The Xamin Web Interface

This document describes how to use the Xamin web interface. The tutorial illustrates Xamin in a series of videos. The following sections comprise a comprehensive reference manual which discusses each element of the web interface.

Additional information on Xamin is available in other documents. Additionalhow-to videos of the web interface are available from the Xamin Introductory Page. If you want to use Xamin capabilities outside of the web/browser environment take a look at the Xamin CLI Guide. If you are interested in the overall architecture of Xamin, the Xamin System Guide can help.

An Xamin Video Tutorial

This section uses a sequence of videos to illustrate increasingly complex uses of Xamin. These videos are not exhaustive guides to a topic, but show how a user might interact with the system in practice. If you view these you should have a good feel for most of the key capabilities of the Xamin interfaces.

The first thing you might want to know when starting a project, is what data the HEASARC has on one of the objects you typically study. Our index query video shows how you can find which HEASARC tables have data on 3c273, and how you can then query any of these.

The archetypical HEASARC archive session is to get some data to analyze. To get data from a mission you first need to specify the table you are interested in. Depending upon whether you already know, there are several different ways to specify a which table you want to query. Then you find the rows that match the observations you are interested in and get the associated data. The table selection and query to data download videos illustrate how you can be downloading data in just a few seconds.

Cross-correlations are easy in Xamin and the correlation video illustrates how you can correlate ROSAT and ASCA observations, including setting your own correlation radius and specifying non-positional constraints on the query.

Xamin allows some fairly sophisticated analysis in queries. We plot the average flux of ROSAT FSC sources as a function of galactic latitude in our parameters and plotting video. In this query none of the original rows in the table are used, only parameters the user defined.

While correlations are great, anticorrelations -- where we find the rows in a table which don't have a corresponding entry in another table can also be useful, e.g., when thinking about which targets to propose for. We illustrate uploading a list of targets and doing the anticorrelation in our proposal prep video.

If you set up a user account Xamin can tell you when things change. monitoring video shows how you can be notified whenever something happens to one of your targets.

Many missions have a rich hierarchy of data products. Our product control video shows how you can filter for only the products you want. The script video shows how you can create a shell script to download data products offline from your web session.

Reference Manual

The Xamin interface provides a powerful Web based GUI to query the HEASARC and other databases. Xamin uses a number of sub-windows that are rendered within a single browser window. To minimize confusion, these sub-windows are called panes in this document. The term window is reserved to mean a browser window. Depending upon the browser and user settings a browser window may be a full window or a tab panel in tabbed-browser window.

Many panes are persistent. They can be dismissed and recovered with the same state. Results panes, e.g., tables and plots are not saved and the database must be re-queried to regenerate them if you delete them. You can minimize or hide them if you want to get them out of the way. Table 2.1 summarizes the Xamin panes. Only the major interface panes are shown. Various prompts, errors and acknowledgements also use small popups but their meaning should be clear in context.

A set of Pane control buttons at the very top of the Xamin window is provided to help users manage the primary panes of the interface. When Xamin starts there are three buttons there which toggle the visibility of the Feedback, Query and Products Cart panes. If there is a Plot Control pane another button appears which toggles this visibility of that pane. If there are table, plot results or product selection panes, then menus appear which have entries that allow for toggling the visibility of each result individually and global hide, show and delete options.

Pane Initiated by... Purpose
Query Xamin startup Main window of the interface. Compose and initiate queries.
Table Query to ... Table Show table results. May show data products.
SkyView Preview Queries Show SkyViewpreview images
Plot control Query to ... Plot Specify plot parameters.
Plot Submit on Plot Control Pane Show plot results.
Products cart Product selection on Table pane Filter and download products.
Matching tables Keyword search in Tables Explorer Show tables matching keyword search.
User account Session menu/User tables-info Manage user account and tables.
Monitor tables User account pane Frequency column (for saved tables) Set schedule to monitor query result for changes.
Feedback Panes control Provide feedback and bug reports
Product selection Table pane/Edit products Select which product to retrieve for a table

This reference document describes each of the panes of the interface in turn.

The Query Pane

The query pane is the primary element with which the user will interact during their Xamin session. Here is where the user selects tables, defines constraints and initiates queries. The title of the query pane indicates the whether the user has logged onto an Xamin account or is not logged in and is just a member of the 'Public'. The remainder of the query pane is divided into sections stacked vertically which are described in turn below.

query pane

The Menu bar

The menu bar at the top of the query pane is used to manage user sessions and set options for user queries. The menu bar also provides a help menu with links to on-line documentation (including this document).

The Session Menu

The session menu is used to control the overall characteristics of your connection with the Xamin server. Most of the options in the session menu are unavailable until a user logs into Xamin.

The Options Menu

This menu affects the way each query is interpreted and the results are generated.
Input coordinates.
Select one of the radio buttons to set the coordinate system that will be used for coordinate strings input in a positional query or in a source list. This does not affect the results if target names are entered.
Name resolvers.
Check the name resolvers that you would like to be used in converting names to coordinates.
Output coordinates.
Specify the coordinate system to be used for the primary output positional fields in the query. This need not be the same as the selection made for input coordinates (though the default is to use the same coordinate system).
Controls how correlations are performed, including whether an anticorrelation is desired and whether data from all tables should be included.
Output Format.
Select the desired output format.
Show output in.
You can control where text outputs are displayed. Grid outputs are always displayed in a pane in the Xamin window, but you can control where text output goes. These buttons only have an effect when the output format is Aligned or Streaming text.
Default fields.
This submenu is used to select the defaults for fields that are to be displayed in the query. The Parameters Explorer can be used to get much more detailed control over the fields to be displayed, including definition of synthetic columns created by the user.
Select the products that you will show for the user. Products are visible only when using the grid output.
Query control.
Query info.

These options allow you to get information about the query. This is shown after the query text for text output. It can be viewed in the grid query by clicking on the ? tool.

Display theme.
This allow the user to change the overall appearance of the GUI.

The Help Menu

This menu allows you to get to several different help resources.

The Actions Area

This area comprises three sets of buttons to initiate queries and to clear areas of the query pane.

Find matches in...

These butttons are used to initiate Discovery queries. These query master tables that allow Xamin to search all tables or selected tables to find those that meet the specified position or time constraints. The result is a grid where each row represents a single table (including some table metadata), and gives the number of matches within that table. A link at the beginning of the table starts a query of the table.
All HEASARC tables
This option is available when the user has not specified any tables but has entered a position or time constraint. All HEASARC tables will be examined.
Selected tables
This option is enabled when the user has selected one or more tables and position or time constraints. The number of matches for each of the selected tables will be given. Non-HEASARC tables will be ignored.

Query to ...

These button initiate queries of one or more tables.
Query a single table with the specified position, time and/or parameter constraints. If no constraints are specified all rows of the table will be returned (subject to the current limit on number of rows). The result will be returned in a query pane for Grid or Text formats or will initiate a download dialog for other types.
If two to four tables have been specified the user can correlate the tables. Any position or time constraints are applied to the first table to which they can be applied. A positional cross-correlation constraint is normally supplied, but can be deleted or modified by the user. The result options are the same as for a table query.
Run a single table or correlation query but plot the results. A plot control window will be returned for a successful query.
Run a query and save the result in the user's personal area. This option is only available when a user is logged in. The user will be prompted for the name to be used for the table.

Clear ...

These four buttons are provided to clear/reset elements of the query form.
Deletes all entries from the selected tables tree. It does not reset the Available tables (e.g., if the user has opened a branch in that tree it remains open).
Remove all user specified constraints: user entered positions and times and any constraints the user may have added in the Parameters Explorer area. It does not remove the system generated cross-correlation constraint between tables when the user has specified a cross-correlation.
This resets all menu options to their default values.
Equivalent to doing all of the other three.

Standard Constraints

Users can enter centers and radii for searches as well as the any desired epoch for observations in these fields.

Positions and Radii

Positions may be specified in a variety of formats, target name, decimal degrees and a variety of sexagesimal formats. Radii may be specified using degrees, arcminutes or arcsecond units. The unit may be specified in the radius string by appending the chracter d (or D), ' and " respectively. This overrides the radio button selection of units. The initial default for radius units is arcminutes.

Multiple positions may be included in the position box separated by semicolons.


Times may be entered in ISO format (YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS.ffff), Julian days or Modified Julian days. The format of the date is automatically parsed to make the selection. Many variations on the ISO format are permitted. As users enter times, a red boundary indicates that the format of the data is not recognized. Fields for both start and stop times are available. It is an error to specify a stop time without a start time, but specifying a start time alone is allowed and represents an instant in time.

When making queries of tables that have only a single time specified, Xamin normally looks within 0.5 days of the specified time for each row in the table.

The Tables Explorer

This region is used to discover and select the tables that are available in Xamin. There are four main ways to enter table data. Users can enter table names directly, they can use the one of several trees to select tables, or they can search for tables that match keyword criteria. Table uploads were added to the Tables Explorer in version 2.8 of Xamin and many of the screen captures in this document do not yet reflect this capability.

What tables are in Xamin?

Xamin allows users to select from from four different sources of tables: HEASARC tables, VizieR tables, tables accessed through VO protocols, and user tables. In principle tables from all sources can be matched and correlated, but users should be cautious when attempting correlations with external tables since these may not be feasible if they require downloading and ingesting very large external tables. E.g., one can in principle correlate with the USNO B catalog at Vizier (table I/284), but if one tries this without specifying a position, then program will try (and fail) to download the entire USNO B to a temporary table within the local database to do the correlation.
HEASARC tables
The HEASARC provides direct support for about 800 tables. With a few exceptions tables are entirely independent, i.e., no special correlations are anticipated with other tables. Many of the most popular tables index tables from high energy or microwave missions. These tables often provide links to archival data products which the user can select, add to a products cart and download in a variety of fashions. Most other tables are object catalogs, which describe the characteristics of objects in the sky. Occasionally these will have data products as well.

HEASARC tables may be entered directly. When typing in user names possible completions will be shown and may be selected. HEASARC tables are available through a variety of table hierarchies (alphabetical, by mission, by regime, and by object type). The keyword search will find HEASARC tables whose metadata matches the search terms.

Documentation on a HEASARC table can be displayed in the Information area by clicking on the table name.

VizieR tables
VizieR tables are available in the in the Tables Explorer hierarchies under External/Vizier. Over 20,000 distinct tables may be queried. Vizier tables are grouped into resources which are in turn grouped into either broad categories (given by Roman numerals) of tables where the name is the Roman numeral followed by an identifying numeber (e.g., I/284 is the USNO B catalog), or by a journal abbreviation followed by the volume and page of the article in which the table was published, e.g., J/ApJ/597/204. A resource may contain either a single table or multiple tables. If there are multiple tables in a resource, then a table identifier follows the resource, e.g., I/100A/w50 labels table w50 in the resource I/100A. Often tables within a resource are expected to be joined in some fashion using ID's specific to the resource.

You find Vizier tables in the table tree under External/Vizier. You can enter table names directly, or you can use the metadata query to match against Vizier tables. Vizier tables will not be returned in discovery queries.

Many Vizier tables do not have positional columns. Vizier tables support field selection, sorting and simple constraints natively. More complex queries may require the Vizier data to be downloaded into a temporary local table where the complex constraints can be addressed. No data products are associated with Vizier tables.

Documentation for Vizier tables can be displayed in the Information area by clicking on a table or resource name.

Virtual Observatory Tables
You can access data through several VO protocols using Xamin. The Table Access Protocol provides access through services that provide relatively sophisticated local queries. Most constraints on a table can be handled natively. Image and Spectral data may be accessed using more specialized protocols. These only support positional constraints natively. All other constraints are implemented by downloading the results and filtering the temporary table.

Image and spectral services generally provide a link to a single product for each row in the returned results. Since this is a link and not an archive file they cannot be added to the download cart.

VO resources can only be accessed through the table tree in the External/Queryable tables, External/Image services and External/Spectral services entries. These link to services the user the VO Table, Simple Image, and Simple Spectral Access protocols respectively.

No documentation is avaiable for VO tables other than the row documentation available in the Parameters explorer.

User tables
Users can upload tables from their computers to be used in an Xamin query. Without logging in, users can upload a single table, but if a user has logged in any tables saved in previous or the current sessiont are appended at the end of the table tree. These persistent user tables are created either by uploading a table or saving a query result. User tables are only available after logging into a user account. Persistent user tables may be specified by either entering the full table name (in the form user.table) directory or by selecting them under the User entry in the the table tree.

No documentation is avaiable for user tables other than the row documentation available in the Parameters explorer.

Entering tables directly

The tables entry box allows the user to type the table in directly. It also allows selection from a menu which shows all matching HEASARC tables. Note that non-HEASARC tables can be entered, they just are not included in the menu suggestions.

The available tables tree

The available tables tree shows tables available for querying in a number of hierarchies, including alphabetical, mission, regime and object type. Only HEASARC tables are shown in these hierarchies. An External tree shows known external tables. If the user has logged in and has uploaded or saved tables, these tables will be shown in the User tree. Trees may be opened or closed and either leaf nodes -- tables -- or entire branchs may be selected by clicking on the Add icon or double-clicking on the node, or dragging the name of the node into the selected tables are.

Table Keyword Search

The table keyword search does a text search of the documentation for HEASARC tables and indexed external tables. The text search handles grammatical transformations (e.g., singulars and plurals) and attempts to grade each match to show the best matches to the users input. The results are shown in a pane with the table name and title and brief extracts of the matching text. Note that the table metadata is included in the text search so that occasionally the apparent matches may includes somewhat jumbled text.

The selected tables tree

Regardless of how users select them, selected tables are shown in a separate tree. Users can delete tables by using the delete icon () or double clicking on th etable. The entire set of selected tables can be cleared using the Clear...Tables0 or Clear...All buttons. If the user selected a sub-tree of tables, then the entire subtree will be shown in the selected tables tree, including the branch nodes. The entire subtree may be deleted by deleting the parent node. E.g., you could select all of the Observation master tables by clicking on the Add icon in the available tables tree. A 'Master observation tables' node will be added to the selected tables tree. Deleting that node will deleting all of the contained tables.

If no tables are selected the user may make discovery queries which search all HEASARC tables.

If exactly one table is selected, queries will be made of that table. The user may specify positional, temporal or parameter constraints in the query (using the additional constraints area).

If 2-4 tables have been selected then the user may do either discovery queries looking for the number of matches for the specified positions and/or times, or they may do a correlation of the selected tables. The Options/Correlations/Correlate Tables menu items controls which is performed. When correlation parameter constraints can be levied against any and all of the tables involved in the correlation. If the Options/Correlate/Anticorrelate flag is set, then the correlation is an anticorrelation against the last table selected. E.g., if the selected tables are ROSMASTER, ASCAMASTER and CHANMASTER, then the result includes the correlation of ROSMASTER and ASCAMASTER where no corresponding Chandra observation is found.

If more than 4 tables have been selected then only discovery queries are supported. [Generally correlations get very slow when many tables are involved.] Note that user and external tables are not currently 'discoverable' so that you cannot determine the number of matches against them using a discovery query. When doing a discovery query they are ignored. Only the number of matches against the specified HEASARC tables will be returned.

External tables

Xamin attempts to treat external tables as if they were local. If the user requests operations (constraints that cannot be met by the remote system, correlations), then there may be an operation downloading the external table into the local system whence query can proceed. As much of the query as can be accomplished remotely will be delegated to the remote system. However it is not difficult to submit queries which would involve downloading millions of rows of the external tables. Such queries are unlikely to be successful.

Using the Tables Explorer upload

Starting in Xamin version 2.8, users can upload tables into queries without having to log in. Use the file selection widget in the upload feature to select a source list, CSV file or VOTable to be uploaded. When you select a file, the table 'Upload' will appear in the selected tables list. You can clear the upload using the button next to the file selection widget or by deleting the Upload table in the selected tables tree.

Uploaded tables are treated just like other tables. You can make selections based upon the fields in the table and do correlations with other tables. E.g., if you want to find all of the XMM observations for a list of objects, then create a source list for this list, and you can correlate the upload with the XMMMaster catalog.

Files can also be uploaded using the Upload option in the Session menu, but you will need to be logged into your Xamin account to use them.

There are some limits on queries when you use the upload capability of the Tables Explorer. You can only upload a single table in a given query, plotting functions are not supported, and you cannot save the state of the query form. These limits arise the nature of how files are uploaded in from Web forms. However none of these limits apply to files you upload into your Xamin user area. This approach also allows characters other than commas to be used as the delimiters in CSV files.

The Parameters Explorer

Use the parameters explorer area to see the fields available for the selected table (or tables), add any constraints other than the standard position and time, and specify the output fields Users can also add dynamically computed columns and specify the sort order for the query.

The parameters explorer is only available for single table queries or for correlations. It is reset every time you change the selected table or tables. To open the Parameters Explorer simply click on the its title bar. The Parameters Explorer and Tables Explorer share the same space. Only one can be open at a time.

Table fields

Most of the explorer is taken up by a grid showing the fields of the input tables. The name and description of the field are generally visible by default along with an area in which users can enter a constraint on the field. Multiple constraints may be entered on a single field if they are separated by semicolons (;). These constraints will be ORed in building the query. Simple constraints of text fields will normally have implicit quotes placed around the string values but the user may disable this option in the Options/Query control menu.

In a text comparisons a '*' may be used as a wildcard match along with the SQL standard '%'. Text comparisons are generally not case sensitive. A case sensitive comparison may be made in a table by specifying it using an generic constraint unassociated with a particular field.

Users can click on any of the headers to bring up a menu to control which fields will be displayed. In addition to the defaults, the table name, minimum and maximum for each each field are available.

The display divider

The red row in the fields grid is used to separate the fields to be displayed from those which are to be hidden. This can be dragged up or down to change the displayed fields. Other fields can be dragged across it to change their visibility. Users can select and drag multiple fields at a time.

Adding new fields and constraints

The User-defined column button allows the user to specify a new field to be included in the output. Any name may be given for the field. The content of the field is given as any legal SQL expression. This may include one or more fields in the table and may include any SQL functions supported by the database.

The Generic Constraint button allows the user to specify a logical SQL expression which must be satisfied for a row to be included in the output. Since these constraints are not associated with specific fields in the table any constraint strings must be delimited by single quotes. A string comparison will normally be case sensitive unless the user explicitly addresses case in the expression (e.g., by using the upper() function on both sides of an = operator).


Users may specify the sort order for the results using the Sort combobox. Users are prompted with the names of the fields in the table, but sorting may be done on any expression. If multiple sort fields are requested, these may be specified with the names separated by commas. E.g, expr1[:-],expr2[:-] where the default direction for each field is ascending. A :- is appended to make it descending.

Aggregate operations and groups

The Xamin interface supports aggregate functions, one of the more advanced features of SQL, in a straightforward way. Suppose you want to know the total exposure for each Chandra target. We put the target name and a new synthetic column with the expression sum(exposure) as the only two fields we are going to output. Xamin notes your use of an aggregate function in the new column and groups the output by any parameters which are not aggregate functions. So you get one row output for each distinct target name. The aggregate functions available include count, sum, stddev, variance, min and max. Rows where the argument of the aggregate function would be null are omitted from the query.

The Information Area

Note: As of version 1.7 the Information Area has been moved into a separate resizable pane. This makes it much easier to display table documentation from multiple tables.

This area is used to display information about tables or classes of tables. If the user clicks on a table entry in either of the table trees or in the keyword search pane, the documentation for that table is shown. If the user clicks on a branch node of a tree, then the information shown depends on the node. Typically if these is a penultimate node, i.e., its children are tables, then a summary listing of the contents will be shown. Tables can be selected from this listing by clicking on the Add icon.

Table Results

A new table results pane is shown for successful queries. The title bar includes the source table (or tables) and may give further information about the query. The bottom of the query box includes fields that may be used to reissue the query changing like the maximum number of rows, or the output format. At the top right of the query box are several query widgets. These allow the user to shrink the query pane to a narrow bar (click on the bar to re-expand it), to restore the query pane to the settings used for this query, to print the query results and to get further information about the query. There rightmost X widget destroys the results pane.

Query example

Grid results

Grid results are shown in a flexible output format. Users can resort the data by clicking column headers on the top row. Column headers can also be dragged to reorder the columns. If you click on the column header a small menu is shown which allows you to select which columns are to be shown. Grid results may also include data products.

For most grids, mousing over the column headers will show the descriptions given for the columns in the documentation of the associated table. Similarly mousing over the row number at the beginning of each row will show all of the fields associated with that row. This is displayed in a persistent pane that the user must explicitly dismiss.

Text results

Text results are shown in a simple pane with no special formatting. Text results can be striped and render much faster than grid results. Text results do not show data products.

Discovery results

When doing discovery queries the user gets back one row for each table that matches the specified position or time criteria. A table icon at the beginning of the row can be used to initiate a query of that table.


Products are available when grid output (the initial default) is used. If data products exist for any row there will be an expansion icon in the second column. This icon (1) can be clicked to reveal the top level of data products for that row. Sub products can be retrieved and displayed by clicking the expansion arrow icons (2).

The data product selection buttons in the results pane allow users to select data products for particular rows or the entire result. If users have expanded a products tree they can select products individually by clicking on the shopping cart icon before a product. Users can directly go to the URL associated with a product by clicking on the product name. After products are transferred to the shopping cart, users can download products using its capabilities.

SkyView Previews

When a user makes a query for a single position (which may include other criteria), preview images are generated by query SkyView for that position. The initial previews generate 100x100 pixel images in the default resolution of the surveys. These default to the DSS optical survey with 1.7" pixels and the ROSAT All-Sky Survey (RASS) with 0.0125 degree pixels. Users can resize previews to get smaller or larger images. The resized images will be used until the user either deletes the preview panes, or changes the surveys selected, which will automatically delete the panes.

The Shopping Cart

The shopping cart pane is used to control the actual download of data to the users machine. Users can send products to the shopping carts throughout an Xamin session and download data whenever they wish. Products are transferred into the cart from table panes when users request all data products associated with particular rows, or individual data products.

shopping cart pane

The products cart has three tabs. The products tab provides a listing of the data products where users can delete products (or jump to them as URLs). This is the only tab in which products may be deleted. Users can delete all products, or just those that have been highlighted (by clicking on them) using the appropriate buttons.

The WGET and CURL tabs allow the user to download scripts that they can run on their machine to access data, but do not allow a user to delete selected products.

Filtering Data Products

For all download options a filter using the Unix shell wild-card expressions (e.g., *) can be applied to limit the files that are downloaded. Enter a filter string in the File Name Filter for Download text area. The filter is applied to the full path name. For example, the filter */bat/*.hk* would limit data products to those that are under the directory bat and contain '.hk' in a subdirectory or file name. A file such as /FTP/swift/data/obs/2005_04/00035014004/bat/hk/ would be included. Multiple contraints separated by a semicolon (;) will be treated as boolean OR. So, *fits*;*gif* will result in products with names containing 'fits' or 'gif'. If the filter results in no files being found the downloaded tar or script file will indicate this result.

Finding WGET and CURL

The network utilities wget or curl are included with most systems. To download wget or get more information visit the GNU website.

Plot Control

The options for plotting are sufficiently complex that a separate Xamin Plot guide is provided to describe how to do plotting. The plot control pane allows the user to select among histograms, 2-d and 3-d plots, set the axes for the plots and myriad of axes and plot parameters. Users can also plot multiple samples within the plot. Use the Sumbit button on the plot control pane to generate a plot.

Plot control

Plot Results

Plot results panes simply enclose a GIF or other format image. They have no internal functionality although they have widgets simple to the query table result panes.

Plot example

User Accounts Pane

The user account pane is shown when a user logs in or using Session/User Tables--Info menu entry. This pane shows the saved user tables and query configurations.

User tables

The title bar of the pane shows the user's name, and the amount of space used in the Xamin system. Currently no quota's are enforced but this is likely to change in the future. Two grids display the tables the user has saved and the saved query configurations. A Manage Account button provides a shortcut to the Login window where the user can update their account parameters, or delete the entire account.

Saved Tables

Users can save tables either by uploading them (Session/Upload), or using the Query to...Save option to run a query. Saved tables can be used just like system tables in any query or correlation. Two saved tables can be correlated against one another. This delete icon () can be used to delete a saved table. For non-uploaded tables users can click on the entry in the 'Offline checks?' column to ask that the system reissue the query and see if it returns the same results. If not then the user can request that they be mailed a notice of the changes, have the table updated or both (the default). The 'Changed' link at the end of the row allows the user to check immediately whether the results have changed, but only a simple summary will be given.

If the user specifies a table that already exists when upload or saving a table, then the results of the upload or query will be appended to the existing table so long as the query fields are compatible. Otherwise the query will fail.

Saved Query Configurations

Queries can involve complex setup which users may wish to repeat with slight changes. A query configuration can be saved using the Session/Save Session menu. Click on the Apply link to restore the session. Saved configurations can be deleted by clicking on the delete icon ().

If you name a session 'Default', then that session will be automatically restored when you log in.

A single session can be saved to an browser cookie even without an account.


A feedback pane is integrated in Xamin as the very first button on the page in the extreme top right of the pane. Users can send bug reports, suggestions or comments. Only the title and summary fields are required, everything else is optional. The system automatically appends a copy of the state of the system at the time of the request which may help in tracking down bugs.


Product Explorer

Product explorer panes allow users to see and select the kinds of products associated with particular tables. A given table may have a whole hierarchy of data products associated with it. If a user wishes to retrieve all data products associated with the table, they can just download everything, but the product explorer panes allow users to select only subsets of the products for subsequent requests.

A product explorer pane is created when users select the Edit Products button in grid table result.

product explorer

A product explorer pane is associated with a specific table or correlation. Users can select the products they wish to extract from tree of avialable products. The product selections may be applied to the current query if the product node was made visible by clicking on edit products for a specific query and regardless they will become the selection for future queries of the associated table.

Pane Management

Xamin can produce many panes within its window and to help users manage these, a set of buttons is provided at the very top line of the window. There can be up to seven buttons shown here. The first three are always visible and they toggle the visibility of the feeback, query and product cart panes respectively. These three panes cannot be deleted. Clicking on the X widget in the top right corner just hides them.

If a plot control pane is available, then a fourth button toggles its visibility. However plot control panes may be deleted. There is never more than one plot control pane which is associated with the last plot request.

There may be many table, plot and products selection panes. If there are any table results present, then a select box with the name 'Queries' shows. It will have the options 'Show All' , 'Hide All' and 'Delete All' which will show, hide or delete all of the table results. These three entries will be followed by a single entry for each pane. Clicking on this entry will toggle the visibility of the specified pane. When a pane is shown, it is also moved to the top of the viewing stack.

Similar select boxes with the name 'Plots' and 'Edit products' will be shown whenever any plots or product explorer panes are available.

Users can collapse most panes by clicking on the - widget at the top right of the pane. This collapses the pane to just its title bar. The collapse widget changes from a - to a +. To restore the pane, just click on that.

Panes can be dragged anywhere in the browser window. Clicking on a pane title bar will normally move it to the top of the pane stack.

The Single Box Interface

Xamin provides support for initiating queries using a single input box. The single box interface is intended to be plugged into other pages to provide a low profile interface to the HEASARC archive. An annotated version of the single box interface is available. However the only required element for an implementation is one text entry box. When a user initiates a query from this interface the inputs are analyzed and an Xamin session is started.

Single Box Inputs

The single box interface parses the users inputs into blank separated tokens and uses a set of heuristics to decide what each token means. Supported token types include:
Token types
Type Description Example[s] Heuristic
Positions Numeric positions in sexagesimal or decimal format, multiple positions can be specified. 10 10 10, 20 20 20.3
Token sequences that match sexagesimal format or pairs of numbers that have magnitudes < 1000
Target namesNames of targets that can be resolved into positions. If names or positions include spaces they should be enclosed in quotes though sometimes such names can be recognized without quoting. 'eta carina'
'3c 273'
Tokens not otherwise identified are checked using a name resolver. Tokens that are not targets are treated as keywords.
Radius The radius for cone searches.10'
A valid number followed immediately by ', " or d
Times Times may be specified in JD, MJD or ISO formats. Time ranges may be given. 1990-10-10T14:15
String matching ISO time formats. Positive numbers > 10000 are treated as MJD times, (or JD if > 1000000)
Coordinate systems The coordinate system used for input and output J2000, Galactic, B1950, E2000 Case insensitive keyword match
Table names HEASARC and Vizier table names rosmaster
Exact match for HEASARC tables, tokens including "/" are assumed to be Vizier tables.
FormatsThe format for the output of a table query or correlation Text, Excel, FITS, VOTableCase-insensitive keyword match
Missions Mission names. These are largely treated as keywords but may be converted to standard form. Multiple missions may be specified as M1|M2|M3 ROSAT
Case insensitive match
Metadata Keywords Look for tables that have these keywords in their metadata or description. Only tables that match all keywords will be used. dwarf novae
clusters of galaxies
Any token that is not otherwised matched which does not seem to be part of a target name is assumed to be a keyword.
ConstraintsConstraints on the query. If a literal string value is used it must be enclosed in single quotes. exposure>10
Tokens containing <,> or = are assumed to be constraints.

How are the tokens used?

Target names, coordinates, time and radius constraints are used to fill in the standard constraints in the Xamin query form. The output format and coordinate system tokens are used to set the appropraite options. If a small number of tables (currently between one and four) have been specified then the query is assumed to be a correlation and any specified explicit constraints are added. If no tables or a large number of tables are specified, then a discovery query for the given positional and time constraints is initiated and any explict constraints are ignored.

If no tables are specified, but there are keywords, then tables matching those keywords are found and if there are position/temporal constraints a discovery query on the tables matching the keywords is done.

Users are left in an Xamin session using thssh ase standard web interface. Depending upon their inputs they may find themselves with a set of tables matching their keywords, a discovery query result, a single table query or a correlation. They can extend or correct the actions that were taken and do further analysis.