Personal/Open source

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The Problem

Virtually all academic scientists have a relatively simple website containing information about their labs. These sites typically include a list of lab members, ongoing projects, cool images or protocols that people might be looking for, a list of the lab’s publications. Labs are not commercial entities, and very few of these sites are professionally developed, and most are not updated frequently. The publications list is the most arduous part of the website to maintain by hand, because it changes frequently and because it requires reformatting complex bibliographic text into HTML. Nevertheless, any given scientist's publication info might be available at any number of publicly available, automatically updated locations.

My Role

Most lab websites are static sites, but a few are attached to blogs and built on CMS platforms such as WordPress. I began by creating a WordPress plugin which simply imported a list of publications from a third-party source, saved it to the database, and displayed it in response to shortcode. This allowed the user to create a publications list and display it wherever she wanted it on her website. It was designed such that a separate list could be created for each WordPress user, and a cron was included to make sure it stayed up-to-date with whatever source was being used. I called this plugin wp-impactpubs (or just ImpactPubs) because the major third-party source that I targeted is ImpactStory.