By Dr. Patrick Mann, CMC IT Director
Over the autumn we’ve introduced two new releases: v1.4.0 on Oct.24, and v1.5.0 on Dec.19. As usual a number of bug fixes and upgrades, but we’ve also introduced some new functionality and data visualizations.
Log in with Google
A major new function is the ability to log in using a Google account. This has become a standard practice in the industry, and I’ve found it to be most useful with the very large number of accounts I have out there in the “cloud”. The idea is that many of us are already logged on to one of the Google applications (GMail, Drive, …), so we would like other services to check with Google for authentication rather than asking us for an account id and password. You’ll see a “Login with Google” button at the bottom of the Commons log in pane. The first time you hit the button you will be asked to allow Google authentication, but after that the system will check with Google, and log you in immediately.
We have many Canadian members with NSERC accounts so we took the opportunity to simplify the member profiles (a known issue) and add NSERC discipline fields. The updated profile has spaces for your NSERC keywords, and we’ve added those to the usual search function. We’ve also generally refined the Search display. As more pages and resources are created the search function becomes more critical, and we do quite a few optimizations and refinements. You’ll notice a new compact and grouped display with “Members” and “Groups” at the top. Those seemed to be the most popular searches. Also we’ve added a couple of simple switches to change the results ordering.
Edistorm debugged and integrated
The Edistorm module has been integrated and debugged. We had some issues with user authentication as this is the first external “cloud” application that we’ve integrated into the Commons. It is an online version of the familiar “yellow-stickies on the board” planning approach which allows members to write their suggestions and paste the stickies to a virtual whiteboard. This can be done synchronously, or as members come online. And of course the results are stored and can be dumped, for instance, as a spreadsheet. We’ve got a Commons license so any of our members can start a “storm” (the Edistorm name for a planning session).
We’ve also attached Edistorm to groups. So a member of a group can start a “Group Storm” just be hitting the Edistorm button on the usual left-side group menu. Group members will be invited to join the Storm.
New data sets added to visualization apps
New data sets continued to be integrated into our data visualization apps. Currently we’re grabbing whatever data seems easiest to get at (and free). Examples include Carbon Management Canada’s funded projects and networks of centres of excellence displayed on a Google map, and an interface to the NATCARB US data viewer. Get in touch with us if you’ve got a favorite dataset that you think others might want to have a look at. We’ve got some expertise in these kinds of simple, direct visualizations.
One more utility we’ve added is an application pane with shortcuts to your favorite apps, groups, discussions, etc. Members can for instance, be in many groups so you can now add your more important groups to the pane. Most resources now have a “Shortcut” button which will add the group to the pane.
As usual give me a call if you have any suggestions or comments, and a quick reminder that IPAC-CO2 does have computing resources (128 core cluster) available if you’re interested.