Better Maps, Better Resolution and Performance Changes
Over the last month, we have been working hard to modernize color pallets used in our temperature, wind and moisture products. These changes are happening transparently with our system, and a simple reload of your console will assure you are receiving the updated color tables and new schemes. We are working on each product one at a time, tweaking the results until we are satisfied it contains both aesthetic appeal and improved scientific definition.
Users should expect to see additional changes to data over the coming weeks as we work through modernizing all our generated products.
The release of 7.8 included major changes to our map dimensions, domains and positioning. In an effort to improve use of our system and help eliminate the need to consistently switch from area to area, we consolidated several domains into larger areas - while increasing our map sizes to accommodate larger computer displays and monitor aspect ratios. At the same time, we've added new "zoomed" Mesoscale domains for the Northeast and Southeastern US - and more are likely coming.
Finally, with the release of 7.8.4, we incorporated necessary code improvements to help speed up product loading times, especially with larger product sets like the GFS.
Many more changes are on the way, and we are working to continuously improve the system. As always, we ask our users to clear their browser cache and relogin to get the latest update. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information about new features and releases.
Our Free Mobile Optimized Map Viewer
We are pleased to announce the availability of SimuAWIPS Mobile. This new browser based viewer can be accessed from any modern smartphone or tablet, and provides access to most of the products normally available in our professional desktop version.
We've worked to streamline this new viewer as much possible. Automatic updates continously occur through our Cloud based servers, so users never need to worry about bug fixes, security permissions or device dependant releases.1
To top it all off, the basic edition of SimuAWIPS Mobile will be free. Users will soon have the option to create an account and gain professional level functionality, including the ability to load custom maps, settings, enterprise features and multiple panel views.2
To get started, simply point your smartphone or tablet browser to simuawips.com/mobile. More news will be coming down the road as winter wears on, and we hope our users enjoy this exciting addition to our system.
1. Users gain enhanced, fullscreen expierience when adding to their home screen.
2. Desktop console and advanced mobile version included on all paid accounts starting in Spring 2017.
SimuAWIPS release 7.6.1 is now available for use by all of our users.
Features and Improvements
We've introduced the ability to better customize your charts used in SimuAWIPS. Our new maps feature improved fonts used for place labels, a new topography layer for all single site radars, and the ability to use light or dark colored backgrounds for your map areas. We've also changed the systems behavior when loading model data, and all animations will now begin at the first hour of the model cycle, versus the last hour. In addition, all model products will now render Zulu / UTC based time stamps for easier interpretation.
Experimental Fire Weather Products
We're excited to be helping provide forecast and situational awareness to several wildland fire management partners this summer, and have added new MODIS and NIFC products to help aid tracking emerging and established fires across the United States.
A few bug fixes have been implemented with the version 7.5.8 release:
Happy Holidays from the SimuAWIPS project! I wanted to provide an update on the latest release of SimuAWIPS and detail some exciting changes that are coming for the first part of 2016.
System Version 7.1 Now Available
A new release of SimuAWIPS has been posted, and includes a couple of new features and products. First off, users can now create custom maps and save them to their console for later use. This means any maps you create using the "Chart Builder" (formally the Chart Browser) can be saved to the system for easy access later on. Not only will the chart itself save, but the location, animation settings, fill layer opacity (transparancy) and map features will be stored. You can also choose whether or not the map will appear under the "Custom" drop down menu, for easy access!
I've also turned on a couple of new single-site radar products, including Composite Reflectivity and Level II Spectrum Width. While these two products are nothing earth-shattering, there have been some requests from users to add them to the system.
Finally, there have been a few usability and bug fixes to help improve day to day use of the console, and I plan to continue to roll bug fixes into weekly builds from here on out (so remember to refresh your console once in a while to assure you are getting the latest verified build).
What's Ahead in 2016
Keep an eye out for several new domains, including Alaska! This includes support for all modes of available model output, surface observations, Level II and mosaic products. Additionally, I plan to continue adding functionality (including session management and soundings) as well as more model products (such as the NAM 4k, RGEM and low resolution ECMWF).
Speaking of products, some of you may have heard that there will be a major dataset added to the system sometime before Spring 2016. While I cannot provide the exact details, I can confirm that it will be a rather striking addition - something many of you will find incredibly useful as severe weather season approaches here in the United States.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more upcoming changes and announcements as we head into the new year!
After nearly a decade, I have been placed into a position where some difficult choices have become necessary to continue providing SimuAWIPS to the meteorological community. After many months of attempting to shoulder the burden of hosting infrastructure and data feed costs, a crossroads has been reached - and SimuAWIPS will be transforming into a commercial product.
This decision was not made with haste, and I've spent quite a lot of time putting together plans to assure that what I ask for in payment is delivered with professionalism and in a reliable manner. After last Springs server loss, I elected to embark on re-engineering the system using Amazon Web Services. This change has opened up the potential for the system to deliver a much larger range of products and capabilities, all without the worry of excessive downtime due to a single piece of hardware being in the mix.
The tradeoff, however - has been expense. Over the the last three months, I have been paying for infrastructure and hosting costs, along with a top tier Level II feed from the National Weather Service - from my own personal finances. These costs are now totaling thousands of dollars - each month.
I'm sure many of you can understand that I simply cannot sustain such a heavy financial burden, and it is now going to be up to the community (which I hope will become customers) to determine if the years of work I have put in are worth paying for.
Pricing and Payment
So, what will the cost be in order to continue using the system? While I'm not prepared today to unveil the exact figures, I can pass along that I have tried my best to come up with an initial set of pricing that is fair, payment that is flexible and discounts accommodating to everyone. Lower tier pricing is planned for educators, student and active military personnel. Payment will be made using credit cards through an easy to use, no-obligation "pay as you need it" system. There will also be options for users who simply want to make a less frequent annual or semi-annual payment (which will qualify for additional discounts).
I've done my best to provide as many options as I can to help make the transition of users that traditionally have relied on the free system for their needs as easy to afford as possible.
The transition will occur in the next week or two, so users should start preparing for the upcoming changes. Existing accounts will be automatically notified and transitioned to 24-hour trial mode after the new system is implemented. Once expired - accounts will require payment to continue receiving access.
Those users who would rather not pay for the system once the transition is made, will have the ability to delete their profile from the system and remove their account. Inactive profiles which remain in the system will be available for use at a later time; if and when users wish to pay for access. Regardless, all users that elect to either abandon or delete their profiles from the system will not be billed or under any obligation for payment.
In light of the changes, I'm excited about the potential and future the product has. As the customer base increases and new users sign up, there's an opportunity to add more premium data feeds, new map domains from all over the World - and vastly increase meteorological product sets. All of this can happen if we can realize the necessary revenue to sustain the system, and with time become a one stop shop for professionals and enthusiasts alike.
I hope everyone is looking forward to what lies ahead for the system, and to working together to turn this once small and humble site for weather maps into a great resource users around the World can enjoy!