Major Dataverse Release Coming Soon (Goodbye 3.6.x; Hello 4.0!)

Thanks to the invaluable feedback received from several rounds of user testing1, this spring will mark a new chapter in the Dataverse Network Project with the unveiling of the much anticipated Dataverse version 4.0. We will be taking this opportunity to redesign our User Interface and rewrite our code2 from the ground up. Presented below is a high-level overview of what to expect when 4.0 ships. Please note that this information is subject to change.

1. Major User Interface Redesign with Simpler Workflows
Through user feedback, brainstorming sessions, and lots of sketching and prototyping, the Dataverse team has designed a streamlined user experience that allows a user to find or add data more easily than in previous versions. This effort has resulted in the design and implementation of simpler workflows for creating an account, creating a Dataverse, adding/editing a Dataset (previously known as “creating a study”), searching and browsing.  

sketching out dataverse 4.0Figure 1. Sketching out Dataverse 4.0.

2. Dataverses All the Way Down (Object model re-design)
Unlike in versions prior to 4.0 where dataverses could be organized into Subnetworks and Collections, dataverses will now be able to contain other dataverses. More importantly, this new feature will allow for an arbitrary depth of organizing your dataverses, a tree-like hierarchy.

Dataverse Tree Structure version 4
Figure 2. Tree structure diagram of dataverses.

3. New & Improved Browse/Search Features

  • Ability to browse Dataverses with facets without needing to first perform a search.
  • Wildcard search with * (asterisk) to find variations in words or help complete a sentence.
  • Highlighting search terms in the search results.
  • Bookmarkable URLs from search results so you can share your searches with others.
  • Autocomplete search terms as you type them in the search box.

4. New metadata support
On top of supporting general metadata, which are true of all datasets (i.e., title, author, description, etc) and social science datasets, we are also consulting with specialists in other domains (starting with biomedical and astrophysics) to extend metadata support for their particular datasets. This domain specific metadata will be also be mapped/exported to VO format (astrophysics), and ISA-Tab format (biomedical) with OBI and other ontologies. Additionally, to encourage further interoperability between different systems we are also expanding our compliance and general support of metadata schemas, which will include mapping/exports to Dublin Core Terms, DataCite 3.0, and an upgrade to DDI-Codebook 2.5).

5. New interactive data exploration/analysis tool (d3.js)
Our current data analysis tool will be replaced with a more interactive data exploration/analysis tool that will provide histograms, cross tabulations, enhanced descriptive statistics, and model selection.

6. New "My account page" with data related to you and notifications
The “My account” page will be updated to include a tab called “Data Related to Me”, which will be a central location for a user to see data that is related to them. Additionally, a “Notifications” tab will be added for you to maintain all notifications you receive or would like to receive for datasets or dataverses that are related to you.

7. Tabular files will now include support and processing of Excel and csv files
With 4.0, we will be looking into supporting additional processing of excel, and csv (without the need for a control card) if the user can add metadata in the first row(s).

8. Simplified Branding for a dataverse, plus widgets for your website
Branding will be streamlined to allow users the ability to easily and quickly add their logo/image in the banner along with custom text and links. For embedding your dataverse content into a website, we will replace support for iframes with "widgets" to list or search Datasets and dataverses directly from your own website.

For more details on our upcoming features please refer to our Redmine project tracking site.
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1We have and are still conducting several rounds of User testing in preparation for 4.0. See May 2013 Blog post for previous testing feedback: http://thedata.org/blog/dataverse-usability-evaluation-recommendations.
2 Includes platform upgrades to GlassFish 4 and Java EE 7.