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See also developer.scripting,, and

More scripts in the SVN repository: [1] (All scripts before and including have been verified to work with current DOM).


  1. Introduction
  2. Script Editor
  3. Data Source Context
    1. Overview
    2. Example: Reading ASCII file from URL
    3. Example: Reading ASCII response URI
    4. Example: Query Parameters
    5. TimeSeriesBrowse
  4. Application Context
    1. Overview
    2. Example: Modify Canvas
    3. Example: List files in a directory
    4. Example: Plot all files in directory
    5. Example: Progress Monitor
    6. Example: Create your own tool
  5. Scripting From the Command Line, outside of Autoplot

1. Introduction

Autoplot can be scripted using Jython. Jython is an implementation of the Python scripting language. A Jython script has easy access to Java libraries.

Scripting can be used for various purposes, including to:

  • load data from multiple data sources and combine them to make a new dataset,
  • automatically create a series of images, typically one image per file, called a pngwalk,
  • plot complex ASCII files,
  • modify the default way in which a data file is rendered, and
  • create a new application.

Mathematical operations may be applied on Autoplot data objects (QDataSets) using a syntax that is similar to operations on arrays and matricies in IDL or MATLAB. Unlike arrays and matrices in IDL and MATLAB, QDataSets have metadata and physical units; the physical units must be consistent for certain operations to be carried out.

For example, this script

ds1= getDataSet( '' )
ds2= getDataSet( '' )
plot( abs( ds2- ds1 ) )

loads two grayscale images and plots the result. If this script is copied into the script editor (Options->Enable Feature->Script Editor) and executed, a spectrogram showing the differences between the two grayscale images is plotted.

There are three types of scripts:

2. Script Editor

Autoplot has script editor GUI. Selecting Options->Enable Feature->Script Panel will reveal a tab named "script" where scripts may be entered and executed. The editor provides simple completions for this environment. To see completions, enter TAB or ctrl-space. (Note there is a preference for disabling TAB for completion, since some may wish to use tabs in their scripts.)

The script editor is often used with the console tab, where any messages printed will appear.

3. Data Source Context

Autoplot scripts have two different contexts, which determine what a script can do. The "Data Source Context" is only for loading data, and the "Application Context" can do everything. Data Source Context scripts can be used in more applications--for example they can be used within a data server that knows nothing about the Autoplot application.

3.1. Overview

In this context, scripts load data and return a new dataset (or datasets). Data context scripts have file extension jyds (Jython data dource).

If the above script

ds1= getDataSet( '' )
ds2= getDataSet( '' )
result= abs( ds2- ds1 )

was saved and uploaded to


would refer to this dataset.

Data Source scripts are unaware of the Autoplot GUI and DOM; they can load and operate on data, but they cannot manipulate how the data is plotted (for example, the color of the lines may not be modified in a Data Source script). These scripts can be used outside of Autoplot for this reason, for example in custom applications that use Autoplot's data loading but not the application itself.

Commands available in this context are listed at developer.scripting#Ops. These commands will also appear in a selection menu when TAB is pressed on a blank line in the script panel.


3.2. Example: Reading ASCII file from URL

Autoplot can plot many ASCII files automatically by using either the help#ASCII_Editor or a URL template. However, many ASCII files have unusual structure and require a script to convert the data in the file into a QDataSet.

Consider this file [3], which has lines of the form

8601012082243337373350403340303 18 22 22 18 48 27 18 27 251.26  0 67.00 
8601022082253740303040372720260 22 27 15 15 27 22 12  7 181.05  0 67.60

The file format specification is given at [4]. This script reads the file and convert it into a QDataSet: [5]

3.3. Example: Reading ASCII response URI

Consider a CGI script that returns a simply structured ASCII table

the first few lines of the response are

Year 	Month	Day	Hour	Minute	Second	GEIX(km)	GEIY(km)	GEIZ(km)
2012	07	01	00	00	00	32408.000000	16953.527344	-3749.659424
2012	07	01	00	05	00	32192.494141	17464.601562	-3832.397949

Because the ASCII table is simple, we would like to apply the ASCII template


If the URI was to a file

we could append an ASCII template to the URI into Autoplot's address bar$Y+$m+$d+$H+$M+$S

and a plot with the correct time axis would be shown.

However, because the CGI script URI has query parameters, we must use a script. Autoplot can load data from remote files, but to load data from services it must have additional code.

To plot this data, use

uri      = ''
params   = 'stime=1353214800&etime=1353387600&ctime=300&mode=gei&header=yes&spacecraft=a'
template = 'time=field0&column=field6&timeFormat=$Y+$m+$d+$H+$M+$S'
file  = downloadResourceAsTempFile( URL(uri+params), monitor).toString() 
data= getDataSet( 'vap+dat:'+file+"?"+template )
#import string
#fp    = open( file, "r" )
#lineNum = 1
#tt= []
#dd= []
#for line in fp:
#   if ( lineNum>1 ):
#      ss= string.split( line, '\t' )
#      tt.append( Units.us2000.parse( string.join( ss[0:6], ' ' ) ).doubleValue(Units.us2000) )
#      dd.append( Units.kiloMeters.parse( ss[6] ).doubleValue(Units.kiloMeters) )
#   lineNum= lineNum+1
#tt= dataset(tt)
#tt.putProperty( QDataSet.UNITS, Units.us2000 )
#dd= dataset(dd)
data.putProperty( QDataSet.UNITS, Units.kiloMeters )
#data= link( tt, dd )

3.4. Example: Query Parameters

Query parameters may be appended to the URI to a Data Source script. The parameter names and values are passed to the script. For example, if you created a script foo.jyds with the following lines at the top

s= getParam( 's', 'deflt', 'label to describe' )   # gets a string parameter, with default value "deflt"
f= getParam( 'f', 2.34, 'label to describe' )      # gets a float parameter, with default value 2.34

The user would be able pass options to the script in the URI:


The script editor showing labels that are automatically generated based occurrences of calls to  getParam.  The type for each parameter is determined by the default value.

3.5. TimeSeriesBrowse

Scripts can easily support timeSeriesBrowse, so that scripts can be used to create long time series. For example, a script could read any file from vap+cdf:$Y/po_k0_efi_$Y$m$d_v$v.cdf, and then derive data from this (

# demonstrate how script can have timeSeriesBrowse to modify another dataset
timerange= getParam( 'timerange', '2000-01-09', 'timerange to plot' )
uri= 'vap+cdf:$Y/po_k0_efi_$Y$m$d_v$v.cdf?POTENT&timerange=%s' % timerange
ds= getDataSet( uri, monitor )
if ( ds==None ): 
  data= None
  data= abs(ds)
  data.putProperty( QDataSet.TITLE, 'Positive Spacecraft Potential' )  

This would then have URIs that have a default time range of 2000-01-09, but any timerange can be plotted by adding "?timerange=2000-01-08". Scanning on the time axis will cause the script to be called again and more data is loaded.

4. Application Context

4.1. Overview

All scripting commands are available in this context. Application Context scripts modify the GUI, default canvas view, and the DOM. Application context scripts have file extension jy.


  • In the repository: [6] (All scripts before and including have been verified to work with current DOM).
  • In cookbook#Scripting

4.2. Example: Modify Canvas

Change line color

result= getDataSet( '' )
dom.plotElements[0].style.color= Color.RED

4.3. Example: List files in a directory

# All files
files= listDirectory( '*' )
for file in files:
   print file
# Only files of that match pattern
files= listDirectory( '[0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]' )
for file in files:
   print file

(Note the second example shows a bug where ? cannot be used to indicate a single character. This will be fixed.)

4.4. Example: Plot all files in directory

trs= generateTimeRanges( '%Y-%m-%d', '2010-January' )
for tr in trs:
    dom.timeRange= DatumRangeUtil.parseTimeRange(tr)
    writeToPng( '/tmp/%s.png' % tr )

runs the application through each day of the month January 2010, making images of each day.

4.5. Example: Progress Monitor

All scripts may use a progress monitor to provide feedback to users. This built-in variable is named monitor .

monitor.setTaskSize(200)                     # the number of steps (arbitrary units)
monitor.started()                            # the task is started.  
for i in xrange(200):
    if ( monitor.isCancelled() ): break       # if not called, the cancel button will be insensitive
    monitor.setProgressMessage('at %d' % i)   # this describes actions done to perform the task.  
monitor.finished()     # indicate the task is complete

4.6. Example: Create your own tool

Application Context scripts can be added to the Autoplot GUI by putting them in the HOME/autoplot_data/tools/ folder. shows some example scripts.

Under Options->Rendering Options there is a option for showing dates as "YYYY-MM-DD" or "YYYY-DOY". This option could be made available under Tools->Toggle Day-of-Year by placing the following in HOME/autoplot_data/tools/toggleDayOfYear.jy and restarting Autoplot.

# label: Toggle Day-of-Year
val= dom.options.isDayOfYear()
val= 1-val 

Note there is [menubar]->Tools->"Manage and Browse Tools" now, which lets you manage the tools just like the bookmarks. This also allows tools to reside on remote sites, and for teams to have a standard set of tools with the remote bookmarks mechanism.

5. Scripting From the Command Line, outside of Autoplot

Often we want to create a specialized application for a particular science task. Invoking Autoplot with the --script option will run the script at startup. For example, you could have a digitizing application that you always want to come up in a particular configuration. The digitizer is added and the data is loaded automatically.

Invoked using the --script launch option

The name of the script (e.g. /tmp/script.jy) following the --script keyword is invoked at launch.

An example application of this is reformatting files, where an Autoplot script is used to load in a binary file and writes out a CDF. A unix bash script is used to loop over each input file, and the script is run.

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