To provide a simple but effective utility for students and scientist that need quick access to datasets supplied by NIST. Dubbed NISTAssist, the solution reflects FCG's focus on providing useful and highly usable information, when and where it is needed.
What it does
- No installation needed - simply use your preferred web browser
- Menu navigation to access to 2 NIST datasets: CODATA Fundamental Physical Constants (NIST SRD 121) and Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (NIST SRD 144)
- Direct use of NIST supplied datasets (JSON format)
- Responsive design to accommodate smartphones, tablets, PCs
- Web application that requires only a browser (no installation or visit to App Stores)
- Search-as-you-type for significant columns
- Sort on any column by clicking header
- Button bar on bottom provides:
- Instructions and abbreviation legend (referencing NIST documentation and 2008 SI Units reference)
- Links to pertinent NIST references associated with current dataset
- Link to provide feedback, report error, and ask questions
- Selectable row and additional contextual links for those seeking deeper information (illustrated on SRD-144: select row, click 'Row detail' button, )
- Development on a platform the enables expandability based on user feedback
How I built it
Using one of FCG's Virtual Appliances used for Clinical diagnostics, Laboratory automation, and Food/Flavors industry solutions that has been modified to address NIST requirements.
NIST Resources and information used:
- CODATA Fundamental Physical Constants (NIST SRD 121)
- Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (NIST SRD 144)
- NIST SRD144 Dictionary
- NIST Online Elemental Data Index
- NIST SP-811 Reference
- NIST License
Challenges I ran into
Anticipating user preference in displaying column priority on the smaller screens (in the future this could be modified based on user feedback or made configurable).
Adapting the SRD-144 dataset to the tools that parse the JSON file - the 'Isotopic composition' field in the sub-table is not always present.
Ensuring the responsive design worked adequately on various browsers and operating systems.
Trying to recall proper use of SI Units and abbreviations from a previous career and ... relieved to find an excellent NIST reference that addresses it.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Adapting FCG Virtual Appliances and solutions to provide an effective solution that does not require any special installation.
Focusing on how to make technology work for the intended user.
What I learned
Validation of the importance of finding ways to combine and aggregate data in a way that is usable and immediately available to users.
The depth and wealth of resources available from NIST - it had been a very long time since I had used a select number of them in the past.
Various technical details needed to address implementation issues.
What's next for NISTAssist
Assess level of interest and obtain user feedback to determine next steps
Enable additional features on selected rows such as:
- Copy to clipboard (so that only selected content can be included in another document)
- Print to PDF (which FCG does in other solutions developed for the Clinical Diagnostic and Food industries)
- Export to CSV
- Additional referencing of NIST databases similar to what was already implemented for the pml.nist.gov and Physical Reference Data. (More research and user feedback would make this more targeted)