A JISC-funded Managing Research Data project

Posts tagged release

Our aim is to release a new version of Orbital every month until the end of the year. Yesterday, we released version 0.3, which, as well as many small improvements and bug fixes,  improves the handling of dynamic datasets and begins work on implementing and integrating ownCloud with Orbital. Here’s the changelog.

  • Improvements to project activity timelines:
    • Public/private modes
    • Calendar events
  • Improvements to filetype handling and file uploads
  • Improvements to file management, collections and private/public modes
  • Dynamic datasets:
    • A working query builder
    • Queries can be saved and re-run against data
    • CSV output of data for use by external tools e.g. Matlab
  • Working Datasets:
    • Preparation for ownCloud integration (integration with Lincoln SSO, evaluation of product, contact with developers)

The plan for version 0.4 is full ownCloud integration with Orbital via the respective APIs, which will provide the first part of the overall Orbital workflow: ‘Working Data’ -> ‘Dynamic Data’ -> Archive Files. During two weeks in August we’ll also be setting up our own private in-house cloud using OpenStack and moving Orbital in-house from Rackspace.

Today, we released Orbital v0.2, about a month after our v0.1 release. As per the roadmap, Nick and Harry have made good progress on project activity data, user role management, dynamic datasets and, based on user feedback, we’ve added the ability to organise data into collections. You can read the high-level change log or trawl through the project tracker, if you feel inclined. Paul has also made some notes with screenshots on some of the new features.

You’ll notice that there are now APIs for loading data into Orbital’s MongoDB store and querying it, too. This is now in use on a daily basis, retrieving turbine data from Siemens, loading it into Orbital and then running queries on it. It’s very fast. I might add that updates to the data are being versioned, too, so a researcher can query data as it was stored in the past. There’s much more to be done to make Orbital a versatile platform for data analysis during the research process, but the groundwork is in place.

As we identified in our Implementation Plan, we see a workflow whereby data can be selected from a project workspace (e.g. a network drive), loaded into the dynamic datastore, analysed, and then eventually selected for archiving alongside published research papers.

The Orbital project team met today (24 May 2012) and agreed the following:

  • Documentation
  • User documentation will focus on the “why”s of Research Data Management, rather than being a point-and-click guide to the Orbital UI (which should not require detailed explanations).
  • JW will create a changelog (human readable text file) for each major release of Orbital, so that documentation for each feature is review if that feature is updated.
  • PS will lead on writing documentation (as HTML pages, stored in the GitHub repository), with documentation for release v0.N completed and available by the launch of v0.N+1
  • PS will email colleagues from the Library and Research/Enterprise for assistance on writing documentation.
  • Training
  • JW will invite Melanie Bullock and David Sheppard on to the Orbital working group. He is meeting Annalisa Jones to discuss RDM training for staff.
  • Releases/development
  • Orbital v0.1.1 (including bug fixes) met all of the initial ‘minimum viable product‘ requirements specified by Dr Tom Duckett, and also includes the basics of project administration.
  • v0.2 will include improvements to the file upload/management, project management, and license management interfaces, as well as clearer distinction between language files and operating code.
  • NJ demoed the current version of Orbital to Siemens staff. He now has access to Siemens machine data for testing within Orbital.
  • The group discussed the LNCD plans for internal servers/private cloud, and about the disk space requirements and costs.
  • Integration
  • The current version of the DMPOnline tool has been installed on a test server. The group discussed our approach to integration between external tools/software (such as DMPOnline, R, Gephi) and Orbital.
  • NJ is going to email Adrian Richardson at the DCC to ask when the DMPOnline APIs will become available.
  • RDM policy
  • JW presented the draft policy to the University RIEC committee. The committee have been asked to send comments to Joss. (One comment at the committee meeting was that our having a policy too geared around the requirements of the Research Councils may not be appropriate for Lincoln, which generates a lot of non-RC income. However it was noted that the good practice specified by the RCs is good practice for management of all research data, whatever the funding source.)
  • Conferences and meetings
  • The group discussed the recent DAF survey which we conducted at the University of Lincoln.
  • JW will convene a sub-group to consider the responses in detail, and plan follow-up interviews.
  • Business case
  • JW is currently gathering costs for long-term data storage. This will form the first strand of the Orbital business case, which will be presented to University SMT (along with the agreed RDM policy) in September 2012.

Orbital v0.1 was released on 16 May 2012. Every two weeks, staff working on Orbital meet with Dr Bingo Wing-Kuen Ling and Dr Chunmei Qing to discuss their research and RDM practice. Until now these meetings have been all about requirements-gathering – today was the first opportunity for some real, hands-on user testing with the alpha release of Orbital.

The notes below have been turned into tasks on the Orbital project Pivotal Tracker site.

BL = Bingo Wing-Kuen Ling.

  1. BL successfully viewed Orbital v0.1 in Internet Explorer 7 on the UoL corporate desktop and was able to sign in and grant access to the application using his UoL credentials. BL was able to create and describe a new project.
  2. BL tried to upload a file from his desktop to Orbital using IE7 and received an error (this is a known bug with Orbital in Internet Explorer). He was then unable to delete this file.
  3. Switching to Firefox, BL uploaded multiple files from his desktop to his project in Orbital (it wasn’t clear from the page that this was possible). This completed successfully: but because the files sizes were small, he did not receive any feedback on his upload.
  4. Returning to the original file upload screen, BL had to manually refresh the page to view the changes made (files uploaded). Files scheduled for processing are marked as ‘queued’ however this status does not update automatically without refreshing.
  5. Joss Winn demonstrated the file and project metadata pages, citable URLs for files, and Google Analytics on projects. The display of file metadata needs to be more complete, and G.A. needs a better explanation and links to sources of help.
  6. The group discussed BL’s requirements around project calendars/timelines. BL wants to be able to view project events (meetings, deadlines, etc.) for each project (but not aggregated) and is not particularly concerned about notifications on activity/changes to files. The group discussed this and will explore ways of presenting timelines made up of three sorts of events (project events, activity stream, and comments) with each type of event suppressible in the timeline. A timeline overview will be displayed on the Orbital ‘front page’ once a user has logged in.
  7. BL also would like to be able to organise project and data files in all Orbital workspaces using folders/tags, and to allow bundled file download by organising files into collections.

You can read about Orbital v0.1 in this blog post, and about the roadmap for development and release of future versions, here.