The interactive nature of web applications or “web apps” makes it an excellent medium for conveying complex scientific concepts to lay audiences and creating decision support tools that harness cutting edge modeling techniques. However, the technical expertise required to develop them represents a barrier for would-be developers. The barrier can be characterized by the following hurdles that developers must overcome: (1) identify, select, and install software that meet the spatial and computational capabilities commonly required for water resources modeling; (2) orchestrate the use of multiple FOSS and FOSS4G projects and navigate their differing application programming interfaces (APIs); (3) learn the multi-language programming skills required for modern web development; and (4) develop a web-safe and fully featured web site to host the app. This research has resulted in two primary products that effectively lower the barrier to water resources web app development: (1) a literature review of free and open source software (i.e. software review) and (2) Tethys Platform. The software review included earth science web apps that were published in the peer-reviewed literature in the last decade and it was performed to determine which FOSS4G and FOSS web software has been used to develop such web apps. The review highlights 11 FOSS4G software projects and 9 FOSS projects for web development that were used to develop 45 earth sciences web apps, which constitutes a significantly reduced list of possible software projects that could be used to meet the needs of water resources web app development—greatly lowering the barrier for entry to water resources web development. While the software review addresses the hurdle of identifying FOSS software to provide a web framework and spatial data capabilities for water resources web apps, there are still other hurdles that needed to be overcome to make development more viable. Tethys Platform was developed to address these other hurdles and streamline the development of water resources web apps. It includes (1) a suite of free and open source software that address the unique data and computational needs common to water resources web app development, (2) a Python software development kit for incorporating the functionality of each software element into web apps and streamlining their development, and (3) a customizable web portal that is used to deploy the completed web apps. Tethys Platform has been used to develop a broad array of web apps for water resources modeling and decision support.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Tethys Platform, water resources, modeling, software development kit, web app