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[bioontology-support] New version of Bioportal comments & questions

Natasha Noy noy at
Fri May 15 15:48:28 PDT 2009

Dear Simon,

Wow -- thank you for all the  comments! This is SUPER helpful. I'll  
try to reply to the ones that we either need more clarification on or  
some discussion/explanation. The ones that I don't address in this  
email are the ones that we'll just try to go ahead and fix (resources  

> The home page dumps you right into the thick of things - this is going
> to be very off putting for new/naive users who need to get their
> bearings first - or even for me coming to the new version trying to
> figure out where to go now things have changed. Add links to help/
> introl material, the demo video (which is now out of date - the
> downside of video tutorials!), etc. How about a 'What are you trying
> to do...? section or drop down, that might direct people to the
> appropriate tool/page depending on their needs. Tracking something
> like this would also help you know your audience better as they would
> be telling you why they were here, rather than you having to guess
> their intentions from the google stats.

That's a good point. We are kind of trying to balance having the home  
page where people come and can immediately do something and having a  
home page that explains what you can actually do. We'll try some  
strategies to balance the two. Maybe a blurb with links to help  
materials at the top, above all the search boxes, explaining what you  
can do. We'll see if it works (and will welcome feedback of course!)

> Are there any ontologies that you dont have that people might expect
> to find? Snomed, etc. comes to mind - might be worth mentioning these,
> saying why they arent there and helping people move on to resources
> that might be able to help them if they are interested in these  
> vocabs.

We are hoping to have most UMLS ontologies in June (we'll require  
users to log in to see  them). At that time, whatever blurb we have on  
the home page, we'll add to it the information that you need to log in  
to see other ontologies.

> Consider having examples for the various searches that you have at the
> top so people can try something that will return a good hit, rather
> than forcing them to guess what goes in there.

Do you mean some grayed out text in the search box?

> The other two searches (search all ontologies and search resources)
> dont seem to have autocompletion - it would be nice if they did.

We'll try. There may be some performance issues there, although the  
search implementation that we have just started using should allow us  
to do that.

> To be obnoxious I tried search all ontologies with 'a' as the search
> term. It passed me off to the flash search but this still had a
> previous search term in there, it didnt do the search for 'a'.

yeah, that's a bug; we noticed that too.

> Needs more categorization and intro material - what is on this page,
> what is a project. Organize this so its useful - try not to become
> like the GO tools page used to be,  a long list of things that had
> little or no info to help a new user figure out what they were and why
> they might invest time looking at them.

We'll add the introduction -- of course!

What would be a useful organization here? Any suggestions on a good  
way to organize it would be much appreciated.

I am forwarding the rest of this email to Nigam as his is much better  
qualified to answer these questions. It seems that the UI is just  
showing as much as the service returns, so Nigam or Clement will get  
back to you to answer these.

Thank you again for all your feedback. Keep it coming please! We'll  
try to address at least some of the issues that you brought up (if not  
all) by our June release.


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