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Chapter 2: Getting Started

This chapter assumes that you have installed HDFView and, along with “Chapter 3: The HDF Object Model,” is designed to help you get to the point where you are actually looking at HDF datasets.

2.1 The Main Window

When you first open HDFView, the HDFView window appears with an empty tree and data panel. After you open an HDF file, the structure of the file is displayed in the Tree Panel. The content of a data object is displayed in the Data panel by opening the data object.

The main window consists of five components: Menu bar, Tool bar, File bar, Tree panel, Data Panel, Info panel.

The main window

Menu bar

The Menu bar is at the top of the HDFView window. You can select a menu command from menu items or press key combinations from the keyboard to invoke the menu item's action without navigating through the menu hierarchy. For example, to exit HDFView, you can either press “Ctrl+Q” on the keyboard or select the “Exit” item from the “File” menu.

File menu
The File menu contains commands to open and close files, create and save files, and exit HDFView. It also displays a list of recently opened files from which you may selcct to reopen.

File menu

Window menu
The Window menu displays a list of data windows along with close, tile, and cascade window commands. You can bring a data window to the front by choosing the data name from the Window menu. The “Cascade” and “Tile” commands cascade or tile all open windows. The “Close” command closes the active data window. The “Close All” command closes all open windows. All open data windows are listed at the bottom of the Window menu. Select one of the items on the list to bring that window to the front.

Window menu

Tools menu
The Tools menu contains a list of commands to launch tools such as image conversion, and user options. The current version has only one item: “User Options”. The “User Options” command launches a dialog box that allows you to change user preferences: the path of the User's Guide, font size, and delimiter. When you launch the User's Guide command from the Help menu, the help tool opens the User's Guide specified by the path. The font size will be used to specify the display font size of the tree view and elsewhere. The data delimiter determines the separator used when you save data values into text files or paste data values from other applications to an HDFView spreadsheet.

Tools menu

Help menu
The Help menu displays the User's Guide, the version of the HDF4 and HDF5 libraries, and the About box.

Help menu

2.2 Opening a File

Select the “Open” command from file menu or click the “Open” icon in the tool bar to invoke the local file manager, and select a file to open from the local file manager. Selecting “Open Read-Only” opens a file with read-only permission, which means that editing functions are disabled and changes are not allowed.

Local file manager (Windows)

2.3 Tree View of File Hierarchy

An HDF file contains one or more objects, optionally grouped in a hierarchy. For general information about the structure and contents of HDF files, see the HDF documentation at HDF5 Documentation and HDF4 Documentation.

The structure of the file is displayed in the Tree panel, which is the left panel in the HDFView window. Data objects are represented as icons, and groups are represented by folders. An HDF file may contain groups, datasets (arrays), committed datatypes, and links.

The hierarchy of the file can be navigated by selecting folders to “open” a group, which displays the objects contained by the group. When an object is selected, the data is displayed appropriately in the data panel on the right.

You can open multiple files at one time. Files are listed as root objects in the tree. The following figure illustrates that an HDF5 file, hdf5_test.h5, and an HDF4 file, annras.hdf, are currently open.

Tree view

2.4 Viewing Status Information

Short status information and feedback messages are displayed in the information panel. Such information includes error messages and feedback from user's actions. Click on the “Log Info” and “Metadata” tabs to switch between viewing status information and viewing metadata.

2.5 Viewing HDF Metadata

To see the metadata of a data object, right-click the data object. The Properties dialog box opens and displays metadata information such as name, type, attributes, datatype, dataspace, and members.

Properties dialog box

To view a user block in text, right-click the file node (the root group) to open the Properties dialog box. Click the “User Block” tab in the dialog box to show the user block information in text.

User block in text

2.6 Selecting GUI Modules

HDFView displays data with a default GUI module when opening a dataset by default. You can set default modules from the Tools menu: click on “Tools” --> “User Options” --> “Default Module”. The new default Tree View takes effect only after you restart HDFView.

Set default modules

By default, data or attribute is displayed with default modules. You can also select a specific module for display. To select a module, use the “Open As” option from the popup menu from the TreeView to choose an optional TableView or ImageView.

Select an ImageView

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