ICAT Project


Road Map – January 2014

Road Map for the ICAT family

January 2014

The purpose of this document is to indicate the planned ICAT family developments. It tries to look one year ahead and will be updated quarterly. For each component the order gives an impression of the relative priority.


There are currently no plans to make any changes to the schema or API nor to change or remove the speculative features. There are also no planned changes to icat-setup. ICE (ICAT Editor) is being used currently to prototype a GWT replacement -- if it looks suitable it may be kept to provide a product with a more modern looking interface. A number of areas, some of which may be dead ends, will be investigated including:

  • clustered deployment (single lucene index etc.) to provide better performance and to allow a machine to be dedicated to ingestion
  • improved API documentation -- in particular how to do queries and a fuller explanation of the authorization and how to write rules that are efficient.
  • the provision of a JSON based RESTful web service -- this should be a rather easy add-on
  • ability to migrate metadata/data between ICAT/IDS instances. This will allow a file to be prepared of data to be fed into ICAT. Functionality of the old XMLIngest will be included. The new mechanism will be more general as it will be able to deal with any ICAT data and not just a hierarchical projection of that data. It will also allow a new ICAT to be configured very rapidly.
  • the use of a non-relational database to give better performance at large scale. Some kind of hybrid between relational and non-relational might be optimal.


  • Provide data file upload facilities via the IDS
  • Rationalize and simplify the code and reduce dependencies -- this will result in more maintainable software. If plugins are needed they should not be compiled into the distribution.
  • It would be desirable to separate off code for doing the confederation, possibly into a small independent service.
  • Add visualisation features (simple analysis of one and two dimensional data) by packaging such functionality already developed by the ICAT team at STFC for one of their facilities code
  • Find a replacement for GWT which is now rather old and with a shrinking community and produce a more modern interface
  • ICE might be included in TopCAT


  • The IDS computes checksums where data files are uploaded so can use this information to provide background checking that all data can be correctly read to provide the expected checksum
  • Add the ability to work well when deployed on a shared file system
  • Extend to provide FUSE file system authorized by ICAT


This is the most immature member of the ICAT family -- but probably with the most potential for further development. It allows submission of jobs where data selection is based on ICAT information and the data are handled by IDS.  Both batch and interactive jobs are supported.

  • many small changes to meet evolving requirements