Have you attended an online call with Public Lab? We'd love your feedback!


The Public Lab Blog


stories from the Public Lab community

About the blog | Research | Methods



MapKnitter UI evaluation 2: Mapping Nottingham's Urban Greening

by molangmuir10 | 7 months ago | 3 | -1

https://publiclab.org/notes/molangmuir10/05-13-2019/mapping-nottingham-s-urban-greening-growing-spaces
https://mapknitter.org/embed/mapping-nottingham-s-urban-greening--3

Since my first evaluation post (https://publiclab.org/notes/molangmuir10/06-10-2019/mapknitter-ui-evaluation) I have encountered some different additional user interface experiences...

As with anything, mapknitter gets quicker and easier the more you use it!

I have made a screen recording video to highlight some of my key experiences and issues when using Mapknitter...

Summary of key issues from the video...

  • Not being able to reduce the size of the image beyond a certain point is frustrating and means I have to re-upload the image.
  • It would be more efficient if you could re-place a previously uploaded image.
  • Occasionally, a white blank space appears at the bottom of the screen (I could be doing something without realising?) This reduces the view area so can be annoying. It also means the zoom too for the map disappears.
  • Using the rotate tool can cause the image to skew slightly
  • When zooming out and then in on skew mode the line jogs. It seems like it is moving, although it doesn't actually move the border. This could be misleading/confusing.
  • The blue square came off one corner so it was uncalibrated. This happened a few times.
  • Red outline would appear at random - sometimes when transparency toggled and sometimes not
  • Download and help links did not work -- how can I download my map?

As well as the screen recording here are some general points from using mapknitter...

  • Sometimes it is hard to move the photo to the EXACT point on which you want it. If you could click the photo and use arrow keys to move the selected photo this could help with the accuracy. At the moment pressing the arrow keys moves the whole map. This is also a good feature. Keep this but add a way of clicking on the photo which selects it so you can then use arrow keys to move accurately.

  • It would be good to have a photo cropper -- some of my images had one bit that was off/blurred but the rest of the image useable. I know this can be done by cropping the original file and reuploading, but it would be much quicker if you could do this in situ.

  • It would be nice to have a save button. Feels scary closing the window without knowing what's happened!

  • I also was thinking if it were possible to make an off-line extension? Particularly for remote research areas or 'on-the-go'.

  • Uploading map through to Publiclab's page was straightforward

Read more Follow

balloon-mapping mapknitter community mapping


Second Blog: My work for outreachy

by lekhidugtal | 7 months ago | 2 | 2

Last month, I started my Outreachy journey with publiclab. It's been a great learning experience so far. Today, I'll be telling more about what tasks did I accomplish in the complete month.

So once again who am I ? Hey everyone, This is Lekhika Dugtal. An undergrad student at IIITA and currently an outreachy intern at Publiclab.

I'll be explaining What and How I worked for my project under Outreachy.

What's my Outreachy Project ? My main focus for Outreachy intern project is based on UI Redesign of plots2, which is public lab's main knowledge exchange platform based on ruby on rails. All the work is done collaboratively by me and other contributors of the project.

We have divided the project of outreachy into various parts on the basis of sections. As the project is knowledge exchange platform, So the various sections include ---

1. Dashboard section

2. Profile section

3. Tags section

4. Individual tags section

5. Question section

6. People section

7. Search Section etc.

In the last one month of outreachy, we have finished the following sections --- People, Question, Tags sections and the work on other sections is going on.

People Section ( Completed)

image description

Older UI

image description

New UI

The people section is list of all people registered in the platform. It gives a brief detail of when has person recently contributed in platform. And how much time ago, that person has joined the platform. Earlier the UI was a a simple table and list of people being shown in the form of rows. As per the style guide, the new design was card design. Cards are a convenient means of displaying content composed of different types of objects. And considering we have to show various similar objects whose size or supported actions can vary considerably, like profile photos or information of user. It was a good design and method.

Tag Section ( Completed)

image description

Older UI

image description

New UI

The New Tag section was a card based design. We followed Bootstrap4for it. The cards need to show all the recent Notes based on that tag along with author. It showed that how many people are discussing over that tag and much more information. There was a small section featuring popular tags. A second column of the page showed a stats graph showing the link that how often some tags are used with each other.

Questions Section ( Ongoing)

image description

Current UI

image description

New UI on shadow interface

For this section, we tried something new called testing on shadow page before pushing the code over actual production code. The New design was page on shadow interface with different route and was implemented side by side instead of directly replacing the older code. Later we can try out testing with users regarding the new designs. There can be self-tests or other stuff facilitated in real-time by a designer. New design which has been implemented right now in shadow interface

Individual Tags section (Ongoing)

image description

Current UI

image description

New UI which is being worked on

The Individual section had many bugs and breaks due to recent bootstrap4 upgrade for whole platform. Thus we decided to directly implement the New design over older one rather than testing it before on shadow interface.

Searchbar and Search Results Section (Ongoing)

image description

Current UI

image description

New UI which is being worked on

This part could be considered as huge section consisting of various new features. Feature like Google Custom Search is supposed to be added beside the already existing intra-search queries for enhancements and betterment of search results. The features results for search terms and related tags in the top of the search results will be implemented. This New Design is a step towards better display of search results.

The sections left are Dashboard and Profile Section. Both the section consist of huge information and massive change in Design. Thus they were left for later part of timeline of intern.

This work has been done under an awesome collaboration. All the section were divided further into smaller parts and those parts were resolved in form of Patches or Pull Requests.

I did came across problems and breaks. But there always been mentors and other participants forward for help in resolving it.

The team is amazing and support from mentors and reviewing team is immense. It's great to be a part of such amazing team.

Thanks for giving it a read ❤.

Read more Follow

design blog soc ui


How to Use a Transect, illustrated by Sara Sage

by joyofsoy | 7 months ago | 1 | 1

This illustration by Sara Sage was featured in the centerfold in Public Lab's Community Science Forum, Issue 16.

image description

Read more Follow

blog transect graphic odor


Launching a Newcomers Welcome Call!

by stevie | 7 months ago | 0 | 3

Over the past couple years Public Lab has hosted a weekly Open Call every Tuesday. We started this call with the intent to share an open line for anyone who wanted to physically talk with people at Public Lab (by phoning in or connecting through video conference).

Open Call has served as a place for people seeking to do many things from get acquainted with Public Lab, and exploring how to get started, to hosting those who are workshopping new ideas, launching new projects, and exploring partnership opportunities. It has served as a spot for people to talk about everything from nuanced local environmental issues to big scale changes across geopolitical landscapes. It has even been a meeting grounds for people who ideating on ways the Public Lab website itself could be improved. This one Tuesday call slot has done a lot!

All this being said, we're adding something new! Starting next week, Public Lab is launching a Newcomers Welcome Call. This call will be hosted every Tuesday in the 15 minutes leading up to Open Call, on the same call in line.

We aim for this call to be a space for anyone who is new to Public Lab to get acquainted, and explore pathways for getting started with the Public Lab community. While we will still hold broader topic conversations on the Open Call time, the Newcomers Welcome Call will serve as a launch spot for anyone looking to get their proverbial boots wet with Public Lab!

image description

Read more Follow

organizing blog getting-started organizer


Introducing the MapKnitter: Community Atlas project

by warren | 8 months ago | 8 | 4

Some of you (especially in our coding community) have noticed the major increase in work on our MapKnitter map-making website over the past few months, and we wanted to take the opportunity today to announce that, with support from Google, we have launched a new pilot project to make it easier than ever for communities to build their own "community atlas." Using MapKnitter and the PublicLab.org platform, we'll be helping a new generation of community mappers to use kites and balloons to create their own "Community Atlases" with our open source tools, and to tell stories about local issues from environmental problems to community projects.

image description

Fellowships

As part of this project, we've launched a fellowship, and begun working with two mapping fellows with community-based balloon or kite mapping projects. These fellows, who you'll hear more from soon, will be doing some amazing community mapping work while also working with the Public Lab coding community throughout the map-making process, helping to identify how MapKnitter.org can better support the needs of mappers around the world.

MapKnitter overhaul

This pilot project involves a thorough reboot of the now-ten-year-old MapKnitter codebase, including major overhauls of the user interface, design, and back-end systems. We're also rebuilding our map exporting system (which long-time users will know is quite slow) on Google Cloud infrastructure, and developing a range of new open source utilities and libraries to make this possible. More on this soon!

We've assembled an amazing team of code fellows from our community to lead this work on what, given the pilot scope of the project, has been a very fast timeline. Sasha, Cess, Stefanni, Sidharth, Gaurav, Sagarpreet, and Varun, and many others have helped make this possible, including Pranshu, Kaustabh, Alax, Avkaran, and more. You can see some of the amazing activity on this project here: https://github.com/publiclab/mapknitter/pulse/monthly

We've also recently published an early update to the site, incorporating a range of fixes, updates, and improvements; check it out: https://mapknitter.org --- but this is only the beginning, so keep your ears open!

Summer of Code

Google also hosts the Google Summer of Code program, which we have participated in for six years, and who have supported 13 fellows this coming summer (as was just announced!). Over recent years, we've steadily refined a workflow that welcomes new code contributors as they get plugged into our community, and aims to support building skills incrementally and cooperatively---and Google has been a key supporter of these efforts. Learn more about our diversity and inclusivity efforts in coding by checking out our Software Contributor Survey results, posted recently.

Stay tuned for more on this project, from stories from our fellows to demos of our new MapKnitter systems!

Read more Follow

balloon-mapping kite-mapping grassrootsmapping mapknitter


My first blog post for outreachy

by lekhidugtal | 8 months ago | 2 | 2

Who am I ?

Hi, This is Lekhika Dugtal. I'm Pre-Final Year Student pursuing Bachelors in Technology at Information Technology and Masters of Business Administration In Indian Institute of Information technology, Allahabad. I belong to place called Dharma valley, but Now living in New Delhi, India.

My Journey

I was never been a opensource enthusiast. But I started first contributing in legit way in January 2019 in one of the opensource competition called Opencode. And Now I'm in love with it.

My First step for a contribution in a organisation was in coala where my contribution seemed minuscule thing called one line Adding Ascinema url.

It was documentation based newcomer Issue.

I did the silliest mistakes. But For me, it was a huge step towards the world of opensource. For a newcomer like me, This PR was left at it's own stake by me and though later I got to know, it somehow got merged which was surprising.

My journey was bumpy with earliest of my difficulties in rebase and understanding the new frameworks. But As I moved forwards. Believe me, It was beyond amazing.

I have always been curious about FOSS and programs like GSOC and Outreachy.

Here, I would be summing up some of my initial experiences and How I came across this program outreachy and participated in it.

So, What is Outreachy

image description

Outreachy (previously the Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women) is a program that organises three-month paid internships with free and open-source software projects for people who are typically underrepresented in those projects.

How I came across Outreachy and My application process

I was going through some internship programs to apply for in this summer. I came across Outreachy. I thought of giving it try. The application for eligibility was huge and it took bit of ideas and time to write. And After the two-day review process, I was labelled eligible to participated in outreachy. I applied late , So I started off one and more week late than others.

Perks Of Outreachy

  • You learn a lot? You can code, communicate as a part of community.
  • You can travel ? Outreachy provides you travel stipend of $500. You can attend Conferences , Hackathons, Meetups you like without any constraints. Woaaahhhhh !!!
  • Blogging ? You write blogs about the work done during internship and this helps one a lot in documenting projects, or provide guidance to other web users.

Choosing an Organisation

This was the most difficult step according to me. The program had huge list of organisation and projects. In the list, some percent of projects were announced. As I went through them, I realised that I guess I'm not made for it. I had no connection or similarity so ever with any of the project. The tech-stacks or ideas were so different from my Skills. I did came across one project of Mozilla for web-extension. I thought of contributing and went through bugzilla but there Mentors had suggested that it had many competitors and contributors for this project So they would like new ones to go for other projects. I was like boom, the only project I was somewhat connected to is full.

So maybe I should drop the idea of Outreachy ? But It soon came to end as In a week, Another percentage of projects were announced.

At that Time, I came across the organisation called Public Lab and it's project based on UI Improvements of Public Lab's main platform publiclab.org based on Ruby on Rails. The Public lab was planning revamp and redesigning the UI of platform as a whole. I felt that the project idea is so made for me. I immediately introduced myself in their chat channel to get myself for aware of projects ideas, work and community.

Public Lab Organisation as a community

Public Lab is a community for DIY environmental investigation. They especially welcome contributions from people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software! Believe me, The organisation is so welcoming that you'll feel overwhelmed. You not just have humans but even the welcoming bot to welcome you.
image description

See !!! Just follow and love opensource like us and you are welcome to our community. Tadaaa !!!

They highly encourage you towards your first contribution in Public Lab. They have specific first-timers issue to contribute where they provide complete steps of opensource contribution. The mentors are helpful, approachable and and and highly active and talented. The organisation had open-hours community sessions for everyone to join. Everyone was encouraged to share their ideas which will help in betterment. We had weekly check-ins where we are supposed to tell about our weeks goals. They are enthusiastic and friendly org tbh.

Public Lab witnessed more than 400 new contributors in it's one project

PS : The environment is freaking awesome.

My contribution for Outreachy with Public Lab

After I selected the project I wanted to contribute. I setup the project locally. The local setup took bit of time for me. As it was in ruby on rails and I've never used one before.

So, I started contributing with Issues based on UI. I tried to work on different sections of project to understand it better. I opened Issues, did fixes. And while on last day of submitting my final application, I listed down my contributions. After submitting the final application, I didn't stop but instead keep on contributing.

Now here I'm, working on the project UI Improvements of Public Lab under the program called Outreachy.

Thanks for giving it a read ❤
I shared it on Medium.
https://twitter.com/DugtalLekhika/status/1133401881949159424

You may visit and give it a clap.

Read more Follow

blog soc summer-of-code outreachy