WebExp: Features

WebExp provides for the specification of experiments and thus is not restricted to particular paradigms. The experimenter can design experiments based on a sequential, questionnaire (Stimulus/Response) framework, with control over timing, subject responses, and faulty data.

The specification language is XML-based, providing for simple validation and transformation of both experimental designs and results, and making it relatively legible to a non-technical user.

Basic features

  • User-defined experimental designs
  • Template designs for repetitive experiments
  • Separation of form and content
  • Response timing - monitor the onset and duration of responses
  • Stimulus timing - specify the time a stimulus is displayed
  • Control over font properties, alignment and positioning
  • UTF support, allowing the display of different character sets
  • Simple questionnaire navigation - tab between fields, press return in a field to advance
  • A variety of stimulus types:
    • Text
    • Images (with preloading)
    • Audio (with preloading)
  • A variety of response types:
    • Text inputs (with input constraints)
    • Selections (radio buttons and lists)
    • Buttons
    • Key/mouse input
  • Security for user information and data, for both server and client
  • Data management and storage
  • Multiple experimenters can share the same server, allowing a single setup to be shared by a class of students.

Enhanced control features

  • Free randomisation
  • Blocked randomisation (between and within blocks)
  • Ability to make individual input fields mandatory
  • Progress indications for experiment progress
  • Persistence of subject input - arbitrary input can affect, and be used in, subsequent sections of the experiment


  • Comprehensive logging for both client and server, recording potential and actual problems, and allowing variable levels of logging
  • Simplified server setup and management
  • Simplified specification of randomisation constraints

Future enhancements

  • Validation/authentication of users, data, experimental design
  • Improved data management and storage
  • New types of stimulus - video and potentially other media
  • New types of response, improved input restrictions
  • Automated randomisation & counter-balancing based on the experimental description
  • Timing control - manipulate (delay or limit) the appearance of stimuli
  • Control over subject dropout, experiment interruptions and partial results
    • Full screen display to eliminate background distraction; disallow switching to other programs or windows
    • Monitor the subject for dropout or loss of focus such as window-switching
    • Reconnect and/or return partial results if the connection is reset
    • Automatic handling of invalid or incomplete response data

WebExp Development Team
School of Informatics, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
© 2023 The University of Edinburgh