TOPCAT: Tool for OPerations on Catalogues And Tables
Abstract: TOPCAT is an interactive graphical viewer and editor for tabular data. Its aim is to provide most of the facilities that astronomers need for analysis and manipulation of source catalogues and other tables, though it can be used for non-astronomical data as well. It understands a number of different astronomically important formats (including FITS and VOTable) and more formats can be added.
It offers a variety of ways to view and analyse tables, including a browser for the cell data themselves, viewers for information about table and column metadata, and facilities for 1-, 2-, 3- and higher-dimensional visualisation, calculating statistics and joining tables using flexible matching algorithms. Using a powerful and extensible Java-based expression language new columns can be defined and row subsets selected for separate analysis. Table data and metadata can be edited and the resulting modified table can be written out in a wide range of output formats.
It is a stand-alone application which works quite happily with no network connection. However, because it uses Virtual Observatory (VO) standards, it can cooperate smoothly with other tools in the VO world and beyond, such as VODesktop, Aladin and ds9. Between 2006 and 2009 TOPCAT was developed within the AstroGrid project, and is offered as part of a standard suite of applications on the AstroGrid web site, where you can find information on several other VO tools.
The program is written in pure Java and available under the GNU General Public Licence. It has been developed in the UK within the now-terminated Starlink and AstroGrid projects, and under PPARC and STFC grants. Its underlying table processing facilities are provided by STIL.
Credit: Mark Taylor