rPlot Instructions



The rPlotTime tool is a web based tool for working with multi-panel plots.


Navigation Bar


Located at the top of the page is the grey navigation and control bar.



The left hand side of the bar lets you set the start time of the plot. You can adjust the time by clicking on the drop-down lists that specify the date, month, year, hour and minute. The allowed times are restricted to the Van Allen Probes epoch, meaning you cannot select a time prior to launch and you cannot select a time in the future.  If you try and select an invalid date and time, such as the 31st of April, the time will be rounded to the nearest valid time.

The two buttons at the left and right of the selector jump backwards and forwards in time by a predefined length of time and give you a quick way of surveying data. The time step is controlled by the next drop-down, labeled “Plot Length/Time Step”. This drop down controls the length of time plotted and how quickly the data is stepped through. The time step is one-sixth the length of the plot, so for example for a plot showing one complete day of data, the time step will be four hours.

The next item on the navigation bar is the “Change Parameter” button. This opens the “Panel” window that lets you customize the plots. It is described in the next section.

The next two buttons allow you to download a PDF or PNG version of the current plot and are described in the section “Getting Publication Quality Output”.

The final button allows you to “save” the current plot and generate a unique URL or QR code that can be used to re-create what you have currently plotted. This is described in the section “Sharing”.


The Panel Window



The panel window lets you control what data to use and how to plot it. The window is divided into three sections. At the top are a series of buttons that let you change various aspects of the plot and add or delete panels. The middle section of the window shows a scrollable list of the current set of panels. At the bottom are controls for setting the background color and for resetting the plot to its default state.


Hiding or Showing a Panel


You can hide or show a plot by clicking on the “Hide” or “Show” button to the left of the panel name in the list. (The button label changes between “Hide” and “Show” depending on whether the plot is visible or not). Note that when a panel is hidden it will still be updated when you make changes; if you no longer need the panel you should delete it to conserve resources.


Selecting a Panel


To modify a panel, you must select it by clicking the name. The line featuring the panel name will turn light blue to indicate that the panel is selected.  You can select multiple panels by holding down the shift key or by using the control (Windows) or command keys (Mac).



Re-arranging the Order of the Plot


Once a panel is selected you can move it up or down in the plot by using the “Move Up” and “Move Down” buttons. The position in the list of panels will change to reflect the position of the panel on the plot.


Editing a Panel


Clicking on the “Edit” button opens the “Edit Panel” window. The contents of this window will vary depending on the type of panel you are working on. Usually it allows you to change the colorbar, the scaling of the axes and the size of the plot. In  some cases it will also let you select some value of a parameter to plot (such as a specific energy channel to plot). Your changes will not be reflected in the plot until you click the “Ok” button. You can close the window without making changes by hitting “Cancel”.



Renaming a Panel


Clicking on “Rename” allows you to edit the name of the plot. The name will be replaced with a text field containing the current name. After editing the name press return to confirm the change. The name is changed both in the list and also on the panel in the plot.


Deleting a Panel


Clicking on Delete will delete the currently selected panel or panels. This process will result in the current configuration of color bar, axis and other parameters being lost. Recreating the same panel will use the default configuration for the panel.  (This is useful if you end up with a nonsensical configuration – the default configuration will usually produce a sensible looking plot).


Adding a Panel


Clicking on “Add” will open the “Add Panel” window. This allows you to select a type of panel to add to the plot.  The list of available plots can be shown in two different ways.

The first (and default) form is the “Selection Tree”.  This divides the available panels into a number of categories and sub-categories. The window expands or contracts depending on the number of sub-categories.



For example, selecting “DST” will not change the window, as “DST” has no sub-categories of panel. Selecting “ACE SpWx” will add an extra selection field showing the possible sub-categories of ACE Space Weather Data; these include IMF, Solar wind Speed, Proton Density and Dynamic Pressure.

If you select a “VAP” plot, the window will expand to let you select which spacecraft, which instrument and data type, which parameter, and in the case of particle data, what type of panel, either spectrogram or stack-plot.



The alternative form of selecting a panel is to use the “List” form. The advantage of the list form is that multiple panels can be added to the plot at the same time. You can select multiple panels by holding down the shift key or by using the control (Windows) or command keys (Mac).



Getting Publication Quality Output



The button “Get PNG” returns a single bitmap PNG file of the current plot. The PNG can be added to online documents or included in presentations.


The button “Get PDF” returns a PDF file of the current plot. If the plot contains many panels, the PDF file will be broken up into multiple pages so that it can be printed on standard 8.5x11 paper.




The button “GetURL/QR” opens a window that displays the unique URL for the current plot. The URL will load the plot exactly as it currently displayed in the tool, with the same time, panels and configuration of color bars and axes.



Beneath the URL is an image of a 2D bar code called a QR code. This image encodes the URL and can be included in a poster or paper. A smartphone or tablet can be used to scan this code and load up the plot in the rPlot tool. 

By distributing the URL or by including the QR code in a poster or paper, a collaborator can use the rPlot tool to interact with your plot.