Latest release makes HUBzero computing, collaboration software more social

April 4, 2011

HUBzero’s latest open source release enhances the platform for creating powerful websites supporting computation, research, education and collaboration in science, engineering and almost any other field with a heavy dose of new social networking features and easier ways to deploy and test Web-ready computational research tools.

HUBzero production release 1.0, announced at the HUBbub 2011 workshop in Indianapolis Tuesday, April 5, includes several improvements that help users form interest groups within a hub to exchange data, share models and publish results. The new version also includes additional features for building and deploying Web-ready computational research tools.

HUBzero makes posting and using computational tools about as easy as posting and viewing a YouTube video and brings access to high-performance computing, cloud and grid resources as close as your Web browser. Built-in social networking features akin to Facebook create communities of researchers, practitioners, educators and students and facilitate virtual research partnerships and education.

Groups in HUBzero 1.0 have been redesigned to provide more ways to share information. A group can now be, in effect, a customizable mini website within a hub, complete with calendaring, messaging, wikis, discussion forums, and blogs, as well as multimedia materials such as embedded videos and slideshows.

The additional features come in modules that can be turned on or off as desired, says Michael McLennan, senior research scientist and hub technology architect at Purdue University, which developed HUBzero. Permissions in groups also are controllable, allowing content to be private, available to anyone or only to group members and invitees.

HUBzero 1.0 also includes major improvements to HUBzero’s Rappture toolkit, the key resource for turning research modeling and simulation codes into interactive, Web-enabled programs. These enhancements make building online computational research tools even easier — and also make it easier to validate results.

Rappture’s new “builder” tool lets researchers drag and drop objects from a graphical palette in preparing codes for hub deployment, preview the project as it’s constructed and ultimately generate XML and other programming code that is compiled to make the production version.

Rappture also adds a regression tester tool allowing researchers to create sets of test results exercising their code against a large collection of input values in order to verify that the software is functioning correctly and validate it against experimental results. The regression tester can be invoked whenever the software is updated to guard against errors.

Among the other new features in Version 1.0:

  • Faster and enhanced search covering content in question and answer sessions, wish lists, blogs and other areas, as well as tags attached to resources that might not fit a search otherwise.

  • A blog module for personal profiles, in addition to blogs for user groups.

  • Improved analytics and per-contributor reports for impact and outreach activities.

  • A Twitter feed module to embed Twitter feeds within a hub.

"Social media is a powerful new paradigm for communication,” McLennan says. “The latest release of HUBzero will help people harness that power and focus it on science, engineering and other problems.”

The open source package is available on the HUBzero website at http://hubzero.org/getstarted.

Originally posted: April 4, 2011