Next Previous Up Contents
Next: Table I/O
Up: Apparent Table
Previous: Row Order

3.3 Column Set

When each table is imported it has a list of columns. Each column has header information which determines the kind of data which can fill the cells of that column as well as a name, and maybe some additional information like units and Unified Content Descriptor. All this information can be viewed, and in some cases modified, in the Columns Window.

During the lifetime of the table within TOPCAT, this list of columns can be changed by adding new columns, hiding (and perhaps subsequently revealing) existing columns, and changing their order. The current state of which columns are present and visible and what order they are in is collectively known as the Column Set, and affects the Apparent Table. The current Column Set is always reflected in the columns displayed in the Data Window and Statistics Window. The Columns Window shows all the known columns, including hidden ones; whether they are currently visible is indicated by the checkbox in the Visible column. By default, the Columns Window and Statistics Window also reflect the current column set order, though there are options to change this view.

You can affect the current Column Set in the following ways:

Hide/Reveal columns
In the Columns Window you can toggle columns between hidden and visible by clicking on their checkbox in the Visible column. To make a group of columns hidden or visible at once, select the corresponding rows (drag the mouse over them to select a contiguous group; hold the Control button down to add more single rows or contiguous groups to the selection) and hit the Hide Selected () or Reveal Selected () button in the toolbar or menu. Note when selecting rows, don't drag the mouse over the Visible column, do it somewhere in the middle of the table. The Hide All () and Reveal All () buttons set all columns in the table invisible or visible - a useful convenience if you've got a very wide table.

You can also hide a column by right-clicking on it in the Data Window, which brings up a popup menu - select the Hide option. To make it visible again you have to go to the Columns Window as above.

Move Columns
In the Data Window you can move columns around by dragging the grey column header left or right to a new position (as usual in a JTable). Alternatively, you can drag the rows in the Columns Window by grabbing the grey row header (numbered cell at the left) and dragging it up or down (though note that may not work if the JTable is currently sorted). Either of these affects the Column Set, as you can see by looking at one window while moving columns in the other.
Add Columns
You can use the New Synthetic Column () or New Sky Coordinate Columns () buttons in the Columns Window or the (right-click) popup menu in the Data Window to add new columns derived from exsiting ones.
Replace a Column
If a column is selected in the Columns Window or from the Data Window popup menu you can use the Replace Column with Synthetic () button. This is similar to the Add a Synthetic Column described in the previous item, but it pops up a new column dialogue with similar characteristics (name, units etc) to those of the column that's being replaced, and when completed it slots the new column in to the table hiding the old one.
Add a Subset Column
If you have defined a Row Subset somehow and you want it to appear explicitly in the table (for instance so that when you write the table out the selection is saved) you can select that subset in the Subsets Window and use the To Column () button, which will add a new boolean column to the table with the value true for rows part of that subset and false for the other rows.

Next Previous Up Contents
Next: Table I/O
Up: Apparent Table
Previous: Row Order

TOPCAT - Tool for OPerations on Catalogues And Tables
Starlink User Note253
TOPCAT web page:
Author email:
Mailing list: