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Friday, June 23, 2017
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About VIEWS 2.0

VIEWS 2.0

Over the last two years, the VIEWS team has been working to update the website and database with new hardware, software, architecture, features, and content. These improvements will help facilitate the ongoing maintenance and extensibility of the system as well as the continued development of new features for the VIEWS community. Below is a summary of these updates.
 

Infrastructure Upgrades

Hardware Upgrades

  • New database servers: Dual quad-core processors, 4.5 Terabytes of storage, RAID array
  • New web server: Dual quad-core processors, 1.5 Terabytes of storage, Western Digital Velociraptor drives

Software Upgrades

  • Operating systems upgraded from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008
  • Relational database upgraded from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2008
  • Microsoft .Net Framework upgraded from version 2.0 to version 3.5
  • Interactive Data Language (IDL) upgraded from version 6.4 to version 7.1
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) upgraded from version 6 to version 7
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standard upgraded to version 2.0
  • Browser support added for Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla FireFox 3+

Architectural Refinements

  • Database schema and configuration improvements
  • Data import system improvements and optimizations
  • Database query and retrieval optimizations
  • Source code refactoring and organizational refinements
  • Web page performance enhancements
  • Google analytics for website traffic statistics
  • New web services and service oriented architecture (SOA) refinements

New Resources and Features

Project Profiles
To highlight the various projects that the VIEWS team is involved with, we've created a "Project Profile" template to display information about these projects. Currently, we have profiles for our WRAP TSS, NASA ROSES 2007, NAAPS, and EPA Ozone projects.
Database Query Wizard Additions
Previously, the Database Query Wizard only offered raw tabular data as output. Now, it has been extensively updated and expanded to offer a variety of output format types such as charts, graphs, and maps.
Interactive Charts and Graphs (via the Query Wizard)
For users with the Microsoft .NET Framework installed, the Query Wizard now offers a specialized version of all the charts and graphs that enables users to interactively change the style and appearance of graphs as well as explore the underlying data.
Dynamic Contour Maps (via the Query Wizard)
It is now possible to generate dynamic contour maps from the Query Wizard. You can customize the sites, parameters, and date ranges used to create the maps as well as select the algorithm used to interpolate the data.
Network and Site Browser
To more easily show the spatial distribution of data collection sites within a given monitoring network, we developed a Google Maps application to display site locations for a selected network. You can also view detailed site metadata and photographs (if available) by selecting sites from the map.
Data Statistics Tool
We've developed a tool for displaying and exploring summary statistics for the data at individual monitoring sites. You can use this tool to get measures such as the minimum, maximum, standard deviation, and variance of the data for selected parameters at individual sites.
Air Quality Index (AQI) maps from AirNow.gov
These maps are obtained remotely and on-the-fly from EPA's AirNow.gov website. You can view the map for the current hour, a daily average AQI map, and a 24 hour loop of AQI maps.
U.S. Electric Grid Maps
To show the spatial distribution and emissions potential of our nation's power-generation systems, we've developed an web page to offer access to the EPA's eGrid database and application.
Dataset Index
We developed a comprehensive and searchable index of all the datasets available on VIEWS to help users more easily understand individual datasets and discover datasets of interest.
Dataset Update History
To help users better understand and follow the sequence of ongoing updates that are made to the VIEWS database, we created an sortable table of dataset updates arranged in (by default) reverse chronological order.
Document Explorer
We've developed an Explorer-type application to provide more intuitive access to the files and documents available on VIEWS. This application provides a single point of entry for browsing all the documents that are linked to from various web pages on VIEWS.
Website Search Function Implemented with Microsoft Bing
The previous search utility was implemented with the Google Search API. Unfortunately, Google made the regrettable decision to start including advertisements in its search results. Because we didn't think advertisements were appropriate for a website like VIEWS, we switched to using Microsoft's Bing Search API instead (which doesn't include ads). In addition, Bing has proven to be faster and more comprehensive.
User Forums
We often get comments or inquiries from users that might be helpful to others, so we developed a user forum to help organize these and facilitate the search for information on the site. You are encouraged to use the forum for submitting your own questions and feedback and for contributing to existing discussions.
Glossary of Terms, Abbreviations, and Codes
To fulfill a long-standing request from many users, we developed a glossary of terms and codes used on VIEWS. This is a work in progress, so please feel free to email us with suggestions for additions to the glossary.
Air Quality Links
We've created a consolidated and categorized list of links to various air quality sites and online resources that are relevant or directly related to the types of data and functionality offered by VIEWS.
VIEWS Overview
By popular demand, we've developed a short overview of the history, features, and highlights of VIEWS.
VIEWS News
This page contains a comprehensive list of all the current and historical news items published to VIEWS.
VIEWS Sponsors
This page contains a list of the current and historical funding sponsors of VIEWS.
VIEWS Team
This page contains photographs and short biographical sketches of the members of the immediate and extended VIEWS team.

Updates to the Home Page and Overall Style

We changed the URL for VIEWS to make it shorter, simpler, and more representative of the website name.
Updated "look-and-feel"
The previous layout and style of VIEWS has been updated in order to 1) reduce the textual density of various content, 2) increase the screen space available for displaying complex tools and results, 3) make navigation more intutitive, and 4) provide a more contemporary look.
New top navigation bar with dropdown menus (replaces left-side navigation)
This was done to decrease the visual density of each web page and (primarily) to increase the amount of horizontal screen "real estate". Many of the tools on VIEWS have numerous user interface elements and/or require a large amount of screen space to display their output. A top-side dropdown navigation scheme provides more space for the tools so that all their elements are fully visible without scrolling.
Mini Data Wizard for home page
This tool was added to the home page in order to provide a more obvious "jumping off" point for obtaining air quality data. It was also added to demonstrate the ability to retrieve and present context-sensitive data, and to serve as a simpler gateway to the more advanced Data Query Wizard.
Geo-location of visitors for personalization
This was added to provide context-sensitive configuration options to various VIEWS tools. The "mini query wizard" on the home page uses geo-location to sort the list of monitoring sites according to their estimated proximity to individual website visitors.
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