Friday, April 9, 2010

Replace dap-server WWW Interface

Below is my GSoC proposal to OpenDAP, the developer of a scientific data server. You can see the official proposal here.

Have you contributed to any open source projects in the past? If so, which ones?

I've worked two open-source projects other than OpenDAP: Pygame2, a low-level Python SDL wrapper library; and OpenInkpot, a Debian-based e-reader OS. While developing an example game with Pygame2, I found, isolated, and reported several bugs. In preparation for my OpenInkpot GSoC application, I added a feature to OpenInkpot, closing Ticket #834.

What are your other summer plans?

I plan to go on a vacation with my family for a week or two. I'm not taking any college courses, and I have no other commitments.

Where are you going to school?

I've graduated with highest honors from Broward College with an Associate in Arts degree, but I'm still picking up some prerequisite classes before I transfer. I plan to pursue a BS in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Florida, or another school — I haven't decided yet.

Have you used any of our software in the past? If so, which?

My first experience with your software was installing Hyrax from source (from this branch.)

What experience do you have that's relevant to your project?


I've been programming for two years. Writing code is my favorite hobby, and one day, it will be my profession. I love to develop software, and I read everything I can to improve my skills.


Javascript snowflake SVG micro-library
JSON Javascript slideshow
I've taken a college course on C++, and I've read Effective C++, but I haven't published any C++ code yet. If a code sample is required, I could send you one of my class projects.
Shell scripting
OpenInkpot patch
Several system utilities for my personal use

Website creation

I've developed more than ten commercial websites from the ground up. I'm proficient in (X)HTML and CSS, and I'm comfortable with SVG. I enjoy creating simple, usable websites.


Software development

I've been developing software on Ubuntu for about a year. I've compiled several applications from source, and I'm familiar with the GNU build system as both a user and a developer. I'm comfortable using the major Unix commands and chaining them together into useful shell scripts. I've used both SVN and Git to retrieve and commit code. I have all the necessary skills to collaboratively develop software.

Project proposal

I plan to replace the dap-server WWW Interface with a more intuitive data request form.


  1. Remove WWW Interface from dap-server
  2. Create new BES module for generating data request forms
  3. Design intuitive HTML form for constructing data request URLs
  4. Write server-side form generator
  5. Write Javascript to read user input, construct request URL, and send data request
  6. If I have extra time:

    1. Write server-side data request generator to improve accessibility
    2. Add JSON format to dap-server to simplify Javascript metadata access


  • More logical, easier-to-use interface
  • Simpler, more readable code due to separation from dap-server
  • Greater accessibility with semantic XHTML form


  1. BES receives request for data specification form
  2. Request is sent to form-generation module
  3. Module generates data-specific data request form
  4. Form is sent to user
  5. User specifies desired data through form
  6. Javascript constructs data request URL
  7. User clicks on generated link
  8. BES receives data request and sends it to dap-server
  9. dap-server returns requested data

Why not Ajax?

  • Server-side caching
  • Greater speed
  • Fewer HTTP requests
  • Easier to implement