Cumulus MX

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Contents

Introduction

If you have been using Cumulus 1, and now wonder whether to try using MX, be aware that:

  • Currently, more people are still using Cumulus 1 than are using MX; but during 2020, many have experimented with MX, then successfully moved to MX, just a few have gone back!
  • Cumulus 1 is a stable release, it has functionality that is not available in MX:
    • Select a graph
    • View period
    • provided you are happy to keep running Cumulus 1 on a Windows pc, and use a weather station that is compatible with Cumulus 1, then you don't have to change over
  • Cumulus MX is still under development, a change in a particular release may introduce bugs
  • MX does however have additional features not available in Cumulus 1
    • it can run on Unix-derived (Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi operating systems) devices as well as Windows devices
    • it can work with newer weather stations and newer sensors
    • it reports feels like, Canadian Humidity Index
    • it has built in updating of database tables
    • it can output to more external sites
    • it has MQTT, HTTP, and other extras, built in

Please see Moving from Cumulus 1 to MX for more information.

What does Cumulus MX do?

If you are new to Cumulus, then you will be wondering what benefits Cumulus MX has over other weather recording software. In that case start by reading the article that introduces Cumulus.

You may want to read that article first, that that will explain what Cumulus software can do and perhaps help you to:

  • Learn what it can offer you if you are unsure whether Cumulus is right for you
  • If you already use Cumulus, this might remind you of everything it offers.

If you do go off to read that article now, you will be linked back to this page.

This article

This Wiki article was originally created by Mark Crossley and contained exactly what Steve Loft said in the MX early builds support forum when he first started experimenting with Cumulus MX and access was restricted to those willing to experiment with his tests.

In this rewrite, somebody who used to use Cumulus 1, and experimented with MX, before moving over to MX first on a Windows PC and then on a Raspeberry Pi, has attempted to ensure this article contains everything I learnt from my experience as I explore more of the functionality of MX; and as I learn more from posts in the forum.

If you can correct any mistakes I make, have a suggestion as to how to make it clearer, can add anything I have not yet covered, or know something that I might not know, then please remember, anyone can update this article, I don't have any special access in the Wiki and any page I edit can be edited/corrected by anyone else.

During a period of my time in employment I was responsible for approving documentation on a large computerisation project, and later for supplying updated information for a public faced web site, and in both cases there were house style, and I probably continue to use that style. You might be afraid to add your contribution because my style is not the same as your natural one. Don't worry; as long as you use short paragraphs or bullet points, with lots of headings, then your contribution can blend in.

As this article has grown, I have been able to shorten it by moving material to new articles, hence you will see a lot of cross-references below. You may have suggestions for what else can be moved out of this article into separate articles?

If you have some ideas, but are unsure whether to apply changes, please use the discussion page first. If you have ideas, but want someone else to add them here, please write your suggestion in the support forum for wiki suggestions at https://cumulus.hosiene.co.uk/viewforum.php?f=38

Cumulus flavours

Cumulus 1

  • Cumulus 1 was created in 2003 when Steve Loft moved to Wanlockhead and bought himself a weather station. Initial releases were very much tailored to his needs, changing what weather station it supported to match the make he was using.
  • Subsequently, he made his software available to anybody, and enhanced what it did to suit not only his requirements buy also what other users asked for.
  • The functionality of Cumulus grew and grew, there were a few bugs, and a few mistakes, but generally Cumulus software had a high reliability, and grew in popularity, especially when the internet made it easier for people to praise Cumulus on many unrelated sites.
  • Increased popularity meant an increase in demand for more functionality, increased functionality made it more popular, and the spiral of development continued.
  • Cumulus 1 had extensive help screens built into the package, it had an installation package, and produced a main screen when it was running that summarised the weather and gave access to all the settings and editors. This made Cumulus 1 very user friendly.
  • Demand for enhancements soon exceeded the amount of spare time, Steve could devote to Cumulus outside his full-time job. A register of enhancement requests was created, so that Steve could track which he had implemented, but that register was lost when Steve moved to a different host.
  • One widely supported request could not be implemented for Cumulus 1, to offer a version that would run on multiple operating systems, so Cumulus 2 was born (see below).
  • Cumulus 1 development was halted for a while by the focus on Cumulus 2.
  • Cumulus 1 development restarted when Cumulus 2 was aborted.
  • The development environment for Cumulus 1 became obsolete, and Windows operating systems changed, making the development of Cumulus 1 more difficult, so Steve decided to have another go at a replacement (Cumulus 3).
  • Development of Cumulus 1 ceased once Cumulus 3 (aka MX, see below) was able to work better than its C# predecessor Cumulus 2.
  • Steve Loft decided not to release source code for Cumulus 1, so nobody else can develop Cumulus 1 any further.
  • Consequently, Cumulus 1 functionality can not be changed, and without knowledge of how it was written, there is no ongoing support, just the experience of those who have used it, or are still using it.
  • Fortunately, Steve Loft documented Cumulus 1 very well in the forum, and in the new Wiki that was started in August 2009, so Cumulus 1 continued to attract new users even when Cumulus 3 was made available as MX.
  • When this article was first created in 2017, Cumulus 1 was still recommended for most users, and it would remain so for another couple of years.
  • Even now in 2020, there are many, many more people using Cumulus 1 than are using MX.


Cumulus 2

  • Steve Loft produced a Cumulus 2 where he tried to start again in September 2009. It was written in C# (which is the language used for MX), and it is fair to say that Steve did not find that new programming language easy, and in March 2010 he was really struggling to make Cumulus 2 work how he desired.
  • Cumulus 2 did prove that a number of concepts (like separating "engine" from "admin interface") could work and it was a useful learning curve for when Steve decided to write Cumulus 3 (see below).
  • One change that had been requested by several Cumulus 1 users was for better international viewing of web pages, with less dependence on time zones. To achieve this, one suggestion was that Cumulus should work in GMT (more widely known now as UTC). Cumulus 2 therefore read and logged all readings by UTC. Unfortunately, converting from local time used by weather stations, and most computer devices, never worked as smoothly as Steve Loft hoped, so this is one idea that was not adopted for Cumulus 3.
  • Furthermore, Cumulus 2 never succeeded in getting some of the basic functionality like driving web pages to work, so it never offered much of the more useful functionality of Cumulus 1.
  • But it was a good testing ground for new functionality and enhancements and regardless of whether they could be made to work fully in Cumulus 2, some were highlighting what Cumulus 1 lacked.
  • In August 2010, the new features being tested in Cumulus 2 were added to Cumulus 1, and Cumulus 2 was discontinued.

Cumulus 3

  • In 2015, Cumulus 3 also known as MX once it was made available to users, was experimental and it had limited functionality, much less than was available in Cumulus 1. This made MX innovative, but unfriendly.
  • Consequently, at that time, most Cumulus users were using Cumulus 1, and just those wishing to take part in beta testing used MX.
  • Steve Loft started development of MX while he was still in full-time employment, but as retirement approached he worked fewer days per week and was faced with the question as to whether to spend more time on MX or more time with his wife, Beth, exploring places.
  • When he fully retired, a life on the road beckoned, and they started travelling. Work on MX decreased, and work on Cumulus 1 was no longer possible, as he was limited to what his laptop and internet connection at stops could cope with.
  • Various people offered to help him with MX if he was willing to make his source code available. Initially, Steve did not want anyone else to interfere with his creation, but when he and his wife found a new home the priorities changed in favour of a focus on his new life, and he wanted to cease involvement with Cumulus software, its wiki and forum.
  • Steve Loft who wrote and developed Cumulus 1 and MX while he was in Scotland, decided to cease to offer any support from his new home in France. After quite a while considering it, he decided to make the source code available.
  • The various people who had offered to help develop MX now were able to see the source code and decide whether they really did want to get involved.
  • One programmer launched Cumulus 4, a new approach. Work continued on this for a while, but as far as I know it never made it into a working system, and I believe like Cumulus 2, it is abandoned.
  • Other programmers looked at the source and thought we can make MX useful by adding the missing functionality, both what Steve added in the source but never got into a public release; and the functionality that makes Cumulus 1 so popular but is missing in MX and makes it difficult for those who are using MX.

The MX future

  • Mark Crossley was one of those who tried updating the MX source and producing a new release.
  • In 2019, he made a successful first new release, and then focussed on adding some of the missing functionality. By 2020, he was not just adding in his own version of features that had been in Cumulus 1, he was also making MX talk to new weather station designs and deal with new sensors.
  • During 2020 much extra functionality has been added to MX, and MX is now able to persuade Cumulus 1 users that it might be the right time to make the swap to MX.
  • Cumulus 1 was designed to work with weather stations that were available when it was written, the technology used by stations, and the models available, have both been changing since then.
  • The ongoing development is adding lots more functionality into MX, it can do a lot more with the the numbers it reads from weather stations, and it can be updated when weather station features change.
  • Therefore, the advice to newcomers is to use Cumulus MX, sometimes called Cumulus 3, because there was a Cumulus 2 (that was abandoned) and sometime ago there was a start on a Cumulus 4.
  • Similarly, the advice to established Cumulus 1 users is you should now consider a move to MX as you are now missing out on many features available only in MX.
  • However, there are no instructions built into the MX package, so it is hoped that the update of this article will help people to understand MX sufficiently to use it both more easily and to maximum capability.
  • Currently, Mark Crossley who has been responsible for all recent MX releases is able to answer questions in the support forum for recent MX releases, but this article will hopefully allow him to spend less time answering questions and more time improving MX (and more time for everything else in his life)

It would be wrong not to repeat what Mark has said here - MX is still not bug free, there is a lot more to correct as well as all the enhancements to cope with new weather station hardware.

There is a page (created in October 2018) listing MX Issues to be resolved, but I suspect it is out of date. If you look through the release announcements for 2020, yes there are a lot of new features being added, but there is even more work on resolving bugs.

Restrictions on who can use MX

MX makes extensive use of library packages:

  • like bootstrap (cascade styling),
  • datatables (display and manipulation of tables),
  • JQuery (JavaScript package that provides code supports for multiple browsers and other libraries to work together),
  • high stock (for drawing charts),
  • datepicker (a JavaScript based routine for making date selection possible using a calendar type interface as not all browsers directly support that),
  • handlebars (templates for generating HTML),
  • alapaca (JavaScript from Gitana Software that generates interactive HTML5 forms),
  • Steelseries (provides the gauges used),
  • altEditor (for editing the log files) and a few more.

Fuller information on these is in Library software section.

Most of these are open software and free for personal use, but some have restrictions on commercial use requiring a licence. Consequently, MX does have to declare it is not for use on a commercial web site.

Message from Steve Loft about who can use MX

Note: The graphs used in Cumulus MX are drawn using Highcharts and they are free for non-commercial use only, i.e. you may not use them on a company web site, see http://shop.highsoft.com/faq/non-commercial for clarification. For this reason, and others, use of Cumulus MX in a commercial environment is expressly forbidden.

Please include a link to the Highstock web site (as the supplied web page does) if you use the charts under the terms of the non-commercial licence.

Documentation for MX

Cross reference to article on Moving from Cumulus 1 to MX (includes general issues regarding running on Windows)

Whether you have been using Cumulus 1, or are new to Cumulus, you may be tempted to install MX on a PC, or other device, running Windows Operating System; the article linked in the heading will help you.

You may be reading this article on MX as a Cumulus 1 user considering moving to MX, if so then it explains all issues when moving from Cumulus 1 to MX, including what functionality you will gain and what you will lose by moving to MX. The article will help you to decide whether to stick with Cumulus 1's stable release as many MX releases have bugs as the developer tries revising the code, to simplify it, as well as to introduce new features.

As a new Cumulus user, using MX on Windows (but with no experience of Cumulus 1), the separate article linked from the heading to this section will still interest you as it is a definitive guide to installing Cumulus MX on Windows.

Cross reference to article on Setting up Raspberry Pi using a pre-built Image for Cumulus

Whether you have been using Cumulus 1, or are new to Cumulus, you may be tempted to install MX on a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi (and similar devices from other manufacturers) is much simpler than a normal computer, but it can still run various operating systems that allow you to use it perhaps for both running MX and a web server. Find out more about using a pre-built Raspberry Pi image file to create a basic headless server in the article linked in the heading. It is worth reading the article linked below as well.

Cross reference to article on Setting up Raspberry Pi for Cumulus

Whether you have been using Cumulus 1, or are new to Cumulus, you may be tempted to install MX on a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi (and similar devices from other manufacturers) is much simpler than a normal computer, but it can still run various operating systems that allow you to use it perhaps for both running MX and a web server. Find out more in the article linked in the heading.

Cross reference to article on Updating MX to new version

Whether you have not updated for a long time, or simply wonder whether you are updating the easiest way, follow the link in the heading for this section, to an article that focusses on all to do with updating from one MX version to another.

Critically, this linked article contains advice both for those updating each time there is a new release available and for those using an old version (perhaps when MX was still in beta) wishing to update to a new version skipping some in-between versions and need advice on whether to do it in multiple steps.

Cross reference to Cumulus MX FAQ

A new FAQ for MX has been started at another page. As I add the link here, the Cumulus MX FAQ is in a mess, but hopefully someone will have time to sort it out.

Meanwhile most MX specific questions are now covered by the updating of text on this "Cumulus MX" page.

Cross reference to MX Issues

The Cumulus MX Known Issues article was based on Steve Loft's forum post so based on an early beta version of MX, and there has been minimal attempt to update the contents as MX has been developed further and come out of the original beta. Anyone willing to check the linked article and do a further update?


Cross-reference to What to do when I have a problem with MX

The text that was here has been moved to a separate article, that makes it more accessible, please see What to do when I have a problem with MX article

Cross reference to Administrative Interface

This requires a whole topic to itself, and indeed it has an article to itself, reached from link in heading for this section.


Message from Steve Loft about documentation

The following was written by Steve Loft when he first made his MX beta available to Cumulus users. Although somewhat outdated it is preserved here.

There's quite a lot to read before you start - please do read all of this page and all the references it mentions, most of it is very important.

Note that most of the Cumulus 1 documentation also applies to Cumulus MX. MX specific documentation is currently in very early stages and some settings may not be obvious. Looking at the Frequently Asked Questions for Cumulus 1, Frequently asked questions for MX, and articles elsewhere in this wiki will help, as will looking at the Cumulus 1 help file, it is available on the Software Resources page. If you already use Cumulus 1, the help is part of the standard installation.

If MX is your first encounter with Cumulus, you will be at a disadvantage regarding documentation of many of the features, while those who have previously been familiar with Cumulus 1 will find most aspects of MX easier to pick up.

Message about this update to documentation

Although the message above from Steve Loft has been retained, it is no longer really true. When that was written on 2 January 2015, MX had been worked on for a year or so and had just opened up for beta testing.

Since then, of course MX has come out of beta and added a lot more functionality. More importantly, it has gained a large user base (although Cumulus 1 is still used by considerably more people than MX, there has been a recent surge of converts), and that means it is much better known, and consequently it is possible now to document it much better. The update made to this page draws on what has been said spread over lots of posts on the support forum and attempts to make it more accessible by repeating it on this page. Consequently, you don't now need to search in the way that Steve Loft's original text above implies.

In writing this update, I have drawn on my own experience of moving from Cumulus 1 to MX, and thus my knowledge of Cumulus is from over a decade of experience with this software and what it can do.

Before I swapped, I made a detailed study to check MX could do all I used to do with Cumulus 1 and much more. Before I add items to this article I play around with MX experimenting with what works and what does not work, but I have saved you the pain of where I went wrong, just telling you what is correct. I do need to add, that I don't have a separate testing environment, and therefore I am not willing to attempt anything that might muck up my collecting of weather information, plus my knowledge of modern technology is poor as I belong to that generation who did not have desktop computers, nor mobile devices, until some time into my working life. This all places restrictions on what I can test out, and therefore on the coverage of these notes.

If anyone else, can improve these notes, wants to split off more parts, or in any other way make the documentation better, then please do. This article already contains improvements that were suggested by others.


If this page, and those other Wiki pages it links to (e.g. Cumulus MX FAQ), do not answer all your questions then see the support forum for current Cumulus MX as that will let you see what other people have asked about, any posts I have not yet incorporated into this page, and there you get the opportunity to post your own query.

Installing and Running Cumulus MX

There is no automatic installer (this may change). Cumulus MX is supplied as a zipped package on a link from Software page.

Replacing Cumulus 1

See Moving from Cumulus 1 to MX article. If you wish to run MX on Windows, then you can unzip the contents of the download package over your cumulus 1 installation, i.e. so the same data and Reports folders continue to be used. But it would be best if you take a back-up copy of the Cumulus 1 installation first!

The package contains several extra .dll files, and everything else you need, to continue to read from your weather station, to load up the admin interface (there are some settings you will need to change), and some simple web templates (that replace the standard Cumulus 1 ones). You might want to read topics on the MX support forum to discover about other people's experiences.

Completely new MX installation

See earlier for links to other articles about installing on a Windows PC or a Raspberry Pi. Here only a brief indication of installation is covered.

  • Create a new directory (recommended name CumulusMX) and unzip the contents of the download package into it.
  • See notes below for extras required in various operating systems.
  • The package contains everything else you need to read from your weather station (if it is a supported model), to load up the admin interface (for settings and some simple templates used to create web pages to see on a device connected to your home network). You might want to read topics on the MX support forum to discover about other people's experiences.

Running Cumulus MX

  1. Make sure your weather station (and any extra sensors) is connected to the device on which you have installed Cumulus MX, before you try to run Cumulus MX.
  2. Start Cumulus MX engine (command to do this varies between operating systems, so see sub-heading for your device below
  3. Start Admin Interface, it runs in a browser, by default on port 8998, see section below.

If you have been running Cumulus 1 before, then as instructed here your MX installation will require various files from your Cumulus 1 installation including all files in the data and Reports folder and all Configuration Files including Cumulus.ini and follow that link for details of a few of the parameters that you may need to change.

If you are running MX for the first time, without a configuration file (none is included in download package), see here for screen shots showing what you see as the engine starts running, and what you see in the admin interface where you set your weather station type. In that link there are more instructions.

.NET and Mono

The software currently called .NET was originally for all operating systems, but Microsoft then decided to restrict it to just Windows (and that was the position while MX was being developed and is still true in early 2020 when this article was rewritten), mostly to encourage greater dominance by Microsoft software and hardware.

Mono was then born based on .NET to work with all operating systems, Mono subsequently changed independently from .NET (although Microsoft still has a leading role).

More recently, Microsoft launched an alternative called .NET Core that took out of .NET the parts that were Windows specific, and it ceased work on further development of .NET beyond version 4.x.x.

Perhaps confusingly, in November 2020, there will be change around of names, and the multi-operating system .NET Core product will take over the .NET name as version 5. I don't pretend to understand the technical details, but the impression I get is that the new .NET in November will be similar to Mono, so apps designed for that will still work, but apps using .NET to make code designed for windows will stop working. Since the Cumulus code is currently coded to behave slightly differently using .NET and using MONO, I guess it is possible old versions of MX might stop working when the new .NET is installed via Windows Update.

Requirements for running on Windows

To run MX on Windows, you need .Net version of at least 4.5.2 installed. This is only available for Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

For Windows 10 you need version 4.8 or later, this should already be installed by your windows update feature. The .Net download for version 4.8 should be here https://dotnet.microsoft.com/download/dotnet-framework/net48.

For those who downloaded the first MX Beta in January 2015, the code was only experimental and that version had to be run by a Windows Administrative User, but Steve Loft soon improved the code and now none of the code requires any elevated rights and it can be run by a normal user (or a user with administrative rights) without needing to be started by Run as administrator.

However, Cumulus MX initiates a web server, which is what runs the Admin Interface. To access that, all users need to be given elevated rights to the port on which the web server runs. By default this is port 8998, so that is used in the example below of the one-off command needed to give all users access to the port. You can use a -port=nnnn parameter when starting MX to make it use another port, if you use that then the command below needs revising accordingly.

To enter the command, first open a command window as administrator. One way to do this is to right click the windows symbol at the start of the windows task bar. The option to choose there is dependent on some settings which determine what appears when you right click:

  • the normal default on Windows 10 is Windows PowerShell (admin),
  • the normal default on earlier versions of Windows is Command Prompt (Administrator)
  • an alternative is Windows Terminal

Whichever of these you can use, the result is it opens a new window on your monitor with a prompt for typing. In that window type the command:

netsh http add urlacl url=http://*:8998/ user=\users

You only need to do that once. If you do not issue this command, administrative rights are needed every time to access the port.

Talking about command windows, if you want to check that the port is open for listening (i.e. able to access the admin interface) type netstat -an | findstr 8998 into the command window.

The admin interface URL http://*:8998/ needs to have that wildcard "*" replaced by a precise location if we are to access the admin interface. The missing part of the URL depends on how your local network is set up. If you are accessing the admin interface on the same device as that running MX (and you don't have another web server on that device) the "*" can be replaced by "localhost", i.e. http://localhost:8998/ will be used to load the admin interface into your browser. In the more general case when you want to access the admin interface from anywhere on your local wired and wireless interface, then the "*" needs to be replaced by a string of 4 numbers representing what is called a IPv4 address (w.x.y.z) of the device you have installed MX on.

Look at your hub or router (this should have come with instructions on how to access its settings in your browser) and on one screen it should show what devices are connected to your LAN and wifi. Look for the IPv4 address, for example 192.168.1.64, it has assigned to the device where MX is running. That is what should replace the "*". However, there is one more complication, either the Windows networking settings may change, or else your hub or router may reconfigure, both can happen at any time and both can assign a different IPv4 address to the device running MX.

To give your Computer a fixed address for the MX admin interface,

  1. first find the network card via Network and Sharing Centre (Control Panel),
  2. then click on Change Adapter Settings,
  3. then Right click on Ethernet or WiFi Adapter,
  4. next select Properties
  5. In the window that opens, right click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP 4),
  6. Next select properties
  7. Onn that pop up screen tell the computer to "use the following IP address"
  8. Fill out the form with
    • a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and
    • gateway address between 192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.254 (depending on the address of your hub/router).

Setting up for either manual or automatic running

To run Cumulus MX, Windows needs to know

  1. which .exe you want to run
  2. the path where all the required .dll files are located

Therefore it is best to always start MX using what Windows calls a shortcut, because when creating the shortcut you can enter all the required information into the properties. If you want MX to automatically start whenever you log into your PC, then the place to store your shortcut is C:\Users\...\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\Run_CumulusMX. Don't forget to put your Microsoft username where I have put ...

With this you might want to right click on that shortcut, select properties, then you can set the starting position for the command window, the colours and font it will use, and even choose to start minimised, amongst many other selections.

There are 3 ways on Windows to create a shortcut to run MX, as mentioned above you can't just click on the executable in file manager, because Windows needs to be told the path for loading all the related .dll files.


  1. Create a shortcut on your desktop (and/or the taskbar) for the CumulusMX.exe executable cmd.exe /C start CumulusMX C:\CumulusMX\CumulusMX.exe -debug, the "-debug" is optional, it starts the logging in debugging mode so the log created in MXDiags folder has more information. There are other optional parameters all listed later.
    • In that shortcut define the path where the executable is located as the path to start in.
    • Remember, if you have not done the netsh http add urlacl url=http://*:8998/ user=\users command mentioned above, you must run as administrator.
    • Add any of the parameters that can be used with the executable, as listed later, such as specifying a different port for the admin interface , or starting with debugging.
    • Choose whether to start as minimised or as a command window
    • You can also choose text colour (foreground) and background colour, you can choose where the window appears (so if you have two monitors you can choose which one it appears on), and how big that window is. There is a forum post by water01 about this.
    • Now you can click the shortcut to start the engine
  2. OR place the shortcut as defined above in the start up folder for the user account so MX automatically starts when you connect/log in (see a later section for how to find that start up folder).
  3. OR declare a task in the scheduler to start MX; in the Actions tab fill in fields as follows (the other tabs should be obvious):
      • Action Start a program from drop-down
      • Program/script cmd.exe (this is standard Windows environment to run something)
      • Add arguments /C start Start_MX \CumulusMX\CumulusMX.exe -debug -port=nnnn (the "/C" means this task will close once it has started the task, the "Start_MX" is how the task will be labelled as it is running, the next argument "\CumulusMX\CumulusMX.exe" actually starts the executable and it does not need a drive prefix as that is in next box.
      • Note in this example I have included next two optional parameters that can be used after the .exe call in that same box, here -debug (only include if you want full debugging logging) and -port=nnnn where nnnn is the port to be used for admin interface (only include if want to change from default 8998),
      • all optional parameters are listed later
      • Start in \CumulusMX (include a drive specifier if necessary)

Each time you want to run Cumulus MX on Windows:

  1. First start the engine in one of the 3 ways from last sub-section
  2. Next start the admin interface, it does not need to run all the time, but only when you need it (when you first use MX you will need it to access the settings where you tell MX what type of station you have and what units you want to use, and set various timing options), it normally runs on port 8998 (to vary that there is a -port parameter that is followed by required port and that port parameter has to be entered every time you start MX if you are not using the default port). More information on admin interface in separate article.

Try start /min C:\Cumulus\CumulusMX.exe to run MX as a minimised package (although in Windows you can change the properties of the shortcut you use to start minimised).

Stopping Cumulus MX on Windows pc

The recommended way is to click into the command window in which MX is running, hold down Control key and press C. It is normal for there to be a short wait, then a message "Cumulus Terminating" and then after another short wait, it will say "Cumulus Stopped" and immediately after that the command window will close.

Some people, click in the task bar and select close, or click the X button on top right of command window. Although these are not official advice, they do seem to work.

There are packages that can be programmed to send a control C to a running task, and to not continue until the task window has closed. Remember to also program in a subsequent delay in that package, to make sure the package waits for MX to close, or do a check that MX has released all the files it might need to update.

You should not issue a TASKKILL instruction, as that will prevent MX correctly writing out to all the files it should update on exit. Consequently, it will not restart correctly and may actually lose settings and data.

Requirements for running on Linux and OS X

You will need to install the Mono-complete runtime (the latest version of Mono should work with all functionality of latest MX in all locales). Mark Crossley says "There shouldn't be any outstanding issues with Mono, afaik they are all resolved - except for the Moon image rotation in the southern hemisphere which does not work with Mono 6.0 thru to the latest 6.8.0, only version 5.x works correctly atm for System Drawing."

  • For OS X, you can download this here - http://www.mono-project.com/download/.
  • How you install on Linux depends on the flavour of Linux you are running. There are download links for Linux at the same URL, but it is often easier to use a package manager, which will download and install it automatically.
    • For example, in 'Raspbian' on the Raspberry Pi, you can install mono with the following commands, but first you need to have set up various pre-requisites (see Setting_up_Raspberry_Pi article for details):
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt install mono-complete

Note that you do need to have the mono-complete package installed, not just the Mono for developers.

The "sudo" prefix gives the command 'root' privileges, that allows administrative commands like update and install to run.

To actually run MX

Open a terminal window, change to the Cumulus MX directory, and then type:

sudo mono CumulusMX.exe

There are some optional parameters you might need to use, as they also apply to windows they are covered later.

Next start the administrative interface, basically same as described for Windows above. More information on admin interface in separate article.

Other issues

There are lots of topics in the MX sub-forum about a multitude of issues about commands to use to install and check mono, how to stop MX and differences between different devices (including Mac) and different Linux versions. At the moment, there seems to be some uncertainty, and consequently, I have not attempted to include/summarise all the material I have found.

APPEAL - Please could any readers who have experience of running MX in a Linux or Mac environment please consider writing advice into this article. I want it to be a comprehensive accurate article.

Notes by Steve Loft

please note these notes ARE now obsolete, library routines have changed a lot since this was written in 2014

Any volunteers to replace this section with up to date information?


    • If you have a Raspberry Pi 2, there is a later version of Mono available, which you may find works better that the one in the standard distribution, particularly if you use decimal commas. Mono 3.2.8 (which is the default in some Linux distributions) will not work if you use commas for decimals, as in some countries.
    • On Linux you will need library libudev.so.0 which may not be installed by default. Installing package libudev0 may resolve this. There may be issues if you are using a 64-bit version of Linux. I'm not sure what the resolution is at the moment, if this is the case.

You need to specify something like /dev/ttyUSB0 for the connection for your weather station. This is set in the "station settings" and stored in the ComportName attribute in Cumulus.ini configuration file.

In some builds of MX you have to run as "root", there are ways of giving "root" like permissions when running MX as another user, see forum for details until this section has been updated.

Stopping MX

The best way to stop MX is by sending a control and C sequence to it. There is a start stop routine discussed in the support forum, where you will also find some topics about shutdown issues.

The MX source listing suggests it also accepts control and break, Close main window, user logoff, and system shutdown and should still attempt to stop running tidily. There are various tasks like writing final values to log files and recreating the configuration file, Cumulus.ini, that it needs to do as part of the MX closing routine, and obviously early closure of the device running MX (such as that caused by a power cut) will prevent a tidy end to MX.


Executables

The MX package, at time of typing this, includes two executables:

CumulusMX.exe

Whilst effectively MX is run by a CumulusMX.exe or sudo mono CumulusMX.exe depending on device, you actually need to ensure all the other components are loaded, so you either have a package that runs it for you, or you click a shortcut that includes the necessary path setting.

Optional parameters to add to the instruction to run the MX engine

Beta builds in MX version 3.0.0 had an optional parameter -wsport nnnn that determined which port (represented by a 4 digit number nnnn) was used for WebSockets. That parameter is now deprecated as WebSockets in all builds since 3045 uses the same port as the rest of the Admin Interface. The remaining parameters that are still available are described in subsequent sub-sections.

Parameter for changing Port

When Cumulus starts, it will display the URL of the user interface. It runs on port 8998 by default; if this is not suitable for some reason you can over-ride it using the '-port' parameter on the command line, e.g. to use port 9999 instead:

sudo mono CumulusMX.exe -port 9999

Parameter for adding debugging

MX has a default level of logging that stores in the MXDiags folder a log file that shows some of the interaction with the weather station and some of the output actions done as MX runs. A new log is started each time MX is restarted.

If there is a problem, then there is a great benefit in actually increasing the level of detail in these logs; and that is done either within the settings (options section of station settings) in admin interface while MX is running, or by adding 1 or 2 parameters when you start MX. Obviously this log file continues to grow, the longer MX is left running, and if debugging is switched on the file will grow in size must faster. Consequently, the default is not to add the extra debugging information and the settings can be used to switch it off again if you do have it switched on. Whether you start it with a parameter or enable it within settings, stopping MX will end the extra debugging, and on restart it will default back to no debugging unless turned on again with parameter or setting.

You can also add CumulusMX.exe -debug (to have full debugging of actions by MX turned on as MX starts), and/or CumulusMX.exe -Logging=1 (for the station to MX transfers to have increased debugging logging).

sudo mono CumulusMX.exe -debug -Logging=1

Since this parameter is applied when you start MX, it applies while MX continues to run. Obviously, it must be applied every time you start MX if you want this increased level of logging to continue every time you restart MX.

The comments in the MX source suggests -debug turns on both debug and data logging (see Station_Settings#Options in admin interface settings), but I believe that is wrong as per example above, there are 2 separate parameters.

Parameter for changing Locale

On Linux and (in particular) OS X, Cumulus MX may not be given the correct locale to use, and you may get the default US locale even if that is not your locale. It will output the local it is using when it starts; if it is not correct, close it down and start it again, this time specifying your locale on the command line, using the -lang parameter . For example, in the UK, on a non-Windows device type:

sudo mono CumulusMX.exe -lang en-GB

Other local examples: CumulusMX.exe Current culture: English (United States), CumulusMX.exe -lang de-DE, CumulusMX.exe -lang el-GR (this is one of the locales that reads numbers with integer,decimal format), CumulusMX.exe -lang nl-NL.

If you are not sure what value you need to supply for the -lang parameter, there is a list here - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/ee825488%28v=cs.20%29.aspx. You need to supply the code in the first column ("Language Culture Name") in that list.

Note that this does not affect the language used by Cumulus MX (although it may in the future), it affects the decimal separator and the list separator.

Note that you may need to supply your administrator password after typing the 'sudo ...' command line. The system will prompt you for this if it is needed.

ExportMySQL.exe

This second exe file has been available since the original MX package as Steve Loft developed this in April 2015, but sadly few people even notice it exists, and if they do, it is unlikely they know how to use it. Hopefully, some people will read this section and find out!

Obviously it was updated when Mark Crossley added the Feels Like fields to log files.

Put simply, this executable will read log files and insert (insert ignore) rows into an existing database table. Since it only does inserts, despite the name of this function, it is not just for MySQL tables, the included SQL should work with whatever database table type you have.

The executable has a mandatory single parameter that tells it which log files to read, there are only 3 possible parameters ("dayfile", "monthly", or path to a file). It needs to know what locale (or culture settings) it is to use to work out what character separates each item in the log file list. It also needs to read your Cumulus.ini file, as it takes these "input parameters" from MySQL section in that:

  • Host
  • Port
  • User
  • Pass
  • Database
  • MonthlyTable
  • DayfileTable

Daily summary log file

  1. Use the feature in the admin interface:
    • Settings menu
    • MySQL settings page
    • In Dayfile.txt upload section, give your database table a name, or accept default Dayfile.
    • Click Save to ensure this setting is updated
  2. Now scroll down to Create database table (save settings first)
    • Here click Create Dayfile
  3. Now you have a database table ready, you can use the executable to read all lines in your CumulusMX/data/dayfile.txt log file.
  4. Open a terminal display (if you are using Windows then, open a Command Window, a Windows Powershell window, or a Windows Terminal window)
  5. Run this executable in that terminal display (or command window) by using sudo mono ExportMySql.exe daily or ExportMySql.exe daily depending on device.
  6. In the terminal display (or command window) you will see Parameter = daily confirming what you entered and in the line below that a rapidly updating code that is the primary key displayed for each row it tries to insert into the table. If that primary key already exists in the table, it will still show the key, but no insert will take place.
  7. If you want MX to continue adding new rows to this database table, still in the admin interface, still in MySQL settings page:
    • Return to Dayfile.txt upload section, and select Enable.

Standard Log files

  1. Use the feature in the admin interface:
    • Settings menu
    • MySQL settings page
    • In Monthly log file upload section, give your database table a name, or accept default Monthly.
    • Click Save to ensure this setting is updated
  2. Now scroll down to Create database table (save settings first)
    • Here click Create Monthly
  3. If you want MX to continue adding new rows to this database table, still in the admin interface, still in MySQL settings page:
    • In the same Monthly log file upload section, now select Enable.
  4. Now you have a database table ready, you can use the executable to read all lines in either one (if path to that file is in parameter), or every (if parameter is monthly) standard log file.
    • If the parameter is "monthly" it will look in folder data for every file it can find with a file name of datestring + "log.txt" where datestring is a 3 letter code (in your locale) for each month (1 to 12) followed by a 2 digit year (from "00" to "99") so that is how it finds every standard log file in the folder.
  5. Open a terminal display (if you are using Windows then, open a Command Window, a Windows Powershell window, or a Windows Terminal window)
  6. Run this executable in that terminal display (or command window) by using sudo mono ExportMySql.exe monthly or ExportMySql.exe monthly depending on device.
    • Alternatively, replace monthly parameter by a full path to a single standard log file, and it will process just that log file.
  7. In the terminal display (or command window) you will see Parameter = monthly confirming what you entered and in the line below that a rapidly updating code that is the primary key (omitting the first two digits of the year) displayed for each row it tries to insert into the table. If that primary key already exists in the table, it will still show the key, but no insert will take place. So you can run this again to pick up any additions to the latest log file since the original run. Also notice that if you use the parameter "monthly" the order in which it will process different standard log files is not predicable, they probably will not be in any particular order, but as one feature of SQL databases is that the row order is not able to be determined, it does not matter if rows are not added in chronological order.
    • It is worth noting that it is safe to run this procedure while MX is also running, because this procedure only updates log entries that exist as this procedure reads the logs, and MX only adds new entries to the log and at the same time uploads that new entry (if enabled) to the database table.

Please be aware that the transfer to the database table adds two columns where bearings in the original log file given in degrees are output as compass directions, and these use up to 3 letters of how the compass directions are defined in the strings.ini file. Thus the number of columns in the database table will be at least 2 more than the number of fields in the log files. It is also important to stress that whilst the database table must contain one column defined for each field (plus the extra 2) being uploaded, you can add even more columns to your table if you want and populate those some other way. For example, I have added a Canadian Humidity Index (Humidex) column which is not in the standard logs, but is calculated by Cumulus, and can be calculated from columns that are uploaded from the standard log. Humidex is not uploaded by either ExportMySQL or the normal CumulusMX process, but neither objects to extra columns being there.

When testing this, I had some log files produced by various old versions of Cumulus 1 in my MX data folder as well as the log files in has generated since I swapped to MX. Plus I had used a PHP script to add feels like to those log files produced before version 3.6.0 and to correct feels like for those log entries made by versions 3.6.0 to 3.6.9 inclusive because they used a different formula to the one being used from version 3.6.10. This php script is a web page with a HTML form and can be obtained from the forum in Create Missing for MX

I notice that the database rows produced by those short log file lines produced by say version 1.9.0 had nulls entered for all subsequent columns, except Feels Like and this column was initialised at 0.0!

For those log files produced by the final version 1.9.4, all columns are populated although feels like is set to 0.0.

Library software

For most Cumulus users, this whole section can be skipped, but I have included it for those few users who have a technical slant and might want to understand more.

Cumulus MX uses library software (i.e. software written by others and made available by the provider and often also by other content delivery nodes or 'cdn') for a lot of the standard functionality. The library software for the admin interface and the separate library software for the standard web pages are both mostly included in the distribution zip, although some is used via a link to a cdn.

Many of the libraries included by MX are very obsolete. However, Mark Crossley, the current developer, said the following on 30 Sept 2019: "Chasing the latest versions of all the packages for the sake of it is a thankless task, and requires considerable effort to regression test each update. I am only updating packages when required to fix issues or for platform compatibility."

Just to mention the other side of this balance. It is difficult to code an addition to MX that works with these obsolete versions of libraries. All documentation provided by providers of the libraries relates to current versions of the packages (and what is documented to work now often will not work with obsolete versions). The documentation for the packages that are no longer supported is only available in archive sites if available at all.

Library Software for the MX engine

The distribution zip contains various .dll files and these are the libraries used by MX itself. The exact mix of libraries included has varied at various times, the list below is a snapshot of those included at the version that was investigated when this article was extended to include this section, and may not be right for the current MX version.

Devart

The two files used are both related to the database functionality of MX.

FluentFTP

As the name suggests, this is used by MX for controlling the file transfer functionality. This component was first introduced at version 3.0.0 build 3045 (adding more functionality than that available from System.Net.FtpClien, which was used at earlier MX builds), and FluentFTP.dll has been updated at some subsequent MX releases, see the announcements for details.

Linq

Language INtegrated Query is used to work with sequences of items and pick the ones that are needed, putting them into output format required. MX uses two files in connection with preparing output for Twitter. There is a third Linq file for other processing.

MQTT

When MX added capability to talk to other devices using the MQTT protocol, it added this component for that optional functionality.

Newtonsoft

This component is used for processing JSON strings. It is a very popular choice for developers, and used therefore very widely. However, SystemText has superseded it, so MX is using an obsolete method.

Renci SSH

This component is server connection software, it is what processes the host name, password, and so on.

SQLite3

This is used for all interactions with the weather diary.

HTTP

These files handle the optional HTTP functionality.

Unosquare

The EmbedIO file is open-source software that handles the web-sockets functionality of MX. The Swan file is open-source software that handles JSON formatting and threading of tasks in MX.

Library software for admin interface

As the following sections reveal, MX uses external libraries rather than writing its own code whenever possible.

  • However, that does not mean MX is good at meeting development standards.
  • MX only implements small parts of the functionality of most libraries, the minimum to make a feature work, not all the features available to make it work well
  • MX does not use the latest versions of libraries
  • MX does not attempt to obey guidance for good user interaction, and although validation is being added, many parts of MX do depend on user understanding what is valid
  • MX does not make provision for screen readers and other accessibility aids.

Alpaca

  1. Alpaca software is effectively a programming language extension to help people design forms like those MX uses for all its settings, and as a Cumulus user you really don't need to worry about it.
  2. It is used for most settings screens. See http://www.alpacajs.org/ for more information. The latest version there is 1.5.27 released on 14 May 2019.
  3. MX uses Alpaca Release 1.1.3 from https://github.com/gitana/alpaca which was first released on 15 May 2014. Although some individual components have been updated on that github URL, and elsewhere, MX has not incorporated these.

Bootstrap

  1. Also known by some as Twitter Bootstrap which gives a clue as to its developer and to its origins as an internal tool for those building Twitter, that company still keep making updates as it is now the most popular styling library of all those available widely.
  • The simplest way to think about this package is as a standard set of styling promoting easy responsive (means adapts to screen dimensions) web site design.
  • To give just a few examples, it defines a standard way to represent buttons, form components, lists, navigation, and breadcrumbs.
  • MX uses Bootstrap version 3.3.7, which is very restricted in what it offers
    • Bootstrap version 5 is available (http://getbootstrap.com), so MX is using an obsolete library
    • Bootstrap version 4.5.0 (Bootstrap 4 released as alpha in August 2015, beta in August 2017, and with fully working releases frequently from January 2018) was very widely praised for its improved functionality, and ability to work with latest jQuery and multiple modern devices/browsers.
  • MX does not implement key features of Bootstrap like colouring text according to what it represents (primary, secondary, information, warning etc.)

dataTables

  1. When MX sends out multiple lines of a log file to view or edit, the application programming interface (api) that transfers the information from the MX engine sends it in dataTables format for display on the web page in the admin interface.
  2. Thus dataTables does all the work of providing the ability to present the data in a HTML table, the functionality to move between multiple pages needed (as MX sends only up to 10 lines of a log file at a time to the admin interface).
  3. The free version of dataTables used by MX lacks the most useful functionality that needs a subscription licence. For example, its editing functionality requires a subscription.

altEditor

  • This is an editing tool that can read what is in dataTables, create what it calls a modal (a pop-up dialog) where rows can be added, edited, or deleted individually.
    • MX when it added editing of log files at version 3.4.5 - Build 3069 (Friday 13 March 2020) adopted this software as it was free (although Mark Crossley said in his release notice: "The main thrust of this release is to add some log file editing capability to Cumulus MX. It works on all three log file types, but it is fairly basic at present. You can edit or delete lines in the files. The editing has to be done via pop-up dialog.
    • I only found two libraries that support JQuery dataTables editing, one is very comprehensive - but costs $$$ - the other is free. The free version does not currently support in-line editing of the table which is a shame.
    • If any web guru out there can come up with a better solution please post about it on the forum, or send a pull request.") (By the way, it is possible to provide in-line editing and make it work with the existing api interface, but making it compatible with the obsolete software used by MX is hard).
  • The single line of fields that is result of an edit or deletion done on the modal is sent back via another api to the server (the MX engine in our case) and that then regenerates the dataTables in the state after whatever action was done, sending back again up to 10 lines for the same page as before.
  • As it happens there is another JQuery dataTables editing tool, but it has not been maintained since 2012. It is found at https://github.com/NicolasCARPi/jquery_jeditable, but the documentation is now only available in an archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20200615000000*/https://appelsiini.net/projects/jeditable. It is designed for editing table cells, so it does not involve any pop-up dialog.

datepicker

  1. Although modern browsers generally will generate a calendar type interface when they meet an entry field defined as a date, this date picker software ensures all MX users see exactly the same interface for date selection needed for both the standard log and the extra sensors log which are monthly log files (a new one is created each month). It is used for picking which standard (monthly) log or extra (monthly) log is to be viewed by selecting a month and year only.
  2. It is also used for selecting individual days in the weather diary editor.

editable grid

  • As the name perhaps suggests MX only uses this for the extra web files screens where you can make selections within a grid like interface.
  • I suspect it could enhance some other functionality in the future.

handlebars

  1. Put simply this is a simple HTML generator based on templates.
  2. I have not found any file in the admin interface actually using this, but I am scared to delete it just in case it stops something working.

x-editable

  • Put simply, this allows in-place editing of web pages using bootstrap.
  • In MX it is used for the record editing screens where you adjust the extreme values.

jQuery

  1. The admin interface uses version 1.9.1 of this JavaScript based library.
    • At the time of typing this, the current jQuery is version 3.5.1.
  2. Of all the old versions of jQuery to choose, MX has picked the only version that the developers withdrew due to an error when they released it.
  3. Version 1.9.1, has a serious error in its code, because the developers accidentally combined code from two significantly different versions when they created the release file.
    • This reveals itself in two ways:
      1. The error handling does not work.
      2. It tries to load another script that does not match.
  4. Consequently, the developers quickly removed it, but it remained available from Contents Delivery Nodes, which is where MX has found it.
  5. Not surprisingly, the authors of jQuery strongly advise all 1.9.1 users to move to a later version.
    • Unfortunately, there are interdependencies between all the library code used by MX, so you cannot simply update this component (see next library item).

Jquery Template

  • This is also obsolete, and therefore will only work with old versions of jQuery (1.4.2 to 1.11.0).
  • It was originally available from jQuery downloads, but they now offer jsRender.js for this functionality.
  • It basically is used to bind the contents of objects (like array elements) into particular locations within HTML.

SteelSeries

MX uses a modified version of the steel series library made available by Mark Crossley for all the gauges (see dashboard and gauges pages of the admin interface) in MX.

Highstocks

The odd one out is Highstocks (that includes HighCharts)

  • This is loaded from a Contents Distribution Node (CDN), but it is still pinned to obsolete versions of the basic script and its themes.
  • This means that the Charts page in the admin interface will only work when there is an internet connection working to permit download of this software
  • If you need to view your admin interface where an internet connection is not available:

Then you need to edit the interface file...

<CMX_Folder>/Interface/charts.html Change lines 20,21 from

<script src="https://code.highcharts.com/stock/8.0/h ... "></script>
<script src="https://code.highcharts.com/themes/grid.js"></script>

to

<script src="webfiles/lib/highstock/js/highstock.js"></script>
<script src="webfiles/lib/highstock/js/themes/grid.js"></script>

Library software for your web server

The webfiles/lib folder includes a number of software library items that are needed for the standard web pages included in the MX distribution.

This is fine if your web site is purely for the provided standard web pages, but if on your web server you also have web pages from third parties, or you have written your own web pages, then you may get conflict because all the library items used by MX are obsolete versions, and in one case MX uses a version of library software withdrawn by its originators due to compile error (so only available form some CDN who provide obsolete versions as its originators insist it must not be used)!

  1. Highstock
    • At the moment, as hinted in previous section, there is an old version of Highstocks included in the webfiles/lib folder.
    • However, that is not used, instead (like admin interface) an old version is loaded from a CDN.
    • Be careful if you also load the current version for use on web pages not produced by MX, that the browser does not try to reuse your latest version and not recognise that MX wants an older version.
  2. jQuery
    • Be aware that MX distribution is not consistent as different web pages use different obsolete versions of jQuery.
      1. gauges.htm includes <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.2/jquery.min.js"></script> to load version 1.8.2 from the Google Content Delivery Node
        • You will find at the end of this web template, if you bother to read it, some instructions about how you can change that CDN load, but the instruction is neither grammatically correct, nor understandable for me.
      2. trends.htm includes <script src="lib/jquery/jquery-latest.min.js"></script> to load version 1.9.1 of jQuery loaded from this badly named file, there is nothing latest about it.
        • Ironically, the old version of jQuery that has been selected by MX to be included in the webfiles/lib folder is the only old version that jQuery themselves withdrew, and warn you not to use because the error handling content is from a different jQuery version to the correct handling content making the two parts of the code incompatible. In other words, this version only works if everything is set up correctly and no error handling is invoked.
  3. Steel Series this is treated as library software, as it is copies of that separate product by Mark Crossley.
    • Most of the files are exactly as that was in revision 0.14.13 made 30 January 2015.
    • gauges.js has one tweak for MX, it defaults to not having chart rollovers (for Cumulus 1, this file had default to showing the images of graphs that were uploaded by Cumulus 1).

The provided web pages

Setting up a web site is covered in this wiki page and the pages linked from there. I won't repeat that, but will try to explain below the MX context of the various files involved. MX will produce web pages locally even if you don't have a remote web site to display them on. You can view the web pages created in the web folder using a browser.

Cumulus MX provides a set of web templates, images, and json files, in \CumulusMX\web. The first of these are called templates (and have a 'T' at the end of the file name before the extension) because they include both text and web tags. MX will process these templates as it creates a web page (file name without a "T" in same web folder), during that processing, any text in the template is copied into new file without change, any web tags found in the template are parsed and the correct value is placed in that position in the output file. If you have a web server, then MX can process these files and upload them for you (by default using File Transfer Process) providing you specify the host, port, protocol, directory, username, and password, for the upload process to use. If you don't understand any of these terms, then this is not the place for explaining them, but generally if your web space is supplied by a provider, they will be able to tell you most of these settings, and you will choose the directory name. If you have set up a web server yourself, then you should know the required settings.

The web templates included are based on designs by Beth Loft used for Cumulus 1. Remember, Steve Loft (who wrote the original Cumulus software) said "They exist because they're our web pages, and they're really only included with Cumulus as examples of how the web tags work. It never occurred to me that most people would simply use the supplied examples instead of creating their own pages!"

The templates are written in fairly simple Hyper-Text Mark-up Language, designed to help people see how to write their own web templates. Here is a list of web templates provided:

  • indexT .htm
  • todayT.htm
  • yesterdayT.htm
  • thismonth.htm
  • thisyear.htm
  • recordT.htm
  • monthlyrecordt.htm
  • gaugesT.htm
  • trendsT.htm


All these templates (except gaugesT.htm and trendsT.htm) include a table for showing values and styling that gives a graded background colour. The tables include a navigation row with links to the other pages in the set. That navigation line fixes the width of the table, and you will realise it was designed in the days when all monitors were a standard shape. Therefore the standard web pages as provided cannot adapt to the range of devices we use for viewing web pages nowadays. There are a selection of alternative web page sets available on the User_Contributions page, and some of these are responsive and adapt to the width of the device they are being viewed on.

The gaugesT.htm is a template similar to SteelSeries Gauges although the latter is designed to work with a range of software and the former is specific to MX. As supplied in MX if you mouse over the provided gauges appearing on your web site you will see a box with figures, not a graph as is seen with the general steel series gauges, but there are some other differences such as how the figures are supplied for the displays. The remaining template trendsT.htm, creates a structure that can display graphs. The data for all the graphs that can be displayed is contained in the various json files in \CumulusMX\web, these files are also processed by Cumulus so latest values are added, and then uploaded so the web page produced by this template can use them.

The image that is provided in \CumulusMX\web is MoonBaseImage.png, MX can be set to use that to generate (on MX start-up and on the hour) "moon.png" which it then can FTP to your web (also on the hour).


To set up your web server for the first time

When you first want to use Cumulus web pages on your web server, you need a number of static (unchanging) files to be put onto your web server. The web pages that MX uploads for you reference that static files and will not look right without them. The files that only have to be uploaded once are found in \CumulusMX\webfiles and its sub-folders. You don't create a folder called webfiles on your web server, but you put the files and sub-folders into position relative to where MX will upload the htm files.

To do this, you will must invoke a FTP process outside of Cumulus, MX does not include any functionality to do this one-off upload for you. The filezilla client is a popular choice as it has probably the most friendly graphical user interface, although other software to do this is also available. You may prefer a tool that lets you do the uploads from a command line without requiring working with a graphical interface.

  1. The static files to be uploaded include the standard styling file \CumulusMX\webfiles\weatherstyle.css which you place in the directory specified for the uploads.
  2. Next you have three sub-folders, each of those sub-folders need to be replicated within the directory specified for the uploads.
    • For example \CumulusMX\webfiles\images\picture.jpg will be stored in a "images" sub-directory of the upload directory and is used as the background image for web pages.
      • There is nothing to stop you creating your own "picture.jpg" (instead of uploading the supplied one) and then Cumulus web pages will use that for the background image on each page.
    • Similarly \CumulusMX\webfiles\js\cumuluscharts.js needs to be stored in a "js" sub-directory of your upload directory (this is the script that allows you to change the chart shown on the trends page and uses the appropriate json file to populate it with data).
  3. The "lib" sub-folder contains further levels of sub-folders all to be replicated on your web site.
  4. The trends.htm web page also loads some library software from an internet Content Delivery Network (cdn) to invoke the JavaScript based Highstocks library.

Operating a web site with uploads from MX engine

The standard web pages

  • If you want to operate the 'standard' web site, then just the same as with Cumulus 1, you will need to upload the contents of the webfiles folder from the zip file (don't upload the containing webfiles folder itself).
    • Note that the MX web files are not the same as the ones for Cumulus 1, so make sure you upload the MX files if moving from Cumulus 1 to MX.
    • The standard gauges are now the SteelSeries gauges. The default versions do not display a graph when you hover over a gauge as happened when you added the stand-alone Steel Series gauges to Cumulus 1.
    • The trends web page in Cumulus 1 relied on that software generating graphs as images. In MX, the software generates files with time and value pairs, these are stored in json format, the trends page then uses a library package (Highstocks) to draw graphs from those data pairs.

Alternative ways to obtain web pages

You can choose to use some of the alternative web pages available from third parties and described on User Contributions page.

Using your own web pages

  • Of course you can use your own web pages, instead of the standard ones. Assuming they need to include figures that are available as web tags, there are three alternative ways to implement this:
    1. MX can process template files with a HTML structure and those web tags in the structure where values are required just as it does with the standard templates, and MX can upload the resulting web pages at either the real-time interval, the standard interval, or after end of day. All of this is covered on the Customised templates page in this Wiki.
    2. MX can process a file with a string of web tags mirroring the realtime.txt option in MX, and upload the resulting file so your web pages can use JavaScript for a one-off insert of the values or an Ajax routine to update the web page at a fixed interval.
    3. Alternatively, you can use template scripts processed locally by MX that don't create web pages, but are uploaded by MX at either the real-time interval, the standard interval, or after end of day. These scripts simply initialise script variables with values obtained from web tags. You then independently have a set of web pages resident only on your web server (they don't exist where you run MX) using a combination of HTML and script content that bring in the script(s) with the variables by the appropriate syntax. All of this is covered on the PHP web tags page in this wiki. As it suggests there, you might therefore have several files processed by Cumulus MX at these different intervals, converting the web tags into script variables, and then use AJAX (JavaScript that may use json format to bring in the variables) or PHP (using 'require_once 'filename'; syntax) to put those variables into a web page.

You may find this wiki page useful for understanding more about the different script languages.

MX End of Day Process

I have added this section, because this process has given me some headaches.

My version

If you write custom SQL, or have a template being processed at end of day, then what I find strange is that web tags related to system date report the new date, but other web tags report weather derivatives from the old day. Put another way, all the date related tags change at start of rollover, but all the weather related web tags change at end of rollover.

However, it is not quite as simple as that, the month and year are reset before the extra web files are processed (so they cannot use monthly web tags at end of month, nor yearly web tags at end of year). The complication is that in the extra web files you can use <currentlogfile> (and from build 3087 <currentextralogfile>) and these pick up the old month/year. Now you see why I found it hard to digest, and why I wanted to write it here to make it easier for others.

If you use Custom SQL and therefore have to quote web tags, the SQL should use monthly and yearly web tags related to previous day, but all the weather tags it uses must be those for current conditions or today. Yes it is confusing.

As part of the so called "end of day" process, MX (just like Cumulus 1) creates a start of day back up in the daily sub-folder. So on first day of a new month (and new year sometimes), the backed standard log files (and extra sensor log files from build 3087) are for the month that has just started, there is no back-up of the old month.

The official version

Mark Crossley says the MX day reset does this (at version 3.5.x)...

   Reset midnight rain
   Entering Day Reset (message about current day of month, at this stage web tag <#metdate> changes to new date)
   Day Reset (message about date ending, time shown as 00:00:00 because time not defined, not because it is midnight, it might be 9am or 10am)
   Run EOD custom SQL
   Save dayfile entry (uses what is still in today.ini that includes old date, i.e. what is now in web tag <#metdateyesterday>)
   Write monthly & yearly file entries
   Write any new daily extreme records
   if day of month = 1 then: copy month.ini to saved file, reset monthly figures
   if day of month = 1 and month = 1 then: copy year.ini to saved file, reset yearly figures
   Copy todays high/lows to yesterdays
   Reset todays high/lows to current
   Write today.ini & yesterday.ini
   Create NOAA reports
   Execute user daily external program
   Process Extra EOD files 

But independent of above EOD thread that occurs on the rollover hour, the normal interval and hourly processes thread is seeking to run at same time, whether that happens at same time depends on processing capability and whether it can process multiple threads.

What actually happens in above list depends on your settings, and if your FTP interval is synchronised with the logging interval.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS - Text by Steve Loft

Restrictions in MX for decimal separators

On the subject of decimal and list separators, there are a couple of issues which users of decimal commas may encounter.

  1. The first is that there may be an issue with some of the user interface not working correctly. Please report these issues and I will fix them. There may be aspects of the displays that I cannot change (because the package used does not support decimal commas) but it should be possible to at least get it working.
  2. The second issue with decimal separators only affects the Raspberry Pi (as far as I am aware). There is apparently an issue with a version (3.2.8) of the Mono package on Raspbian 'hard float' where it cannot parse values using decimal commas. If this does turn out to be an issue, there are a number of possible workarounds until the Raspbian package gets updated. One workaround is to use the 'soft float' version of Debian instead. Obviously, this will have performance issues, but is probably the easiest. The second workaround is to build Mono from the latest sources, see http://www.mono-project.com/docs/compiling-mono/linux/. I am told that this fixes the problem. Another possible workaround would be to find an already fixed binary package, but I don't know if one currently exists.

PLEASE NOTE: The issues that Steve describes seem to have gone away with currently available versions of Mono; update your Mono if you are using an old version and encounter problems. Like any software, Mono might have bugs at a particular version, and sometimes you might need to swap to an older version if the current version has an outstanding issue.

If you want to use your Cumulus 1 data with MX

If you use decimal commas in your Cumulus 1 data, you will need to edit the .ini files to change the decimal commas into periods/full stops, because Cumulus MX always expects periods/full stops in .ini files regardless of the locale in use. The other data files will be OK - assuming you are using the same decimal and list separators in MX as you used in Cumulus 1 (i.e. the same locale). If you try to switch to a different locale, then your data log files will of course no longer be in the correct format, so you would need to edit all of your files. You can select the locale for MX to use as a switch parameter when it starts up, see earlier on this page.

A note to Davis owners

I am experimenting with the use of the LOOP2 packet. The current code uses this for two purposes. First, it uses the 'peak 10-minute gust' value, to avoid the problem where a gust might be missed (although hopefully this will not be such an issue with Cumulus MX as it does not use the Davis DLL), and secondly it uses the 'absolute pressure' value to make calculation of 'altimeter pressure' easier and more accurate. This is mainly used if you upload to CWOP.

The LOOP2 packet is supported on the VP2 with firmware version 1.90 or later, and on the Vue. If you have a Vantage Pro (i.e. the original 'VP1'), or a VP2 with pre-1.90 firmware, or if you are using Virtual VP, none of these support the LOOP2 packet. In these cases, you should edit cumulus.ini and add a line to the [Station] section:

UseDavisLoop2=0

With this setting, Cumulus will revert to calculating the 10-minute gust value itself from the individual wind speed readings, but it will not currently attempt to calculate altimeter pressure correctly, it will simply use the sea-level pressure instead. This is likely to be an issue if you are at high altitude and you upload to CWOP using Cumulus MX.

Also for Davis stations, I have assumed that people using millimetres in Cumulus have a metric rain gauge (0.2 mm per tip), and those using inches have a 0.01" rain gauge. This can be over-ridden by adding a line to the [Station] section of Cumulus.ini:

VPrainGaugeType=0

or

VPrainGaugeType=1

Where 0 is a 0.2mm gauge and 1 is a 0.01" gauge. Note that changing this after MX has already read some data may cause your rainfall reading for today etc to change considerably, so you will need to correct that.

Web Tags and related features

Almost all of the web tags for all Cumulus flavours on this Wiki page that you could use in Cumulus 1 are also supported in Cumulus MX.

Each new build of the beta MX has increased the range of web tags it supports. Since MX has come out of beta, new versions have not only implemented the remaining tags from Cumulus 1, they have also added new tags not previously available. For full details see the web tags article, but a quick précis follows in next few sections.


All builds of MX

The 'format' parameter on the date/time output modifier for web tags is unfortunately different, because many of the characters used are different. See the modifiers list page of this Wiki.

Note that this difference in date/time modifiers also affects how you specify the NOAA report file names. For example in Cumulus 1 you can specify a 2 digit month number by either 'mm' or 'MM', but MX (later versions) has to change the former to the latter as MX uses 'mm' for minutes. The same applies to using 'mmm' or 'MMM' for 3 letter month abbreviation in Cumulus 1, only the latter works in MX, so MX (later versions) will adjust that. If you are using an older MX version, you should upgrade to latest as you are missing a lot of functionality, but while you use that old version, ensure that your file names for NOAA reports do use the correct modifiers for MX.

Beta builds of MX

The following web tags were not available or worked differently:

  • The individual 'record set' tags such as <#TempRecordSet> etc did not work (because the interface then had no indicators for new records and no way to reset them).
  • The <#newrecord> tag does work, but works differently, it turns itself off automatically after 24 hours.
  • Some of the 'system status' web tags do not work: <#CpuName>, <#MemoryStatus>, <#DisplayMode>, <#DiskSize> and <#DiskFree>
  • The <#txbattery> web tag has no content currently. Using it with a 'channel' parameter causes a 'token error'.
  • The snow tags were not available as there was no Weather Diary

Current builds of MX

The web tags you have depend on which build you are using:

From beta version 3.0.0 - Build 3046 of 2 Jan 2019

  • added <#snowdepth> tag processing
  • added diary.db file

From beta version 3.0.0 - build 3047

  • Web token parser updated to cope with html tag characters "<>" in the format string e.g. <#TapptempH format="dd' 'MMM' 'yyyy' at 'HH:mm''">
  • All record Value tags should now return '---' and Date tags '----' until they are first set.
  • <#MoonAge>, <#MoonPercent>, <#MoonPercentAbs> - all given new 'dp' and 'rc' parameters.

From version 3.1.1 - build 3054

  • Adds new web tags <#snowlying>, <#snowfalling>, both provide 1|0 responses

From version 3.2.0 - build 3056 of 19 November 2019:

  • Enables alarms as per Cumulus 1
    • New Alarm page under Settings
    • Alarms are shown visually on the dashboard
    • Due to browser restrictions, alarm sounds on the browser page may require you to click a button on the first alarm in order to hear it.
      • You can add the MX admin site to your browsers list of sites allowed to play sound automatically. Your browser should "learn" that you want to allow sounds to play automatically.
      • Alarm sound files should be placed in the /interface/sounds folder, they must be a browser compatible format (mp3 are good). The alarm settings for the sound file should be just the filename without any path
  • Lots of new web tags not available in Cumulus 1, see release announcement for details

From Version 3.2.2 - build 3058

  • Implements the missing <#txbattery> web tag

From version 3.5.1 - build 3072 of 10 April 2020

  • Implements the tags that indicate when records are broken
  • You configure whether if a record is set it turns off after 24 hours or a different period.