11A.1 VISITView: 20 Years of Forecaster Training and Counting

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 10:30 AM
Room 17A (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Tommy Jasmin, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; and S. S. Lindstrom, S. Bachmeier, and T. Whittaker

In the late 1990s, scientists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) created VISITview, a system that allowed National Weather Service (and other agencies worldwide) staff to collaborate and train remotely on the same computer screen. Its particular strengths include seamless animation abilities for long loops and easy on-screen annotations. In many ways, VISITview was a specialized predecessor to modern remote collaboration tools like WebEx and GoToMeeting. However, the usefulness of this tool has outlived the underlying technologies used to develop it.

Security restrictions have made it difficult or impossible to run the Java applet client side of the VISITView system in modern web browsers. Chrome discontinued browser support for Java applets in late 2015; Firefox dropped Java plugin support with version 52 in early 2017. To keep VISITView functionality available to the active user base, it was necessary to recast the client using open technologies that would run in any web browser for years to come.

The new VISITView client, released in 2017, incorporates HTML5 and WebSockets. HTML5 expands the HTML standard, providing new graphic elements suitable for meteorological data displays such as the Canvas. WebSockets is a W3C standard that allows full-duplex, interactive communication in a single web page: without leaving or even interacting with the web page, a user can get updates from a remote user, and likewise manually update their screen knowing the remote user will immediately see the results.

The new client means a proven, widely used system that has provided necessary forecaster collaborative education can continue for many years to come. This presentation will highlight common use cases of the VISITView system with examples that demonstrate how vital these tools are for meteorological science training.

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