Introduction to the suite

ASTROPH.PY and the accompanying files are designed to generate a freestanding, maintenance-free web site for listing files (or other URLs), as seen at A PHP-enabled web site lists submitted articles, has an input form for submitting additional articles of interest, and upon submission the site automatically updates the PHP code. Items can be subsequently deleted from the list using a password-protected PHP text editor. was created at UC Los Angeles by Ian J. Crossfield and Nathaniel Ross. Re-use or modification is allowed and encouraged, so long as proper acknowledgement is made to the original authors and institution.

Click here to see the UCLA astro-coffee website in action.

Download & Contents:

All files are included in this tarball , which includes the following files: HTML pages from a list of IDs/URLs Python module used by
coffee_*.txt Header/footer used in generating HTML and PHP
astro_coffee_sample.phpsample main web page
listmanager.php Password-protected site to edit ID list file.
papers ASCII file list of paper IDs/URLs
dregs.log Logfile for submissions

Requirements & Installation

  1. Download the package and untar (tar -xvfz astrocoffee.tar.gz).
  2. You need a web server with PHP and Python scripting enabled. Plenty of web resources exist to guide you through configuration of your particular web server.
  3. Copy the files to your server's directory for public web resources.
  4. Set permissions. The *.php files, papers, and dregs.log will all be continually updated, and so need to have read/write access enabled (chmod 666). You will want to update the *.txt files to customize your page, but after that they only need read access enabled (chmod 444), and similarly for, however, needs executable access, so a chmod 555 would be more appropriate.
  5. Open the file "listmanager.php" in your favorite text editor. Set the username and password variables at the top of the file to whatever you want.
  6. At this point, everything should be set up. Open a terminal window to the appropriate directory, and type './'. After about a minute (see below for an explanation for the delay) the script should exit. Type 'ls -lart', and you should see two new files, "astro_coffee.php" and "astro_coffee_temp.php".
  7. Open a web browser, point it to 'http://yourserver/astro_coffee.php', and the page should pop up. A file "astro_coffee_sample.php" is also included as an example of the general format to expect for the file.

The guts -- How does it work? invokes a few fairly basic python commands for URL retrieval, file I/O, and string manipulation, all wrapped up in a colorful HTML/PHP candy shell -- see the source code for more details. The PHP handles form submission and processing, and calls the underlying Python script that collects data from web pages and writes new HTML/PHP code.

As currently implemented (v0.3) page updates can take several minutes, because a 30-second pause is inserted between retrieval of each submission's info. This is to prevent sites from recognizing the script as a rampaging robot.

Future revisions:

Anyone with a mind toward improvements is welcome to attempt implementation of the following, or other, desired future features. As always, keep the original authors in the loop.

  • smarter handling of IO, file permissions, and general web security
  • Preprint objects should have a standardized structure and constructor.
  • "getinfo" subfunctions for other web pages (ADS, URLs, etc.)
  • A locally generated article information database, so that articles' data don't have to be re-loaded from the web each time the script is run.
  • Scripts should check for duplicate submissions
  • Options for sorting by, e.g., web submission date, paper submission date, type, etc.
  • A web interface to view the logfile
  • Other suggestions welcome!