Public Lab Wiki documentation

plots2: the Public Lab 2.0 website

This is a revision from November 14, 2012 01:31. View all revisions
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Planning and information page for a proposed complete rewrite of the Public Lab website on a new platform, with a whole new look. This project, called "plots2", is specifically intended to address many issues with the current website, which we've outgrown in many ways. The new website should:

  • boast more usable, friendly, but also more powerful interfaces
  • simplify and refine common tasks like posting research notes and filtering spam
  • enable faster development (based on Ruby on Rails and Twitter's Bootstrap frameworks)
  • completely revise and streamline "following" other contributors or specific keywords, with email alerts
  • work on tablets, smartphones, and in recent versions of Internet Explorer

However, in order to minimize disruption to your use of, and to build on user feedback and input as we go, we're going to be launching an "alpha" website, first. You can browse this site now at:

The alpha website will continue to retain many of the same URL paths as the existing site -- the idea is that you should be able to add "alpha." at the front of any URL from the existing site and see the "new" version. We'll add a "switch over" button soon to maket this easy.


(also see the gallery at the bottom of this page)


We won't be able to do this all at once, and initially almost all of the features will be "read-only" -- you'll still have to use the "old" site to post notes, comments, and edit wiki pages. Slowly, we'll build the site out and add working author interfaces.

Note that due to the unpredictability of the design process, this is just a proposed schedule. We may make faster or slower progress!

Nov-Dec 2012

  • review of web survey and additional brainstorming & refinement of plan
  • build out of read-only site
  • variations on sidebar design, different navigation paradigms, advanced search and site-wide look & feel
  • archive display and interface design
  • pilot log-in system
  • spam filtration interface

Jan-Feb 2013

  • subscription management and test email system
  • drag & drop file upload testing
  • integration of Google Groups
  • commenting tests

Mar-Apr 2013

  • initial tests of research note and wiki posting
  • registration testing
  • staged "helpful hints" system
  • SpectralWorkbench and MapKnitter integration with post templates
  • probable Beta site launch for wider public testing

Apr-May 2013

  • beta testing, bug fixing, final feature adds
  • heavy push for "trying the new version" through alerts on old site
  • reviewing feedback and if all goes well, switching over to the new site

Alpha tester group

We're specifically asking the more adventuresome and patient of you all to volunteer to join the "alpha user group". We'll be asking folks in this group to:

  • subscribe to an "plots-alpha" Google Group to be part of ongoing discussion and brainstorming
  • respond to occasional requests for input, such as jotting down your thoughts on a new page design or process
  • check how specific pages render in specific browsers & devices, and upload screenshots
  • try out new interfaces and provide constructive criticism

This is a longer-term project, probably of some months, and we'll try to keep these sorts of requests to once per week or so at a maximum. The benefit of joining the alpha user group is that you'll have a greater say in how the new Public Lab site is designed and implemented -- so if you're opinionated about or dissatisfied with the current site, please join!

Read more about the alpha testing program and sign up

Thanks for your patience with the current site and here's looking forward to a newly refreshed website!


Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: place pages

Place page sidebars with list subscription & upcoming events

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: autocomplete search

Autocomplete search, sorted by type

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: like/follow

Like/follow buttons on most content

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: note posting

Completely new simplified authoring forms with preview and easy formatting

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: spam moderation

Fast and easy spam moderation

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: wiki sidebar

Recent contributors on a given topic

Public Lab 2.0 website relaunch previews: subscriptions

Integrated subscription management