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CAVE Annotation Tool (CAT) is a graphic annotation capability designed for AWIPS II. It provides a wide range of annotation capabilities for creating Web graphics and presentation material. It has many of the graphic capabilities of PowerPoint™ and additional capabilities such as the creation of animated graphics (gif) and the export of KMZ (Google Earth) display files.

Its unique strength is its integration with AWIPS II. This allows forecasters to display the desired data on their workstation and quickly annotate the displays. The AWIPS "bundles" can be used to call up the desired combination of weather products with a single menu selection. All of the AWIPS graphic manipulation features are available to the forecaster. After the graphic is created, a single menu selection can send the graphic to the desired Web site.

CAT also supports the creation of animated images. A forecaster can annotate a series of graphic frames with such information as the movement of a storm or front and capture that directly in a gif image. The speed of animation can be adjusted so that the user can dwell on each frame for several seconds.

Unfortunately, the restrictions on the AWIPS network makes it difficult to access external Web sites for supplemental weather data. Thus, if a forecaster depends heavily on graphics created outside of AWIPS then the graphic products may be more efficiently created outside of AWIPS.

Leveraging FXC - The Forecaster's Experimental Collaboration (FXC) tool was used widely by NWS forecasters for over a decade. FXC contained three major components: graphic annotation, real-time collaboration, and AWIPS weather data display and manipulation.

The graphic annotation was used heavily by the NWS Southern and Central regions to create their daily, or more frequent, graphicast products. CAT retains all of the drawing capailities in FXC and includes many additional features requested by users. Although some new pop-up menus and other slight menu changes exist in CAT, the user interface remains basically the same, making it easy for the forecaster to transition to CAT.

FXC/CAT Annotation Capabilities

The collaboration capability has been integrated into the AWIPS II baseline. It allows forecasters in different offices to collaborate in real time with each other using graphic displays and text. Since collaboration is fully integrated into AWIPS II, CAT does not provide a collaboration capability.

AWIPS II Collaboration Screen

The graphic display and manipulation capabilities are provided by AWIPS II. AWIPS II has access to a large and diverse set of real-time data that it can display in a variety of different ways. Since CAT is basically an additional workstation function, CAT takes full advantage of this AWIPS II capability.

CAT Architecture - The CAT software is an AWIPS II plugin written in Java that can easily be installed on AWIPS II. The plugin utilizes the AWIPS II core functionality and behaves very similar to all other AWIPS II plug-ins. It is different in that the user installs it and the code is not maintained by the AWIPS II contractor, but rather by ESRL/GSD.

FXC is a stand-alone program that uses the AWIPS I software to access the AWIPS I data base and to create graphic meta-files. The graphic meta-files are then rendered into a separate dedicated FXC window.


Grote, U. H., 2008: Geo-Targeted Alerting System (GTAS) CIRA Magazine, Vol. 29, Spring 2008, P1-3 (PDF)

Rodgers, D. M., G. Pratt, and J. M. Osiensky, 2005: Volcanic Ash Coordination Tool. Presented at the 21st International Confernce on Interactive Information and Processing Systems, January 2005, San Diego, CA. (PDF)

Grote, U. H. and C. Golden, 2003: Enhancements to FX-Collaborate to Support Operations at NWS, USAF, and NASA. This paper was presented at the 19th International Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology, February 2003, Long Beach, CA (American Meteorological Society). (PDF version)

Bushong, Jack S., 2003: Operational Use of FX-Collaborate at the Southeast River Forecast Center. 19th International Conf. on Interactive Information and Processing Systems, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc., P1.41 (PDF)

Grote, U. H. and C. Golden, 2002: Extending AWIPS to Support Remote Collaboration. This descriptive paper was presented at the Interactive Symposium on the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), Orlando, January 2002, American Meteorological Society.

Rodgers, D. M., and T. Amis, 2002: Applying FX-Connect to the Prototype Aviation Collaborative Effort at the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. 10th Conf. on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology, Portland, OR, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 277-280.

Rodgers, D. M., 2002:Applying AWIPS Technology to the Prototype Aviation Collaboration Effort (PACE). Presented at the Interactive Symposium on the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), Orlando, January 2002, American Meteorological Society. (PDF)

Grote, U. H., 1999: A Java-Based Collaborative Working Environment for FX-Advanced. This overview of the original plan and architecture was presented at the 15th International Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology, Dallas, January 1999, American Meteorological Society.


CAT User Guide 14 August 2012

Short Training Videos (approx. 2 min each)

FAQ 15 April 2008

Drawing Tool Examples 22 January 2008

FXC User Guide (html)   (pdf 3.1MB)   Rev 6, 21 March 2005.

Operator Manual Rev 4, 11 March 2004.

VEF User Guide Provided by VEF for creating Hazardous Weather Outlook graphics for the Web -  13 February 2007

Creating a geo-referenced GIS map (Courtesy of BOU) -  20 February 2008

Creating a custom GIS map (Courtesy of IWX) -  28 February 2008

FXC Run-time Options 29 September 2009

NVIDIA Driver Update in OB9.1 and FXC Performance Provided by Bryan Ruby (FSD) - 26 October 2009

Graphicast Sites

Central Region
Southern Region

Ft. Worth CWSU
Seattle CWSU

San Angelo, TX Daily Multimedia Weather Briefing

Examples of FXC/CAT graphic capabilities

Software Download


CAVE Annotation Tool Plugin
(OB16.2.2 and OB16.4.1 versions available)

FXC for AWIPS (Linux)
FXC 5.1.2 Download

FXC for AWIPS (Windows)
FXC 5.1.2 Download

List of new features 5.1.2

FXC Design: Herb Grote;

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Last updated March 2017