User Group Comments (August 2013)

User Group Tester 1

  1. Starting a new proposal
    • [Minor] Create new proposal: nice visual selection, but photos are at odd aspect ratios. (VLBA photo is vertically squashed, VLA is horizontally squashed.)
    • [Minor] Creating a proposal dumps me back to the list of all proposals, with a new empty proposal added to the list. Shouldn't it put me in the proposal editor instead, so that I can fill in some details? Also, the symbol that looks like "Edit" (Paper+Pencil) is actually "Validate" and I have to click the title to get to Edit. (dsb: I agree. After a proposal is created the proposal in question should be selected. That is, we should be put on the General page of the proposal and not the summary table. We can do this next cycle.) EVL-xxxx (14B)
  2. Editing the "General" section
    • [Bug?] Click here for additional information about Proposal Science Categories -> stalls. Link broken? (dsb: This links works for me.)
    • [Feature suggestion] Related Proposals - would be nice if I could click on the list of past proposals visible on the left to populate this field...(dsb: we have discussed this in the past. Something we should add in the future.)
    • [Pet peeve] "You have UNSAVED CHANGES: If you leave the page without saving, your changes will be lost. Press OK to continue..." Aaaargh! What does "OK to Continue" mean? Will that discard or preserve my changes? Read further: "... or Cancel to stay on the current page." Also, (1) The buttons are in reverse order (Cancel/OK) compared to the explanation (OK/Cancel) and (2) How about giving me "Save Changes / Discard Changes / Return to page" buttons here instead? (dsb: good point. We should change this behavior next cycle.) EVL-2460 (14B)
  3. Authors
    • [Minor] The confirmation dialog for author up/down is pointless. Trust me, when I hit "Up" on author, I do want to move them up. If I didn't, I would just need to click on "Down" to move them back - same amount of work as clicking "OK" on the confirmation dialog...(dsb: good point. We should change this behavior next cycle.) EVL-2461 (14B)
  4. Science
    • I like the science justification preview thumbnails! Nice.
  5. Technical Justification
    • [Bug?] Links to[*] don't work. Probably because those pages are not live yet? (dsb: these work for me but maybe they are not really public outside NRAO; we should check. Works for me at home.) This was fixed.
    • [Bug!] Sensitivity calculator screen shot upload FAILS. Not sure why - I'm using a png from a screen shot and it is 147 KB. Try removing spaces from name - no, still fails. Clicking "Download" generates "SQLGrammarException: could not execute query" but that's probably fine, since the upload didn't go through. (dsb: this used to work for me but now I have the same problem. We need to fix this.) This was fixed.
  6. Targets
  7. Resources
    • [Minor] "The HSA checkbox must be selected when HSA stations are selected." ?? (dsb: the problem is that this check box serves two purposes. We should rethink if there is a better way.)
  8. Sessions
    • [Pet Peeve] Enter a session name and select sources, resources, time. Now click on New Session - oops, we lost the previous session info without any warning. To save it, I should have clicked the small blue "Save/Cancel" link, not the big "New Session" button. Why are these actions in separate areas?(dsb: I disagree. It seems to me sensible to separate these since they really are different functions; one relevant to the page in general, the other to the specific session.)
    • [Bug] Can't add multiple Source Groups to a session when I'm initially defining it. BUT if I add one source group, save the session, and then edit the session, I can add as many Source Groups as I like. That's not right. (dsb: this is really a feature but he has a good point. Maybe change this next cycle.)
    • [Subtle BUG] I define a Source Group, then define a Session to use that Source Group, then go back and add another source to the Source Group - the new source does not show up in the Session when looking at Print Preview. BUT if I edit a source in the Source Group, it updates the properties within the Session - even the source name. I would have expected either that the Source Group was frozen when defining a session (incorporated by current values) OR that it was incorporated by reference and the Session would get updated on any edits within the Source Group. Currently it is an odd mixture of the two behaviors. (dsb: I get the same result for the pdf file. So this is indeed a subtle bug that we should fix.) EVL-2462 (14B)
  9. Validation
    • I also meant to attach this screen shot from the proposal. Sure would be helpful to know why it didn't validate... (To be fair, it did tell me why it didn't validate before, but after I fixed each problem, this is what I have left. I don't know what it means. The proposal is saved on the webtest server if you would like to poke at it - VLBA-2013-05-013.) (dsb: I get the same result. Not sure what is going on here but anytime a proposal does not validate we need a good reason as to why and how to pass validation. We should provide a better message.) This was fixed.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 11.20.28 AM.png

User Group Tester 2

  1. I like the technical justification page -- it breaks down the components of what should be in a technical justification. The format could be improved a bit, though: I found the location of the links a bit odd, directly below the directive or question. I realized after looking at the table and clicking on some of the links that they are references to information that could be useful to fill in the box; adding a third column to the table, with these links and a descriptive heading like "Further information can be found in this links" would be useful. (dsb: Maybe add text at the top "The links within each box provide information concerning these technical questions.")
  2. I downloaded the latest version of the EVLA exposure calculator, but I didn't see a Save option on the Tool. I can of course take a screenshot of the calculator and save it as a .png, but the upload doesn't show whether this was successful or not. This will be confusing to proposers.(dsb: I think she was using the old version of the calculator. There is a bug with the upload button that needs to be fixed.) This was fixed.
  3. in the Sources section, there is an option to import sources, and another option to convert sources. At first I didn't see what the difference was, but then I noticed that there is a comment under conversion that a calibration flag is appended to the end of each line. This should be made clearer, either by putting the sentence "The conversion adds a Calibration flag (N) at the end of each line. " in the convert page in a different color/font/size, or some other manner to catch the proposer's attention. And perhaps adding a line under Import to the effect that the Convert button will add this extra bit to an existing source file. (dsb: we should make the following text red: "The conversion adds a Calibration flag (N) at the end of each line.") Done.
  4. I tried creating a joint proposal, but it wasn't clear how you link up two proposals to different telescopes. If I am working on several proposals, I can see them listed in the proposal list, but it would only be by drilling down into the proposal specifics that you could determine this (if you didn't do something like have the same title for both proposals). Is the assumption that the same scientific justification would be used? It's not enforced, and right now it's not clear how to make sure that the proposals are linked to each other.(dsb: this is a longstanding problem that we need to address at some point.) EVL-2432 (Long Term)

User Group Tester 3

  1. General:
    • It would be good to have a link to descriptions of Proposal Type.(dsb: I am not sure we really need this. There is info in the Help document.)
  2. Authors:
    • I whole-heartedly second [Tester 1] comment that we don't need a confirmation box asking us if we really want to move an author up/down. Even better would be if we could drag author's names into place but this might be difficult. Or perhaps a numbering scheme would be better—if an author is moved up by being given a higher ranking, all authors lowers than this new rank drop down one rank.(dsb: agreed. We can remove the confirmation box next cycle.) EVL-2461 (14B)
    • If i click on 'available authors' as suggested, it boots me out of the proposal I was editing. There should be a way to directly return to the proposal I was editing. (dsb: a valid point but I am not sure we can easy change this behavior since this link is just a shortcut to another PST page.)
    • One thing I have encountered in the past is a Co-I copying and pasting an old proposal, which has me listed with my previous institution. I don't think the Co-I knew about the hidden 'update' button for authors, so the proposal was submitted with my old information and referees got annoyed. It would be great if 1) either the author information could be updated during the cut/paste process or 2) a warning was given more prominently that an 'update' button exists and should be utilized.(dsb: I think this has been fixed where the information now comes from the author's profile.)
    • It might also be good if NRAO more prominently displayed the sentiment that all authors must have a account before being added to a proposal, so that proposers know to not save their author lists to the last minute (this is often seen as the 'easy part' and therefore procrastinated on; i myself have had to leave co-authors off proposals because they didn't get around to making a account in time).(dsb: maybe we can add the following text at the top of the author page: "All proposal authors must be registered users.") Done.
  3. Scientific Justification:
    • If I click on 'help', it still tells me that I need to include the technical justification in the 4 page pdf document. Section 2.3.3 should probably be rewritten and maybe split into distinct parts for Science and Technical. (dsb: we have not yet updated the help documentation.)
    • For this deadline, i wonder if it's worthwhile adding a special note that technical justifications no longer need to be included in this document.(dsb: we will emphasize this fact in the call for proposals. Also, it should be obvious once users realize that they have to fill in a technical justification section.)
  4. Technical Justification:
    • I find this question: "Note whether the targets will be nighttime or daytime sources for the configurations proposed, and whether there will be any potential scheduling issues." rather confusing. What is a scheduling issue? why does it matter if sources are nighttime or daytime? Isn't it more relevant what LST they are at? Clicking on the link doesn't really enlighten the situation. As a user I am confused about what the NRAO is trying to glean here.(dsb: this seems obvious to me but she has a point that the documentation is not helpful. Maybe we can change the text to: "Note whether the targets will be nighttime or daytime sources for the configurations proposed (e.g., rfi is an issue and nighttime is requested), and whether there will be any potential scheduling issues:")
    • What are the 'overhead old' and 'overhead new' sub-sections that are linked to? This should probably be fixed, or at least defined, before going public. (dsb: I agree this is confusing and should be clarified.) This was fixed.
    • What is a 'problem with RFI'? Its existence? Again, I'm not sure what sort of answer is being sought here, and I bet other users will be confused too. Would the ideal answer be a mention of fractional bandwidth to be affected by RFI? (dsb: we say: "Note any potential problems with RFI in the proposed observations:" This seems pretty clear to me. Will the rfi environment effect the observations that are being proposed.)
  5. Sources
    • I'm unclear on what the calibrator box means. Is it expected that we will identify and input calibrators, not just target sources? (the help file says just target sources). (dsb: It is true in the first sentence we do mention just target sources. We then later explain the purpose of the calibrator box. I will modify the text to make this more clear.) Done.
  6. Resource and Sessions: i'll just copy my comments that we put in an appendix of the users' committee report, submitted a couple weeks ago. These are based off experiences from past deadlines, but I think they still hold true for this PST version. I think, in the long term, that the sources-resources-sessions break down is quite confusing and could be reworked---and I know I'm not alone in this sentiment.(dsb: preaching to the choir!)
    1. The concept of a ”source group” is unintuitive in many situations. Imagine a new observer who has a single target they would like to propose for—let’s say ”M87”. The very first thing they do is click on ”new source group” and type in ”M87”. Then they do a NED/SIMBAD search for M87, get its information, but when they click ’Save’, they get an error: ”The source name cannot be same as group name. Please try again.” First, why not? Second, this user is not even making a group of sources, they just have one.
    2. This issue of source groups then complicates the issue of sessions. Imagine a case where we have 15 targets—ten we want to observe in B config, and 5 we want to observe in A config. So we put them in two different source groups, according to desired configuration. But when we get to the sessions page, we are confused about how to input the desired observations (say, three 3-hour blocks on each source). We can only select the entire source group, which makes it sound like we want to observe all 10 targets in a single block. Should we say we want 30 sessions, each of 3 hours, for the B-config group? Or should we throw up our hands and say we just want 1 session of 90 hours, because we’re confused any way? Or should we go back to ’sources’ and place each target in a separate group, and then make one set of sessions per source (this is very time consuming)? We’ve tried all of these options in the past and we’re still not sure which is right. Hence our complaint that sessions are quite unintuitive.
    3. Take another example—let’s say we do want to observe all ten sources in a source group in a single block. Should the rms noise then be the rms noise per session per source, or the rms noise assuming we just observe one source all session long?
    4. It is unclear if the LST range needs to actually be set and taken seriously under sessions. An ominous error message comes up if the LST range is not set: ”The LST Range has not been modifed from the default values: ’00:00:00’ - ’24:00:00.’ Your session will be assumed to be centered at 12h LST. If that is undesirable, enter appropriate values for the session’s LST minimum and LST maximum.” First, we think this is requiring too much of the observers, to predict their LST ranges before observations are approved. Second, this information is roughly redundant with the ’minimum elevation’ request—minimum elevation should be sufficient to give the TAC a sense of when a given target will be up. Thirdly, in the example from point (2), where we seek to observe multiple targets each in their own block, the setting of an LST range is impractical.
    5. Once a session is established, if the user would like to go back and edit the session, there are multiple places to click edit, and only parts of the session are editable at a given time. For example, the user can click ’edit’ under the session, or they can click on the source group name and then edit that. Why not just make everything editable if the user selects edit? This would make use of Sessions much easier and faster.
    6. Why do velocities, reference frames, and conventions need to be included under sources?
    7. The PST gives strong errors if there are unused resources in the proposal. This is confusing to the user, and often a significant inconvenience at submission time—isn’t it the sessions that count?
  7. Validation: At the end I got a comment: "The proposal could not be validated. Please verify each section thoroughly and try again". This could just be a product of the fact that it's webtest, but if it's not, and indicates a more severe problem, this error message is worrisome in its unhelpfulness.(dsb: this is a bug and should be fixed.) This has been fixed.
  8. Finally, it's worth noting that the TAC could potentially end up with a whole lot more to read, what with the very detailed technical questions and the still 4-page limit for the pdf document. Has this been fully considered and is it all right with the TAC? (dsb: this is mostly for the technical reviewers who will submit a report to the TAC. So it should not be a problem.)

User Group Tester 4

I tried to create a large VLA proposal and very quickly a regular GBT proposal. I marked the most pressing issues with '!!' while the rest are more annoyances.

My general comments:

  • pictures are nice, but buttons are hard to see below the large pictures, maybe make font for text much larger and have one instrument per line. (This might be especially confusing for first time users.)(dsb: pretty minor but I guess we could make the radio buttons and text larger.)
  • a validate/verify button per step would be useful as e.g. the technical justification is quite long, and one might overlook a box.(dsb: I think she is asking for some way to indicate that text has been entered/saved. If so I agree.)
  • the inconsistency in if I need to save information on the sub-box level or the top level for the individual steps is a bit confusing(dsb: I do not understand what she means here.)

Comments on proposal sections:

  1. General
    • what is meant by '10min' in the abstract box? (dsb: a minimum of 10 words.)
    • would be nice if the word count would (abstract box) be up-dated instantanously while typing (dsb: if this is easy okay but next cycle.)
    • similarly up-dating character count (title box) while typing (dsb: again okay if easy.)
  2. authors:
    • option to add multiple authors (e.g. from same institution) at once (dsb: is this really necessary?)
  3. science justification
    • up-load is slow
    • I like the page limit warning
  4. technical justification
    • unclear what exactly is required. One example would be helpful (either on the web-page or the help-page). (dsb: an example is a good idea.)
    • Also information if there is a space limit on how much information should/could be provided would be helpful. (dsb: good point. Do we have limits?)
    • unclear if link to external page is helpful, it takes a while to load (dsb: this should be fast; maybe an issue connecting to Europe.)
    •, unclear if this information will be useful to new users as the main reasons to avoid day time could be solar RFI, better phases, or there could be other issues (coordinated observations, etc.)(dsb: this page did not help tester 3.)
    • unclear why the overhead is tripling when going from D to A configuration (e.g. Ka band w/ 4 GHz BW & rms ~ 5 uJy) this might appear to be a bit arbitrary for a new user(dsb: I am not sure where she is getting this info.)
    • !! up-load of calculator png-image from version 14A is not working(dsb: Yes, this is bug we need to fix.) This was fixed.
    • ! unclear if one would need to include calculator screen shots for each set-up, e.g. for a multi-frequency proposal(dsb: We should probably make this more clear.) This was added.
  5. sources
    • !! the export button gives the information in my web-browser window (from an old proposal), but it is unclear which format the PST wants. (Well, I tried txt-format which works.) (dsb: Yes, it is ascii. This seems obvious since when you click "Export" it gives you this file which you can save.)
    • !! unclear for which proposals the convert button will be needed and which it won't(dsb: we provide the dates when the old format is used in the help document.)
    • it would be nice to have the option to either change the source/target or group name(dsb: you can do this by clicking on the source name or source group name.)
    • confusing that I can enter the source name, but if I want to use SIMBAD/NED I need to enter it again(dsb: I am not sure what she means here. You enter the source name into the SIMBAD/NED search box and then it should be displayed in the return.)
  6. resources
    • ! it is confusing that for the sources one needs to export and import them while for the resources they can be copied. (dsb: you do not have to export/import them you can also copy them from an old proposal.)
    • it would be helpful if the proposal title for the list of proposals where resources could be copied from would be available(dsb: reasonable request.)
    • !!a button to delete individual resources would be helpful and not only all(dsb: to delete a specific resource you have to go into edit mode and then click "delete".)
    • !!trying to create a new resource group for GBT sends me to a blank page under when using the same name as for the source group, an error message would be helpful(dsb: I was able to do this without any error. Not sure what was going on.)
    • an example for entering more than 1 rest frequency for GBT would be helpful, i.e. state that a colon is required for separation(dsb: we note that a comma separated list is required in the help document. Maybe we could add text on the page.) Added text on Resource page.
  7. sessions
    • unclear why there is a link to the EVLA exposure Calculator here, as this information is already provided/requested in the technical justification(dsb: yes we have discussed this before; we now have this info in multiple places)
    • it would be helpful to request this information at the same time as in the 'technical justification' web-page(dsb: again, yes.)
    • it is unclear what separate information on the constraints is collected here compared to the 'technical justification' section(dsb: the plan was copy the constraints from one place to the other but I am not sure this goes both ways.)
  8. print preview
    • !! I could not see the technical justification in the print preview version nor the printed version. since some people will just sent the complete PDF to co-Is, this seems crucial(dsb: this is not yet in place.) This was added.

-- DanaBalser - 2013-07-01
Topic revision: r5 - 2013-10-23, DanaBalser
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