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Firefly: Embracing Future Web Technologies

Roby, W. and Wu, X. and Goldina, T. and Joliet, E. and Ly, L. and Mi, W. and Wang, C. and Zhang, Lijun and Ciardi, D. and Dubois-Felsmann, G. (2016) Firefly: Embracing Future Web Technologies. In: Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV. Proceedings of SPIE. No.9913. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) , Bellingham, WA, Art. No. 99130Y. ISBN 978-1-5106-0205-2.

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At IPAC/Caltech, we have developed the Firefly web archive and visualization system. Used in production for the last eight years in many missions, Firefly gives the scientist significant capabilities to study data. Firefly provided the first completely web based FITS viewer as well as a growing set of tabular and plotting visualizers. Further, it will be used for the science user interface of the LSST telescope which goes online in 2021. Firefly must meet the needs of archive access and visualization for the 2021 LSST telescope and must serve astronomers beyond the year 2030. Recently, our team has faced the fact that the technology behind Firefly software was becoming obsolete. We were searching for ways to utilize the current breakthroughs in maintaining stability, testability, speed, and reliability of large web applications, which Firefly exemplifies. In the last year, we have ported the Firefly to cutting edge web technologies. Embarking on this massive overhaul is no small feat to say the least. Choosing the technologies that will maintain a forward trajectory in a future development project is always hard and often overwhelming. When a team must port 150,000 lines of code for a production-level product there is little room to make poor choices. This paper will give an overview of the most modern web technologies and lessons learned in our conversion from GWT based system to React/Redux based system.

Item Type:Book Section
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Ciardi, D.0000-0002-5741-3047
Dubois-Felsmann, G.0000-0003-1598-6979
Additional Information:© 2016 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). We thank Tim Jenness for his extensive review and suggestions. Also, Ben Emmons has our thanks for close review of the JavaScript sections on the draft manuscript. This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation through Cooperative Support Agreement (CSA) Award No. AST-1227061 under Governing Cooperative Agreement 1258333 managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), and the Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515 with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Additional LSST funding comes from private donations, grants to universities, and in-kind support from LSSTC Institutional Members. This work was supported in part by IRSA, the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive. IRSA curates the science products of NASA's infrared and submillimeter missions, including many large-area and all-sky surveys.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)1258333
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC02-76SF00515
LSSTC Institutional MembersUNSPECIFIED
NASA/IPAC Infrared Science ArchiveUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Firefly, JavaScript, Visualization, LSST, IPAC, GWT, React, Redux
Series Name:Proceedings of SPIE
Issue or Number:9913
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170110-115641003
Persistent URL:
Official Citation: W. Roby ; X. Wu ; T. Goldina ; E. Joliet ; L. Ly ; W. Mi ; C. Wang ; Lijun Zhang ; D. Ciardi ; G. Dubois-Felsmann; Firefly: embracing future web technologies. Proc. SPIE 9913, Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV, 99130Y (July 26, 2016); doi:10.1117/12.2233042.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:73376
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:10 Jan 2017 23:36
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 05:15

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