Optimizing real-time web-based user interfaces for observatories

J. Duane Gibson, Timothy E. Pickering, Dallan Porter, Skip Schaller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In using common HTML/Ajax approaches for web-based data presentation and telescope control user interfaces at the MMT Observatory (MMTO), we rapidly were confronted with web browser performance issues. Much of the operational data at the MMTO is highly dynamic and is constantly changing during normal operations. Status of telescope subsystems must be displayed with minimal latency to telescope operators and other users. A major motivation of migrating toward web-based applications at the MMTO is to provide easy access to current and past observatory subsystem data for a wide variety of users on their favorite operating system through a familiar interface, their web browser. Performance issues, especially for user interfaces that control telescope subsystems, led to investigations of more efficient use of HTML/Ajax and web server technologies as well as other web-based technologies, such as Java and Flash/Flex. The results presented here focus on techniques for optimizing HTML/Ajax web applications with near real-time data display. This study indicates that direct modification of the contents or "nodeValue" attribute of text nodes is the most efficient method of updating data values displayed on a web page. Other optimization techniques are discussed for web-based applications that display highly dynamic data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II
StatePublished - 2008
EventAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 26 2008Jun 28 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II


  • Ajax
  • MMT Observatory
  • Real-time web-based applications
  • Web browser performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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