DPTE – the blog!

Dynamic Process Tracing Environment User Discussion

A couple Interesting DPTE Demos

If you’d like to see some of the things DPTE can do, you can click on any of the links below to see demonstrations of different DPTE studies. Look at them all you want – and don’t worry because in demo mode they are NOT collecting your data. Note, you MUST turn off popup blockers since the player appears in a popup window. Also note that you must have flash installed to run DPTE.

Typical Dynamic DPTE study.

DPTE with a static approach.

A Demo that lets you choose what to look at.

Hope you find these interesting and that they stimulate some ideas on how to make use of DPTE.

 

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DPTE Bug in Duplicating Experiments with Follow On Items

One of the real strengths of DPTE is that you can use “Follow On” items to define stimuli that should appear immediately after a participant clicks on a particular piece of information. After reading that piece, and closing it, any defined follow on items are presented. These can be announcements, questionnaires, or other stimuli. You can even insert branches as follow on items in order to move the participant to some other substage or stage based on having read a particular piece of information. And, like other stimuli, follow on items can be processed conditionally.

However, it turns out there is a bug in the duplication of experiments with follow on items. The items themselves ARE copied and appear where you would expect them to, in the appropriate stage/substage/group/flow item location. But they will not be processed when the participant clicks on a stimulus item with a follow on. Instead, the system will drop through to the next defined item, returning to the player flow.  The bug has been identified: a flag that indicates the presence of follow on items is not being copied correctly when an experiment is duplicated.

Until the bug is fixed, there is a relatively simply workaround. In the duplicated experiment, go to the stage/substage/group/flow item where you have defined follow on items. Click on the follow on item button at the bottom right of the screen as if you are going to define items. You should see the existing follow on items. To fix the flag, simply remove on of your follow on items. Then restore it by putting it back where it was. This will reset the flag. If you have multiple follow on items defined for a given flow item, you only need to remove/restore one of the items, and they will all work.

We hope to fix the underlying bug in the not-too-distant future and will announce it here when we have.

NEW DPTE FEATURES UNVEILED!

Back Button in Questionnaires; New Delimiter for Multiple Answer Questions; Changes in Social Experiments

Version 3.3.0 of the DPTE Player and Researcher Interface were recently deployed, following an earlier update (3.2.5) detailed below.

 

BACK Button

This update includes a potentially valuable new feature: the ability to include a “back” button on a Questionnaire. It functions just as you’d expect a “back” button to function, that is, it goes back one Question — unless a Condition tells it otherwise, just like the “next” button. Conditions are fully enabled in “back” mode as well.

When a Subject goes “back” the Subject’s answer to that Question is selected/shown, and can be modified. This only applies within a Questionnaire run — if the same Questionnaire (with the exact same name) is presented again later in an Experiment, no previous filled in answers are shown, and generally earlier answers are lost. So when you want to deploy the same questionnaire mutliple times, you need to duplicate it and name it appropriately. This didn’t change — the only difference with Back mode is, if a Subject answers a Question, then goes “back” to that Question, the response is still there.

The Researcher can define the text of the “back” button in the Experiment Settings, in the section with all the other labels.

Note: if a Subject answers (for example) 10 questions, and then answers Question 11 and hits the “back” button, she will return to Question 10 and see that answer (and can change it). When she goes forward to Question 11 (again) she will see the answer she had already given for Question 11.

However, if a subject answers 10 questions, then stares at Question 11 and doesn’t answer it, but hits “back”, she will not get the “warning” that would appear when not answering a question and going forward. Since she will have to encounter that question again, the system does not require her to provide an answer if she goes “back” from there.

 

Delimiter Change for Multiple Answer Data

In another minor but important change, the delimiter character for Multiple Answer recording in the subject dataset has changed from a comma to a trio of characters, pipe-colon-pipe, that is,  |:|

This way commas (or pipes) in individual answers won’t conflict with the delimiter. If you are using Multiple Answers and then scanning the subjhect data file for the results, please realize that you will now see this new delimiter between answers, rather than simply a comma.

 

Social Experiment Update; Making a “shared” item more available during the run of an experiment

We have added a “Shares increase shows” feature, which can optionally increase the number of times a Flow Item is displayed based on how many times it has been Shared (Button #1 must be used as the “share” button for this feature to work).  The options for setup are in the Settings / Social Experiment Options.

There is a checkbox to enable (“click count of Social Button #1 increases Flow Item # of shows”) and a “Divisor” which is used to determine the relation of clicks to additional shows (simply divides and rounds up, so the first Share always adds a “show”). To be eligible, the Flow Item must be Shareable (so it has buttons) and the Experiment must be a Social Experiment.

 

As always, let us know if you find any problems.

Upcoming DOWN TIME for DPTE Server March 31 12:00-13:00 UTC

IMPORTANT: The DPTE server will be down for maintenance on Thursday, March 31 from 7:00-8:00am CDT (12:00 to 13:00 UTC). You will be unable to run experiments or use DPTE during this time.

Addressing “Loading Subject error; please close this window and try again” Message

In recent months we have had several reports of subjects attempting to run DPTE experiments and receiving a red message at the top of the player screen reading “Loading Subject error; please close this window and try again”. This error appears occasionally after a subject clicks to begin the study. The player screen fails to load and simply displays the error in small type at the top. The only solution is to force the window closed (clicking on the X in the top right and clicking to “leave screen” then refreshing the start screen and clicking on the link again. This is obviously not a good option for subjects running remotely.

We now have a workaround if you receive this error on a regular basis. The workaround entails NOT using https to connect to DPTE. Instead, a 2nd inbound portal to DPTE thas been created.

To use the alternative portal specify your link to the study as follows:

http://dpte.polisci.uiowa.edu/dpte/action/player2/launch/UNIQUEIDNUMBER/?pid=PASSWORD

There are 3 changes:
– http instead of https
– player2 instead of player
– pid instead of pass

NOTE: UNIQUEIDNUMBER is the number given to your experiment, i.e. 135, used to tell the DPTE player what experiment to run. ?pid=PASSWORD is optional, allows you to pass through the passphrase you specified for your study so your subject does not have to type it.

As always let us know if you run into any problems with this.

 

TIP: YOU CAN SEND A SUBJECT TO ANOTHER URL FROM DPTE

Here’s a tip for those who want subjects to be able to move from DPTE to another web address. For example, let’s say at the end of a DPTE study, you wish to send the subject on to something else on the web. Turns out to be pretty simple using the Javascript functionality of DPTE. This can actually be used at any time during a study, though if the DPTE study is not over, the subject would have to be instructed on how to return to it to complete the study.  IMPORTANT: If a subject does not properly exit from a DPTE study, then the subject data for that subject will not be saved and the case will not be flagged as complete. So use this functionality with care.

Using javascript, you can set up a conditional situation to send people out to another website by using a command like:

var x = window.open (“http://www.google.com“,”mywindow”);  false

(This example will send subjects to www.google.com)

To ensure that subject data gets saved (assuming you are doing this at the end of the study), you should do the following:

1. End your experiment with an announcement that tells the subject what is coming next (you will now be sent to…)
2. Follow the announcement with a conditional calculation created with Javascript as above (or anything really), where DPTE opens up a new window for your subjects.
3. Make that conditional the last thing in your study; that is, have no other instructions following it.

Your subjects should see the announcement, then see the other window open and DPTE should close in the background, saving all of the subject information.

Thanks to Derek Seibert, one of the tech geniuses  at the University of Iowa, who figured this out.

Note – The DPTE manual has not yet been updated with this information.

 

DPTE Server Scheduled Downtime Thursday, Dec 11, 7:00AM – 8:00AM CST

IMPORTANT: The DPTE server will be down on Thursday, December 11 from 7:00-8:00am CST (13:00 to 14:00 UTC) to do important updates. You will be unable to run DPTE experiments during this time and logins will be disabled. It is likely the server will not be down for the entire hour, but you should avoid scheduling experiments during this window.

PLEASE NOTE: The DPTE server now has daily (recurring) maintenance at 1:55am CST (07:55 UTC). The server may be unresponsive for up to 1 minute at this time. You should avoid doing important work, and not have Subjects running Experiments, during the brief downtime.

DPTE Downtime Scheduled – Thursday, April 10, 6:30AM Central Daylight Time (11:30 UTC), 30 Minutes

IMPORTANT: The DPTE server will be down on Thursday, April 10 from 6:30-7:00am CDT (11:30 to 12:00 UTC). You will be unable to run DPTE experiments during this time.

A “kernal update” is necessary for the server. We are also implementing the first step toward SSL capability by enabling a SSL certificate on the server, which will allow https logins to DPTE; full https connectivity should be possible at a later date.

PLEASE NOTE: The DPTE server now has daily (recurring) maintenance at 1:55am CDT (06:55 UTC). The server may be unresponsive for up to 1 minute at this time. You should avoid doing important work, and not have Subjects running Experiments, during the brief downtime.

 

 

DPTE in Chinese? Yep! Asian Language Support in Beta with Version 3.03

DPTE has been enhanced to support Asian characters, so if you were contemplating trying decision making studies among non-western language populations, the possibility now exists, at least in this context. Asian language support is in “beta” so there may well be bugs. To implement for your studies, from the Experimenter Screen, go to EXPERIMENT DASHBOARD,  SETTINGS, ADVANCED to see a brief explanation. Asian characters are implemented through the Unicode character support. Click the checkbox to turn that on for your experiment. In theory this should allow entry of any character that uses Unicode. The User Manual has NOT yet been updated.

If you do try this, let us know how it goes!

REVISED TIME: Additional Downtime Scheduled 3/20/14, 8:15AM CDT (13:15 UTC)

Note – the original time for this downtime has been changed! Please note this change.

We need to schedule addition downtime for the DPTE system.  When the previous updates were done last Thursday, a few changes were made to the database (to support Asian characters). When this was done it was noticed that the Recorded Events table has 13 million records in it (that’s big) and the database people said the table is getting ‘fragmented’ or in other words, taking up a lot more space than it has to. Additionally, the “transaction log” file is gigantic. Long story short, they want to ‘defrag’ that table and that should reduce its size by around 30-40%, and prevent it from impacting performance.

Downtime is scheduled for Thursday, March 15, 2014, at 8:15am central daylight time (13:15 UTC). Please avoid having subjects running on the system at this time. The system will be down for both subjects and experimenters during this time.