WebExp: Introduction

What is it?

WebExp is a set of Java classes for conducting psychological experiments over the World Wide Web. Conducting experiments over the web has a number of advantages:

More information about web-based experimentation can be found in the paper Standards for Internet-based experimenting by Ulf-Dietrich Reips.

How does it work?

WebExp is written in Java, and uses XML as the description language for a) defining experiments and b) storing results. There are two parts to the system: the server (a Java application), and the client (a Java applet).

  1. Server - an application which runs on the web server hosting the experiment, waiting for client applets to connect to it and request experiments; it provides (serves up) the experimental files and manages the results that are returned.
  2. Client - an applet which runs in the browser of a participant, connecting to the server to get the experiment, administering it to the participant and returning results to the server.

Why do it this way?

Java is specifically designed to be platform-independent and is particularly suited to running across the internet. So the WebExp server can run on Windows, Linux, Unix, MacOS and anyone with a browser can run the experiments.

As a data-description language, XML is standardised, flexible, and supports simple validation of the data.

The World Wide Web gives access to a large and varied set of potential subjects, and experiments can be administered without the overheads of lab setups, attendance schedules, and so on.

WebExp Development Team
School of Informatics, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
© 2022 The University of Edinburgh