This document describes how to write a software program to send data to the AAS WorldWide Telescope Windows client using its Layer Control API (LCAPI).

The LCAPI interface can only control the WWT Windows application, which means that it is best suited to creating high-end custom experiences for planetarium or museum environments. For less specialized applications, such as visualizing research data in WWT, check out the pywwt Python package.

For a large amount of data the program might be a tool that reads data from a spreadsheet file, and then sends the appropriate fields of the data to WWT in appropriately sized buffers for visualization. For a smaller amount of data the entire file could be loaded in one go, or images or 3D models could be loaded. Time series data can be time-and-location dependent event data such as:

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Disease outbreaks
  • More general social or natural events and trends

The time-series system does not lend itself to data that varies either its location or has a complex intensity — such as weather systems, or forest fires — though it is possible a limited approach to this sort of data may be useful. The system does lend itself to events that occur over an extended period of time, given the ability to greatly accelerate simulated time, and also events that decay very rapidly (lightning) or quite slowly (diseases) given the ability to control the decay time of the rendered graphic. Although most examples are of time series events on the Earth, the events can be on any of the supported Solar System bodies, or simply the Sky.

There are a number of constraints on the use of the LCAPI that should be understood before commencing with the design of a client program:

  • The supported spreadsheet formats are comma or tab delimited files.
  • The LCAPI is a feature of the Windows Client version of WorldWide Telescope, not the Web Client.
  • The LCAPI provides event, image or model data specifically to the Layer Manager, not to any other component of WorldWide Telescope.

In addition to using the layer manager interactively, you can use scripting and programming languages to send commands and data into WWT from your own code driving the visualization of data in WWT. You can write code that can read data from a database, or create it mathematically and send it to WWT to render. In addition almost all of WWT functionality can be controlled through the LCAPI. This means you can create control mechanisms for automated or interactive control of WWT through your own hardware and software.