Client Tools Tutorials

Client tools allows users seamless access to remote data with OPeNDAP using various analysis and visualization packages such as Ferret, GrADS, and MATLAB. User-friendly client tools such as Panoply, IDV, and EDC provide data access without users having to write scripts.


Ferret is an interactive computer visualization and analysis environment designed to meet the needs of oceanographers and meteorologists analyzing large and complex gridded data sets. Ferret was developed by the Thermal Modeling and Analysis Project (TMAP) at PMEL in Seattle to analyze the outputs of its numerical ocean models and compare them with gridded, observational data. The features that make Ferret distinctive among these packages are Mathematica-like flexibility, geophysical formatting, "intelligent" connection to its data base, memory management for very large calculations, and symmetrical processing in 4 dimensions.

Grid Analysis and Display System (GrADS)

GrADS is an interactive desktop tool that is used for easy access, manipulation, and visualization of earth science data. GrADS has been implemented worldwide on a variety of commonly used operating systems and is freely distributed over the Internet.

Data may be displayed using a variety of graphical techniques: line and bar graphs, scatter plots, smoothed contours, shaded contours, streamlines, wind vectors, grid boxes, shaded grid boxes, and station model plots. Graphics may be output in PostScript or image formats. GrADS provides geophysically intuitive defaults, but the user has the option to control all aspects of graphics output.

A rich set of built-in functions are provided, but users may also add their own functions as external routines written in any programming language.


MATLAB® is a high-level technical computing language and interactive environment for algorithm development, data visualization, data analysis, and numeric computation. MATLABŪ is developed and sold by MathWorks.

Key Features include:

  • Interactive tools for iterative exploration, design, and problem solving
  • Mathematical functions for linear algebra, statistics, Fourier analysis, filtering, optimization, and numerical integration
  • 2-D and 3-D graphics functions for visualizing data o Tools for building custom graphical user interfaces
  • Functions for integrating MATLAB based algorithms with external applications and languages, such as C, C++, Fortran, Java, COM, and Microsoft Excel


Panoply is a cross-platform application from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NASA. With Panoply you can:

  • Slice and plot specific latitude-longitude (using any of over 75 map projections), latitude-vertical, longitude-vertical, time-latitude arrays from larger multidimensional variables or zonal average lineplot.
  • Combine two arrays in one plot by differencing, summing or averaging.
  • Save plots to disk GIF, JPEG, PNG or TIFF bitmap images or as PDF or PostScript graphics files.
  • Export lon-lat map plots in KMZ format.
  • Export animations as AVI or MOV video or as a collection of individual frame images.
  • Explore remote THREDDS and OPeNDAP catalogs and open datasets served there.

Integrated Data Viewer (IDV)

The Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) from Unidata is a framework for analyzing and displaying geoscience data. The IDV emphasizes interactive 3-Dimensional visualization and integration of diverse data types including OPeNDAP.

Environmental Data Connector (EDC)

The EDC is an extension for connecting ArcGIS to OPeNDAP. It is developed by Applied Science Associates, Inc; NOAA using funds from the NOAA satellite R&O (research & operations) project, the NMFS Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program, and the NOAA IOOS Program Office.

NCAR Command Language (NCL)

NCL is an interpreted language designed specifically for scientific data analysis and visualization.

  • Portable, robust and free, NCL is available as binaries or open source.
  • Supports netCDF3/4, GRIB1/2, HDF-SDS, HDF4-EOS, binary, shapefiles, and ascii files.
  • Numerous analysis functions are built-in.
  • High quality graphics are easily created and customized with hundreds of graphic resources.
  • Many example scripts and their corresponding graphics are available.