An FST to Vis5D Data Converter
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The fs2v5d data converter is a utility for converting RPN Standard Files (FST) to v5d-formatted input files for ingestion by the Vis5D or Vis5D+ visualization software. Developed over the last 20 years at Recherche en Prevision Numerique (RPN), a division of the Meteorological Service of Canada, the FST format has become the Canadian norm for meteorological applications. The conversion of theses data files to v5d format allows for the viewing of the FST files in a state-of-the-art visualization package.

The utility of fst2v5d does not end at file conversion. This package also automates the transformation of the stored map projection to a form understood by the Vis5D software. Many advanced projections are available under the FST format which cannot be plotted directly by the visualization package. The data converter remaps the input grids onto a minimally-sized output domain, while preserving the spatial resolution of the original dataset.

As well, since topographical information is commonly encoded directly in FST files, fst2v5d attempts to locate orographic and land/sea mask information to produce a grid-specific topography field which can be loaded into Vis5D using the -topo option. This allows users to plot their fields overlaid on the appropriate (native) topography.


An alpha-release version of the fst2v5d software is available, but further development is required before the package can be considered complete for a beta release. Currently, only rotated mercator ('E') and northern polar stereographic ('N') reference grids are handled by the converter, and only on Z-type reference grids. It is our hope to extend the applicability of the utility to include all of the projections available to FST users. Some of this extension will actually be quite simple, especially for the latitude/longitude grids often used for global datasets.


For correct operation (and indeed for installation of the package), the fst2v5d utility requires access to the RPN Library (ARMNLIB) and to the Vis5D libraries. Unfortunately, the RPN library has been made available only for SGI machines with OS IRIX 6.5 or newer and for Linux machines (suggested OS RedHat 7.2+). All users dealing with FST files are necessarily using these platforms. FORTRAN90 and C compilers are required for the installation of the package.

A note to SGI users: Aggressive optimization (O3-level) used during the default building of Vis5D and Vis5D+ on SGI platforms running IRIX 6.5 results in "spikes" in the topography field. This can be resolved by rebuilding the Vis5D package with an O1-level optimization for the proj.c file.


Both an online manual and a downloadable manual are available for the fst2v5d utility. Both are quite rudimentary so far, but will be expanded as the project evolves.

A preliminary homepage containing information about the system requirements and installation procedure may also prove useful if you are having problems with the package.

Contact Info

Ron McTaggart-Cowan is the maintainer of the fst2v5d project. This package was originally developed at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. John Gyakum. Logo