Using the Agile software development lifecycle to develop a standalone application for generating colour magnitude diagrams
Butler, Ray F.
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Fitzgerald, K., Browne, L. M., & Butler, R. F. (2019). Using the Agile software development lifecycle to develop a standalone application for generating colour magnitude diagrams. Astronomy and Computing, 28, 100283. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ascom.2019.05.001
Virtual observatories allow the means by which an astronomer is able to discover, access, and process data seamlessly, regardless of its physical location. However, steep learning curves are often required to become proficient in the software employed to access, analyse and visualise this trove of data. It would be desirable, for both research and educational purposes, to have applications which allow users to visualise data at the click of a button. Therefore, we have developed a standalone application (written in Python) for plotting photometric Colour Magnitude Diagrams (CMDs) — one of the most widely used tools for studying and teaching about astronomical populations. The CMD Plot Tool application functions “out of the box” without the need for the user to install code interpreters, additional libraries and modules, or to modify system paths; and it is available on multiple platforms. Interacting via a graphical user interface (GUI), users can quickly and easily generate high quality plots, annotated and labelled as desired, from various data sources. This paper describes how CMD Plot Tool was developed using Object Orientated Programming and a formal software design lifecycle (SDLC). We highlight the need for the astronomical software development culture to identify appropriate programming paradigms and SDLCs. We outline the functionality and uses of CMD Plot Tool, with examples of star cluster photometry. All results plots were created using CMD Plot Tool on data readily available from various online virtual observatories, or acquired from observations and reduced with IRAF/PyRAF.