Announce: Beta Release of AstroGrid Plastic Hub, ASR, ACR & Workbench

Noel Winstanley Noel.Winstanley at
Mon Apr 24 06:12:08 PDT 2006

The first beta release of the Astro Runtime family of software  
products is available from

There are 4 variants of the Astro Runtime available:
* PLASTIC Hub  - just for client-side UI tool interop.
* Astro Server Runtime - for non-UI unattended operation
* Astro Client Runtime - for desktop operation
* Workbench - suite of applications built upon the Astro Runtime  
(Astroscope, Application Launcher, Workflow editor)

Each variant is available as
* a webstart application, to click and run
* single executable jar, to download, install and run
* zip of libraries, for integration with other projects.

More Information:

Astro Runtime:
The Astro Runtime is a facade for any client code that wants to  
access Virtual Observatory services. It's facilities are exposed via  
a range of techniques - HTTP / XML-RPC / Java-RMI, making it easily  
accessible from almost all programming and scripting languages.

The runtime simplifies access to IVOA standard services : Registries,  
Siap, SSAP, (SkyNode coming real soon now); All AstroGrid services :  
MySpace, Workflow, CEA; Other popular protocols: NVO Cone-search;  
Useful one-off services - CDS Simbad, etc

It also provides GUI components - simple dialogues that can be reused  
by client applications to perform common tasks (myspace microbrowser,  
registry browser, etc). Other benefits of the runtime include single  
sign-on, single-configuration, and single cache service responses -  
making implementation of client-side applications simpler.

A standard for interoperation of client-side vizualization tools .

Relationship between the current AstroGrid Workbench and the Astro  
After a period of testing, the Astro Runtimes will replace the  
current monolithic Workbench. The Astro Runtimes repackage the  
functionality of the current Workbench, so that the user/developer/ 
integrator can select the subset of functionality they require.  
Download sizes range from 3Meg (for the plastic Hub) to 24Meg (for  
the Workbench). The Astro Runtimes are also much more configurable -  
service parameters can be set trivially on the commandline even  
disabling services altogether. While the Workbench version probably  
isn't ready for production use yet, the smaller variants - Hub, ASR,  
ACR - should be usable with no problems. YMMV.


Senior Java Developer, AstroGrid Project
Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester

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