National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Forecast Systems Laboratory
Document Revision 6.0
March 21, 2005
FX Connect (FXC) is a real-time meteorological display system with
collaborative capabilities. It is the key component of a development
project which explores distributing workstation and server functions over
different remote locations. A unique feature of FXC is that it can accommodate
the interaction of forecasters at different locations through a graphical
user interface. When connected to an AWIPS Server, FXC allows the display
of selected data and imagery over which graphics may be created, manipulated,
and viewed by remotely located collaboration participants.
This Guide provides a brief overview of the system architecture and
describes the many functions available from the FXC User Interface. The
system emulates the AWIPS User Interface design and takes advantage of
the display generation capabilities of AWIPS. As this system is applied
to the needs of various users, some customization of the Main Menu and
data selectors has occurred. Slight variations will exist in Main Menu
layout and content. This Guide applies generally to systems known as FX
Connect, FX Collaborate, and the Briefing Tool.
FXC features include the conventional capabilities of:
Display of diverse data sets (images, observations, and text);
Interactive display manipulation (zoom, pan, toggle overlays, overlay color);
Interactive display generation (cross sections, time series, time/height,
Extensive manual graphic and annotation tools;
Advanced capabilities of FXC include:
Slide creation and presentation;
Internet access to WWW products
Display of radar data from any WSR-88D radar;
Creation and display of JPEG images;
Independent or collaborative mode of operation.
This document serves as a guide to the use of FXC in data display, interactive
graphics creation, and forecaster collaboration. Technical details of FXC
architecture and server configuration will be described in separate documents.
1.2 Intended Audience and Assumed User Skills
This guide is intended for use by weather forecasters and other users
of hydrometeorological data. We assume that users of this Guide have a
basic understanding of, and experience with, using a mouse to navigate
a graphic user interface. This includes such operations as opening, closing,
resizing, and moving windows, and selecting items from menus. While FXC
is designed to have a "look and feel" similar to that of AWIPS D2D, knowledge
of D2D is not necessary for the successful use of FXC. However, familiarity
with AWIPS D2D and its associated data and displays should be helpful in
learning to use FXC.
2. FXC Architectural Overview
The FXC System consists of two major components: the client that
allows the user to display and interact with meteorological data and
the server(s) that is responsible to provide various types of data to the
client. For some applications (e.g. Briefing Tool) the client and servers
reside on the same machine.
FXC Clients are usually located remotely. In order for a client to
connect to a server, the user selects the desired server from the FXC Menu.
Once the connection is made to the server, the client has access to a large
set of data stored on the AWIPS Database. Some menu items and table changes
are necessary to add additional AWIPS products to the FXC menus.
The FXC Server comprises a collection of server processes: DepictableServer,
ScribbleServer, ChatServer, BaselineServer, PointServer, DispatchServer,
and FileMonitor. The two processes that are of particular interest are
the DepictableServer and ScribbleServer. The DepictableServer is responsible
for interfacing with the AWIPS Software and exporting graphic products.
It must therefore be hosted on a machine that has direct access to the
AWIPS Database and is able to run the AWIPS 5.0 (or later) software. The
ScribbleServer is responsible for coordinating graphical annotations among
multiple users. The location of the ScribbleServer and other servers is
more flexible and it is anticipated that in the future, FXC may actually
reassign these server processes automatically if the hosts fail. During
a collaborative session each server communicates with the clients independently,
i.e., it does not broadcast the data to all clients. As a result, some
degradation in performance may occur when a large number of clients are
connected for a collaborative session.
Although the AWIPS Database is the primary and
most extensive source of data, FXC can also obtain data (in image form)
from Web servers and integrate data from other sources. The local data
integration capability is restricted at this time to display of surface
data that has been stored in netCDF format. Figure 1 illustrates the different
data sources available to a user.
Figure 1. FXC Data Sources
FXC is a multi-threaded Java application. It executes on PCs running Win98,
WinNT, Win2000, Windows XP, and Linux. Recommended machine attributes include
1 GHz cpu speed, 1 GB RAM, and 20 GB or larger disk. A network connection
(DSL, ISDN, or Ethernet) is also necessary.
2.1 FXC Operating Modes
FXC has three basic operational modes: local, remote, and collaborative.
Local Mode - In local mode, the client is not connected to any AWIPS
Server. However, the user does have access to selected data from remote
Web servers and possibly some local data. This mode is useful for preparing
briefing displays that do not require real-time data.
Remote Mode - In remote mode, the user is connected to an AWIPS
Server that the user has selected from the FXC Menu. This allows the user
to access real-time meteorological data at the remote server. The user
can display a variety of data and perform such functions as zooming, panning,
changing colors, overlaying graphics, and animation on the client. The
FXC Server can accommodate a number of concurrent and independent clients.
The maximum number of clients is controlled from a menu on the server.
Collaborative Mode - In collaborative mode, the user can perform
all of the same functions as in remote mode with the added capability of
simultaneously updating or controlling the screen of other users. An extensive
drawing capability is available that allows the user to annotate the screen
and share the annotation with the other collaboration session participants.
There is also a chat capability that allows users to exchange text messages.
Only one collaborative session can be held at a time. All users connected
to a common server are part of the same session. The session can remain
active although all clients have disconnected from the server. This allows
users to rejoin the session at a later time.
2.2 Input Devices
There are two devices which enable the user to put information into
the FXC Graphical Interface to invoke a desired action: a mouse and a keyboard.
2.2.1 Keyboard Functions
The keyboard is used to enter text in the Discussion Graphic User Interface
for "chat" functionality with collaboration participants. The keyboard
is also used to enter AFOS text product identifiers into the text interface.
Additionally, the keyboard is used for annotating manually-generated graphics.
Most FXC display functions may be performed using the keyboard by holding
the Alt Key and striking the "Hot Key" indicated by an underlined character
in every menu and submenu. Finally, certain menu commands may be invoked
using "Accelerator Key" combinations listed to the right of the associated
menu items; for example, Ctrl+A will toggle looping just as if the user
selected the Looping Menu item.
2.2.2 Mouse Functions
The mouse is used in a conventional manner for all other FXC actions.
The mouse functions are designed for a three-button mouse. In the event
that FXC is running on a system with a two-button mouse, button 2 (middle)
functions may be accomplished by pressing and holding the "Alt" Key and
clicking with button 1 (left). Two examples of button-2 functions
are zooming a display or toggling the Manual Graphics to editable mode.
Basic display functions of zoom, pan, and unzoom are performed using
the mouse. Clicking mouse button 2 will cause the display to incrementally
zoom, centered on the position of the mouse cursor. One click of
mouse button 1 will incrementally unzoom, with the resulting display centered
on the position of the cursor when clicked. To pan a zoomed display, press
and hold mouse button 2, then drag the cursor in the desired direction
to shift the display. The panned display will center on the location of
the mouse cursor when button 2 is released.
Displayed products may be toggled on and off by placing the mouse cursor
over the desired product legend (in the lower right portion of the display)
and click once with mouse button 1. To change the color of a graphic
overlay or background map, place the mouse cursor on the desired product
label and click once with mouse button 3 to reveal a pop-up menu
with color selections. Additionally, any individual displayed product may
be unloaded from the display by placing the mouse cursor over the selected
product label and clicking once with button 3, revealing
a pop-up menu, and selecting the "Unload" option.
Other mouse functions are toggling background maps and map legends on
and off of the display, and unzooming to 1:1. These display controls are
available in a pop-up menu which is revealed by placing the mouse cursor
anywhere in the main display window and clicking once with mouse
button 3. The resulting pop-up window offers:
- Show Maps (toggle on or off);
- Show Map Labels (toggle on or off);
- Zoom 1:1.
Summary of mouse button functions:
Mouse Button 1 (left) - click to zoom out (unzoom). The resulting
display will be centered on the pointer.
||Unzoom is disabled with any editable graphic
(Baselines, Points, Drawing Tools) in the display. Toggle the editable
graphic to uneditable to unzoom.
Mouse Button 1 (left) - click with the pointer over a product legend
to toggle that product on or off of the display.
Mouse Button 1 (left) - press the Ctrl and Shift keys while clicking
with the pointer anywhere in the display to obtain a continuous data read-out.
Once the information is displayed, Ctrl and Shift no longer need to be
Mouse Button 2 (middle) - with the pointer in the display window, click
to incrementally zoom. Zoomed display will be centered on the cursor position.
Mouse Button 2 (middle) - with the pointer over an editable product legend
(Baselines, Points, Drawing Tools), click to toggle between editable and
Mouse Button 2 (middle) - press and hold while dragging the pointer to
pan a zoomed display. The display will center on the cursor when the button
Mouse Button 3 (right) - click with the pointer over a product legend
to open a popup menu from which you can change overlay color or unload
that product from the display.
Mouse Button 3 (right) - click with cursor anywhere in the display
to open a popup window that provides options to zoom out to 1:1, or to
toggle map backgrounds and map legends.
3. User Interface Description
Since the menus vary with location and application,
the menus shown in the examples may differ somewhat
from the ones on your system.
To start the FXC session, click on the blue
background screen and select Start Briefing Tool (see Figure 2.1.2-2).
After a few seconds, the FXC Window will appear. The FXC User
Interface, as shown in Figure 2, includes a Title Bar, Menu Bar, Main Toolbar,
Display Pane, and a Status Bar. FXC will initialize with several default
display settings. All settings and selectors will be described in subsequent
Figure 2. Initial State of the FXC User Interface
3.1 Menu Bar
The Menu Bar is located at the top of the FXC Window, just below the
FX Connect Title Bar. It is a permanent part of the window and cannot be
hidden or relocated. All menus are selected with one click of
mouse button 1. The following sections describe each button on the Menu Bar.
All of FXC actions may be performed with selectors in the Menu Bar Pull-Down
Menus or by selecting the corresponding button on the Main Toolbar.
3.1.1 File Menu
The File Menu, shown in Figure 3, provides basic file operations and
related functions. It also includes the Exit Button to close the FXC Window.
Figure 3. File Pull-Down Menu
The user can select the data server from this menu or directly from
the main toolbar. The data server is the primary source of meteorological
data and can be located on the same machine or remotely.
The collaborate toggle selector enables or disables collaboration
by connecting to the appropriate data server. It is more expediant to
select collaboration first and then select the desired server.
Capture D-2D Display
If FXC is running on the same machine as an AWIPS workstation then
it is possible to import the main pane of the AWIPS display into FXC.
This requires that D-2D run a very light-weight application that enables
this transfer of occur (this is not a remote capability).
Load GIF/JPEG/PNG ...
This selector opens a window for selecting the desired image file.
Any GIF, JPEG, or PNG image available on the local (or NFS mounted) disk
can be loaded into the display window. The image will be loaded into the
frame currently selected and displayed. By advancing the frames, the user
can load different images into each frame. When in collaborative mode,
these images are also shared with the other FXC Clients. A File Browser
Menu pops up when this selection is made that allows the user to choose
the desired directory and file to be loaded.
Save as JPEG...
Any product or combination of products (i.e., overlays and manual graphics)
displayed on the FXC Display Pane may be captured in JPEG format. This
allows users to create meteorological products that can be placed on a
Web server for access by the public or a selected set of users, or to create
a slide for use in a slide show. Upon selecting "Save as JPEG...", a window
appears in which to specify filename and directory to be used.
Set JPEG Resolution...
This sets the default width for any JPEG that is saved with the "Save
as JPEG" or "Send to Web Server" selector. The height of the JPEG image
is adjusted so as to retain the proper aspect ratio.
Send to Web
The user has the ability to create a JPEG image of the display and
send it to a Web server for access with a Web Browser. The location of
the server is defined during software installation.
Replaces the Web image on the Web server with a default image.
Edit Watch/Warning Graphic
FXC can automatically display a watch/warning box that is generated on
AWIPS providing the proper Informix triggers are set. The user then has the
ability to further refine this watch/warning box using the drawing tool.
Send to Reverse-911 Database
This selector initiates transfer of an XML file containing the vertices
of the watch/warning polygon and sends them to a reverse-911 provider using
the https protocol.
(This is a similar to the Procedures feature on D2D, with a few limitations.)
The user has the ability to create a procedure that consists of a sequence
of meteorological products that have been loaded to the large display pane
from the FXC Pull-Down Menus. Data that are overlaid together on the large
display pane are called Bundles, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. FXC Procedure Dialog Box
This option opens the Open Procedures Dialog Box, which contains a
list of existing Procedures.
If you want to generate a copy of an existing Procedure, use this option
to open the "Procedure to be Copied" Dialog Box. Select the name of the
Procedure you wish to copy and press the OK Menu Button. Immediately the
New Name for Copy Dialog Box opens in which you can type in a new name
for the copied Procedure.
This option allows you to permanently remove a Procedure through the
Remove Procedure Dialog Box which lists all existing Procedures. To remove
a procedure, select the procedure to be removed (one click with
mouse button 1 to highlight the procedure to be deleted), then select "OK."
New Slide Show...
The FXC Briefing Tool allows you to create a list of image, text, or
combined image-text "slides" to be used for presentations and weather briefings.
You can build each slide using D2D weather products, weather briefing text
templates that can be edited to include up-to-date launch weather information,
or you can import any image files (in JPEG, PNG, or GIF format). Refer
to Figure 5.
Figure 5. FXC Slide Show Dialog Box
View Slide Show...
This option opens the Open Slide Show Dialog Box which contains a list
of existing slide shows. (Note: some menus also allow the user to view a
slide show by clicking the shuttle icon on the tool bar.)
Copy Slide Show...
If you want to generate a copy of an existing slide show, use this
option to open the "Slide Show to be Copied" Dialog Box. Select the name
of the slide show you wish to copy and press the OK Menu Button. Immediately
the New Name for Copy Dialog Box opens in which you can type in a new name
for the copied slide show.
Remove Slide Show...
This option allows you to permanently remove a slide show through the
Remove Slide Show Dialog Box which lists all existing slide shows. To remove
a slide show, select the name to be removed (one click with mouse
button 1 to highlight the procedure to be deleted), then select "OK."
Set Working Folder...
The user can define the default folder that will be used to access existing
or store newly created slide shows.
Set User Information...
(Not activated for all users) Allows users to specify the name to be
used for chat sessions. This name is also used by the server to allow or
disallow a user to connect to the server. The User Information Menu also
lets the user select the color to be used for all text generated by the
user during a chat session.
Restart Server... (Reset window)
This selector allows the user to restart the background (or remote)
process that accesses the AWIPS database. The user will be prompted to
confirm the reset. The reset takes two to three seconds and clears
all information on the screen.
Diagnostic messages are being generated and recorded for most actions
performed by the user. The messages are stored in the /awips/fxa/FXC/fsl/data/logs
directory. These messages make it possible to troubleshoot the system should
an error occur. The logs should be purged regularly to prevent the disk
from eventually filling up. The user can disable the logging function each
time the system is started by toggling this switch off.
This causes the FXC Client to terminate and close all FXC Windows displayed
on the screen.
3.1.2 View Menu
The View Pull-Down Menu, shown in Figure 6, contains options for manipulating
the display. Most of these options are available in the more accessible
toolbars, but are intentionally included in the View Menu for design redundancy.
Figure 6. View Pull-Down Menu
This menu option removes all data products from the display pane, leaving
only the original map background. This same action is more commonly performed
from the Clear Button on the toolbar.
Use this menu option, or the Update Icon in the Toolbar, to refresh
the display with the most current data.
Step Back/Step Forward
These two menu options advance the data frames that are displayed forward
or backward through time. The more typical way to perform these same actions
are with the Arrow (< >) Buttons on the toolbar, or the left and right
arrow keys on the keyboard.
First Frame/Last Frame
Use these two menu options to jump to the first or last data frames.
It is easier to perform these same actions by using the First Frame (|<)
and Last Frame (>|) Buttons on the toolbar, or by pressing the control key
in conjunction with the left or right arrow keys.
This radio button toggles on/off the animation capability, which can
also be performed from the toolbar using the Loop Icon, or by pressing the
control and "A" keys.
Previous Bundle/Next Bundle
These options can be used when displaying data products through the
Procedures feature. Refer to Subsection 4.2 for more information about
Show Line Cursor
It may be useful to display a movable horizontal line to underscore
an item on a slide during a slide presentation.
3.1.3 Options Menu
The Options Pull-Down Menu, illustrated in Figure 7, contains selectors
for controlling data display characteristics.
Figure 7. Options Pull-Down Menu
This feature, when toggled on (check-marked), causes the next product
selected from the data menus to be loaded on the scale appropriate
for the data, not necessarily the scale selected on the menu. For
example, when a single site radar product is selected from the menu, with
"Data Scale" toggled on, the radar image will be displayed with the radar
centered in an area covered by the radar.
- Display Properties...
This submenu, shown in Figure 8, includes additional submenus that
allow you to manipulate the display properties of the FXC Display Panel.
Figure 8. Display Properties Submenu
AWIPS data is stratified into geographic scales, as shown in Figure
9. The geographic scales are organized to "funnel" in on a specific local
area. Each geographic scale may have data sets unique to that scale. For
example, mesonet data would not be available on North American scale. Data
displayed at higher scales typically contain coarser resolution.
Figure 9. Area Submenu
- Load Mode
The Load Mode Submenu is shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10. Load Mode Submenu
Each time you select a product from the menu, a number of frames (equal
to the frame count) are loaded into memory. Normally, each frame is loaded
with a sequentially older product. However, sometimes you may want to view
products in a different manner. This menu allows you to select from a number
of different Load Modes. A brief description of each Load Mode follows.
Latest Run - Displays forecast data only from the latest model run,
but also backfills with frames from previous runs at the beginning of the
loop to satisfy the requested number of frames.
Valid Time Sequence - This Load Mode displays the most recent data
and fills empty frames with previous data. For models, it provides the
product from the latest possible run for every available valid time.
No backfill - Displays model data only from the most recent model
run time with no backfilling to fill out a loop. Using this Load Mode prevents
the mixing of old and new data.
Previous Run - Displays the previous model run, backfilling with
frames from previous runs at the beginning of the loop to satisfy the requested
number of frames.
Previous Valid Time Sequence - This Load Mode displays the previous
model run and fills empty frames with previous model data or analyses.
Analysis Loop - This Load Mode loads a sequence of model analyses,
but no forecasts.
Forecast Match - Overlays a model product only when its forecast
times match those of an initially loaded product. This Load Mode is available
only when another product is already loaded in the large display pane.
Use this menu, which is depicted in Figure 11, to select the number
of frames to load to a display animation. Keep in mind that longer animation
loops take more time to load, so adjusting the frame count to a low value
will facilitate faster loading, especially through a modem connection.
Figure 11. Frames Submenu
- Character Size
It is possible to modify the size of graphical characters with the
Character Size Submenu, shown in Figure12.
Figure 12. Character Size Submenu
- Display Density...
The user can specify the amount of data to be shown on the screen by
specifying the appropriate density value. The display density is a relative
number and the amount of data displayed is also determined by the window
Figure 13. Display Density
- Loop Properties...
This menu option opens the Loop Properties Dialog Box, shown in Figure14.
Within this dialog box are controls for the various features of an animation.
You may alter the dwell at the end of a loop, the speed of animation, and
the direction (forward or backward) of the animation.
Figure 14. Loop Properties Dialog Box
This menu option opens the Image Properties Dialog Box, depicted in
Figure 15. It contains slider bars allowing you to control the opacity
of an image. This feature is particularly useful when several overlays
are placed on top of an image. By reducing the opacity of the image, the
graphic overlays become more discernable. It is also possible to combine
two images by enabling the "Combine Images" selector. When enabled, the
next image to be loaded will be combined with the current image. Toggling
the selector off will resume normal load operation. The "Lock Image Opacity"
selector will cause the opacity of the two images to always add to 100%.
Thus, if the opacity of one image is reduced, the opacity of the other
image will be increased.
Figure 15. Image Properties Dialog Box
This submenu, shown in Figure 16, contains a number of pre-defined
color tables available for image enhancement. The color table will be applied
to the currently displayed image. The user can easily revert to the default
image enhancement by selecting the item "Default" from the Color Table
Second Image Color
This menu is only active for image combinations. When combining two
images, this menu provides the color table choices for the second image.
Figure 16. Image Color Submenu
Color Table Editing
The Color Table Editing menu is used to create a new or modify an existing
color table. When selected, a submenu appears that prompts the user for the
name of the new color table or the one to be edited (Figure 16a).
Figure 16a. Color Table Editing Submenu
When creating a new color table the user is prompted for the name of an
exisiting color table that is to be the starting point for the new table. The
menu shown in Figure 17 provides a list of the existing color tables in the
system. When done, the custom color table will be saved and the Image Color
Submenu will be updated with the name of the new color table. The color
tables can be applied to all images (except TIFF, GIF, JPEG, and PNG).
Figure 17. Table Selector Menu
Figure 18 illustrates what a typical Color Table editing window looks
like. The user can select a single color index by either clicking on the
color bar or selecting the desired index with the thumbwheel selector.
If the user wants to select a range of values then the second index can
be selected by pressing the shift button on the keyboard while also pressing
mouse button 1 over the deired location on the color bar. Alternatively,
the user can enter the desired index into the second thumbwheel seletor.
The user can select a solid fill or linear interpolation between the two
indices by clicking Single... or Linear..., respectively. The standard color
palette (see Figure 19) will appear and the user can select the desired
Figure 18. Color Table
Figure 19 shows the standard color menu for selecting background, overlay,
and image colors. The user can either select a color from one of the swatches,
set the HSB values, or define the color by specifying the RGB components.
A color swatch on the menu changes color as you adust the various color
components. Once, satisfied with the color the user needs to click on "ok"
to save the color setting.
Figure 19. Display Colors
You can resize a window by either selecting one of the predefined sizes
from the Display Size Submenu, shown in Figure 20, or by grabbing the edge
of the display and reshaping the window to the desired size. The attributes
of a window are saved in a state file to allow the window to reappear in
the same location and of the same size the next time the window is opened.
Figure 20. Display Size Submenu
FXC has two toolbars; The Main Toolbar contains the basic controls
of the display and a second, the Drawing Toolbar, is used in conjunction
with the drawing tool. All of the functions in the toolbar are also available
from the Main Menu Bar. It is therefore possible to hide the toolbar and
still have access to all of the toolbar functions. The Drawing Toolbar
is visible when the Drawing Tool is loaded from the Tools Pull-Down Menu,
shown in Figure 21, and is made "editable" (by clicking on the "Manual
Product" legend once with mouse button 2). This is discussed further
in the Section 3.1.4, "Tools Menu."
Figure 21. Toolbars Submenu
Change Display Colors
This submenu, shown in Figure 22, allows the user to change the default
colors for the display window background (typically black) and the graphic
overlays. By selecting the desired item and clicking on "change" the standard
color palette (see Figure 19) will appear and the user can select the desired
color. The default information will be saved in a state file and will be
recalled the next time FXC is started. If the user wants to change the
color only for a particular graphic on the current display, then the user
can button-3 click on the product label and change the color of the graphic.
Clearing the screen will then set the color back to the default.
Figure 22. Display Palette
Set Clock Time
The "Set Clock Time" menu, shown in Figure 23, allows the user to either
select real-time mode or define the desired date and time desired by the
user. The date and time specified in the menu will be used to access the
meteorological data saved on a disk. The date and time in the menu will
be recalled the next time the "Set Clock Time" menu is opened. The date
and time in the lower right hand corner of the display will have a yellow
background when the date and time are not set to the current time.
Figure 23. Set Clock Time Menu
3.1.4 Tools Menu
The Tools Pull-Down Menu, shown in Figure 24, provides selectors for
interactive FXC capabilities. Each tool is described as follows.
Figure 24. Tools Pull-Down Menu
When selected, a number of interactive baselines appear on the display.
If the display is zoomed to a small geographic area, the baselines may
not be visible. Unzooming may be necessary to view and move the baselines.
Baselines may be arbitrarily placed for the purpose of creating a vertical
cross section from model data through the use of the Volume Browser. Note
that one end of the baseline line segment is labeled A through J. The resultant
vertical cross section will be displayed with the label end of the baseline
plotted on the right side of the cross section. In other words, if a west
to east cross section is to be created, and the user wishes the cross section
to be displayed with west on the left, position the baseline with the letter
label on the right side.
To move a baseline, first note if the product label indicates "editable"
mode, i.e., "Interactive Baselines (editable)." If the word "editable"
is not visible, click once with mouse button 2 with the cursor
on the product label to toggle the baselines to "editable". Now to move
a baseline, place the tip of the mouse cursor on the baseline and click
once with mouse button 1. The shape of the cursor will change from
an arrow to a hand when the baseline is successfully grabbed. Then relocate
the cursor to the desired location of the baseline and click once again
with button 1.
To move a vertex of the baseline, click once with mouse button 1
with the tip of the arrow cursor on the end of the baseline to be moved.
The cursor shape will change to a cross-hair when successfully grabbed.
Then click once more in the desired new location for the baseline end point.
||To move an editable object (baseline, point,
manual graphics glyph/symbol), click once to grab the object; then move
the mouse to the desired location for the object, and click again to place
Similar to the editable baseline, editable points are used to locate
model-derived soundings, time series, or time height model plots. Point
A is also used in the Data Scale Load Mode for radar images and for displaying
model soundings from the volume browser.
Manipulation of editable points is the same as that for baselines. Make
sure the product label indicates "editable", place the tip of the mouse
cursor over the point to be moved, and click once with mouse button 1.
The shape of the cursor will change from a left-slant arrow to a hand.
Move the cursor to the desired location and click once again with
mouse button 1.
This selector invokes a manual graphics capability. A Drawing Toolbar
will appear along the top of the FXC Display, below the Menu Bar, and the
product label "Manual Graphics (editable)" appears in the lower right corner
of the display. More information on the drawing features is presented in
- Tool-Specific Commands
This selector becomes active when the drawing tool has been selected.
The submenu for this selector replicates the drawing tool functions that
are also accessible using the icons in the toolbar.
- Text Window
This selector invokes an AWIPS Text Window, as illustratrated in Figure
25, in which any NWS text product carried on the Satellite Broadcast Network
may be displayed. This window may also be used as a "notepad" for creating
text. Selectors for easy access to AWIPS Text Products are available under
the "Products" Menu. This list may be modified to suit the needs of the
Figure 25. FXC Text Window
- Text Chat
Select this button to open a "chat room" window. The FXC must be connected
to a server and be set to collaborative mode to use this feature. Each
collaboration participant will be listed in the Discussion Window, shown
in Figure 26.
Figure 26. FXC Discussion Window
To the left of the collaborator's name is a small check box that enables
an audible alarm whenever a mesage is received from that user (even if
the window is hidden from view). The "Options" selector in the Discussion
Window Menu Bar opens a menu that allows users to select a word or combination
of words that will alert the user whenever that text string occurs in any
of the discussion.
3.1.5 Volume Menu
The Volume Pull-Down Menu, shown in Figure 27, provides access to displays
of graphics created from model grids.
Figure 27. Volume Pull-Down Menu
This selection opens a window called the Volume Browser (Figure 28)
that provides menus from which a vast number of model analysis and forecast
fields may be produced. The overall design and functionality is similar
to the Volume Browser in AWIPS D2D, with a few exceptions. Selections must
be made in order from left to right, first selecting a model or models,
then fields, then planes. Displays may be created as graphics or images.
Conventional plan view displays, cross sections, time series, time/height
sections, and model soundings can be created using selections in the Presentation
Pull-Down Menu (Figure 29).
Figure 28. Volume Browser
Figure 29. Volume Browser with Presentation Options Menu
Choosing either the RUC, ETA, or gfs family of graphics results in a display
of a selection of eight conventional graphics of upper air and surface
parameters from the chosen model. The first two graphic overlays are displayed,
while the following six are suppressed. To toggle a graphic on or off,
simply click once with mouse button 1 with the tip of the cursor
on the product legend.
- Comparison Families
Selecting either 500 Height or MSL Press will display a selection of
nine graphic overlays from several NWS models. In the case of "500 Height",
the display is of the 500 MB height from the MRF AVN, MesoEta, Eta, NGM,
and RUC. "MSL Press" will load the MSL pressure from the same models.
- Surface Families
This selector will display the surface forecast products for the
ETA12 forecast model. The precip image is loaded first, but not displayed,
and must be toggled on in order for it to be visible.
3.1.6 Obs Menu
This pull-down menu and associated submenus provide access to a variety
of observational products, including METAR and buoy plot displays, tower
plots, and lightning. Depending on the application, this menu may also
provide access to certain Web products (GIF,JPEG). Furthermore, it allows
users to overlay (single color) a hand drawn local graphic product into
one or all frames using the "Local Graphic" selector. Refer to Figure 30.
Figure 30. Obs Pull-Down Menu
3.1.7 NCEP/Hydro Menu
The NCEP/Hydro Pull-Down Menu, shown in Figure 31, contains National
Center graphics and analyses.
Figure 31. NCEP/Hydro Pull-Down Menu
3.1.8 Upper Air Menu
Mandatory level upper air plots, raobs plotted on a Skew-T diagram,
Profiler time/height and plan view plots, and selected AWC products are
available under this menu, as depicted in Figure 32.
Figure 32. Upper Air Menu Pull-Down Menu
3.1.9 Satellite Menu
A selection of GOES images is available under the Satellite Menu, as
illustrated in Figure 33. Temporal and spatial resolution of the images
is dependent upon the scale at which they are loaded.
Figure 33. Satellite Pull-Down Menu
3.1.10 Radar Menus
The kxxx and Radar Menus, in Figures 34 and 35, contain selectors
for various radar images and products. A national reflectivity mosaic is
available, as well as selected base reflectivity and velocity images.
Figure 34. kxxx - Local Doppler Radar Pull-Down Menu
Figure 35. Radar Pull-Down Menu
3.1.11 Maps Menu
This menu, shown in Figure 36, allows the user to access a variety
of background maps for FXC Displays.
Figure 36. Maps Pull-Down Menu
A background may be toggled on or off in two ways. Click once with
mouse button 1 on a map name on the Maps Menu to toggle on or off
the selected map display. Map labels may be toggled to display in a like
manner. With the map labels visible in the lower right corner of the display
("Show Map Labels" toggled on in the Maps Menu) maps may also be toggled
on or off by clicking once with button 1 on the map label.
The user may also select a color for a map.
3.1.12 Help Menu
The Help Menu contains the About... option which opens the About FXC
Window that contains software version and date information. Refer to Figure
Figure 37. Help Menu and About FXC Window
Figure 37a. Help Topics Menu
3.2 Main Toolbar
The Main Toolbar, shown in Figure 38, is found just below the Menu
Bar and provides shortcuts for many of the Display controls found in the
Menu Bar. This toolbar can be hidden from view using the toggle switch
just under the File Menu. The function of each selector on the Main Menu
Bar is identified with "tool tips". Simply move and dwell the mouse cursor
over the desired selector and a "tool tip" will appear identifying the
Figure 38. Main Toolbar
This allows the user to connect to the desired AWIPS Database. The
selector identifies the AWIPS "localization" and geographic location of
the FXC Server. The user can connect to a server that resides on a remote
machine or on the same machine as the client.
(This feature not enabled for all releases.)
This sets the collaborative mode. All collaboration participants (FXC
Clients) must be connected to the same FXC Server to utilize Collaborative
Mode. Most of the actions by the user are shared with the remote collaborators.
For example, a user can load an image, overlay model data, zoom in on a
specific area, and then start an animation and have all of these actions
performed on the other FXC Clients who have also enabled collaboration
while connected to the same server. A key collaborative feature is the
ability to annotate and draw onto any product displayed on the screen.
Actions that are not currently shared include changing color enhancements,
adjusting image intensity, and overlaying additional map backgrounds. Some
of these may be added in the future. Also, with FXC set to Collaborate
mode, a "chat room" capability (labeled "Discussion"on the Tools Menu)
is available that allows users to exchange textual messages and determine
who is participating in the collaboration session.
3.3 Drawing Toolbar
A variety of drawing and annotation capabilities are available on FXC
through the Drawing Toolbar. When "Drawing" is selected from the Tools
Menu, the Drawing Toolbar initially appears at the top of the FXC Display,
just below the Main Toolbar, as shown in Figure 39.
Figure 39. Drawing Toolbar (Shown in the Default Horizontal Layout)
This toolbar may be "torn away" from the Main
Toolbar by grabbing the Drawing Toolbar with the cursor at the left edge
by pressing and holding mouse button 1. A vertical or horizontal
layout is possible by clicking once with mouse button 3 with the
cursor in a blank gray area between buttons on the toolbar. The choices
"Horizontal", "Vertical", and "Rejoin Main Window" will appear for user
selection, as shown in Figure 40.
Figure 40. "Vertical" Drawing Toolbar
3.4 Drawing Tool Practice
One of the powerful features of the system is its ability to annotate
a display with graphics or text using the Drawing Tool. The objective of
this module is to introduce you to some of the basic drawing capabilities.
Figure 41. Sample Drawing
Step-by-step instructions for sample drawing:
- From the Main FXC Toolbar, clear the FXC Display Window.
- From the Area Options Menu, select CONUS.
- From the Surface Pull-Down Menu, select Station Plot.
- From the Tools Pull-Down Menu, select the Drawing option
(or press CTL-D). The Drawing Toolbar automatically appears, and
contains many useful features for drawing lines, fronts, symbols, etc.
Once this toolbar is active, the functionality of Mouse Button 1
changes to accomodate the drawing and editing of the drawing features.
- From the Drawing Toolbar, open the Glyph Choices Options Menu
(label changes to reflect type of glyphs) and select Front Types.
Notice the icons to the right change to reflect several line
types. Click on the Cold Front Icon.
- In the FXC Display Window, click-and-release Mouse Button 1
somewhere on the display and notice the cursor becomes a pencil. One end
of your line is now anchored at the location where you clicked. Move the
mouse to another place and click-and-release again to define the end point
of your line.
- Now click on a different Line Type, like the Dotted Freehand
Icon. Repeat Step 6.
- Under the Glyph Choices Options Menu, choose Precipitation
Symbols. Notice how the icons change in the Drawing Toolbar. Click on
the Light Intermittent Snow Icon.
- In the Glyph Size Options Menu (single letter button), select
- In the Display Window, click at the desired locations to place
the Light Intermittent Snow symbols.
- Try using the Undo, Redo, Move Glyph, and Copy
- Experiment with other Glyph Choices to familiarize yourself with
the various features and options.
- Once you have annotated an image, you can save it for later
display/modification by selcting the Save Drawing or add it as a
slide in a Slide Show.
3.5 Using the Manual
Some adjustments may be made to elements of a manual graphic after they
have been drawn by selecting the desired element, placing the tip of the
mouse cursor on the element (glyph, annotation, line, etc.), and clicking
once with mouse button 3. A pop-up menu will present options for
changing the element, as shown in Figure 42.
Figure 42. Pop-Up Options Menu for Manual Graphics
Alternatively, the elements can also be moved, duplicated, or edited
(i.e., line and shape modification) using the buttons on the drawing tool bar.
The manual graphic can be saved as a JPEG for incorporation into a document
or sent directly to a Web server for display in a Web page (firewall permitting).
If sent to a Web server it can be used for real-time coordination of weather
events between the user and any external consumer that has access to a Web
4. Weather Briefings
There are several tools available to help forecasters prepare and present
weather briefings. The most commonly used tools are procedures and slide
shows. Procedures allow forecasters to set up a sequence of forecast products
that can be displayed in sequential or random order during a weather briefing.
Once a procedure is set up, it can be used over and over again on different
days to display the current data for that day. Forecasters can also display
additional data (including graphical annotation) that is not part of the
procedure without exiting the procedure.
Figure 43. Briefing Slide Components
Another commonly used tools is a slide show that allows the forecaster
to create a series of slides that can include AWIPS Displays, special purpose
text slides and weather products downloaded from an internet server. Figure
43 illustrates the components of a briefing slide. The background image
can be any JPEG, GIF, PNG, or even the current FXC display. The text component
is an html overlay. Slide shows are created on FXC and are custom made
for each weather briefing. They are played back using the FXC slide show
4.1 Using the Slide Show
The slide show user interface is designed to allow users to create
individual slides and assemble them into a slide show. It is envisioned
that the user would create these slide shows prior to a presentation and
then play them back for the actual presentation. Individual slides can
be created from data displayed on the screen (e.g. a radar loop with lightning
data), images loaded from local disk or Web, or html text template files.
The slide shows can be easily modified to change the contents of a slide
or to add or delete slides. A special Dialog Menu is provided to create,
modify, and display slides in a slide show.
4.1.1 The Slide Show Dialog Box
To create or modify a slide show the user must first select New Slide Show
or View Slide Show from the File Pull-down Menu and either give the slide
show a name or select an existing one. This brings up the Slide Show Dialog
Box (Figure 44) that enables the creation and modification of a slide. The
Slide Show Dialog Box is arranged so that you move from top to bottom to
specify and create each slide in your slide show. The white area
at the the top of the dialog box contains a list of all of the existing
slides (i.e Bundles). This area will be blank if a new slide show is being
Figure 44. Slide Show Dialog Box
The three sections of the Slide Show Dialog Box are:
- SlidesThis portion of the Slide Show Dialog Box lists the existing
slides. When you initially open a new slide show, this portion is empty.
- Edit SlideIn this portion of the dialog box, you can define the
component(s) of the slide you want to create, and modify existing slides
Slide Composition - As shown in Figure 45, you can choose the components
of the slide you want to create by selecting the appropriate box(es). Checking
Backgound Image and disabling Single Slide will create a set of images that can
be animated (i.e. a multi-frame slide). The components of a slide are:
Figure 45. Select Slide Type Dialog Box
Text Overlay - The basic text and layout is obtained from existing html
template files. After selecting this option, click on the Create Slide Menu Button.
The Template Dialog Box will appear and guide you through directories and files of pre-made
text templates. Once you have choosen a template, click on the Open selector to
display the text slide. The slide can be alterted by selecting Edit Text...
(or pressing CTL-E with keyboard focus on the slide) which will display a
popup menu with the editable fields. Refer to Subsection 5.8 for more information
on how to create custom template files.
Image Background - This will create an image background of whatever is
displayed on the FXC Screen. This could be anything "captured" from D2D,
generated on the FXC Display, or an image or background file that you obtain via
the Load GIF/JPEG/PNG... option from the File Pull-Down Menu. Click on the Create
Slide Menu Button to create a new background slide. Note, background slides can
be used to display meteorological data, such as radar or satellite images. These
slides contain an empty text overlay.
Single-Frame Slide - This check box allows you to capture all or only
one frame of a multi-frame loop of data. For example, if you load 12 frames of
the ETA model family, but you only want to capture the 36-hour forecast, just step
to that frame and then click on the Create Slide Menu Button. Vice versa, if you
want to capture all of the forecasts disable the Single Frame Slide and click
on the Create Slide Menu Button. Note: In order to view the frame animation the
"Animate" button must be enabled.
Select Operations - Within this portion of the Slide Show Dialog Box
are the control operations for manipulating the slides and the slide order.
Create Slide - When you choose this option, the contents
of the screen will be converted to a JPEG image and stored. If you are
creating a text slide, a listing of html templates will appear. Once you
choose an html template file, the template will automatically be added
to the slide show. To create a slide that contains an image background
and text, first load the image background and then select Create Slide.
This causes the Template Dialog Box to be displayed. After selecting a
template, the background and text template will automatically be saved
as a slide.
Slide Modification - Each slide
can consist of two components, a background image and a text overlay. To
edit either one, first select the little lever symbol, as shown in Figure
46, to the left of the slide to be modified and then click on the component
of the slide that is to be changed.
Figure 46. Editing a Slide
Rename - A slide can be renamed to give it a more
descriptive name by selecting this menu button and entering the desired
Replace - This button is very powerful since it allows a user
to replace any component of an existing slide, even if the component is
empty. To replace the background image, first highlight the background
image component for the desired slide, load the new background, and then
select the Replace menu button. This will replace the background (only)
for that slide. To replace the text overlay, first highlight the text
component and then click on Replace. This will pop up a menu with the
available text templates that can be used
Remove - To delete a slide, select the desired slide and
click on the Remove Menu Button. This function can also be used to
delete a slide component, i.e. text overlay or background image, by
highlighting that component of the slide.
Edit Text... - This button will be enabled for any slide that
contains editable text. To edit a slide select this button and modify
the appropriate editable fields in the template. Note, the user may
also use the shortcut CTL-E (with the keyboard focus on the display)
to pop up the corresponding text template.
Move Up/Move Down - To rearrange the order of the slides
in your slide show, use the Move Up/Move Down Menu Buttons.
Show Slide - To view slides in a slide show during a weather
briefing or presentation, double-click on the the starting bundle of the
desired slide show, and then bring the main window to the foreground by
clicking on the window frame. Press on the Load Menu Button to display
the highlight slide, and use the Previous and Next Menu Buttons to manually
go backward and forward through the slide show. If you want to advance
through the slides automatically, the user can specify the time delay between
slides and enable the Auto-Load feature.
Auto-load - Allows the user to automatically step to the next slide
after a predefined delay. The Auto-load function will repeat the slide show,
starting with the first slide after the last slide has been displayed.
Set Dwell Time - The time shown in the small window is the delay for
the particular slide selected in the slide show dialog window. The delay
for that slide can be modified by changing the value in the window.
Show Line Cursor - For some applications it is desirable to be able
to show a horizontal line below a line of text that is being discussed. The
horizontal line can be moved with the mouse by selecting the Move Glyph in
the drawing toolbar.
When transitioning from one slide to the next, the default background
(black) is momentarily seen. If this is undesirable, change the background to
white by selecting Options>Change Display Colors and restarting the
4.2 Using the Procedure
Procedures are created and modified in a very similar manner to slide
shows. A major difference is that procedure bundles consist of only one
component (graphic product) and therefore are simpler to modify. Also,
procedures always load the most current data from the server instead of
predefined slides. The data can include Web (URL) and local images. It is
also possible to import an entire slide show (Figure 46a) into the procedure.
The auto-load capability can be used to continuously sequence through the bundles
of a procedure. Each time a bundle is loaded, the most current data will
be displayed. Like slide bundles, procedure bundles can also include frame
Figure 46a. Creating a procedure
5. Creating a Briefing
5.1 Your first slide show
- Use the default folder or select a slide folder (press CTL-F or use the
file submenu in the toolbar).
- Select "New Slide Show..." under "File" on the menu bar and type
in the name of your new slide show.
- Ensure slide composition is set to "Text overlay" (not background image,
and for a single frame).
- Select "Create Slide" on the slide show popup menu. This will
display a template chooser menu.
- Select the desired template and click "Open".
- The template with its editable fields will be displayed. To accept,
- This will display the text in the main window and also add it to your
- You just created your first slide show containing a single slide!!
- Select "Edit Text..." on the popup menu to make any changes to the text.
- Exit slide show by selecting "Close" on the slide show menu. Your slide
show is automatically saved as you create slides.
5.2 Spruce up your slide show
Add a background to your slide and append a slide with meteorological data.
- Depress the space shuttle icon on the menu bar.
- Select your slide show from the popup window chooser.
Note: The folder remains the same as before.
- Select the "key" icon next to your slide name. This will show the components
of the slide.
- Select (i.e. highlight) the image component of your slide.
- Move the mouse cursor to the main window (to activate the window);
press CTL-B and watch the default slide background appear (if another
background is desired, select "Load GIF/JPEG/PNG ..." under "File" in the
- Select "Replace" on your slide show popup menu.
- You just added a background to your slide!!
Now, let's add a radar image slide consisting of four frames to your slide show.
- Select your preferred scale and loop length, and load a radar product.
- On your slide show popup menu, define the slide composition: select
"Background image" and deselect "Text overlay" and "Single-Frame Slide".
- Select "Create Slide".
- You just added your second slide consisting of a radar loop!!
5.3 Add a slide of an annotated weather display
Let's create a slide that consists of four frames of meteorological data,
where each slide has its own graphic annotation. Here we go ...
- Select your preferred scale and loop length, and load a satellite product.
- Enable the drawing tool by pressing CTL-D (or select Drawing from the
menu bar under Tools).
- Step to the desired (first) satellite frame.
- Select the Freehand tool from the tool bar.
- Draw a line around a significant weather feature (click mouse button 1 at
the starting location, draw the desired shape, then click mouse button 1 to
complete the line; use the eraser icon to delete a previous drawing object).
- Save drawing as Graphic 1 under the diskette icon on the tool bar.
- Do the above three steps for each additional frame, saving the
drawing as Graphic 2-4 corresponding to the frame number.
When done, clear all graphic objects by selecting the "white page icon"
on the tool bar. All that should be displayed now is the satellite product.
- Now, reload your drawings by selecting "Graphic Sequence" which
is found under "Obs > Local Graphic" on the menu bar. This will overlay
your graphics on the individual satellite frames. You can verify this
by stepping through or animating your frames.
- You may need to adjust line width or color (using the product label)
since these attributes were lost. When satisfied, save your work ...
- On your slide show popup menu select "Background image" and deselect
"Text overlay" and "Single-Frame Slide").
- Select "Create Slide" on the slide show popup menu.
- That's it!
5.4 Insert a D2D display into your slide show
- Easy task! First display the desired product on your D2D display.
- Maximize the display by moving the left edge of the D2D product
window all the way to the left.
- On the Briefing Tool (FXC) select "Capture D-2D Display" under
"File" on the menu bar.
- On your slide show popup menu select "Background image" and
"Single-Frame Slide", and deselect "Text overlay".
- Select "Create Slide".
- You're done!!
5.5 Need a very custom slide (existing templates won't do)?
- Load the default slide background by pressing CTL-B
(if another background is desired, select "Load GIF/JPEG/PNG ..."
under "File" in the menu bar).
- Activate the drawing tool by pressing CTL-D (or select Drawing under
"Tools" in the menu bar).
- Use the drawing tool to write text or create tables or charts.
When done, save your graphic as a slide...
- Simple editable text field:
@@ text text text @@
Example: @@No significant weather@@
- Simple editable text field with label "Temp":
Example: Temperature:@@Temp=55 deg@@
- Colored text field (the first color is the default color):
@@|color1|color2|color3=text text text@@
Example: @@|black|white=Hello World@@
- Colored text field (where the text is the name of the color):
@@text text text~color1|color2=color1@@
- Editable text Matrix:
@@any valid exp@@ @@_any valid exp@@ (Note the "_" to continue a row):
Example (3 rows x 2 columns):
Rule 1 @@Now~green|red=green@@ @@_T0~green|red=green@@
Rule 2 @@Now~green|red=green@@ @@_T0~green|red=green@@
Rule 3 @@Now~green|red=green@@ @@_T0~green|red=green@@
The template files are found in
5.10 Automating a slide briefing
Let's insert our slide show into a procedure,
and then let the system automatically step through the
slides and real-time data displays.
- Open up an existing procedure by selecting it from
the file submenu in the menubar.
- In the procedure popup menu select "Insert Slide show.."
and select the desired slide show in the popup chooser window.
The procedure popup window will be updated with the
slides from the slide show.
- Use the UP or DOWN arrows to properly place the
slides in the procedure.
- Before activating the auto-sequencing, select each
item in the procedure and adjust the dwell for that
item at the bottom right of the procedure menu.
- After you are satisfied with the dwell times, select
and activate the auto-update selector.
- You may need to load the first item before the
- That's it! If you need to change the dwell time or
replace an item, stop the procedure and then perform the
appropriate action as described elsewhere in this document.
Original FXC user documentation created
FXC User's Guide Web versions created and maintained
FSL - Systems Development Division
Technical Communication Services
Current Web Version Updated 6 April 2005