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Dynamic Process Tracing Environment User Discussion

Category Archives: Tips and Techniques

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.

 

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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 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!

Some DPTE Updates

With the recent availability of DPTE 3.0 there are some new and improved functions in the system. The full documentation has now been updated to include them, but the FAQ on the main DPTE experimenter page gives a quick update. Following are a couple of the really cool new things you may want to explore:

Social Experiments (updated for version 3.0.0)

The Social Experiment options under Settings in the Experiment Dashboard are for use with Social Experiments, which allow some degree of “Sharing” between Subjects, hypothetical or real. Currently in progress, you can designate an Experiment as Social, which opens new options on the Timed Items screen. These include marking an item as Shared and/or Shareable.

Shared Items appear with an announcement that they were shared by another user. The Subject has an option to open the ’embedded’ item or not. An event is recorded when a Shared Item is presented and closed, and when its embedded item is opened and closed. Stimulus Items and Questionnaires can appear as Shared Items.

Shareable Items contain extra options in the form of buttons that the Subject can select. The button names are editable and their selection will be recorded. These Items also may contain Comments and allow the Subject to leave comments.

Note that if the “master switch” check box–Enable Social Experiment–is deselected, the Timed Items marked as Shared will remain, but appear as regular Timed Items. There is a DPTE System Variable, [[SYS_VAR_SOCIAL_EXP]], used to track whether Sharing is on or off, and this variable can be changed by the experiment using a Calculation item.

The “Read-only” mode feature allows Experiments to start from a “baseline” state, where Comments and button clicks added by a Subject are not visible to subsequent Subjects.

For more detail see Section Three of the DPTE 3.0 Help Manual


Using HTML in (certain) DPTE text fields

As of DPTE 2.8.5, you can use HTML in the following DPTE text fields:
– A Text Stimulus Item’s main text
– an Announcement’s text
– the text of a Question.

In these fields, DPTE will treat the characters {{ and }} as < and > characters to surround your HTML. In the Player, this will render as HTML. For example, the text:

{{a href=”http://www.mylink.com&#8221; target=”_blank”}}Here is a link{{/a}}

would display a link to the location specified. Note that the link text will not appear underlined or blue unless you add that yourself. Remember to always include target=”_blank” so that it opens in a new window/tab.

Flash text fields (and therefore DPTE text fields) support a subset of HTML which includes the majority of simple commands, but complex HTML is not supported or recommended. It doesn’t hurt to try, but don’t count on using HTML to accomplish your DPTE goals.

Most of what you would use HTML for is already provided by DPTE, i.e. bold, italic, etc. Specifying new fonts will probably not work since all of DPTE’s fonts are embedded.

You can, however, use HTML to display an image using the img tag, as in
{{img src=”http://www.mysite.com/myimage.jpg}}

A list of supported HTML appears at: Supported HTML in Flash/DPTE


Fixing Subject Variables using Search/Replace function (DPTE 2.8.5+)

The Search/Replace feature (on the Experiment Dashboard on the Experiment Setup screen) works like a normal Find/Replace function. To use it to rename Subject Variables requires a bit of thought, but the process is not overly complex.

If you have been using Subject Variables in your Calculations or Conditions, and you then rename a Calculation, Question, or Questionnaire, the Subject Variable you embedded in the Condition will no longer be valid.

The first step is to use the Diagnostics to identify the “old” name you are looking for. You need only check “Verify referenced subject variables” to get a list of offenders.

If a Calculation name has changed, just include the double brackets around the old Calculation name, which you can copy from the Diagnostics window. So you would search for [[CalculationName]].

In the ‘Replace’ box, put the new Calculation name, by using the Subject Variables dropdown menu.

Be sure you check the box “Include Conditions and Calculations in Search” since those are the areas where many of your Subject Variable references will be contained.

It’s slightly more difficult for Questionnaires and Questions, since you can’t look for the full Subject Variable name if you just changed, for example, a Questionnaire name. In that case, you would search for:

[[QuestionnaireName.

So that the string will be found for any Question used within that Questionnaire. Use the same format for the replacement Subject Variable. For Questions, you would find/replace:

.QuestionName]]

and that will find all the occurrences of that Question in any Questionnaire.


U
ploading questions

To upload a batch of questions, you first create an XML file of questions.  Your XML file must follow the format in the schema file contained here:

Question Upload Schema file

You then use the Upload button on the Questions screen and direct it to your XML file of questions.

DPTE V2.5.5 Now Live

We have just updated DPTE to version 2.5.5.  This version adds the following functionality:

– The Experiment Dashboard has been reconfigured to make room for new buttons, one of which is the “Experiment Notes” screen, which is functional

– The main page contains the new License Agreement/Disclaimer. By using DPTE you are agreeing to the License and you are agreeing that you understand the disclaimer.

– You can now change a possible answer type when you write a question so that you do not need to delete the question and start over if the answer type needs to change.

– You can now change fonts on questionnaires.

– Some fixes concerning the Rectangular Data Set were made to correct some small problems.

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

Social Experiments Now Possible!

We are very excited to announce that DPTE has been significantly enhanced to allow “social experiments.” These are experiments in which subjects can essentially interact. While the interaction is not (yet) in real-time,  subjects can now indicate their desire to SHARE items they view and can make comments on items, among many other new functions.

The Social Experiment options under Settings in the Experiment Dashboard are for use with Social Experiments, which allow setting up “Sharing” between Subjects, hypothetical or real. While development is currently in progress, you can now designate an Experiment as Social, which opens new options on the Timed Items screen. These include marking an item as Shared and/or Shareable.

Shared Items appear with an announcement that they were shared by another user. The Subject has an option to open the ’embedded’ item or not. An event is recorded when a Shared Item is presented and closed, and when its embedded item is opened and closed. Currently only Stimulus Items will appear as Shared Items but Questionnaires will be in future versions.

Shareable Items contain extra options in the form of buttons that the Subject can select. The button names are editable and their selection will be recorded. These Items also may contain Comments and allow the Subject to leave comments.

Note that if the “master switch” check box–Enable Social Experiment–is deselected, the Timed Items marked as Shared will remain, but appear as regular Timed Items. There is a DPTE System Variable, [[SYS_VAR_SOCIAL_EXP]], used to track whether Sharing is on or off, and this variable can be changed by the experiment using a Calculation item.

For more details see the DPTE Social Experiment Documentation PDF file.

DPTE Item Repository Available

You may have noticed that when you are first approved to use DPTE you are assigned to two experiments (there may be a little delay in this, but it should happen).  One is experiment 135: DPTE Demo Experiment. This is a dummy that probably doesn’t really work, but which allows you to look around and see how stimulus items, questions, and branches are created. You may do anything you want to this one, since it isn’t a real experiment. That is, you can not only look through it but you can also add things, delete things, and otherwise mess around. Feel free.

The second is what we call our ITEM REPOSITORY (Exp ID 321). The repository is designed to make things easier for everyone. It contains a collection of widely used stimuli, questionnaires, and announcements that you can use in your own studies. Instructions are provided in the Repository experiment on how to copy things to your own experiment. For stimuli it is very easy – for announcements pretty easy – and for questionnaires a little more complex. The details are provided in an announcement in the Repository itself.

So PLEASE FEEL FREE TO USE THESE. Copy them to your own experiment and then you can modify them as needed.

We also ask that you consider adding your own items to the general Repository for the benefit of all users. Again this is pretty easy for stimuli – from your own experiment you go to the stimulus area, choose “duplicate”, and using the pull down list you select the items to copy. Select the experiment ITEM REPOSITORY as the location to copy to, choose the ones you want to copy, and you will have contributed to the greater good!

For other items (questionnaires and announcements) the process is more complex, but is the reverse of the instructions on copying TO the Repository. Let us know if you have questions.