SPINE Readme – v7.3

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  1. Why Spine?
  2. Who’s it for?
  3. What’s it for?
  4. Summary of features
  5. Minimum requirements
  6. Installation and removal
  7. Version history
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Small print

Why Spine?

Spine stands for “Soaring Pilot’s Intelligent NOTAMs Editor”.

Who’s it for?

While, as its name suggests, Spine is mainly aimed at glider pilots, it can also be used by private GA pilots. Settings can be changed to filter NOTAMs for Gliding, GA VFR or GA IFR.
Currently, due to the availability of source information, the program can only be used in the United Kingdom.

What’s it for?

NOTAMs as downloaded from the Internet contain a lot of information that is not relevant, especially to glider pilots. Neither are they usually sorted into a convenient order.
Spine helps you to edit NOTAMs and discard the irrelevant ones, and also sorts the output into a usable form. You can also restrict the output to a specific area, for example by setting a maximum distance from your home airfield.

Summary of features

  • Automatic download of Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB) from NATS web site.
  • Ability to process user-specified NOTAM briefs saved from NATS web site. These have
    more information and are more up-to-date than PIBs.
  • Automatic removal of non-relevant items.
    (but user has ultimate responsibility to check results).
  • Option to set range, such as distance from a specified location.
    (The location can selected from a list of BGA turning points or ICAO airports.)
  • Many sorting options, including by position and date, or by distance and bearing from
    a specified location.
  • Browse feature for quick review and selection of NOTAMs to be included.
  • Plotting of airspace, NOTAMs and task in a graphic window.
  • Formatted output to printer, HTML file, OpenAir format file
    (for XCSoar or Winpilot), or Tim Newport-Peace format file (for Glide Navigator II
    and SoaringPilot).
  • Quick checklist for ease of use.
  • Built-in coordinate lookup for any 5-letter reporting point (such as HAZEL, REXAM etc.).
  • Automatic program and database updates when connected to the Internet.

Minimum requirements

System with Pentium-compatible processor running MS Windows XP or later. A minimum screen resolution of 1024×768 is recommended, due to the size of the main dialog.

Installation and Removal

Just double-click on the self-installing image you downloaded and follow the instructions to install the program.
To remove the program from your computer, go to Programs (Windows 7/Vista) or Add/Remove Programs (XP)
in Control Panel and click on the Spine entry.

Version history

v7.3
  • This version fixes a further problem with parsing the Airspace file. The statements INCLUDE=YES or
    INCLUDE=NO could affect the item that had gone before instead of the one following.
v7.2
  • This version fixes a complex problem with parsing the Airspace file. Due to its structure, the start of
    some entries was detected in the wrong place, causing the first part of the following entry to be included. For
    example, Tilstock parachute zone picked up the “prohibited” type from the following entry (Weston-on-the-Green)
    and was therefore plotted as solid red instead of an open red circle.
v7.1
  • If more than one Danger area is referenced in the text of a NOTAM and any of the areas is not present in the Airspace file
    this caused Spine to crash. This has been fixed in this version.
v7.0
  • If the lower and upper bound for a Notam were not explicitly stated, this caused problems with plotting, especially when exported for
    display on navigation instruments. This has been fixed by taking the bounds from the Q line in this case.
  • FIR-wide Notams (radius > 300NM) are now no longer plotted by default.
v6.9
  • A danger area referenced in a Notam has been plotted as an enclosing circle since V6.5, instead of the shape of the area. This is now fixed.
    In addition, multiple danger areas referenced in the same Notam are now handled properly.
  • Notam popups did not work properly if the Notam consisted of more than one area.
v6.8
  • Altitudes of FL030 and below are now shown as FT AMSL.
v6.7
  • Fixed a bug with plotting complex shapes.
  • Fixed a potential problem when downloading Notams from the mobile network.
  • Updates to the Q line decode file to add new subjects and conditions, and to allow Air Navigation Route to be plotted.
v6.6
  • Improved accuracy of coordinates in a small number of cases where seconds of arc were not being taken into account.
  • Improved processing of coordinates in text part of Notam, so more actual shapes can be plotted, instead of default circles.
  • A couple of fixes to data files (already issued): Coordinates for EGCT Tilstock corrected and a
    typo in Strangford CTA-4 fixed in Airspace.
v6.5
  • Distance to a FIR-wide NOTAM (radius > 300NM) was being calculated as the distance to the centre of the circle.
    This should be zero, since the point is obviously inside the circle.
  • Airspace under NOTAMs is now appended to the info popup, and stacked airspace is listed in priority order
    (highest priority first).
  • Unclosed areas in NOTAMs are no longer plotted. This prevents random lines being drawn where coordinates
    mentioned in the text are unconnected. This obviously does not apply to linear route NOTAMs, such as formation flights.
  • More closed areas in the text, which were previously overlooked, are now discovered.
  • The abbreviation for NOTAM classification “Exercise” (QWE) has been changed from MILEX to EXERCISE, since it’s not
    always military.
  • The help has been updated to show recent changes.
v6.4
  • Two buttons have been added to the main dialog to simplify access to a couple of features:
    • Displaying the latest server message again (this was previously hidden away on the User tab
      of the Settings dialog).
    • Visiting my web site.
  • The Help menu item on the Plot window had stopped working and is now fixed.
  • The appearance of controls (buttons etc.) had reverted to an older version (symptomised by flat, square
    cornered buttons). This has now been fixed.
v6.3
  • This is an urgent update to prevent auto-deletion of NOTAMs with a radius > 300NM. This was deleting some
    NOTAMs relating to Olympic airspace.
v6.2
  • This is mainly a technical release to upgrade from an unsupported legacy version of the compiler to the current platform.
  • Data files are now stored in the correct location, to enable updates without resorting to a Microsoft hack
    which is only there to support legacy code (“virtualisation”).
  • It is no longer possible to download Mauve AICs and AIP supplements directly, so a message box has been added to
    explain the situation.
v6.1
  • Fixed a bug where some NOTAMs could be missed in output OpenAir/TNP format files.
  • Mauve AICs have moved to a different server so the URL has been updated to reflect this.
    (Unfortunately access to these pdf files is currently restricted and the download feature
    doesn’t work. We are hoping this restriction will be lifted in the future.)
v6.0
  • Migrated to new web host, which necessitated changes to embedded URLs. That’s all.
v5.9
  • Fixes a problem where due to format changes, a reference in the NOTAM text to a Mauve AIC was no
    longer recognised.
  • The URLs for both AICs and Supplementary AIPs have changed and have been updated.
  • In addition to Mauve AICs, Yellow, Pink and Green AICs are now handled.
v5.8
  • Parachute Drop Zones are now treated as a special airspace type. These are plotted as a red
    outlined circle. Previously they were either lumped in with Danger Areas or Prohibited areas.
  • A turning point info bar is now included at the top of the plot window. This shows details of the point
    nearest to the cursor. You can choose any combination of BGA turning points, ICAO airports, Reporting
    points and Navigation aids should you choose to display these on the plot. Type combinations can be selected
    from the flyout on the View menu.
  • Popup information is now displayed irrespective of which cursor (crosshair, zoom, pan) is in use.
    Previously popups were restricted unnecessarily to the crosshair cursor.
v5.7
  • Changes to support changed BGA Turning Point file format and 4-character codes.
  • The full name (where available) for danger areas is now displayed in popups in the plot window.
    Previously only the”Dnnn” part was shown.
  • A couple of new Subject designations have been added to the Q line definition file, and Help
    has been updated to reflect this.
  • In addition, when the Q line definition file is updated, filter settings are reset to their defaults
    to incorporate any changes.
  • There have been minor changes to task editing.
v5.6
  • Fixes a problem caused by a change in format of NOTAMs downloaded from AIS web site (active dates/times),
    which caused NOTAMs not to be plotted.
v5.5
  • Added “point and click” task editing.
  • Now shows task information (total distance, leg length etc.) when hovering over a task leg.
  • Added mouse wheel zoom in/out.
  • Added pan sensitivity control to make pan tool more responsive.
  • Changes to linear routes: where several NOTAMs overlap, a linear route is now treated as “smallest”, so
    that it pops up at the top of the list.
  • BGA turning points placed more accurately on plot. Previously, the location was rounded to the nearest
    minute.
v5.4
  • Airport was not being shown for downloaded NOTAMs.
  • More fixes for linear routes (e.g. formation flights). Calculation of minimum distance from airfield
    was wrong in some cases, and popup information didn’t work properly.
v5.3
  • NOTAMs downloaded from AIS web site were not plotted because active times were parsed incorrectly.
  • User preference for Reporting Point/VOR display on plot was not saved.
  • Incorrect URL for AIP Supplements fixed.
v5.2
  • Fix the plot of linear routes (for example, formation flights) so that the last coordinate
    is not connected back to the first, which gives misleading information.
  • One-click download of AIP Supplement if referenced in NOTAM (similar feature to Mauve AIC download).
  • Fix for internet connection via mobile operator. Optimisation of transmission which removes newlines in
    HTML code was causing parsing to fail. Code has been rewritten to parse HTML correctly.
v5.1
  • The main dialog layout has been improved to make controls more accessible.
  • Closable panel with current NOTAM details added on left of Plot window.
  • NOTAM info popups in the Plot window are now ordered from smallest to largest
    radius, so that when NOTAMs overlap, it is no longer necessary to click
    through.
  • One-click download of Mauve AIC if referenced in NOTAM.
  • Fix for a problem where the Active From or Until times were marked as estimated.
    These were giving an error. Now they are processed correctly, and shown with
    ‘(Est.)’ after them.
  • Nicer font used in all dialogs.
v5.0
  • Fix for Vista. It is no longer necessary to run Spine as administrator for
    data file updates to work.
v4.9
  • Add Lat/Long graticule to the Plot window. This feature may optionally be turned off
    by the user.
v4.8
  • Fix a problem which resulted from a change to the downloaded PIB format.
v4.7
  • Fix lower and upper bound display.
v4.6
  • Fix a bug with distance calculations from home airfield to non-circular NOTAM areas,
    which could also cause the program to crash for some, but not all, home airfield settings.
v4.5
  • Add task plotting facility.
  • Delete NOTAMs which have Aerodrome scope only, when Aerodrome NOTAMs are not requested.
  • Add button to give quick access to AIS login page.
  • Change the way airspace is processed so that danger areas not normally displayed can be
    plotted with the correct shape when activated by NOTAM.
v4.4
  • Add facility to parse user-saved NOTAMs from NATS web site, as well as PIBs.
  • Process NOTAM Scope (from Q-line) correctly, and show on display and printed output.
    Add view selection based on Scope.
  • Move some controls on to tabs in main dialog to reduce clutter.
  • Plot airspace layers in correct order, so high-priority airspace (such as Prohibited area)
    doesn’t get lost under lower priority stuff.
  • When NOTAM information pops up on plot, main dialog now switches to that NOTAM.
  • Fix bug that stopped a danger area mentioned in the text being found in the airspace file.
  • Help file updated in line with changes.
v4.3
  • Fix page breaking on print out.
  • Do sanity check on coordinates pulled from free text.
  • Don’t attempt to plot areas that specify arcs (maybe in future).
  • On NOTAM popups in Plot Window, stop airport from an earlier NOTAM
    “leaking” into a NOTAM that doesn’t have one.
  • Put separator between distinct areas in coordinate list.
  • Include latest airspace.
  • Include updated list of reporting points.
v4.2
  • Fixed a serious bug causing NOTAMs to be missed.
  • Process schedule information.
v4.1
  • Fixed a bug in parsing the new format.
  • Airport code/name (where available) was not being displayed.
  • Fixed formatting problem in Turning Points file.
  • Included latest airspace file in package.
v4.0
  • Updated to use the revised AIS file formats.
v3.7
  • Fixed date range handling when both FIRs are selected.
  • Only output plotted NOTAMs to OpenAir/TNP files.
v3.6
  • Added file output in Tim Newport-Peace format to support Glide Navigator II
    and SoaringPilot PDA software.
v3.5
  • Fixes a problem in the airspace parser.
  • Includes latest airspace file in package (UK.AIR V2006 B).
v3.4
  • In some cases, spurious extra lines were being drawn when plotting NOTAMs.
  • Fixes for automatic updates.
  • Fixes an infinite loop if Checklist buttons were used with Settings already open.
v3.3
  • Can now cycle through info for multiple NOTAMs at same point on plot.
  • Date selector moved from Output Settings to main dialog. It now
    applies to viewing as well as printing or file output (Only
    NOTAMs between the chosen dates and times are shown).
  • Any changes made in the main dialog (settings, dates) are now reflected
    immediately in the plot window if showing (previously only a new plot showed these
    changes).
  • If dates are changed in the plot window, they are also changed in the
    main dialog (so dates can be changed from either).
  • “Don’t plot” button now applies to the plot
    window as well as OpenAir output.
  • Printing options check removed from Checklist (no longer needed).
  • Revised which items can/cannot be plotted in Q-line decode file.
v3.2

Changes to plot feature:

  • Added date selector.
  • Added popup information for airspace.
  • Improved appearance of popup window.
  • Some plot preferences now saved.
  • Fixed focus problems which caused pan to stop working.
  • Fixed cursor refresh (current cursor was sometimes lost).
  • Arrow cursor changed to crosshair.
  • Enhanced coastline.
v3.1
  • Addition of plot feature.
  • More accurate processing of NOTAMs with complex shapes (polygons),
    including calculation of minimum distance from home airfield.
  • Fixes serious problem with detection of “all-night” NOTAMs. One-day
    NOTAMs starting before dawn and ending after sunset were being
    auto-deleted if this option was selected.
  • Fixes bug with linear bounds (NOTAMs restricted by lines of latitude
    and longitude). Radius of influence was being ignored, so a NOTAM with
    a centre outside the bound, but penetrating the included area was deleted
    as out of range.
  • When saving files, a suggested file name based on the current date
    (yyyymmdd) is preset in the dialog.
v3.0
  • Major changes to implement ‘Q’ line handling.
  • New Filter settings page replaces Auto-delete.
  • Adds GA VFR and IFR filter modes (as well as Gliding).
  • Optionally includes Aerodrome as well as En-route NOTAMs.
  • Individual NOTAMs can be manually excluded from OpenAir plot.
  • Sunrise/sunset times calculated so night-only NOTAMs can be auto-deleted.
  • Sunset time for home airfield now shown on output.
  • Fixes to run properly from non-privileged accounts.
  • Fixes for Windows 98 users.
  • Fixes Airfield settings Reset button.
  • Easier selection in Find Reference dialog.
  • Headings added to Coordinate List dialog.
  • Warns if cancelling Settings when changes have been made.
  • Always prints distance from origin if defined (previously user choice).
  • Checks integrity of installation on startup (missing data files).
v2.4
  • This is a quick fix for the addition of the ‘Q’ line to the source PIBs which broke
    Spine. The ‘Q’ line will be used properly in a future version.
v2.3
  • Adds facility to set a proxy for internet access.
v2.21
  • Fixes a bug which caused an update request for two data files each time
    Spine was run.
v2.2
  • Technical update to simplify future addition of NOTAM types and type rules.
  • Data files updated (Airports and Name Code Designators [Reporting Points]).
  • In Auto-delete settings, types are now selected from a list box instead of by
    individual check boxes (part of technical update).
  • In Find Reference dialog, double-clicking an entry now does the same as a
    single-click select followed by OK.
  • Improved error checking and warnings in Settings and Quick Setup.
v2.12
  • Bugfixes and additions to Type classification.
  • Improvements and fixes to OpenAir format to display areas correctly.
  • NOTAMs in the OpenAir file are defined as virtual Class E airspace, which is
    otherwise unused. This must be enabled in Winpilot’s airspace settings to have
    the NOTAMs displayed.
  • Detection of a NOTAM’s radius of influence improved (some were being missed due
    to unusual formatting of the text).
  • Search by reference feature added.
  • Help updated and index improved.
v2.1
  • Added option to save NOTAMs in OpenAir format file for upload to Winpilot etc.
  • NOTAM reference included on printed output.
  • Fixed bug which could cause incorrect validity times to be shown on printed
    output and on main dialog.
v2.02
  • Fix bug introduced in V2.0 which excluded NOTAMs starting and finishing on
    selected day when selecting single-day output.
v2.01 (beta)
  • Beta version to test new program download method. (Not generally released.)
  • Start/finish time was omitted from output page header.
  • New version package now downloaded from program instead of relying on browser,
    which caused problems for some.
v2.0
  • Change to method of downloading NOTAMs. No longer requires an AIS user account.
  • Quick Setup feature for new users. Also invoked for existing users, when upgrading
    if new information is needed.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to …

  • Tim Newport-Peace for supplying the Turning Point information in the format I need, and much other support.
  • Rory O’Conor for the Airspace files and for liaising with AIS to Spine’s benefit.
  • Richard Dann (Shalbourne) for beta testing stuff in the past, making many useful suggestions, and finding bugs.
  • Bob Boyd (Shalbourne) for useful suggestions and problem reports.
  • Dave Salmon (Camp Hill) for generally keeping me on my toes, and reminding me stuff happens north of EGVN.
  • The friendly and helpful staff at AIS who have responded to my email questions on several occasions.
  • Everyone else who has reported bugs and made suggestions.

Terms and conditions of use

This freeware program was written by Jeff Goodenough and is copyright.

The program is only intended for use by UK (or visiting) soaring pilots.

If you find any problems, please report them in the Spine forum which you can access from my web site at http://www.jeffg.co.uk so that I can fix them.

If you have any other comments or suggestions, I should also be pleased to hear from you.

No liability whatsoever is accepted for the use of this program. It is the responsibility of the user to verify the accuracy of the results.

Use of this program is on the understanding that it is not endorsed by National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and that the program is used as a tool by the user personally to access the AIS web site insofar as he or she is permitted to do so.

Shalbourne Gliding

Shalbourne Gliding