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Main.CodeRepositoryDODSFreeFormServerr1.1 - 23 Jun 2005 - 19:01 - JeremyCothrantopic end

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Recently got into a discussion with at data provider about DODS servers for ASCII data. Researched the DODS FreeForm? and JGOFS server a bit and ended up trying the FreeForm? server install for Windows. Posting some notes below on the install process. Seems the only sticking point might be that I believe both services prefer data to have the ASCII data columns rigidly fixed in their layout, so CSV or other similarly delimited files are problematic. My suggestion in the absense of a DODS/OPeNDAP developed fix, is using or developing tools/services that filter from delimited to fixed column format.

Table of Contents

Install components and sample files

Here are list of what to download (also listed at )

Apache for Windows

listed at

I installed this using the 'single server' option on port 8080 rather than setting it up for the whole network.

After installing this you can start the apache service and see the Apache test page at http://localhost:8080

If you have a personal firewall running on your PC you may need to allow the Apache service permission to run.


apache configuration file

You'll need to change the following lines in the apache file httpd.conf (default install listing is under C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf ) and restart (close and start again) the apache service for the changes to take effect.

ScriptAlias? /cgi-bin/ "C:/Dods/cgi-bin/"

Your DocumentRoot? which you'll add the sample data files to is default listed as

DocumentRoot? "C:/Program Files/Apache Group/Apache2/htdocs"

This is where to add a folder labeled 'data' with the 2 sample data files ffsimple.dat, ffsimple.fmt placed inside.

ActiveState? perl

listed under Windows, MSI

DODS Freeform server for Windows

listed at

I installed this under the default of 'c:\Dods'. After install you'll have this new directory and the executables which are used underneath.

Add the system path information to your PC as suggested in the file C:\Dods\docs\envSetup.txt



  • apache and perl are installed and running ok

  • the apache configuration file httpd.conf has been changed to point references to the cgi-bin to the Dods installation

  • the sample data files are listed under the DocumentRoot? folder reference under a folder labeled 'data'

The following http reference


should return

Dataset: ffsimple.dat
lat/lon.latitude, lat/lon.longitude, lat/lon.temp, lat/lon.salt
-47.303545, -176.161101, 11.7125, 34.4634
-25.928001, -0.777265, 20.7288, 35.8953
-28.286662, 35.591879, 23.6377, 35.3314
12.588231, 149.408117, 28.6583, 34.526
-63.223548, 55.319598, 0.4503, 33.883
54.118314, -136.94057, 10.4085, 32.0661
-38.818812, 91.41133, 13.9978, 35.0173
-34.577065, 30.172129, 20.9096, 35.4705
27.331551, -155.233735, 23.0917, 35.2694
or the http reference


should return

Dataset: ffsimple.dat

Windows IIS or other web server alternative

Apache does not have to be used as the web server, but the web server must be configured to forward the cgi-bin request to the Dods cgi-bin reference.

comma separated or other delimited files

Excel does have a field export option to print (.prn) format which fixes the column widths of an opened or imported file to a rigid column format. It might also be possible to write some other tool or service to convert from delimited to fixed column format.

-- JeremyCothran - 23 Jun 2005
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