And yes, I am bias, PHP IS ONE THE BEST AND EASIEST WAY TO OBTAIN RESULTS...
First, no weather software is or will be (in a near future) producing an XML file that is directly compatible with YoWindow, and not even Weather Display. The software operator will thus have to create a template file into which he/she will have to place tags that are peculiar to that weather software. Then that template file has to be processed by the weather software in order to replace the tags with values. And, finally, that newly created XML file has to be uploaded (either by the weather software or by a FTP software) to the web server.I want YoWindow XML file to be created without PHP if possible. So, if a weather parameter (supported by YoWindow) can be passed to YoWindow without PHP, it should be passed.
To my knowledge (and I have been involved with PWSs for the last 7-8 years) no weather station and no weather station software produce all the required data/information needed by YoWindow - the information needed by YoWindow is obtained from either YR.NO or METARs and is entered by humans, such as the visibility, the type of clouds, the type and intensity of rain, just to indicate a few (there are others).However, it may happen that only PHP will give us some parameter or maybe more precise parameter value. In such a case we will use PHP script.
Using PHP will allow us to 'fudge' that information, that is to use other bits of weather data to produce a new result - so PHP will definitively be needed, otherwise the YoWindow user might as well get his/her YoWindow weather data directly from YR.NO or METARs...
There is no way for a user (either he or she) to have the XML file locally, at least not at this time as YoWindow needs a URL and not a local path - and that local XML file would need to be produced by a locally operated weather software. Most owners of new PWSs have the option/possibility of connecting their station receiver to their computer so they can have their own weather Web page.Suppose a user wants to keep the file locally on her computer. She would need to install PHP to generate YoWindow XML file, and that's a problem for most users. I hope a plain text file will work for most weather stations.
Unless a server software, PHP cannot be installed and run on a local computer - obviously, PHP is a server side operating software...
In some cases, a plain test file can/may/might be used. But, as I have indicated above, that plain test file must include the tags that are required by the weather software and then, that file has then to be processed by the weather software to finally produce an XML file that will contain only some of the YoWindow required weather values.
Do you have any idea on the number of PWS software out there - remember that you will also have to find out the name of all the tags produced by all those weather stations - and you will eventually end up with a possibly large number of plain text templates...I have the following picture in mind.
In the end for each Weather Station (software) we should have
1. Plain template file
2. PHP script (if we need one).
The PHP script (the script from Jim) that I am working on will eventually be compatible with at least 2 different weather station software, Weather Display (Jim designed the PHP script for that software) and Cumulus. But, then, within the same PHP script, it will be possible to add other weather station software.
I have been using Weather Display for some 7-8 years and I have been using PHP scripts/templates for the past 6 years - the scripts/templates I have adapted to the canadian bilingual needs are Ken True's "Weather Display/PHP/AJAX Website Template Set". Although designed for the Weather Display software, some of those templates already contain the code necessary to import weather data from a few other weather software.
As I wrote above, I am biased - I will keep developing and use Jim's PHP script to produce the YoWindow XML file... Why, because I do not have to 'touch' my reliably running Weather Display software. Although Weather Display produces about a thousand bits of weather data every minutes, I will need PHP to create a good number of the values required by YoWindow... And it is a lot easier to edit and modify a PHP script as I do not need to stop at any time my weather software - I just upload the modified PHP script to my Web server and that is it.
Also, by having the PHP script on my Web server, I can make that information available to anyone installing and running YoWindow in my area - and I am sure that the weather information provided by my online PHP script and obtained from my weather station will be more accurate than the weather information provided by the locally available METARs (that I have asked you to replace with more reliable ones).
One thing that I just realize: When a plain text file, it has to be continually processed by the weather software in order to update the weather values - with a PHP script, this is not the case as the weather values are only updated when a user (such as a YoWindow program) requires an update.