JWST APT Help

There are a number of ways to get help both within APT and from additional sources.

On this page

See also: APT training examples and video tutorials and JWST Help Desk

APT is one of the primary tools needed by JWST observers to plan and submit their observing proposals. JWST APT has an invaluable heritage from a similar tool use by the Hubble Space Telescope, and as such there are a number of ways to get help with questions both large and small. There are general topical support articles, each covering some aspect of the APT suite of tools and/or techniques used by multiple instruments (e.g. mosaicking or dithering). There are descriptive articles on each of the observation templates to help the user in entering specific observation information. If you are unfamiliar with the JWST implementation of APT, you should refer to the APT Overview to obtain a grasp on the overall workings of this important tool.  There are also a number of short video tutorials on APT that you may want to watch.

The remainder of this article addresses some other ways to get help with APT.



Help within APT 

On the top toolbar of the APT GUI is a link to What's New*. Selecting this link opens a separate window containing APT version comments and links to training materials. With each new release of APT, a section is added highlighting the major changes from the previous version. In addition, direct links to APT training exercises including video example walkthroughs for some functionalities items are available through this link for quick reference. Figure 1 shows the location of the What's New link on the toolbar.

Figure 1. APT top toolbar with "JWST What's New" highlighted

The APT Top Toolbar menu highlighting the location of the What's New link.

Within APT itself, a number of checks are performed in an ongoing way as you enter information and warnings and errors are reported to the user. Red X's appear when required information is missing or if unsupported values have been selected or entered into a field. For example, a red X will appear on your proposal cover page until such time that your science PDF proposal is completed and attached to your APT file. Yellow caution icons indicate warnings that may or may not be a real problem, depending on the context, so you need to check. Since warnings are conditional, APT programs can be submitted even if warnings are present.

Hovering the cursor over either error or warning icons provides a pop-up box with a short text description of the condition generating the flag. These are necessarily terse, and some are more descriptive than others. A more detailed summary of errors and warnings can be obtained via the red X icon on the top menu bar, where a "list" and "summary" tab allows viewing of the compiled errors in the proposal in different formats. Alternatively, one can select the errors and warnings box that remains at the lower right corner of the APT GUI no matter which section of the tool one is using at a given time. Often times, the information provided in these pop-up boxes or summary lists is sufficient to allow a user to correct a given situation.

Errors come in 2 varieties: (1) missing information that is required, and (2) invalid entries or problems that affect the schedulability of the proposed observations. Obviously, the former errors are removed when valid entries are entered in the required fields. Errors affecting schedulability are more serious, especially in the mode of single-stream processing where accepted proposals flow quickly into scheduling. Ideally, no errors should remain in the proposal at the time of submission. Exceptions are allowed only in cases where the error cannot be resolved with a reasonable amount of effort or if an unanticipated condition has arisen that APT cannot handle. In such cases, it is recommended that you check the JWST Help Desk for any reported exceptions and/or discuss the problem with STScI support personnel. Upon submission, you will be asked to supply a description of any remaining errors in your proposal at the time of submission.

Context-Sensitive help is another form of assistance available with APT.  If you hover the cursor over many of the sectional titles in the APT GUI, a small "?" appears next to the cursor if context-sensitive help is available for that item. Clicking on the heading will pop up a separate window and connect you to relevant text descriptions within the JWST user documentation articles.  In some cases, secondary links are then available for more detailed information.


* Bold italics style indicates words that are also parameters or buttons in software tools (like the APT and ETC). Similarly, a bold style represents menu items and panels.



APT practice files and examples

The design of the JWST branch of APT uses a concept called observation templates to make it as straightforward as possible to enter the required information for each of the instrument modes available to users. For users who want example APT programs for each instrument and available template, a "retrieve" option is available directly from within APT. After opening APT, use the File --> JWST Demonstration Proposals option to access a list of prototype programs by instrument. These are not intended to be valid science use case examples, although effort has been made to enter values that remove as many warning and error indicators as possible. Alternatively, you can simply open a new JWST proposal and start from scratch to practice using APT. You can choose to save your practice proposal(s) to your local disk or discard them at the end of your session. (APT will prompt you when you exit.)

While these examples are useful for getting you started with a practice program, there are any number of more complicated aspects to specifying JWST observations in APT that are more difficult. For these situations, several JWST APT functionality examples (for mosaics, coronagraphy, and solar system programs) are available in the APT Demonstration Proposals listing that users can study to understand these more complicated activities. 

The JWST instrument teams have crafted a number of Example Science Programs that are detailed walk-throughs of various science use cases, including background on why various choices are being made in the example.  Each of these programs also has a step-by-step guide for ETC and APT, as well as associated ETC workbooks and APT files you can load in the tools and follow along with the example program.

Finally, the Workshop in a Box materials that were derived from the JWST Master Class training materials in November 2019 have a range of topical APT materials that may be of interest for new users.


APT video tutorial help

APT is used by both HST and JWST proposers to plan and submit their observing proposals.. There are generic aspects of APT that are used by both branches, and then there are aspects that are specific to one or the other of these missions. Since APT has been around for a number of years on the HST side, there are HST or generic APT training materials and videos available, some of which are general enough to be useful for JWST users as well.  STScI has also provided a number of JWST-specific video tutorials.  The APT-specific materials are available in the article APT training examples and video tutorials, or you can link directly to the JWST Observer YouTube channel where many of the videos are hosted.

If you have specific suggestions for additional APT help support that is needed, we suggest providing this input via the JWST Help Desk.




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Latest updates
  •  Totally revamped APT Help page in support of cycle 1.