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Session 6 - An Integrated Web Resource.
Display session, Monday, January 13
SIMBAD is the reference database for the identification and bibliography of astronomical objects. For 1,250,000 stars and galaxies, it contains basic data (coordinates, magnitudes, object type, etc.), identifiers, measurements from the most important catalogues, and bibliographical references, i.e. links to papers in which the object is mentioned. SIMBAD is developed and maintained by the CDS (Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg) in France, which also maintains the VizieR catalogue database and develops the ALADIN interactive sky atlas.
Since September 1996, SIMBAD has been accessible through the World-Wide Web. It can be queried by identifiers, by coordinates, or through a sampling facility. Seen as a hub of data of several types, SIMBAD takes the best advantage of the navigation permitted by the Web. The query result is linked to other relevant information: neighbouring objects; catalogue description in the Dictionary of Nomenclature, with further access to the whole catalogue and the VizieR database; abstracts and tables at CDS and links to the ADS, which in turn may provide access to the full paper and similar papers. Through the bibliographic code, access is also given to the other SIMBAD objects mentioned in the paper.
Such links cannot be hardcoded in the database, due to the need for evolutive URLs. A dedicated software, developed by CDS, known as GLU (Générateur de Liens Uniforme), uses a data dictionary to add linking information to the data which are previously tagged according to their type. The GLU dynamically replaces tagged data by URLs, according to data type, data value, requested result, and response time when mirror sites are involved.
All CDS data are currently integrated into the GLU dictionary, enabling links between all services. This will allow selection of relevant database mirror copies. The distributed nature of the dictionary will also help linking external services together.
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