How Analysts Use SIFTER

Once the data has been loaded into the SIFTER database, you are now ready to begin using SIFTER to look for interesting results. Your primary tool is a Java applet which will allow you to query for results and then select them for viewing. The interfaces here are straightforward, so we will only give you the highlights here.

Start the Search

Java applet

The Java applet is invoked from your SIFTER home page. Be sure to have Java enabled for your web browser:

The applet allows you to query the database for results whose primary attributes meet various criteria. This first screen only shows you a few attributes. If you want to query based on a wider set of attributes, select the "More >>" button and you will have a much larger set from which to choose.

Specify your criteria and select the "Query" button. The number of results returned will depend on the number loaded into your database and how restrictive your criteria are. With tens of thousands of results loaded, you'll want to be very selective. With only a few hundred, you can get away with less.

Applet results

Your result is displayed in a new window like that shown here. In the bottom pane, you can see listed all the primary attributes the results have in common. In the upper pane is a columnar list of all the primary attributes that differ. You may need to scroll to the right to see them all.

Select the results you are interested in and select the "Display >>" button. Each result will be plotted as shown in below. Colors and line styles are chosen automatically, although these can be selected from a menu on the applet results window. Near the bottom is the legend which identifies the plot and its map.

The default plot is greatly simplified. One map from the results was chosen for the map and this determines the X axis and the markers shown at the top. The results are simply plotted, ignoring the fact that each result had its own map and that all maps are not equivalent. Notice that the markers are not really legible at this point.

Menus on the plot window allow you to control the font size for the markers shown (or to even not display them). Dragging the left mouse button over an area of the window allows you to zoom in or display the raw data for the results within the area. As your mouse moves over the markers near the top, the name of the marker is shown in the status line at the bottom of the window.

You may also change the selected map - thereby changing the markers shown near the top. In addition you may request results be integrated with the selected map. This means that each result is scaled according to the selected map. SIFTER looks at the markers in common between the map associated with each plot and the selected map and scales the results accordingly. This could dramatically change the shape of your plots.

There are other menus to explore, but you should find them clear enough with a little experimentation.

Applet Plots

There is more to come here on comparing maps and connecting to other Internet resources.

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