Workspace Design Tools and Methods

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

Workspace Design

Review of Previous Workspaces

The workspace design form is developed by looking at all of the workspaces that we have already created and identifying their 'features'

  • Create observation table that identifies workspaces, components and other pieces
  • Harvest workspaces, observe what are pieces that emerge as normally present in the workspace

Edit spreadsheet

Workspace Patterns Identified

  1. Work Group Pattern - AQ Workgroup copied by 3 others
    1. Activities/Events | Active Collaborations
    2. Resources | Get Involved
  2. AIP Pattern - CCRM example. Workspaces were initially set up for each group and then the groups used them as they wanted
    1. News/Events | Issues/Discussion
    2. Work Items | Capabilities/Results
    3. Resources | Participants
    4. Each type of content was structured. Sites enforces a hierarchy for pages.
  3. Proposal pattern - initially created for NSF proposal. Modified for NASA Roses 08 and the exact same pattern was used for NASA ACCESS 09
    1. News | Schedule
    2. Context | Proposal | Participants/Forum/Resources
    3. Also includes template breadcrumb included on every page of the workspace with links to all other parts of workspace
  4. Class front page
    1. News | Resources | Project (2008)
    2. Lectures | Assignments | Project (2009)
  • All had -
    • Summary or intro to what workspace is about
    • What's New,
    • Resources/Context,
    • Place for Product, purpose of workspace
    • Participants/Get Involved
  • Work Items/Schedule both task oriented could be combined?

Workspace Parts

This is the 'Workspace Observations' form. To add a page with this form, enter the page name below; if a page with that name already exists, you will be sent to a form to edit that page.

A WikiProject [Workspace] is fundamentally a social construct; its success depends on its ability to function as a cohesive group of editors working towards a common goal. Much of the work that members must do to sustain a successful WikiProject (quality assessment and peer review in particular, but almost anything beyond the actual writing of articles) is tedious, often unrewarding, and usually unappreciated. To be effective, a WikiProject must foster not only interest in the topic of the project, but also an esprit de corps among its members. When group cohesion is maintained—where, in other words, project members are willing to share in the less exciting work—a WikiProject can muster the energy and direction to produce excellent articles systematically rather than incidentally.

The workspace is a collection of parts that all relate to the outcome product or object of the workspace. The parts may also be connected to each other. Some of the parts are relatively static, others are dynamic and change as the work progresses. The Goal/Project Plan and how to get involved stay relatively static. While the product, participants, resources and discussion will continue to evolve as the product develops.

Goal Statement/Project Plan

Each workspace has a goal statement that links to more information in a project plan. The project plan is an extension of the goal. The project plan is a proposal of work that lays out what the group wants to accomplish, the approach the group will follow.

Who's this for: The goal statement is helpful for the core group of participants to agree on the purpose of the workspace and the desired outcome. It is also helpful and necessary for new participants to find this information

How does this help the product: The goal and project plan align the group goals and activities making it more likely that there will be a systematic, positive product outcome.


Need a rich document that is annotated with who works on this, what is there to be done, resources, ...

Services that support:

  • Collaborative editing
  • Threaded discussion
  • template or at least a tag to denote that this is a project plan/goal (in order to display project plans?


Participants list allows people in the group to know who else is working on this project and connect directly to those people. It allows new members points of contact for more information and acts as a history to show who was involved for future use of the product. Beyond just name, expertise could be given to facilitate trust.

Service -

  • Could use profile or tag/badge? to put on their user page so that they would be identified as part of the project...
    • Similar to bloggers using badges.
  • Community membership service - expertise, other projects, ...

Examples of Participant List:

Workspace Resources

Each workspace has links, papers, datasets, tools and methods that are associated with it and related to the product/object. The benefit to the group is that useful resources don't need to be known by all members to be included. The list is collaboratively curated

Types of resources:

  • Links to group stuff (mailing list, background, kickoff)
  • presentations
  • examples
  • discussion
  • previous work
  • tools/services/data
  • related projects
  • use cases
  • conventions

Successful use of resources:

Ideas the idea blog is also a resource, structured pages are created with tags that allow it to end up in the appropriate idea list. It is a special resource where the group can just identify ideas/thoughts about the project and follow-up on them later or not.

Workspace-related ideas. Tags for workspace and idea are added to each idea page. Create an idea template for the workspace, then use the auto page generator, create another page to show all of the ideas listed. Main workspace page will show the most recent ideas and have link to see all ideas.

Benefits the group by increasing the ability to learn from each other. Benefits the product by adding context??? Benefits to new users ???


  • Class of pages called ideas, specific for a workspace allow ideas to be thrown out.
  • Digital libraries of different types of resources that can be restructured for various applications.


Discussion space (one) a place for ideas/issues to be described and resolution to be agreed on. Any thing that might be relevant to the group or benefit the product should go there.

Benefits to group - informed of communication. Benefits to product - discussion about the product is linked to the product providing context, reference. Including the discussion on the workspace allows Benefits to new members - can read the discussion and see another view of the history of the group.

Service: Threaded discussion in central place allows group to keep track of important communication.

Examples of Successful Discussion:

Get Involved

A way to bring others viewing the workspace into the community. Get Involved can include the participant list, links to telecon or meeting information, links to the list-serv. Also could include link to project plan/conventions the group uses/todo items/discussion

How does it benefit: Good for participants already involved because new members may bring new insight, skills, to make the project better. Better for the product because additional members may contribute in ways unforeseen originally. Good for new members because it lowers the barrier to entry to participate.

  • listing of telecons


Service -

  • Collaborative editing/none? just a web page?
  • Could have a standard form/template for get involved to be 'standard' on every workspace. Then could include a directory of projects with descriptions and links to their get involved

Product or Object of Workspace

The workspace is designed for a particular product, output, goal. If the product or object is a collaboratively written document then that page is connected to the workspace. The product may be a collection (i.e. outcome of EE workspace is list of AQ events analyzed).


  • Proposals
  • Class Projects
  • Event/Meeting
  • Scenario development
  • Tool development
  • Analysis
  • Demo preparation

Product important to participants because they need it or can use it. Participants important to product because they provide multiple perspectives that enhance the quality.

What's New

Each workspace has a What's New or News section. This section gives group members a way to highlight for each other changes they made to the product or the workspace, resources they've added, events of interest or discussion points that need resolution, new members to the group?.

It also gives newcomers a way to catch up on the happenings of this group. What's new also increases visibility to key content.

Who is it for: What's new is for both people new to the space as well as group members.

Needs to have a way to archive the news. Need a way to create automatically so that top few show up - One solution is through transcluding top 5 items from the Workspace News page.


  • collaborative editing
  • standard 'news' page with transcluding built in?

Needs a method - how to move transclude up/down to show more or less news.

Tools and Methods

These are tools developed for the product. Methods developed as part of the product are also resources. This section of the workspace identifies what those tools and methods are. Identifying the tools and methods separate from the entire product allows for components to be reused. good for future products ....


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