WebExp: Future Work
WebExp is fully functional and can be used to design and run a variety of timed experiments.
However we hope to extend its capabilities in the future by adding new features and refining
Designed for flexibility
WebExp has been designed with extensibility in mind - we have provided flexibility in three ways:
- Flexibility of design (extensibility)
We have endeavored to design the system in accordance with object-oriented design principles,
to create a system which is modular, with well-defined interfaces, so that useful extensions can
be written and essentially `plugged in' to the system without having to rewrite existing code.
- Flexibility of use
The experimenter can use the system as it stands to design a wide variety of experiments by
just specifying new experiment descriptions in XML.
- Flexibility of operation (robustness)
The system is designed to be robust and fault-tolerant, to minimise loss of
information from such problems as network errors and subject dropout. There is a comprehensive
logging scheme which records potential and actual problems, and it will in future be possible to
reconnect and return partial results.
We hope to build on this flexibility by implementing some of the following features:
Internationalisation and accessibility
- Multi-language support
A major enhancement to maximise the usability and universality of WebExp
will be to add multi-language support, by providing localised versions of
the system, and adding support for international languages and fonts.
Another necessary enhancement will be to provide programmatic hooks for assistive
technologies such as magnifiers and readers.
The system has been designed with these aims in mind, so we can add the
full functionality without major redesign of the existing tools.
This will be achieved using Java's built-in support in the Java Foundation Classes.
- Design interface
The creation of a user-friendly interface and tools for experimental
design and evaluation will further simplify the design task, reducing the
experimenter's contact with xml.
- Analysis tools
Further tools will be provided for statistical analysis and data processing
of experimental results, including common statistical normalisations.
- Automated experimental variants
The server will handle the randomisation and counter-balancing of
experiments based on the specification - thus automating the creation of
multiple versions of an experiment.
- Improved data management
The database backend will be enforce the separation of each experimenter's
respective experiments and results.
- User authentication
Authentication via logins will allow each experimenter to access his/her personal set
of experiments and results.
Client (experiment) features
- Experiment loading progress
Provide an indication of progress while the client is initialising, gathering resources, and so on.
- More stimulus & response types
We will write extensions to allow acoustic stimuli, as well as some more complex
response types based on textual features, such as Likert scales,
grid responses, selections, and arbitrary scales. This will remove the need for them to
be designed ad-hoc for each experiment.
- Conditional branching
Extending the ability of subject input to affect ensuing sections of the experiment,
we will allow the output of a slide to decide the identity of the subsequent slide,
allowing varied paths through an experiment.
- Improved timing
Finalise fully-featured and precise timing, allowing close control over the
timing of stimulus events.
- Arbitrary action invocation
In addition to allowing the timed display/withdrawal of a stimulus, it will be possible to
make a stimulus perform any other arbitrary action on a timed signal (as a simple example,
to change background colour or text). This will make possible the creation of more dynamic
types of stimulus, for example counters.
These last three features will allow WebExp to provide better support
for self-paced reading studies along with a wide variety of other experimental paradigms.
WebExp Development Team
School of Informatics, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
© 2019 The University of Edinburgh