Note that the activation action framework has changed considerably at TOPCAT v4.6. It is now much more flexible than in previous versions.
As well as seeing the overview of table data provided by a plot or statistics summary, it is often necessary to focus on a particular row of the table, which according to the nature of the table may represent an astronomical object, an event or some other entity. In the Data Window a table row is simply a row of the displayed JTable, and in a scatter plot it corresponds to one plotted point.
If you click on a plotted point in one of the graphics windows, or on a row in the Data Window (or in a few other circumstances - see below) the corresponding table row will be activated. When a row is activated, four things happen:
The fourth item is much more flexible. By using the Activation Window, you can set up one or several configurable events to take place on row activation. Examples include things like viewing a cutout image near the activated row's sky position or sending the sky position to an external all-sky viewer so that it displays that region of the sky. So for instance having spotted an interesting point in a plot of a galaxy catalogue you can click on it, and immediately see an observed image to identify its morphological type. Other options include communicating with external applications using SAMP for each activated row, for instance asking an image viewer such as DS9 to load an image in a table ImageURL column. All the options, along with details of how to configure them, are listed in Appendix A.10.1. Since v4.6-1, all the defined Activation Actions are saved when you save the session (though not if you just save the table).
If none of these options fits your particular requirements,
there are various ways to implement custom behaviour.
One is to invoke some kind of external program such as a
shell script, and pass parameters to it based on row values;
this can be done using the
Run system command option.
You can also execute custom code in TOPCAT's
using the Execute code option
using some activation functions
specially provided to perform useful actions
(e.g. image display) rather than just return results.
Finally, advanced users can supply their own activation functions
for use with the Execute Code option,
or can implement their own activation actions
and plug them in at runtime using the
A row can be activated in the following circumstances: