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FTOOLS, a highly modular collection of over 200 utilities for processing and analyzing data in the FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) format, has been developed in support of the HEASARC (High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Each utility performs a single simple task such as presentation of file contents, extraction of specific rows or columns, appending or merging tables, binning values in a column or selecting subsets of rows based on a boolean expression. Individual utilities can easily be chained together in scripts to achieve more complex operations such as the generation and displaying of spectra or light curves. The collection of utilities provides both generic processing and analysis utilities and utilities specific to high energy astrophysics data sets used for the ASCA, EINSTEIN, ROSAT, GRO, VELA5B and XTE missions. A core set of FTOOLS providing support for generic FITS data processing, FITS image analysis and timing analysis can easily be split out of the full software package for users not needing the high energy astrophysics mission utilities. The FTOOLS software package is designed to be both compatible with IRAF and completely stand-alone in a UNIX or VMS environment. The user interface is controlled by standard IRAF-style parameter files. The package is self documenting through the IRAF help facility and a stand-alone help task. Software is written in ANSI C, FORTRAN and Perl to provide portability across most computer systems. The data format dependencies between hardware platforms are isolated through the FITSIO library package.

This document describes the use of the FTOOLS software. The reader of this Users' Guide to FTOOLS will need to have some understanding of Unix or VMS login scripts to successfully use the Host version and a familiarity with IRAF to use the IRAF version.

Online HTML versions of this manual, tutorials, latest release information, the FAQ, and other goodies are available on the World Wide Web at:

next up previous
Next: Usage Up: Users' Guide to FTOOLS Previous: Users' Guide to FTOOLS

Lawrence Elwin Brown
Wed Aug 6 11:33:26 EDT 1997


If FTOOLS has been useful in your research, please reference this site ( and use the ASCL reference for HEASoft [ascl:1408.004] or the ASCL reference for the original FTOOLs paper [ascl:9912.002]:

Blackburn, J. K. 1995, in ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 77, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems IV, ed. R. A. Shaw, H. E. Payne, and J. J. E. Hayes (San Francisco: ASP), 367.

Web page maintained by: Bryan K. Irby