How to use VisiOmatic

The main window

The Figure below shows the main window of the VisiOmatic web interface in its default configuration.

The main window contains a “slippy map” carrying the current image layer and optional vector overlays, plus a series of widgets. One navigates through the image and its overlays by “dragging” the map to the desired position. On computers this is done by clicking and holding the left button while moving the mouse, or by using the keyboard arrow keys. On touch devices one must press and move a finger throughout the screen.

At the top left, two magnifier buttons can be used to zoom in (magnifyplus) or out (magnifyminus). One can also zoom using the mouse wheel or the -/+ keys on computers, or with a pinch gesture on touch devices. The user can switch to/from full screen mode by clicking the fullscreen button (third from the top). The menu button (last from the top) opens the Advanced Settings Menu.

The coordinates of the center of the current field-of-view (indicated by the cross-shaped reticle) are displayed at the top-right of the main window, in the Coordinate Pane. In some configurations, a drop-down list allows one to switch between equatorial (RA,Dec) and other types of coordinates.

Below the coordinates, a Navigation Pane may be offered, offering a larger view of the current image, as well as the current field of view, represented by a shaded orange box.

The scale, as measured at the center of the main window, is displayed in the lower left corner.

The Coordinates Pane

The Coordinates Pane allows the user to:

  1. check the central coordinates of the current field of view
  2. pan to specific coordinates or to a given object.

To move to specific coordinates or objects, simply click in the coordinates pane, and enter the desired coordinates or object name. VisiOmatic uses Simbad to parse the input coordinates and object names. According to the Simbad Query-by-Coordinates webpage, the following coordinates writings are allowed:

  • 20 54 05.689 +37 01 17.38
  • 10:12:45.3-45:17:50
  • 15h17m-11d10m
  • 15h17+89d15
  • 275d11m15.6954s+17d59m59.876s
  • 12.34567h-17.87654d
  • 350.123456d-17.33333d
  • 350.123456 -17.33333

while the dictionary of nomenclature for object identifiers can be found here.

The Navigation Pane

The Navigation Pane allows the user to quickly move over the image. Just drag the shaded orange rectangle representing the current field of view to the desired location. The Navigation Pane can be minimized by clicking on the pair of arrows that appear on the top right when hovering the area.

Advanced Settings

The Advanced Settings button gives access to a taskbar with five tabs, from top to bottom and as illustrated in figmix:

  • equalizer2 Channel Mixing, which allows the user to choose which image channels to use for display or color compositing
  • contrast Image Preferences, which gives the user control over the contrast, color saturation, gamma correction and JPEG compression level. There is also a switch for inverting the color map.
  • make-group Catalog Overlays for superimposing multiple catalogs in vector form, e.g., the 2MASS Point Source Catalog [2] or the SDSS Photometric Catalog [3].
  • location Region Overlays, for overlaying Points Of Interest (such as local catalogs) or any local vector data sets in GeoJSON format.
  • plot Profile Overlays, for plotting image profiles and (pseudo-)spectral energy distributions from the full precision pixel values stored on the server.
  • info Documentation, which opens a panel where any web page can be embedded, e.g., an online-manual.

Channel Mixing equalizer2

The Channel Mixing panel has two modes, which can be selected using the radio buttons located at the top of the dialog: the Single Channel (monochromatic) mode, and the Multi-Channel (color composite) mixing mode.

In Single Channel mode, one can:

  • Select an image channel for display
  • Select a color map among a selection of four
  • Set the minimum and maximum channel levels

In Multi-Channel mode, one can:

  • Select an image channel to be included in the color mix
  • Set the color this channel contributes to the mix
  • Set the minimum and maximum channel levels
  • Click on a channel name in the active channel list to edit a channel contributing to the current mix, or click on the trashcan button to remove it.

Image Preferences contrast

The Image Preference dialog gives access to global image display settings:

  • Color map inversion (negative mode)
  • Contrast (scaling factor)
  • Color saturation (0 for black&white, >1 for exaggerating colors)
  • Gamma correction (2.2 for linear output on a properly calibrated monitor, higher values for brightening dark regions, lower values for darkening)
  • JPEG quality percentage. The lower the quality percentage, the more compressed the image and the more artifacts in the rendering.


Users with a low bandwidth can improve the reactivity of the display by setting a lower JPEG quality percentage.

Catalog Overlays make-group

The Catalog Overlay dialog allows the user to download and overlay catalogs in the current field of view. The available list of catalogs and the rendering of catalog sources (marker, cross, circle with magnitude-dependent radius, ellipse, etc.) depends on client settings. In the current default interface all catalogs are queried from the VizieR service at CDS [5].

To query a catalog, move the map and adjust the zoom level to the desired field of view; choose the catalog from the drop-down catalog selector and an overlay color from the color selector, then click the “GO” button. After a few seconds a new overlay with the chosen color should appear, as well as a new entry in the active catalog list below the drop down selector. Each overlay may be turned off or on by clicking on the check-mark in the corresponding entry of the active catalog list, or simply discarded by clicking on the trashcan button.

Depending on the implementation in the client, sources may be clickable and have pop-up information windows attached.

Region Overlays location

The Region Overlay dialog allows the user to overlay Points/Regions Of Interest, such as local catalogs, detector footprints, etc. These POIs/ROIs may be clickable and have information attached for display in pop-up windows.

The Region Overlay selection mechanism is exactly the same as that of Catalog Overlays.

Profile Overlays plot

The Profile overlay dialog gives the user the possibility to extract pixel values directly from the scientific data. These data are unaffected by channel mixing, image scaling or compression.

The profile option extracts series of pixel values along lines of constant galactic longitude or latitude. The line color is pink by default and can be changed using the color picker. The line itself is positioned on the image by first dragging the map to the desired start coordinate, pressing the “START” button, and dragging the map to the desired end coordinate and pressing the “END” button. After some calculation, a window appears with a plot of the image profile along the selected line. In mono-channel mode, a single line is plotted that corresponds to the currently selected channel. In color mode, all active channels are plotted, with their channel mixing color. On devices equipped with a mouse one can zoom inside the plots by clicking with the left button and selecting the zoom region. Double-click to zoom out. The plot window can be closed by clicking/touching the small cross in the upper right corner, and reopened at any time by clicking on the line.

The spectrum option, as its name implied extracts pixel data along the channel axis at a given position. The position is selected by dragging the map to the desired coordinate and clicking on the “Go” button. A circle marker appears with the color that was selected using the color picker (purple by default). After some calculation, a window pops out with the “spectrum” of pixel values at the selected coordinate. Note that the ordering of pixel values follows that of the channels in the data cube.

Documentation panel info

Clicking on the info symbol (which may be located at the bottom of the taskbar) brings up the online documentation panel. A navigation bar is located at the bottom of the panel to facilitate browsing through the provided documentation or website sections and come back to the main page. Finally, a download button (PDF Symbol pdf) located at the bottom right of the Manual Pane may be present to allow the user saving an entire manual as a PDF file for offline reading.