Sherry edited this page Aug 7, 2017 · 12 revisions

What is HydroDesktop?

HydroDesktop is a free and open source GIS enabled desktop application that helps you search for, download, visualize, and analyze hydrologic and climate data registered with the CUAHSI Hydrologic Information System. Dr. Dan Ames is the lead developer of HydroDesktop.


Please use the following citation to refer to HydroDesktop in your publications:

Ames, D.P., Horsburgh, J.S., Cao, Y., Kadlec, J., Whiteaker, T., and Valentine, D., 2012. HydroDesktop: Web Services-Based Software for Hydrologic Data Discovery, Download, Visualization, and Analysis. Environmental Modelling & Software. Vol 37, pp 146-156.

Development of HydroDesktop was/is supported by the following grants from the National Science Foundation: OCI-1148453, OCI-1148090, EAR-0622374, EPS-0814387, EPS-0919514.

More What is it?

HydroDesktop is a free software tool for finding time series of water and climate data submitted by the hydrologic research community as well as water agencies and data curators around the world. This community publishes their data so that it can be searched by other users in this common geographic interface. Users can search for data by type, location, and within certain date ranges. Users can view the sources of data as well. All available data in a specific map area will be returned. Point locations for the data will be displayed on the map with respective metadata about the collections at those stations. Users can then download the data to explore it in graph or table form. Extensions enable more sophisticated on-screen analysis of downloaded data, including integration with R and OpenMI.  Users can also export data to their local computers for use in other programs. 

Try It Now

The best way to get familiarized with HydroDesktop is to download it and try it. Here is a brief HydroDesktop tutorial by Tim Whiteaker that will help you get started. This tutorial is based on HydroDesktop version 1.4.11. Note that the current release of HydroDesktop runs natively on Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 7. If you are using a Mac or Linux, please run HydroDesktop on a Windows emulator such as Parallels or by dual boot using Boot Camp. We are working on a cross-platform version. Watch for more information on this in the future.

Get Involved

This is an open project that is actively seeking partners to help with coding and testing. If you are interested in working with us on the project, please introduce yourself using the Discussions tab. Also, you may want to start by reading the HydroDesktop Functional Specifications. Finally you may want to take a quick look at the Presentations and Publications that introduce and describe the project. We look forward to meeting you and working with you on this project!


Project Overview

The U.S. National Science Foundation supported Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences (CUAHSI - Hydrologic Information System (HIS) project includes extensive development of data storage and delivery tools and standards including WaterML (a language for sharing hydrologic data sets via web services), and HIS Server (a software tool set for delivering WaterML from a server). These and other CUASHI HIS tools have been under development and deployment for several years and together present a relatively complete software “stack”, to support the consistent storage and delivery of hydrologic and other environmental observation data.

The key elements of the HIS software stack are shown in the following figure prepared by Stephen Brown.

CUAHSI HIS Components

HydroDesktop is a local (i.e. not server-based) client side software tool that provides a highly usable level of access to HIS Services. The software provides several capabilities including data query, map-based visualization, data download, local data maintenance, editing, graphing, data export to selected model-specific data formats, linkage with integrated modeling systems such as OpenMI, and ultimately upload to the HIS server from the local desktop software.


Development Approach

This community portal has been set up to host the source code for HydroDesktop and to facilitate community participation in the development, testing and deployment of the project. Indeed, recognizing the value of community based code development as a means of ensuring end-user adoption, this project has adopted an “iterative” or “spiral” software development approach where 1) the general project requirements and hard boundary conditions are specified at the outset; 2) an initial brief functionality requirements list is developed; 3) the initial limited system is produced primarily by the core funded developer team, but with voluntary external programmer support as it becomes available; 4) testing and bug fixes by the developer team; 5) deployment of an installation package for end-users; 6) collection of bug notices and feature requests from end-users; 7) identification of specific bugs and features to be addressed in a new release; 8) addition of these features by the developer team, etc.

This development approach is a common approach used by open source projects because of its flexible and dynamic nature. This model is well suited to a community project where it is difficult (and often not useful) to fully-specify the functionality set required for a software release (i.e. as in the “waterfall” development approach), but rather it is desirable to maintain an open structure that can easily be extended through the development of third party plug-ins to support as-yet unknown functions and capabilities, as well as a clear policy on how code is moved into the core system, and how external developers are included in the developer team.


This project is receiving support from a number of agencies and complementary efforts including:


TeamCity Jet Brains granted a license to Team City Continuous Build Server

Eureka Log EurekaLog has granted a license for automated exception reporting system


You can’t perform that action at this time.
You signed in with another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session. You signed out in another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session.
Press h to open a hovercard with more details.