Web Service

Jim Hendee Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov
Thu Jun 20 10:05:48 EDT 2002

Doug Kent wrote:

> I would like to create a .NET Framework Web Service to serve the coral
> reef scientific and/or environmental conservation community.

Hi, Doug,

After speaking with our database and systems administration specialists
(Louis Florit and Clarke Jeffris), it appears that the .NET Framework is
still in beta and therefore may be in a transitory state and not
desirable for basing a large amount of work on at this time.

> As part of its function the service could serve up data on request,
> store submitted data, and perform calculations with given parameters.

As you begin to search the Web and follow existing coral-related links,
I think you will find that there are several good coral-related Web
pages that presently serve data on request, and store submitted data
(e.g., ReefBase, NOAA's CoRIS [open soon], CHAMP, etc.).  Performing
calculations with given parameters is probably something that might be
more efficacious within subgroups of coral researchers.  For instance,
carbon dioxide and light calculations might be handy, but I'm not sure
it would be of so much value to the entire coral reef community to the
point that you would like to base a large amount of your work on
developing this capability.  Your proposed work might require a more
formal systems analysis, I would think, before diving headlong into
this.  But that's just my feeling.

> The functions of the service could be available to anyone on the
> Internet, but could only be accessed directly by writing computer
> code.  Code written to use the service could be made part of a web
> page or a conventional computer application by anyone wishing to use
> the service.

I would take it from this that you mean you would write the code, or
would you ask that others do this?  For the most part, it is my
experience that not many coral researchers write computer code, but they
could contract someone to do so, of course.  If you are volunteering to
do this, you may get bombed with requests; if you are asking for
remuneration, it comes around to the same result; namely, the
researchers have to come up with the money, probably from funding that
is already hard to receive "just" for their basic research.  We are
developing api/j2ee application code for access to our Oracle database
to serve SEAKEYS, CREWS meteorological and oceanographic data, and
eventually coral disease data, over the Web, as well as expert system
software to utilize those data, and I can tell you that this is an
involved process requiring many frustrating hours of work.

> I am hereby soliciting suggestions for what specifically this service
> might do.

As alluded to above, there has already been a tremendous amount of
effort by that has gone into building Web pages and user-interfaces to
display research data, and I think after you look around you will see
that the salient needs are being met, or at least we're trying.  This is
not to say there are not areas for application development.  I hope you
receive some comments for work you can do that is not being done

> For example, do you know of:  databases whose content might usefully
> be made publicly accessable?

Peruse the links referred to above and the CHAMP (and other)
coral-related Web pages and their links and I believe you'll find a
wealth of data.  My guess is that the data that would probably be most
useful to researchers, but that is not currently available, is grey
literature (especially older reports) and closely-circulated data
reports of the smaller countries where coral reefs are found.  Both
ReefBase and CHAMP have some attempts underway to make these reports
available, but it is a very time-consuming and potentially expensive
process.  If you want to take this step further, try coming up with a
character-recognition system that will glean the numbers from the
reports and place them into your proposed database.  I would warn you
that this would additionally entail having coral researchers
quality-control the data after you have done your translation to
digital, something that will cost you money to get their time, I would
hazard to guess.

> * interesting computations or calculations that might yield beneficial
> output when provided appropriate parameters?  * data that might
> usefully be accumulated over time into a centralized database?

I hope you are able to gain some input from researchers who can use your
expertise.  I look forward to hearing of your progress.


  James C. Hendee, Ph.D.
  Coral Health and Monitoring Program
  Ocean Chemistry Division
  Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  U.S. Department of Commerce
  4301 Rickenbacker Causeway
  Miami, FL  33149-1026

  Voice:  (305) 361-4396
  Fax:    (305) 361-4392
  Email:  jim.hendee at noaa.gov
  Web:    http://www.coral.noaa.gov

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