CrystalEye is a repository of crystallographic data. It’s built by a software system written by Nick Day that uses sections of Jumbo and CDK for functionality. It isn’t feasible for Nick to curate all this data (>100,000 structures) manually, and software bugs are a fact of life, so errors creep in.

Egon Willighagen and Antony Williams (ChemSpiderMan) have been looking at the CrystalEye data, and have used their blogs (as well as commenting on PM-R’s) to feed issues back. This is a great example of community data checking. Antony suggested that we implement a “Post a comment” feature on each page to make feedback easier. This is a great idea, so we had a quick think about it and propose a web2.0 alternative mechanism: Connotea.

To report a problem in CrystalEye, simply bookmark an example of the problem with the tag “crystaleyeproblem”, using the Description field to describe the problem. All the problems will appear on the tag feed.

When we fix the problem we’ll add the tag “crystaleyefixed” to the same bookmark. If you subscribe to this feed, you’ll know to remove the crystaleyeproblem tag.

In the fullness of time, we’re planning to use connotea tags to annotate structures where full processing hasn’t been possible (uncalculatable bond orders, charges etc).

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Agents & Eyeballs

October 2, 2007

Peter has mentioned that we’ve been writing a bid to the JISC Capital Call. Well, it’s in, but no thanks at all to OpenOffice, NeoOffice or Word. I manage to avoid using word processors for most of my working life, and writing and collating this bid has been a pointed reminder why. Word 2004 for Mac wouldn’t read Word 2003 files at all and only read bits of Word XP, Word 95 etc etc etc files. I did most of the work in OpenOffice (on linux, neooffice on mac), which did it’s utmost to make Word look good by crashing regularly.

I wonder if any CSS implementations are up to doing paragraph numbering and pagination on HTML? Otherwise I’m going to have to re-learn latex next time!

Thanks are due, though to those who commented on Peter’s blog, or wrote posts of their own in response. Although the JISC bids are largely marked on the quality of the bid itself, no-one who looks can doubt the community engagement and vitality, which were important components in the call for funding. So thanks to you all!

Hopefully I’ll get to write more about the project particulars in due course. We obviously don’t want to get scooped, but on the other hand this is interesting work that I’ve wanted to look at for a while, so we’ll look for other funding if we’re not successful with JISC.