at the ATNF in Epping, Sydney
- March 23, 1999 -
It is anticipated that the first public release of aips++ will be mid
1999. This release will contain calibration, imaging, image analysis,
visualization and and single-dish tools, but by no means contains all
the functionality of Miriad and AIPS. In particular there is as yet no
VLBI specific (where needed) software.
The ATNF currently supports both Miriad and AIPS. Miriad contains a
large amount of software in support of the ATCA not available in AIPS
(e.g. correct calibration of linear feeds, mosaicing). Our support of
Miriad is declining. We generate few new general-purpose applications
(ATNF has dominated application development in Miriad for many years)
but user support (adivice, bug fixes, installations) is still high.
Our support of AIPS has also declined over the years, such that we no
longer code any applications in it. Support is largely installation,
advice and the occaisional bug fix.
The overhead of aips++, Miriad and AIPS altogether is possibly too high
for us to sustain for long, or to put it another way, effort going into
the older packages is not going into aips++ ! Here are a couple of
possible alternatives to the future over the coming 1-2 years.
a) Because Miriad contains so much ATCA specific software, it is not
viable to consider withdrawing it in the near future, although the
generality of aips++ will accomodate much of it. On the other hand, the
combination of aips++ and Miriad will address a large fraction of ATNF
user needs on the time scale of roughly 12 months so we should consider the
possibility of withdrawing AIPS roughly on this time scale.
b) The more conservative approach is to continue AIPS support as long as
users want it, or at least as long as NRAO supplies it. At the ATNF, we
are slowly trying to eradicate the differences between ATNF AIPS and
NRAO AIPS so that the installation process can be made as simple as
possible. AIPS support would then become yearly installation of the
system and some small amount of advice. All bugs would be passed to
NRAO. If we could truly make it this simple, logistically for us this
would be ok. I think the main downside to this is that it will prevent
some people switching over, and worse, some new users will inevitably go
down the AIPS path.
We propose to canvas the ATNF user community regarding their needs for
AIPS and ultimately Miriad support in the coming 1-2 years. Of course,
aips++ is not yet established as the interactive package of choice,
although it is clearly the only viable and successful environment for
building processing pipelines. But I think we should operate with the
assumption that it will become so, so that we should be ready for the
Astronomers are rather conservative, and such a user poll may simply
return the unhelpful message "I don't want to change" from a lot of
people. Nevertheless, we should make the poll and try to draw useful
and progressive conclusions from it.
Neil Killeen and Ray Norris
2 March 1999