SOLEv1.0 User Manual
NCASI Statistics and Model Development Group

Date: June 19, 2006

SOLE logo


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.

Using SOLEv1.0

Starting Out

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. 

SOLE Intro

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: 

  1. Proceed with a state-level analysis by clicking the bright orange Select states and keep all counties button. You are instructed to proceed to the Variables tab. 
  2. Select individual counties, then press the Select states then counties button. The interface automatically proceeds to the Data tab. 

SOLE US Map tab

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. 

   a. County Tools

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.

SOLE Data: County Tools

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 want to
    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. 

    SOLE Map Draw Tools    

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 Selection and Filters tabs available. 

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,

variables tab

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 checking its 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 stop using the filter. Active filter status is printed at the top of analysis output, so check to see if your intended filters are correctly activated.

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:

    1. Check the box for the “Site Productivity Class" and select (using CTRL click for multiple selections) all productivity classes except for "<20ft^3/year"
    2. Scroll to the right and check the box for "Reserved Class" and select "Not Reserved"

filters tab

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).

SOLE Analysis tab

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.

Choose the function you want to map by county with Select Mapping Algorithm. An explanation and help for each algorithm is available from the Get help with this Script button. Execute your analysis with Run Mapping Function.

SoleMapping Tab

Figure 8: Mapping tab.

    7. Projection 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.

SOLE Projection Tab
Figure 9: Projection tab


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.