web. For more information, see Faden et al. 2010 and Faden, Weigel, and Friedel, 2010.


Key Features

  • Reads multiple ASCII formats including Complex ASCII tablesBinary tablesCommon Data Format (CDF)NcMLSPASECluster Exchange FormatNetCDF;OpenDAP; HDF5, TSDSFITSExcelWavPNG, JPG, etc. For details and a full list, see Formats.
  • Data is located with compact URI addresses. These contain the location of the data and additional information needed to use it.
  • Special support for CDAWeb server at NASA/Goddard, and other servers via Jython scripts.
  • Wildcards can be used to aggregate (combine) data from multiple files into one time series.
  • Long time series may be rendered as a sequence of images as a “pngwalk” and viewed as a coverflow, table of thumbnails, or on a time line.
  • Any displayed data may be saved to disk in ASCII,CDF, and other formats, or plotted as PNG, PDF, or SVG.
  • GUI State may be saved as an XML “.vap” file and restored.
  • Software may be run client side, server side, or as applet.
  • Data access layer for file reading may be used in MATLAB or IDL (via Java bridge), providing a common interface regardless of data source.
  • Scripting via Jython, to script the application and read in data.
  • Autoplot is open-source (GPL with classpath exception) and may be used freely.

Autoplot was developed under the NASA Virtual Observatories for Heliophysics program in a collaborative effort among several institutions, including support or code contributions from ViRBOVMORBSP-ECT, and the Radio and Plasma Wave Group at The University of Iowa.


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