DMPonline Development Progress

9 September, 2013

For the past few months we've been working away on an updated version of DMPonline. A review of the current version identified a number of issues that needed to be addressed. Chief among them was the DCC checklist that was presented to all users when completing a plan, the responses to which were mapped to the questions asked by funders, institutions etc. Instead we want to present users with the questions asked by the relevant bodies directly, while maintaining a mapping behind the scenes to allow us to deliver the appropriate guidance.

It quickly became apparent that the best way to proceed would be to completely rebuild DMPonline from the ground up, and that's what we've been doing. It's still a Ruby on Rails application and it's in a new Github repository that we've just made public. It's not quite ready for serious use yet, but things are progressing rapidly and we've deployed what we've got so far on our development server. We're focusing on the end-user experience i.e. the drafting of DMPs for the moment, rather than the administration functions, some of which are intended to be opened up to administrators from organisations with customised templates etc. Please take a look and give us your feedback, though do be aware that we can't give any guarantees that data stored in this development instance won't be lost.
 
Basic user registration and authentication is up and running, with components in place to implement Shibboleth authentication using institutional IDs and to incorporate ORCID IDs. Users can create projects by selecting a funder, an institution and indicating from which other parties they would like to see guidance e.g. publishers or professional bodies. These choices determine the template which will be used to create the DMPs and the guidance which will be provided to the user.
 
Measures have been implemented to allow multiple users to edit plans simultaneously, without conflicts and with awareness of the changes implemented by others. Various kinds of multiple-choice questions can be offered and rich-text editing allows responses to take the form of lists or tables. Questions can include suggested or outline answers to be edited or expanded on by the user. Additionally, institutions can attach alert messages to multiple-choice options to provide instant advice to the user when they choose that option.
 
There's quite a bit still to do, though. Focusing on the experience for users creating the plans, we'll soon be implementing email validation on registration, plan sharing and plan exports (simple file types at first, though PDF and Microsoft Word formats are to follow). We're looking to implement Shibboleth authentication in the next few weeks. We're also aware of a need to improve the performance of the plan editing page. The database currently contains templates based on the requirements of several UK funders, but there are a few more to be added.
 
We'll also be adding functionality to deposit plans via SWORD and an API to facilitate integration with institutional workflows, and we'll be sorting out an interface so that administrators from funders, institutions and other organisations can have direct control over their templates and guidance. 
 
We'll be updating the version on the development server regularly now, along with regular updates here. Stay tuned and please take a look at the development version (you'll need to register, even if you have an existing DMPonline account) and let us know what you think!

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