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Introducing a (draft) Style Guide for Public Lab

by warren | 7 months ago | 15 | 8

For a long time, folks making new pages and interfaces at have not had much (if any) guidance or direction, and, understandably, have brought their own ideas to the project. This is great initiative, but we could do a better job setting some clear design conventions, and the whole site would benefit from some more consistency.

@sylvan and I have been working on a Style Guide to serve this purpose. This guide is designed to support coders, designers, and writers building and designing pages on

We're at a point where we could use some input and feedback, so here's a draft!

Our goals include:

Simpler and more consistent design

  • Easier to understand and use: clear and well-explained guidance for design will make it easier to start doing UI work at Public Lab, and easier for people using to use.
  • Less customization: using standard libraries like Bootstrap 4 ( and less custom code will make it less fragile, more compatible and accessible, and easier to upgrade. We strongly encourage using widely familiar interface design conventions, so people don't to have to "learn how to use"
  • Easier to maintain: with a set of standards, it will be clearer what UI /should/ look like, and less likely that it will diverge and become inconsistent or messy. Less code will be easier to maintain at a high level of quality in the long term.
  • More support and guidance for people designing new pages/interfaces

Increased stability

  • Better organized UI code: cleaning up our code, reducing redundancy, and standardizing (and re-using) templates will make it easier for everyone to do good UI design overall.
  • Better UI tests: our new System Tests enable testing of complex client/server interactions exactly like a user will experience them. We aim for high coverage:
  • Fewer UI breakages: all of this should contribute to fewer bugs system-wide.

This guide won't cover every situation, but will establish an overall approach to UI design that all our work should build on cohesively.

Check out the draft style guide here -- comments and input are very welcome!

We'll be adding more and more annotations as we go, so that it's clear /why/ we've made these recommendations, and how to apply them.

We'll also be following up in a later version with code samples and links to templates!

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A big WELCOME to our Outreachy/GSoC team for 2019!

by warren | 7 months ago | 6 | 2

Hi, all! I wanted to reach out because we will have a record-size team this summer, between 2 Outreachy and 13 GSoC fellows --- we've never had a group this big! We also have a bigger mentor group, but we will certainly need students to help one another. I wanted to reach out and welcome everyone, but also set the tone for the kind of mutual support we will need to succeed together.

Here are the announcements - congratulations!!!:

I was thinking of asking people individually to keep an eye on someone else's work even as they do their own. Each person might have a set of skills they could use to help another with -- whether it's writing tests, making FTOs, solving database issues, designing UIs, or creating clear and simple documentation. We'll need to rely on each other --- students helping students above all --- to pull this off and ensure everyone has a great summer, learns a lot, and finds success!

A note to those who we weren't able to accept in this year's program: we had over 20 fantastic proposals, and if we had the slots available and the mentoring team, we would surely have accepted more. Please know that we are extremely grateful for your work with us to date and that we welcome you to continue being part of this community. We considered many factors, among which are the prioritization of different projects, our ability to support different kinds of projects with good mentorship, and much more. So our inability to accept you should not be taken in a discouraging way, or as a suggestion that your proposal and your skills were not impressive and exciting on their own merits. Thank you for understanding and we hope you'll apply again ❤️


Title Author Updated Likes Comments
GSoC proposal: Mapknitter Image Management and Synchronous Editing @divyabaid16 4 months ago 2
SoC proposal: GSoC: Websocket Implementation for Real-time Usage and Sensor data and Display Library @namangupta 8 months ago 20
SoC Proposal : Spectral Workbench Capture @sidntrivedi012 8 months ago 12
SOC 2019: A small proposal for global environmental monitoring @MaggPi 8 months ago 13
GSOC-19 Mapknitter synchronous editing @vidit 8 months ago 2
SOC proposal: Extend Leaflet Environmental Layers with new layer menu and layer addition workflow @anan12 8 months ago 5
GSoC proposal: Image Sequencer @aashnaaashna 8 months ago 10
Outreachy Proposal 2019 For Public Lab: @gautami_gg 8 months ago 12
GSoC Proposal: Mapknitter Rails 6 upgrade @kaustubh_nair 8 months ago 7
GSoC proposal: Mapknitter ORB Descriptor (w/ auto-stitching, pattern training, and live video support) and LDI revamp (major UI enhancements) @rexagod 8 months ago 35
SoC proposal: Community Toolbox overhaul @icode365 8 months ago 16
SoC proposal: Image-Sequencer v3: Boosting the performance and adding demonstration based on colorimetry @lit2017001 8 months ago 7
GSoC proposal: Sensor data upload and display library @IshaGupta18 8 months ago 34
GSoC Proposal 2019: Mapknitter's Rails Upgrade @alaxallves 8 months ago 5
SoC proposal: Enhancing the UI of publiclab and relevant changes to server @lekhidugtal 9 months ago 21
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Public Lab job posting: Business and Operations Manager

by Shannon | 8 months ago | 0 | 0

Start Date: Mid June 2019

Location: New Orleans, LA

Terms: Full time

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) is a community-- supported by a 501(c)(3) non-profit--that develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible Do-It-Yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively re-imagine the human relationship with the environment.

This position is based in New Orleans and will be responsible for managing the business and operations of the Public Lab nonprofit. Day-to-day tasks include bookkeeping and financial management, supporting human resources and keeping a multi-office, remote team organized through meeting coordination and internal staff communications. The goal of this position is to improve and maintain efficiency and productivity of the organization, and to oversee the management and coordination of fiscal activities for Public Lab. This position reports directly to the Executive Director.

Major Position Responsibilities


  • Working with our outside accountant to manage the day-to-day bookkeeping processes at Public Lab including monthly closes, invoicing, reimbursements, and donation and sales processing.
  • Oversee all financial reporting activities for the organization, such as: running balance sheet and profit and loss reports, reporting on organizational and grant budgets and compiling financial reports.
  • Maintain processes to provide timely financial and operational information to the Executive Director, staff and Board of Directors.
  • Support the development of Public Lab's annual budget and program budgets.
  • Manage the financial relationship with an organization Public Lab fiscally sponsors, including reporting and fund disbursement.
  • Serve as a liaison to our CPA firm and manage the yearly audit process.
  • Support project managers in increasing their capacity for management of grant budgets.
  • Ensure compliance with rules from granting organizations.
  • Identify and communicate changes that could increase the efficiency of financial workflows to support stronger reporting practices and organizational growth.

Human Resources

  • Maintain and administer the relationship with Public Lab's third-party payroll and benefits provider.
  • Manage internal staff requests related to HR including time keeping and requests for time away.
  • Facilitate staff trainings, reviews, onboarding and departure from the organization.
  • Manage and update the employee handbook, staff policy and procedure documents and employee files.
  • Manage the hiring and training processes for new staff members.
  • Draft and coordinate the completion of contracts and MOUs with partners, contractors and fellows.


  • Support activities related to monthly and quarterly meetings with the Board of Directors and coordinate logistics for staff meetings and retreats.
  • In coordination with our payroll company and CPA firm, ensure compliance with reporting requirements and tax filings.
  • Maintain organization insurance policies and update as necessary.
  • Support Public Lab program staff in event logistics and scheduling.

All Public Lab staff are expected to adhere to the Public Lab policies, procedures, values and community-wide Code of Conduct.


A Bachelor's degree or equivalent in finance, business or other related field is preferred and 3-5 years of demonstrated job experience in a related field is required.

Additional Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience at organizations with budgets around $1 million.
  • Knowledge of nonprofit accounting including grant tracking and reporting.
  • Experience with organization finances that include multiple funding sources (grants, memberships, earned revenue) for different organizational programs.

Skills, Knowledge, and Characteristics Required

  • Expertise in using financial software including QuickBooks (online edition) for nonprofits, Expensify and
  • Proficiency in using a variety of collaborative software such as Slack, Google Docs, and Dropbox.
  • Experience using CRM databases such as Salesforce.
  • Excellent attention to detail and organizational skills.
  • The ability to balance multiple competing tasks and requests and enjoyment from working efficiently towards goals and deadlines.
  • A desire for and fulfillment from working on a team, but also an ability to work independently on job tasks.
  • Incredible interpersonal skills, demonstrating great communication, kindness, respect, and patience within our collaborative work environment.
  • An enjoyment of problem solving and the ability to put this to use in areas where organizational operations could be improved.
  • Willingness to work remotely with colleagues, including your manager.

Compensation is between $40,000-$50,000, based on experience and qualifications. Public Lab offers a benefits package that includes four weeks starting vacation time in addition to federal holidays and personal days, 75% coverage of health benefits, a 401k and paid sabbaticals. This job requires occasional travel and work outside regular business hours.

Please send a single document containing a cover letter and resume to by May 19, 2019. No phone calls please.

Public Lab is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities to apply.

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Public Lab Code Community Report: April 2019

by warren | 8 months ago | 0 | 3

Jan-Mar 2018: This year we have been buoyed by the growing size of our community and have turned towards larger projects on a year-round cycle, supported by funds from a variety of grants and fellowship programs. Our overall goal this year is to reduce the technical overhead of maintaining systems, and build a sustainable community leadership team that can carry these projects forward responsibly in a more distributed way.

This is "applications season" for our outreach programs, and we've seen a huge response this year (#call-for-proposals), and many applicants for summer fellowships who have already been engaged in our community for months.

Diversity, inclusion, and community growth

We've worked to improve and expand community facilitation and mutual support, as well as build on our commitment to diversity and equity in our work by supporting and encouraging a leadership group with strong representation by groups traditionally excluded in technology development; for the first time, a substantial proportion of our community leaders are women, and greater gender and racial diversity is reflected throughout our community. Our 2019 Software Contributors Survey helped us to better understand both our demographics how our approach to welcoming has worked.

Our community survey shows that ~33% of respondents identify as female or non-binary, which compares favorably with's report that only 4% of the broader open source community are identifying so. In addition, 87% of our community identify as non-white. (cited from our Software Contributors Survey)

We hope that the rich results from this survey can help us to improve even more, and look forward to the deep discussions and plans that will come out of this new information.


With support from Google's Office of Open Source, we are in the middle of a major, months-long project to rebuild and restructure the MapKnitter website and mapmaking toolkit. This has been a great opportunity to build out our leadership team, with five fellows leading projects which engage newcomers while solving substantial technical problems. We hope to begin public testing of the new systems in May.


In the next quarter, we will see a substantial reboot of the MapKnitter project, expansion of the Image Sequencer system (including a colorimetry app), implementation of major UI redesigns, and much more. Thanks to everyone who's helped make this a great quarter for Public Lab software!

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Draft Sand Sentinel Program

by stevie | 8 months ago | 0 | 0

Logo above courtesy of Pat Popple

Back in September, a number of people from around the Midwest who are fighting frac sand mining issues hosted a couple check in meetings on how things were going, sharing notes on some projects to date (you can read about the conversations here and here). We also had an opportunity to loop in on pathways forward people were seeing that were new, or could use some more attention.

I want to post an update on one of the projects that came up in those September conversations. With support from a number of groups and individuals, we've started to work on the Sentinel Program, originally conceived of by @Pat. This project is aimed at making reporting suspected violations from the frac sand mining industry easier to do.

So far on this project we have:

  • Collected materials people have used in the past in filing suspected violations,
  • Compiled a list of violations that could be observable by people,
  • Collected resources on where materials can be reported to,
  • Compiled a reporting form with information on what could be collected to support people's observations, and
  • Created a draft reporting form folder.

I wanted to share out the materials so far, and am looking for edits, ideas, and further suggestions. You can comment below or in the doc itself here. We'll also be going over some of this material at the event on Saturday in Arcadia.

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Texas Barnraising: Brainstorming the Emergency Response Toolkit

by Bronwen | 8 months ago | 0 | 2

This past February at the Barnraising in Galveson Texas, we began the process of brainstorming about ways that we could equip ourselves better to respond to environmental disasters. We arranged our tools, methods and needs on a poster: a summary of which is below. Because many of the suggestions overlapped or fit into multiple categories, I've If you suggested something and don't see it, or would like to offer your own suggestions, please add your thoughts to the comments below. We'll be expanding this into a wiki page as well, and hope that folks will keep this conversation moving forward!

We'll also be looking to this list to see what kinds of environmental monitoring tools we can assemble so that inexpensive/DIY options exist. Please let us know what's missing!

Emergency Response Needs (Methods, Tools, Resources)


  • Advance Planning for transportation needs
  • Know how to MacGyver with duct tape
  • Know how to use and repair durable medical equipment
  • Create paper backups of phone trees and ways to contact people
  • Mutual Aid: know what skills and resources exist in your neighborhood.
  • Resource Mapping (in general)
  • Community Tool Sharing
  • How to use plants: medicinal uses, food, natural mosquito repellent.
  • Have methods for community organizing / conducting meetings
  • Setting up communications plans and resources (mesh networks, satellite phones, other)
  • Bio Remediation Tools
  • Evacuation plans: pets, children, elderly, mobility impaired, etc.
  • Soylent (or efficient and lasting emergency food supplies in general)
  • Super Glue, duct tape, wire cutters, batteries, head lamps, etc.
  • Creation of rescue teams, with knowledge and skill to intervene without endangering self/others.
  • How to asses building safety/integrity/water damage (mold)
  • How to start a fire
  • Conflict de-escalation skills
  • How to perform mental measurements
  • Disaster reporting: financial, environmental concerns, baseline reports
  • Self Help/resource guides. things you might have in your home that serve dual purposes.
  • Microbial tests for water (for drinking/bathing/etc)
  • DIY water filtration kits
  • DIY water remediation kits
  • Solar power generators for communications, chargers, cooking, heating water, etc
  • Having access to medications (including morning after pills)
  • Waterproof containers of various sorts
  • Bleach for sterilizing
  • General sanitation tools
  • Oil detection (soil and water).
  • Disposable cameras (in case phones/electricity are unavailable)
  • N95 maks
  • Ham radio networks
  • How to skills, especially for electronics (assembly, programming)
  • DIY refrigeration
  • Construction skills
  • Hotwiring vehicles
  • Safe removal/disposal of hazardous materials.


This project is sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

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