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TopoToolbox3 - Sicherung der Qualität und Wiederverwendung einer Forschungssoftware für die Analyse digitaler Geländemodelle

Funder:German Research Foundation (DFG, Call "Research Software - Quality-Assured and Re-Usable")
Principal Investigators:Wolfgang Schwanghart (University of Potsdam), Dirk Scherler (GFZ and HU Berlin), Anna-Lena Lamprecht (University of Potsdam)


TopoToolbox is a research software package for the study of DEMs. It offers a library of functions for analyzing, modelling and visualizing topographic data. In contrast to widely used Geographical Information System (GIS) software that are often capable to perform standard terrain analysis, TopoToolbox aims to provide a “laboratory” for customized, automated analyses, prototyping and creative method development. Although similar tools exist, these software packages are not as popular as TopoToolbox (based on citations), which we attribute to the modularity, documentation and the ease of use which motivate exploration, experimentation, and creative method development. From the beginning, we have underscored the importance of help and documentation to provide users with an easy entry-point and fast learning of the software. In addition, the implemented algorithms are fast and memory-efficient, and have been included in dynamic models that simulate the development of topography over millions of years. TopoToolbox is a command line software which encourages users to build their own tools and analysis workflows, supported by a consistent and complete documentation. The flexibility and modularity of the software has resulted in a series of new software products based on TopoToolbox.

Today, TopoToolbox implements trusted methods for use by many higher education teachers and researchers. The success of the last ~10 years has demonstrated the great demand for an accessible and customizable toolbox for performing DEM analyses and modeling in a programmatic environment. Despite these achievements, we identified several shortcomings in the software’s design and implementation that motivate further development. Inspired by the FAIR Principles for Research Software, we aim to address the following overarching goals during further development of the TopoToolbox in this project:

  1.  Improve the usability and accessibility of TopoToolbox by a broad academic research community
  2. Improve the quality assurance in the software’s development process
  3. Increase the involvement of the research community in the ongoing development of TopoToolbox