FreeHEP: Access to Software Useful in High Energy Physics

During the 1980s, High Energy Physics (HEP) went through a transition where individual researchers came to rely extensively on community wide software tools in addition to software developed for an individual experiment or research projects. A second transition is occuring today where researchers are making increasing use of software developed outside of high energy physics including CAD/CAM systems, visualization software, symbolic mathematics packages, data bases, software engineering packages, software for coarse or fine grained parallelism, C++ class libraries and many others. As a result, high energy physics reached a situation where there was no adequate mechanism for keeping track of important software developments around the world in the many relevant fields or even within HEP itself. In order to provide this mechanism, the FreeHEP organization was proposed to provide the following services:
  1. A global compilation of software useful in HEP both from within HEP, from other fields and commercial software.
  2. Tutorials on common subjects and reviews on the subject areas covered.
  3. Ftp access to information about software packages, documentation or the software itself, tutorials, reviews and other information.
  4. Provide a service to authors of software who need a convenient point of distribution for their software packages.
  5. A mechanism for users to communicate with authors of the software or with other users.
Since the FreeHEP compilation is meant to be as inclusive as possible, FreeHEP accepts all software which might be of use in High Energy Physics. For the same reason, we do not have requirements on methods of distribution, installation, documentation, languages, support for particular machines, etc. These considerations are left entirely to the authors.

In our current arrangement, the FreeHEP collection, reviews, etc. are kept in a simple easily updated form on the ftp machine freehep.scri.fsu.edu. The software compilation is then absorbed into a server for CERNs "WorldWide Web"(WWW) and is thus made available as global hypertext. The collection is also imported into the SLAC SPIRES system which then provides data base operations also via hypertext. Communication of information about freehep is done through the NNTP news group hepnet.freehep.

FreeHEP-WWW configuration

Since it's inception in June, 1992, use of the FreeHEP compilation has steadily grown. As of August, 1993, more than 12,000 files have been fetched from more than 1200 internet sites from all over the world:

[The number of sites using FreeHEP continues to grow. In the last week, the total number of sites has increased to 1311. S.Y. 8/22/93]

This list only includes direct access by ftp. There may be many more people who primarily use our www interface (written by Tony Johnson).

The FreeHEP compilation is kept up by subject area editors who have volunteered their time and expertise to do this.

Since the start of FreeHEP, we have expanded the subject areas covered including new initiatives in C++ by Leif Lonnblad (Lund/DESY) and in Lattice Field Theory by Marcus Speh (DESY). Leif Lonnblad is also organizing the CLHEP HEP C++ class library project which is distributed from the freehep ftp machine.

FreeHEP was first proposed in the 1991 HEPLIB meeting at the SSC Lab as an extension of an earlier compilation by Andrea Palounek and Saul Youssef. The initial organization of FreeHEP was done by Andrea Palounek, Tony Johnson and Saul Youssef. Comments, suggestions and especially contributions are always welcome and can be directed to any of the editors or to the hepnet.freehep news group.

More documentation on FreeHEP can be found in the freehep_documents directory.


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