Because good research needs good data

DMPonline: up, up and away

Sarah Jones | 19 December 2018
Image: Blue sky CC-BY by Brendan Humphreys
It seems fitting to write this as I take the train to Maastricht to visit our third DMPonline customer. This time last year we were putting the finishing touches to the new deployment of DMPMaastricht. A lot has happened in the intervening 12 months.
Early 2018 was busy finalising and testing the new DMPRoadmap codebase. This was the culmination of 18 months hard graft with our partners at UC3 at the California Digital Library. Neither of us had expected such a long process when we agreed to combine the strengths of each of our tools in a single codebase, but our commitment to a community-led, open source DMP solution was borne out. At IDCC in February in Barcelona, Sam, Diana and I unveiled the new and improved DMPonline. This was a significant milestone for us and for all the other services using our codebase such as DMP OPIDoR in France, DMP Assistant in Canada, DMPonline.deic in Denmark and PGD Recerca in Spain  
We continued to have a number of staffing changes throughout 2018, particularly to the development team. Jimmy Angelakos of EDINA who had led the database redesign left to be a platform architect at Solar Winds and Jose Lloret who did much of the front end moved his young family to Spain, taking on a more senior Ruby role developing better online payment solutions with Flywire. John Pinto and Colin Gormley joined us on the EDINA end, and we’ve also been working with a contractor who’s an expert in Ruby-on-Rails (more on that later). I’m delighted that the team is growing on the support side too. In January we will be joined by Magdalena Drafiova. Magdalena has been working at the Urban Big Data Centre and will be supporting me and Diana to help you. The extra effort will ensure we can deal with growing demand, answer helpdesk enquiries more promptly, and restart the user group sessions to ensure your needs are fed into our service plans.
The other major change has been the introduction of charges for those who want to customise DMPonline. The introduction of subscription fees has been on the cards since core Jisc funding for the service ended in 2016, but we chose to apply the charges to the admin interface so unis could continue to use the service in some form, irrespective of the ability to subscribe. The service continues to be free for end users so you can still direct researchers to it and use the guidance and templates in training.
Our initial three overseas clients (DMPTuuli, DMPMelbourne and DMPMaastricht) have helped us to develop a viable business model. We’re hugely grateful to them for their faith in the service and patience as we learned the ropes and pushed out major code changes this year. The supportive response we have had from UK unis has been similarly gratifying. We realise it’s a big step to make a business case and start paying for a service that you’re used to getting for free. We also recognise that we should have given more notice and consulted more broadly, as the changes came as a surprise to many. Apologies for that. I’m delighted to say that we have gone from 3 to 23 customers in a few short months, and your support makes the future of the DMPonline service secure. Thank you!
There are more changes to come in terms of our service delivery in the New Year. The contractor I mentioned earlier was brought in to help us deploy DMPonline as a multi-tenant service. This allows us to have multiple custom front ends and URLs running off the same underlying database so you get the benefits of sharing plans across domains, but still have your own identity. Gavin will be returning to us in the New Year to do the second phase of work. This will group and filter content so we can ensure your users (be those in the UK, Netherlands or elsewhere) will only see relevant organisations, funders, templates and guidance for them. We hope to do more beyond this too. When Mari-Elisa from DMPTuuli visited last week it transpired that they need a better system for translating content (templates and guidance) too, not just the main UI. This is something we also want to tackle in 2019.
We’re really excited to see what the New Year brings. With a growing team you’ll be seeing much more of us out and about. We’re planning training courses in the UK and Netherlands in Spring (dates to be announced), more user group sessions, and long overdue marketing materials. Please send us your ideas for laptop stickers and conference swag you would like to help promote DMPonline at local events.
Wishing you all a fabulous festive break and a DMP-filled 2019
All at DMPonline and the DCC
Image: DCC xmas 2018 CC-BY by Alex Delipalta