Public Lab Wiki documentation

Spectral Workbench API

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Spectral Workbench 2.0 API

The Spectral Workbench 2 API is very different from the v1 API. It is structured around a series of JavaScript classes.

These are reasonably well documented with inline comments in the source code, but we'll summarize the overall structure and major points here:

Core classes

API classes

  • SpectralWorkbench.API.js - container class for API classes
  • SpectralWorkbench.API.Core.js - commonly used/useful API methods
  • SpectralWorkbench.API.Operations.js - code for specific operations that may be applied to spectra, in standardized format
  • SpectralWorkbench.API.Legacy.js - API methods and backwards-compatibility for 1.0 API

UI classes

  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.Spectrum.js - Spectrum-specific UI code
  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.Set.js - Set-specific UI code
  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.ToolPane.js - the class for the Pane interface itself
    • SpectralWorkbench.UI.SpectraPane.js - Panes which display a selection of spectra to use in manipulating the current Datum
    • SpectralWorkbench.UI.StepsPane.js - not yet used; Panes with sequential steps
  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.ToolPaneTypes.js - the different types of ToolPanes available
  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.TagForm.js - code for the tagging form on each Spectrum page
  • SpectralWorkbench.UI.Misc.js - code for "like" button

REST API methods

There is also a REST API for accessing data in various formats programmatically.


A Graph is the basic display unit of Spectral Workbench, including at minimum a graph of some data, means to display, resize, refresh, and format the display, and perform unit conversions on that data. The Graph class is used in both spectrum and set display, and wraps a d3 line graph, using the NVD3 chart generator.

View commented code for more detail.


A Datum comes in two types, Spectrums and Sets. These share a number of methods, properties and behaviors.

View commented code for more detail.


View commented code for more detail.


View commented code for more detail.


As Spectral Workbench uses an image from your spectrometer, the Image class manages the display of the image alongside the Graph class, when viewing individual spectra. Much of this class relates to the resizing and display of the spectrum image for spectra with wavelength range limits, as the image is kept aligned with the graph data as much as possible.

View commented code for more detail.


Tagging is used to categorize and describe spectra, and to make them easier to search.

View commented code for more detail.


PowerTags, now known as Operations, are a type of tag used to manipulate spectral data in a reversible way. Operations are displayed to the right side of the screen in a separate area, and ordered by timestamp. Operations typically generate Snapshots of data, which are a flat copy of the spectrum's data after all Operations up to the current one have been run.

View commented code for more detail.


The API class has three main components, the Core API, Operations, and the Legacy API.


Commonly used/useful API methods.

View commented code for more detail.


Code for individual operations that may be applied to spectra, in standardized format. As opposed to PowerTag, the class that defines common behaviors for all operations.

View commented code for more detail.



View commented code for more detail.


View commented code for more detail.


There are a variety of calls possible to access data programmatically with a REST API:


Submitting spectra via POST request

It is possible for logged-in users to POST to:

with the following parameters:

  • spectrum[title]
  • tags (comma delimited)
  • spectrum[notes]
  • dataurl (a dataurl-encoded PNG of the data)
  • geotag
  • lat
  • lon
  • device (with values like "device:dsk" which actually just become tags)
  • spectrum[calibration_id] (the id -- as in the URL -- of the spectrum to "clone" a calibration from)

This could enable periodic timed submission of data. However, we discourage users from abusing the API by submitting every minute or every second, which might force us to disable this form of submitting data. Please submit only 1 pixel tall images instead of whole images, and submit a maximum of once per hour.

An periodic sampling macro (from the legacy 1.0 API) can be found here:


Units are not a class, but data is passed around in a variety of contexts, and it's useful to know exactly what's being referred to.

Data space is space as defined within the stored data, in JSON format. It is typically measured in units of nanometer wavelengths, but in uncalibrated spectra, this may not be available. Data is also made up of a series of points, which is almost certain to correspond to pixels in the original image, since that is where they are generated from. This means that there should be an equal number of points to the pixel width of the spectrum source image. Pixels, and therefore points, should be assumed to be equally spaced. Note that the complete data space may not be displayed due to wavelength range limits set via tagging.

Image space is space measured in pixels in the original source image of the spectrum. This may not match what is displayed on a given page, as images may be scaled to fit the interface or graph. Note that the complete image space may not be displayed due to wavelength range limits set via tagging.

Display space is space measured as displayed on the screen. The graph and displayed image should be of equal pixel dimensions. Display space may not map directly to data or image space, as it only displays what is not masked out due to wavelength rage limits set via tagging.


For example, to convert an x-coordinate x from image space (a pixel position in the source image) to display space (a pixel position on the screen):

  1. Get the wavelength value of the coordinate with var nm = graph.datum.pxToNm(x) (assuming graph.datum is an instance of Spectrum)
  2. Use graph.nmToDisplayPx(nm) to find the position in displayed graph and image, accounting for wavelength range limits if necessary.

Uploading data

Spectral Workbench allows for upload of numerical spectral data in JSON or CSV formats.

The CSV format accepted is wavelength,intensity, as shown here:


Note that it requires commas; if you need to change from spaces to commas, or otherwise tweak your format, see this note by @dhaffnersr.

The JSON format accepted is as follows:

  { "average": 64.3,  "r": 69, "g": 46, "b": 78,   "wavelength": 269.0 },
  { "average": 35.5,  "r": 33, "g": 19, "b": 41,   "wavelength": 432.2 },
  { "average": 31.2,  "r": 33, "g": 19, "b": 41,   "wavelength": 958.5 }

1.0 API

The v1.0 Spectral Workbench API has been deprecated; its documentation has been archived here: