Public Lab Research note

Rich Profile Pages on - GSoC 2016

by Franktank | March 10, 2016 04:48 10 Mar 04:48 | #12824 | #12824

Name: Franky Liang

Affiliation (school/degree): University of Florida, Bachelor of Science Computer Science

Location (where you are):Gainesville


Phone: (if you prefer not to post it here, please email it to with a link to your application.)

Project(s) you're working on or want to, i.e. Spectral Workbench or MapKnitter:

Project title : Improving user experience on public lab through implementation of profile tags

Project description

Abstract/summary (<20 words): Improve organization of PublicLab through implementation of profile tags.

Describe the need your project fulfills: Implementing this feature allows users to tag profiles which is a highly requested feature.Also, writing test code will allow for refactoring of the application for more modern gem versions.

How will your project meet this need: Adding profile tags is a largely desired request on PublicLab.It will also help improve searching and sorting implementations. Also, I will be focused on implementing user stories through TDD. I will write RSpec tests before developing features so future technical contributors to Public Lab will be able to refactor code with much ease. The test code will also help me refactor the application as necessary for upgrading gem version.


April 22nd - May 22nd Become accustomed to codebase of plots2 Connect with the community to see input on desired tags and features Get to know my mentors and other contributors for GSoC in order to better communicate over the summer

May 23rd - June 5th Begin by writing RSpec tests for features that rely on gem versions Refactor code to allow for dependence on newer gem versions

June 6th - June 19th Create profile_tag model and add to schema Write tests for the profile tagging forms Develop forms -> specs for form will be determined during community bonding time period

June 20th - July 3rd Set restrictions on tags based on role of user Add icons for users of different roles -> will get input from the community

July 4th - July 17th Add methods to drupal_node.rb Implement map and try other ways of acquiring user locations -> GoogleMaps API, geocoder, etc

July 18th - July 31st Improve interface of forms, maps page, etc

August 1 - August 15 Optimize code and ensure it does not break through refactoring based on tests

May 23 - June 20 (Mid-term) Write test code for major functionalities that rely on gems Refactor code after updating gem versions Create profile_tag model and add to schema Profile tagging form for users Location,role,topic,gear,skill, etc Set restrictions on certain tags based on role of user Admin, etc June 20 - August 23(Final week) Some user stories from before mid-term may roll over Add icons for users of different roles Implement better map and way of acquiring location GoogleMaps API Play with display of barnstars Use Angular/React to work on improving interface of application Improve navigability of website

 My initial plan of action is to write RSpec test code for all major functionalities of Public Lab. This will allow me to refactor code for upgrading gem versions and dependencies. Then I will work on implementing profile tags. I will implement all the listed user stories on for Rich profile pages, and as I develop out the features, I will think of more ways to tag profiles for better organization of data. A good idea might also be to implement GoogleMaps API for maps and locations. After finishing the profile tags I will work on styling the application for a more pleasurable interface through AngularJS or ReactJS.

What broader goal is your project working towards? Making Public Lab more friendly for users, technical or non-technical.

What resources will you need: people, documentation, literature, sample data, hardware if applicable: Documentation on common tags that people would use. If more sample data is needed, I will work on improving the seeds.rb file. Assistance reviewing RSpec test code to ensure desired functionalities are accounted for. -> powertagging && -> barnstars -> user.has_tag() -> map, can use GoogleMaps API to improve? -> refactor code for better form implementation and add styling to css files Reference searching and sorting to see how I can develop the profile tags to assist in optimization of functions - Additional sorts - Tags and pagination - Autocompletion - Optimize search - Power tag


Describe your technical background; what languages you use, what projects you've contributed to before, links to GitHub or other code repositories or samples I have experience developing with Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Swift, sample work can be seen on my Github at


Describe teams you've worked with before, whether open or closed source, and in what capacity you participated. Cite examples of how you were self-motivated and self-sufficient. I am working on a web development team at a local startup in Gainesville. I contribute about 10-15 hours a week. I participate by doing current tasks needed on our pivotal tracker. I have worked on developing the backend with Rails and cleaning up the front end with HTML/CSS/JS. Through this, I have gained a lot of experience writing test code as well. Also, I am on an iOS mobile development team of 3 people. We are currently building a carpool application. We divide the features of the application and then push branches to GitHub to merge. With each feature, we have to figure out how to implement it by ourselves. Whether it is implementing calls to Parse or using Google API for location requests, I do a lot of searching to find out how to get the features to work properly.


Would you describe yourself as especially good at or interested in some aspect of coding or problem solving, or open source science? Provide examples and links. Are you particularly suited to this proposed project? I am interested in applications development using Rails, example projects can be seen on my GitHub. I have worked on implementing some features that are desired for Public Lab already.


Do you have prior interest in or work towards open science or environmental justice goals?

 I have prior interest in environmental justice but I have not actively pursued this interest. 


Whom will your work serve? Lay users, other programmers, non-technical people or nerds? While exploring advanced techniques is great, we especially appreciate proposals which make technologies and techniques more legible and user-friendly to non-technical users.

 My work will serve all users of Public Lab. Making the website more organized and friendly will lead to a better experience for non-technical users and technical users.


What motivates you to do the proposed work? Do you also have coursework or degree related reasons for pursuing it? This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing - if you are for example looking to explore work related to a thesis topic.

 I am interested in contributing to open source projects using Ruby on Rails. I enjoy developing applications using RoR in my free time. I would like to use my experience with Rails to further assist projects such as Public Lab. Public Lab interests me because it connects communities together to bring awareness of environmental justice. 

Ongoing involvement

Explain how you intend to continue being an active member of your project and/or Public Laboratory AFTER the summer is over.

 I plan on being an active member by periodically maintain the source code of Public Lab. I plan on being a mentor for others interested in contributing to Public Lab by guiding them through my own experiences. I also intend to seek out further feature requests to implement in order to continue the development of Public Lab.


Do you understand this is a serious commitment, equivalent to a full-time paid summer internship or summer job?

 Yes. I intend to contribute atleast 40 hours a week to Public Lab.


Hi, Franky - great to read your proposal and I've added it as a response to this page:

If you could go in and **bold** your headings, or use ### Markdown headings for readability (see formatting tips), that'd be great. I cleaned up the template page in case that helps your formatting.

Also, best keep "through enhancing searching and sorting" in the title or it may sound too vague at first glance.

It sounds like you're referencing work from the Rich Profiles, Q&A, and Search and sorting ideas. This is all right, but if other students apply with more of a focus on one of those, you may want to narrow your scope and build out ideas in more detail that are focused on just one of those three. Your work plan indicates an initial project in profile tagging, so maybe that'd be the one? Anyhow, we'll have to see what other students post.

+1 for your responses on working with non-technical users and your interest in environmental justice.

Thanks, this is looking good!

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Also, Franky - have you forked or installed the plots2 codebase, for example using, and can you add links to your fork and dev environment (if it's a cloud env)?


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Hi Jeff,

I am referencing work from multiple ideas because I feel 3 months is a lot of time to get stories accomplished. I will work on adding more details to my proposal. Also, I have Rails setup locally on my computer and I have forked plots2 to my GitHub (

Thanks, Franky

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Excellent on all counts; thanks for your update. I agree 3 months is a lot of time, but let me suggest that the search system as a whole needs an overhaul; searching in plots2 is currently quite inefficient, not to mention fragmented between three different controller methods:

Search could/should use a search library, too, like... ferret, maybe? I'm not up to speed on the latest Rails search stuff.

Search can currently happen on the header box, the page and -- and searching for users, or by node type, or by multiple tags, are not possible.

Also there are a variety of search-related issues open:

So, for now, I think the proposal is fine. But if other students post proposals covering some of the other topics on the Ideas list that you've included here, there's plenty of other important work in the searching/sorting space to dive into. On the other hand, if there are no overlapping proposals, then your current plan sounds super!

Thanks again!

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Okay awesome, thanks for the feedback. I do think there is a lot to work on for searching and sorting, so if there are are overlapping proposals, I can definitely focus in on improving search/sort.

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Also, would it be a good idea to work on updating the versions of gems to match more current ones?

Elastic search is something interesting that could be implemented if use of available Ruby resources is desired.

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Hi, Franktank - yes, updating the gem versions would be great, but if you wanted to do that, I think we should build out the test suite more so that we can be better assured that we aren't breaking anything. So if you'd like to add that to your project, perhaps that makes a nice pairing with the Profile Tags system.

Since there are proposals now up for Search/Sorting and for the Q&A system, perhaps you should rename yours "Profile tagging" or "Rich Profiles" to indicate that this would be your main focus (as you've outlined in your work plan). That'll also encourage other applicants to focus on other areas and overlap less.

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Okay I edited my proposal to focus more on profile tags, and I agree, I added writing RSpec tests for major functionalities of the applications as part of my proposal.

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Hello! Just a suggestion, I recently came across Ember.js, and I found it more cool and intuitive than Angular or React. Do look into that!


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Hi, @franktank -- some other students have gone through some small bug fixes to demonstrate that they're comfortable with the Contributor Guidelines and with creating and working with pull requests. Actually contributing before the program starts is of course not necessary, but it's nice to know people have read the docs and are prepared to issue pull requests. Perhaps if you did so for a very small change, just to demonstrate that you're comfortable with the process, that'd be helpful to us to know. Thanks!

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Sure @warren, I will work on pushing something up this week.

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