Recent History (preserving history)

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What is Recent History?

Recent history functionality in Cumulus is the ability to store weather values, for the last 7 days.

Only some spot readings are stored in Recent History, the stored values will miss any extremes that occur between the times when the recent history values are stored. The weather value that tends to vary the most is wind speed, so that is where peaks are most often missed.

When Cumulus is running normally, entries are stored once a minute, regardless of how often Cumulus interrogates the weather station (might be every 10 seconds, or more or less frequently) and regardless of how often the weather station gets updated readings from sensors (might be every few seconds, every 40 seconds, every minute or less frequently). This can mean that the readings stored on a 1-minute basis may actually be duplicates if the station has not supplied a new value since the previous minute, or may not capture every reading from sensors if they are read more than once in a minute.

When Cumulus is restarted, if the weather station provides historical catch-up data, then the interval between entries for that period when Cumulus was not running, is stored at whatever interval the historical catch-up data uses. Since release 3.12.0, entries less than a week old, from when MX was previously running will be retained, and those will be at one minute interval; earlier releases will not collect any entries from when Cumulus was previously running, just those for up to a week while it was not running.

How is the functionality used?

By a request to Cumulus specifying 1 to 10 079 minutes ago. Then Cumulus will retrieve the value for the nearest available time.

The normal way to retrieve a specific value is by using recent history tag names and specifying how many minutes ago you want (to avoid using large numbers, parameters allow you to specify days ago, hours ago and minutes ago in any combination).

You'll get the nearest value if you ask for a time for which there is currently no exact match, and the first tag listed here tells you that nearest time.

There are a number of internal calculations, such as calculating Average temperature, Heat/cold degree days and Chill hours, which use the recent history data:

  • Mark Crossley has explicitly said these calculations use the recent history database for MX
  • Steve Loft said they are calculated from data at one minute intervals, he did not explicitly say that the legacy software uses recent history data array

When the legacy Cumulus is generating images containing graphs for its "Trends.htm" web page, Steve Loft did say these use data from recent history array and that not all points on those graphs are at one minute intervals if data is not available for all minutes.

MX uses data from recent history in its Application Programming Interface for the standard MX_Administrative_Interface#Charts

MX optionally uses data from recent history (using several different .json files), see Category:JSON_Files#Uploading_data_to_a_web_server_outside_MX to make the data available for plotting charts on your web server.

How does Cumulus update the data?

While Cumulus is left running,, every minute:

  1. The oldest set of records, in database table row number 0, (in legacy 1.9.3 or 1.9.4, in array element 0), is discarded
  2. Cumulus then works through subsequent table rows (or array elements), as it reads each one, it moves it to the previous (now empty) row (or array element)
  3. The number of table rows, or array elements, is actually variable, this is because of two reasons:
    • Table rows, or array elements, will be less frequent (or even missing) for the period before Cumulus is started
    • Cumulus uses current time, read from the computer, in its decision as to where to store each new recent history value set, so it can overwrite existing table rows, or array elements, if date-time matches one that already exists, such as in the hour after when clocks go back.

Availability by Release

The functionality was introduced from version 1.9.3 (beta build 1033 release 10 April 2012), in terms of working while the Cumulus software is running.

The functionality did not work before build 1098,in terms of initialising from archive records read from a station logger when Cumulus is restarted.

It is only from release 3.12.0, that values from a previous session of MX, are available to MX on restarting less that 7 days after previous session closed.

How are recent history values stored?

Depends on the release you are running:

  • Release 3.12.0 onwards: Held in RecentData table in cumulusmx.db (uses SQLite). There are many software tools available that can read/edit SQLite3, this is not the place to get too technical, but take a look at sqlitebrowser in a Linux environment, and phpLiteAdmin in Microsoft Windows. Also, you could use any application that can read ODBC files (e.g. Libre Office's Base functionality) can read the MX databases.
  • Cumulus 2: Was held in an external SQLite database, together with other data that Cumulus 1 had held in text files, as above
  • Releases 3.0.0 to 3.11.4: Held in a SQLite database table that is stored in-memory within MX code
  • In the legacy Cumulus 1, the values were stored in an array held within the Cumulus code.

What happens when I need to stop and restart Cumulus?

Cumulus software has been designed on the assumption that it is left running constantly. However, in practice users do stop and restart the software.

This might be for short periods while they upgrade to a new Cumulus release, or reboot their computer because of some issue (or to prevent a possible issue). Also, computers running Microsoft's operating system are periodically rebooted as part of the mandatory software updates.

Other people do not want to leave their computer running all the time, and deliberately switch it off when they are not using it for some other purpose.

Earlier, it was described how the data for plotting charts, and (in MX anyway) doing some key internal calculations, is derived from recent history data. When you restart Cumulus, you may be able to see the charts can include data plotted from before Cumulus restarted, but that the resolution has changed.

Some weather stations have a memory, or separate logging feature, that allows them to store weather data. Cumulus software, for these weather station types, has the option to read these history records from the weather station in its archive data reading process as the software starts. However, it is rare for the weather station to store data every minute, hence the resolution of archive data might be any period between every ten minutes and every 60 minutes, depending on settings. This explains the change in resolution seen on charts, but obviously also affecting the internal calculations you can't see.

The recent history data collected while Cumulus is running is lost when you stop Cumulus, unless you are running release 3.12.0 or later, as explained below. If it is retained, obviously it depends how much time has passed with MX stopped, as to how much lies within the 7 day period and can be used after restart.

(There are advantages if the weather station logging uses the same period as is set for the various Monthly log files that Cumulus can update, and MX does include some optional single use functionality to try to force your weather station to use the same interval).

MX release 3.12.0 (beta build 3134) onwards

The recent history is stored in a SQLite3 database table RecentData and therefore if you stop MX, the recent history data up to the time MX stopped has become persistent, and is available when MX starts again. Thus the charts, and internal calculations, mentioned above can make use of recent history data from the previous Cumulus session for the period 7 days ago to the time when MX was stopped.

When you do restart MX, some data, for the period since the time when MX was stopped, may be available if your weather station can store historic data. On restarting MX can optionally (depending on setting and depending on weather station type) read in archive data from those historic records for that period. As mentioned in last sub-section, this archive data is at the station logging resolution, normally different to the 1-minute interval available while MX is running.

If Cumulus MX is offline for a prolonged period, (and when you first run 3.12.0, as the RecentData table does not yet exist) then all the data for the previous just over 10 thousand minutes will be at this lower station logging interval resolution, as none will be available from the previous run of MX.

MX 3.0.0 to MX 3.11.4

In this release range, MX holds the recent history values in a SQLite database, but the database is held in-memory, not as an external database, so it only exists while Cumulus is running. Therefore, if Cumulus stops, all this high resolution data is lost.

When you do restart MX, if your weather station can store historic data, then its logger is read during the restart as archive data for the period from 7 days ago until the time of restart, and obviously only available at the station logging interval resolution of that historic data (be it every 10 minutes, or every 30 minutes or whatever).

Legacy builds at versions 1.9.3 and 1.9.4

The 'recent historical data' is stored in an array stored by the Cumulus code, as explained earlier. This means it is lost when the legacy Cumulus is stopped.

The only way that the legacy Cumulus can build up the array for the period before Cumulus is restarted is if your weather station includes a memory that stores historical readings. I believe some builds had a bug relating to reading this data into the array, but such data read from your weather can be incorporated into the array elements for 7 days ago until when Cumulus was restarted.

Which weather values are stored?

For Current Conditions, Cumulus can display values from the basic set of weather sensors it expects, from some derived values, and from various extra sensors, as per table below.

As Cumulus has been developed, more and more of these have been stored for Recent History. Those available in current MX release are listed at RecentData table in cumulusmx.db. Those available for the legacy software are listed at Webtags#Table_of_Recent_History_tag_names_available. If your release does not calculate all the derivatives you want, please see #If the derivative you want is not available in your Cumulus release.

Basic "source" measurements Measurements derived from source ones Example extra sensors
Full details here, a defined minimum set of source values:
  1. Current air temperature
  2. Current Relative Humidity
  3. At least one wind speed
  4. Current air pressure (absolute or sea-level)
Full list here, for history of some see weather derivatives, examples include:
  • Dew Point
  • Wind Chill
  • Humidex
  • Feels Like temperature
  • Wet Bulb temperature
Complex options, include:
  • Extra temperatures
  • Extra humidities
  • Air Quality
  • Solar

Warning when Daylight Saving Time starts or ends

Please note that parameters specify time-stamped array element to retrieve based on counting back from current local time so the result for any period including when clocks change may not be quite what you anticipated.

Changing from Summer to Winter time

Remember, when clocks go back, that for a whole hour following the clock change, clock times (now in winter time) repeat the previous clock times (that were in summer time). The way that Cumulus has coded this functionality, instead of the new sets of spot values being added after the old rows/elements, they overwrite the old table rows, or array elements, for the same times. Consequently, you cannot retrieve any values for the times that have been overwritten, and you must be careful when you specify to Cumulus which values you wish to retrieve.

Changing from Winter to Summer time

As for when the clocks go forward, the new values do get added after the old rows/elements, but of course there will be one hour's worth of times that simply do not exist. Consequently, any attempt to retrieve values around the time of the clock change has to be careful not to specify any time in that non-existent period, as Cumulus will just return the value before, or the value after, depending on which is nearest.

Technical note

As explained earlier, you request an entry from Recent History by specifying 1 to 10 079 minutes ago. Cumulus looks at current clock time, calculates what time would be that long ago, and seeks the nearest datetime entry.

Since SQLite database tables use the row number as the primary key (see cumulusmx.db), the datetime column does not have to contain a unique value, so technically it would be possible for MX to create rows in the database that have same time as other rows when the clocks go back; equally technically when clocks go forward, it would technically be possible to calculate a revised timestamp so you don't have 60 minute specifiers for which the time never existed.

However, to do this would involve more complicated code, because MX would need to keep track of which row was last updated, keep track of when the clocks changed, and modify its search routine to find the correct row. Life is much easier if the Cumulus user makes allowance for any clock change when making their request.

If the derivative you want is not available in your Cumulus release

It was mentioned earlier that more recent history web tag names have been added as Cumulus developed. In many cases, Cumulus has actually started calculating the derivative and using it for charts, in earlier releases than when it becomes available for others to use via web tags.

From 3.12.0, the availability of the database for viewing outside Cumulus, means that anyone who knows how to read a SQLite database can write a script, or program, to access any derivative that is in the database, but not available as a web tag, and can then pass the output to their web site by an appropriate technical process.

Alternatively, although Humidex, 'Apparent Temperature', 'Feels Like temperature', and other derivatives Cumulus can calculate, are not available in all releases, they can be calculated in a script from recent 'outside temperature', 'wind speed', and 'relative humidity' values (using the same time selection for all).

There are other derivatives that can be calculated similarly from a set of simultaneous values. Note that Cumulus 1 and MX do not always use identical formula, and although MX added Feels Like it has changed the formula a few times.

The relevant formulae using JavaScript, you need to adjust them for other languages, for some of these are shown below:

Canadian Humidity Index

If you are in USA and use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, you will need to omit the 5/9 term, but as the index is dimensionless no other conversion is needed. This example is for 3 hours ago, change the input modification parameter to suit your need.

Cumulus 1:

H = <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3> + 5/9 * (6.1094 * Math.exp(5417.753 *(1/273.16 - 1/ (273.16 + <#RecentDewPoint h=3> )))-10);

Cumulus MX:

svp = 6.112 * Math.exp((17.62 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3) / (243.12 + parseFloat(<#RecentOutsideTemp h=3))); H = (5/9 * (<#RecentHumidity h=3> /100 * svp - 10)) + <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3;

Apparent Temperature and Feels Like

Note this apparent temperature formula uses Celsius for temperature and metres per second for wind speed. You will need to do the appropriate conversions from the quoted recent history tags if you use different units. The Australian Apparent temperature formula is same for Cumulus 1 and MX:

var actualVaporPress = <#RecentHumidity h=3>/100) * 6.105 * Math.exp(17.27 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>) / (237.7 + parseFloat(<#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>)))); var appTempDegC = parseFloat(<#RecentOutsideTemp h=3) + (0.33 * actualVaporPress) - (0.7 * <#RecentWindSpeed h=3>) - 4;

Feels Like was implemented as a recent history web tag at version 3.6.11 (see Feels Like section below Current condition web tags) for the gradual introduction of feels like elsewhere. For earlier MX versions, and if you are using Cumulus 1, you can calculate it:

The formulas below use Celsius for temperature and km per hour for wind speed. Again, you will need to do the appropriate conversions from the quoted recent history tags if you use different units.

Calculation from recent history tags is much more complicated because there are 3 different calculations: Feels Like reports exactly same as wind chill for temperatures below 10°C or 50°F so the WC here should equal <#RecentWindChill h=3>:

if(<#RecentWindSpeed h=3> < 4.828) 	WC =  <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>; 
	wind_pow =  Math.pow(<#RecentWindSpeed h=3>,	 0.16);
	WC = (13.12 + 0.1625 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>) - (11.37 * wind_pow) + (0.3965 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3> * wind_pow);// Brackets used to ensure "+" is interpreted as addition not concatenation

For temperatures above 20°C or 68°F Feels Like uses a different way to calculate apparent temperature that it uses at these higher temperatures (this formula only used for 3.6.10 onwards):

var actualVaporPress = <#RecentHumidity h=3>/100) * 6.112* Math.exp((17.62 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>)/(243.12 + <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>)) / 10.0;   // Not same as at build 3084
		/* uses kilometres per hour for wind speed 	*/
	/*  What Cumulus MX will use to calculate apparent temperature for feels like is changed very slightly */
			if(<#RecentWindSpeed h=3> > 72) <#RecentWindSpeed h=3> =72;
			AT= (1.04 * <#RecentOutsideTemp h=3>) + (2 * actualVaporPress) - (0.1805553 * <#RecentWindSpeed h=3>) - 2.7;

For in-between temperatures it uses a more complicated merge of the two formulas for AT and WC as defined above:

app_temp_mult		= (<#RecentOutsideTemp h=3> - 10) / 10;
wind_chill_mult 	= 1 - app_temp_mult;

FL= AT * app_temp_mult + WC * wind_chill_mult;