Register your stuff with purx!

TOPCAT screenshot
If you open the TAP dialog of TOPCAT, what you see is Registry content.

The VO Registry lets people find astronomical resources (which is jargon for “dataset, service, or stuff“). Currently, most of its users don’t even notice they’re using the Registry, as when TOPCAT just magically lists what TAP services are available (image above) – but there are also interfaces that let you directly interact with the registry, for instance GAVO’s WIRR service or ESAVO’s Registry Search.

Arguably, the usefulness of the Registry scales with its completeness. With sufficient completeness, the domain-specific, structured metadata will also make it interesting for generic discovery of astronomical data; in a quip, looking for UCDs in google will never work quite well – and without that, it’s hard to find things with queries like „radio fluxes of early-type stars”.

Either way: If you have a data set or a service dealing with astronomy, it’d be great if you could register it. To do this, so far you either had to set up a publishing registry, which is nontrivial even if you have a software that natively speaks a protocol called OAI-PMH (DaCHS does, but most other publishing suites don’t) or you could use one of two web interfaces to define your resource (notes for a talk on this I gave in 2016).

Neither of these options is really attractive if you publish only a few resources (so the overhead of running a publishing registry looks excessive) that change now and then (so using a web browser to update the resource records again and again is tedious). Therefore, GAVO has developed purx, the publishing registry proxy. We’ve officially announced it during the recent Southern Spring Interop in Santiago de Chile (Program), and the lecture notes for that talk are probably a good introduction to what this is about.

If you’re running VO services and have not registered them so far, you probably want to read both these notes and the service documentation. If, on the other hand, you just have a web-published directory of files or a browser-based service, you probably can skip even that. Just grab a sample record (use the one for a simple browser service in both cases) and adapt it to what’s fitting for your website. Then put the resulting file online somewhere and paste the URL of that location on purx’ enrollment service. In case you’re uncertain about some of the terms in the record, perhaps our crib sheet for metadata we ask our data providers for will be helpful.

There’s really no excuse any more for not being in the Registry!

GAVO at AG-Tagung 2017, Göttingen

[Image: Booth 2017]

For the 11th time, GAVO has a booth at a meeting of the venerable Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG). This year, we are in Göttingen, again offering advice to users and data providers at our booth (if you’re looking for us: We’re close to the entrance of Hörsaal 5).

And again we have a Puzzler, a little problem easily solved if you know your VO tech – and if you don’t we’ll gladly help you at our booth. We are also giving hints there, one being released at each coffee break on Tuesday and Wednesday (there are little posters with them, too, if you miss one). Of course, if you’re not in Göttingen, you’re still welcome to try your hand. You won’t get to win our great first prize then, the big Crab Nebula towel (it should be easy to spot on the image above).

If, on the other hand, you are in Göttingen, be sure to drop by our splinter meeting. Yours truly, for instance, will speak about EPN-TAP (remember And the Solar System, too right here? That’s what this is about).

Update 2017-09-20, 17:00 We’ve just given out the last hint for the puzzler, and so we can publish them all over on the puzzler archive: Hints for the 2017 puzzler. If you’re in Göttingen, you still have until tomorrow 16:00 to hand in a solution and perhaps win our nice and fuzzy Crab Nebula towel.

Update 2017-09-21, 17:00 And the winner is… again not from Marburg, which is beginning to become a running gag, and they’ve been unlucky for the last three years in a row. Anyway, here’s our proposed solution.

Asterics Tech Forum

The 3. Asterics DADI Tech Forum took place last week in Strasbourg – and many GAVO members made contributions as well.
This time, there were 3 slots for hackathon sessions, which were also used for discussions. We’ll mention two highlights of our contributions here.

We took the opportunity to push our Provenance Data Model efforts and used the hackathon slots for provenance discussions.
One topic was the links between the simulation data model and ProvenanceDM, and how to map from SimDM to ProvenanceDM classes. This mapping works quite well and will be included in the working draft for the data model. We also had an interesting talk by José Enrique Ruiz on his view on Provenance, workflows, and – very important – the “deployer” and “system” provenance for storing all the environment variables that may be needed to rerun the processing of some observational data. Michèle Sanguillon also presented for the first time her extension to the prov Python library (W3C) with extensions from our IVOA Provenance Data Model. We also had interested people from outside the usual provenance-interested people joining in, e.g. from the Astron project. More about our Provenance modelling efforts can be found at IVOA Provenance wiki page.

A world premiere (of sorts) was the first discussion of RegTAP 1.1. RegTAP is a search interface to the VO Registry; it is what TOPCAT or other VO clients uses when you type in keywords to locate services. A fairly direct web-basd interface is our WIRR registry interface. RegTAP will need a bit of a makeover since VOResource, the underlying metadata scheme is currently receiving one, allowing, in particular, for including DOIs and ORCIDs (John Does of this world, rejoice: People can finally uniquely find your data and not that of all the other J. Does) in Registry records and figuring out licenses on data. Licensing may not matter when you use data in a paper but it does matter if you want to redistribute data, e.g. for planetarium programs with catalog data or pretty pictures, or when re-mixing data.

But of course the GAVOistas happily joined the fray on the many other topics discussed, from a standard format for a time series to interoperable authentication, from datalink applications to figuring out if data coming into a program should be treated as a collection of spectra or rather an object catalog – the latter in the context of the upcoming version 10 of the VO’s premier image tool Aladin, which we saw (probably another premiere) demoed. We can already promise you an exciting update!

ADASS and InterOp participation

We were taking part at this year’s ADASS meeting (Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems) in Trieste and contributed a talk on the Provenance Data Model for the data model session.

The ADASS meeting was followed by the Northern Fall Interoperability Meeting of the IVOA, where new standards and protocols were being discussed.

It was a quite long week, but very inspiring!!