NCASI Statistics and Model Development Group
Date: June 19, 2006
The Southern On-Line Estimator (SOLE) is a web-based forest-data analysis tool. This online analysis tool is based on publicly-available annual data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Database (FIADB). SOLE produces statistical tables, figures, maps, and PDF reports based on user-selected area and variables. This manual is for the full-featured JAVA-based user interface version of SOLE.
This user's manual describes how to use SOLEv1.0 and then offers some helpful tips.
Starting SOLEv1.0 opens a JAVA interface contained in the web browser (Figure 1). The series of tabs along the top of the interface are sequentially selected to complete a query. Each subsequent tab becomes available once the user has satisfied the selection criteria of the current tab. Individual tabs are described in detail.
Figure 1: SOLE Introduction tab.
To select a geographic are of interest, click on the orange bar at the bottom of the interface or the US Map tab at the top.
1. US Map tab
Select one or more states on the USMap tab (Figure 2) by clicking the map. States that are not available (ie no annual FIADB data) are greyed out. Once you select a state it is highlighted in green and the state name is displayed. FIA Regions can be selected by using the top level of brown buttons at the bottom of the interface. When you have chosen the states you would like to analyze, you have 2 options:
Figure 2: SOLE US Map tab.
2. Data Tab
Selected states are displayed in the Data tab. Counties may be selected using either County or Draw tools. County tools allow the selection of individual counties by clicking the map. Draw tools offer the capability to draw circles and polygons to select counties.
Zoom: Left clicking zooms in on the map and right clicking zooms out.
Select All Counties: All counties will be highlighted in green when this function is selected. The map background will remain black when this function is used. After all counties have been selected, the button becomes Unselect All Counties.
Select by County: Individual counties can be chosen with this function is active (map background is grey). Selected counties are highlighted in green and can be deselected by clicking on them again.
Figure 3: SOLE Data tab, County Tools.
Integrated help files are accessed by the large yellow help buttons present on most tabs. Clicking Click Here for Help with This Tab opens a new browser window containing context-specific explanation and instructions.
b. Draw Tools
Zoom: Left clicking zooms in on the map and right clicking zooms out.
Draw Polygon: Left clicking adds sides, right clicking adds last side and closes the polygon. Once drawn, user defined shapes will be outlined in red.
Draw Circle: A popup
window will ask if you want to draw your circle free-hand, or if you
manually enter center coordinates and radius. Once drawn, user defined shapes will be outlined in red.
Select User Shape: Activating this tool turns the map background grey. Left clicking a user shape will select the shape and turn it green. Nota bene: One or more shapes must be selected before Retrieve Data button is pressed.
Figure 4: SOLE Data tab, Draw tools.
Once you have selected counties
using County Tools
or Draw Tools
you are ready to select the red Retrieve
Data button. The program loads the FIA data for the
counties you have selected, changes the Retrieve Data button
color from red
to green, and makes the Variable
Click on the Variable Selection Tab.
3. Variable Selection tab
There are two groups of variables: Quantitative (continuous) and Qualitative (discrete). Highlighted variables are moved between the “Available” (left side) to the “Selected” (right side) list with the appropriate arrows in the middle (Figure 5). Only variables in the “Selected” list are used in the analysis. To remove a variable from the Selected list, highlight it and click the left facing arrow button.
Example: To examine the gross sawlog volume across ownership groups for the area you selected,
Figure 5: Variable selection tab.
Once you have selected both Quantitative and Qualitative variables, click on the Filters Tab. A description of each variable is available on the integrated help file accessed by the yellow Click Here for Help With This Tab.
4. Filters tab
Data can be filtered to include only the variables of interest, where you can specify stand size, stand origin, forest type or productivity, ownership, and measurement year. These filters are positive in the sense that they will retrieve only the data that you select.
Individual filters are activated by
box. To select and deselect multiple elements from a filter
list, hold the Control key on
your keyboard and left click. Uncheck the box if you want to
using the filter. Active filter status is printed at the top of
analysis output, so check to see if your intended filters are correctly
One filter is activated by default without user input and cannot be deactivated. Its status is printed at the top of the analysis. “Default Filter: Accessible forests only” is an FIA definition of the minimum criteria for land cover to be considered forested.
Filter definitions are found in the integrated help file.
Example (continued): If you wanted to investigate gross sawlog volume across ownership groups on timberland only:
Figure 6: Filter Selection tab.
If you want a graphic or table analysis of your data, click on the Analysis Tab.
If you want to make a county map of your data, click on the Mapping Tab.
5. Analysis tab
Graph and text based analyses are performed on this tab. Select the Analysis you want to run from the drop down menu, then click on Run Analysis Function. For explanation of analysis algorithms, consult the help file fetched with Get Help For This Script. The data type and order of variables influence the analysis output. If you encounter unexpected results, modify your variable selection and/or order of variables. Analyses are sensitive to the variable type (continuous or discrete).
Figure 7: Analysis selection tab.
6. Mapping tab
The last tab of the web page generates map based analysis. Before mapping, it might be a good idea to run a plot or table analysis to make sure the relationship is logical. This will reduce wait time for the server to process data that isn't what you intended.
function you want to map by county with Select
Algorithm. An explanation and help for each algorithm is
available from the Get help with this Script
button. Execute your analysis with Run
8: Mapping tab.
Growth and removals projections can be created on this tab. Select your projection function from the drop down box then click the green "Run Projection Function" button. Your results will open in a new browser window. View help files for each analysis by clicking the yellow "Get Help For This Script" button.
Projection analysis is currently available only for Maine and Georgia. Additional states may be added as FIA data becomes available.
FIA data is a comprehensive national database that is subject to many factors influencing its content. Variables (volume estimates, measurement years, etc) are not consistently available among states. For this reason, analyses should be built from the ground up. For example, before filtering for a specific measurement year over a multi-state area you should run a tabular analysis with measurement year as a Qualitative Variable to determine which years are available for each state.
We have constructed tables to indicate which variables are available from the FIADB, and we've integrated error messages into the program to address most major/common errors.