nodegoat FAQ

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    nodegoat
    Keymaster

    This FAQ helps you to get familiar with the basic nodegoat functionalities.

    1. General
      What is nodegoat?
      For what kind of research questions can I use nodegoat?
      How can I access nodegoat?
      Is nodegoat open source?
      Who built nodegoat?
      Why is there a goat in nodegoat?
      Can I explore exemplary data?
    2. Terminology
      What are the underlying principles behind nodegoat?
      What are ‘Types’?
      What are ‘Objects’?
      What are ‘Object Descriptions’?
      What are ‘Sub-Objects’?
      What are ‘Classifications’?
      What are ‘Conditions’?
    3. First steps
      How do I use nodegoat?
      How do I start a project?
      How do I enter data?
      What are shared Types?
    4. Interoperability
      How can I export data?
      How can I import data?

    1. General
    What is nodegoat?
    nodegoat (http://nodegoat.net) is a web-based database management, analysis and visualisation platform which lets you collect, organise and visualise your data in a variety of ways. Using nodegoat, you can define, create, query, update, and manage any number of data sets by use of a graphic user interface.

    For what kind of research questions can I use nodegoat?
    Regardless of your discipline, you can use nodegoat for any research project in which you are dealing with bits of evidence that have one or more of the following aspects:

    • Relations (author→book, employee→institute) – filter, analyse and visualise complex relations between objects.
    • Sources – support each piece of evidence with various sources.
    • Geographical coordinates – visualise objects on an interactive and georeferenced map.
    • Temporal attributes – do all or any of the above diachronically.

    How can I access nodegoat?
    nodegoat provides free hosted services for individual researchers. Send an email to info@lab1100.com to request an account. nodegoat can also run on your (institution’s) server. Get in touch via info@lab1100.com to find out more.

    Is nodegoat open source?
    Currently, the core of nodegoat is not open source. The source code of nodegoat partner modules is released under a GNU General Public License.

    Who built nodegoat?
    nodegoat is developed by LAB1100 (Pim van Bree & Geert Kessels, http://lab1100.com/).

    Why is there a goat in nodegoat?
    “Goats are extremely curious and intelligent.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat]

    Can I explore exemplary data?
    Yes. To explore data and a data design on paintings by Rembrandt, you login with username ‘demo_rembrandt’ and password ‘demo’.

    2. Terminology
    What are the underlying principles behind nodegoat?
    The following diagram illustrates the underlying principle of nodegoat and its associated terminology. The next points explain each term in more detail.

    nodegoat Design: Object Descriptions
    nodegoat Terminology. (Click to enlarge)

    What are ‘Types’?
    A Type covers the broadest definition of a set of objects within your data. Should your dataset include a variety of persons who all have different capacities, all of them will belong to the Type ‘Person’. The same approach can be applied to pieces of art such as paintings, sculptures or buildings: all could be part of the Type ‘Artifact’. There is no absolute rule that dictates how you construct your Types. In case your research question requires a strict separation of artifacts, you are able to create one Type for each kind of artifact (e.g. ‘Painting’, ‘Sculpture’, ‘Building’). For reference: a Type in nodegoat is comparable to a table in the classic (database) table structure.

    What are ‘Objects’?
    Objects are actors (both human and non-human, e.g. a painting, a person, a city). All intrinsic aspects of an actor are stored within the Object (stored in ‘Object Descriptions’ and ‘Sub-Objects’, see below). In the example of a painting, all information regarding the genesis of the artwork is stored in the Object of the painting (in ‘Sub-Objects’ (see below) such as ‘Commissioned by’, ‘Produced in Studio XYZ’). Information on the ownership of the painting could also be stored within the Object of the painting in order to store the provenance of the painting in a single Object. Information on incidental whereabouts of the painting, on the other hand, is stored within the Object of the temporary exhibition in which the painting was displayed. In this scenario, an Object of the temporary or traveling exhibition will include information on the presence of the painting and refer back to the Object of the painting to establish a reciprocal relation. As a result, all intrinsic aspects of the painting are stored in one place, while non-intrinsic aspects are retrievable from within the Object of the painting as incoming relations. Again, there is no absolute rule prescribing this structure and you are free to design your data structure based on the needs of your own research question. For reference: an Object in nodegoat in relation to a Type is comparable to a row in the classic (database) table structure.

    What are ‘Object Descriptions’?
    Object Descriptions are static fields that describe intrinsic aspects of an Object. In this context, static means a ‘non-changing’ aspect of an Object. Examples of static fields are the name of a person, the title of a book or the type of paint used for a painting. Obviously, descriptions are rarely ‘non-changing’ as personal names or geographical labels might mutate over time. If these changes are of importance for your research question, you should store these in Sub-Objects (see below). For reference: an Object Description in nodegoat in relation to a Type is comparable to a column in the classic (database) table structure. The following Object Descriptions can be created:

    • String – a single line string with a maximum of 5000 characters.
    • Type – a relation to another Object in the same or a different Type. One Object Description can contain multiple relations to the referenced Type.
    • Classification – a relation to a Category in a Classification (see below). One Object Description can contain multiple relations to one Classification.
    • Integer – an integer (whole number, no decimals) up to a length of 11 digits.
    • Text – non-formatted text field up to 65535 characters.
    • Text (layout) – formatted text field up to 65535 characters. In this field, words can be related to other Objects.
    • True/False – a true/false field.
    • Date – a date field, using the following date formats:
      • y (1687)
      • -y (-800)
      • m-y (03-1687 / 3-1687)
      • m--y (03--800 / 3--800)
      • -m-y (-03-800 / -3-800)
      • d-m-y (09-03-1687 / 9-3-1687)
      • d-m--y (09-03--800 / 9-3--800)
      • -d-m-y (-09-03-800 / -9-3-800)
    • Media – upload any kind of media (i.e. png, pdf, mp3).
    • Media (External) – link to external media resources (e.g. http://url.com/map.png or http://youtu.be/jm1os4VzTgA).
    • External – an external relation using URIs. URIs can be plain URLs, or can be retrieved by connecting to the nodegoat Linked Data module to dynamically query SPARQL/API resources like VIAF or Wikipedia.

    Per Object Description you can tick five box. The first tick box is only applicable to relational fields and gives you the opportunity to store multiple relations in one Object Description. If you tick the second box, nodegoat will check whether a new value that has been added in this Object Description has not been used elsewhere. You can use this if you’re working with unique identifiers. The third box allows you to use this Object Description in the name of the object, this allows you to create a dynamic naming scheme. The fourth box specifies whether the value in this object description is searched in a quick search. If you tick the fifth box, the value of this object description will be displayed as part of the overview of objects in this type. To get a grip on these options, it is best to experiment with them to see which configuration suits your needs.

    nodegoat Design: Object Descriptions
    nodegoat Design: Object Descriptions for the Type ‘Person’. (Click to enlarge)

    What are ‘Sub-Objects’?
    Sub-Objects are dynamic components that describe intrinsic circumstances of an Object over space and time. In this context, dynamic means either a ‘changing’ aspect of an Object or an aspect of an Object that has specific geographical coordinates and/or temporal attributes. Sub-Objects always have geographical coordinates and temporal attributes and describe a ‘state’ of an Object.

    By including a number of Sub-Objects within one Object, the ‘circumstance’ or ‘biography’ of an Object is reconstructed. Although the location and time of the birth of a person do not change, each of these aspects are described in one Sub-Object as they indicate a change in the state of the Object. The place of residence of a person on the other hand does change regularly and will be described in numerous Sub-Objects. Accordingly, the Sub-Object ‘Birth’ will be included once (unique), while the Sub-Object ‘Place of Residence’ can be included multiple times. Sub-Objects can include ‘Sub-Object Descriptions’. These follow the same logic as the Object Descriptions (see above) but will relate to the Sub-Object of the Object and not directly to the Object itself.

    In the example of the painting, numerous Sub-Objects can be added to describe the production of the painting (over time, in different studios) as well as numerous Sub-Objects describing the ownership of the painting (related to persons or institutes). For reference: a Sub-Object in nodegoat in relation to a Type is incomparable to any aspect of the classic (database) table structure.

    nodegoat Design: Object Subs
    nodegoat Design: Sub-Objects for the Type ‘Painting’ (Click to enlarge)

    What are ‘Classifications’?
    Classifications function in a similar fashion as Types. As Classifications are used to classify Objects by Categories, the contents of Classifications will be referred to as Categories instead of Objects. Classifications do not include Sub-Objects. In the example of a Project on paintings, a Classification can be made on the techniques used to produce a painting. This Classification can be populated with Categories like ‘Oil on panel’ or ‘Grisaille on paper’. To use this Classification, an Object Description should be made for the Object of the Painting that refers to this Classification.

    What are ‘Conditions’?
    Conditions can be assigned to Objects in Types based on the state of the Object. Conditions affect the visual representation of the Object within nodegoat. You can use Conditions to: mark books with a specific colour based on the author of the book; use colours for Objects based on their Classification (e.g. ‘Gender’); use text formatting to emphasize (parts in) the Object name.

    3. First steps
    How do I use nodegoat?
    Your nodegoat account gives you access to one nodegoat domain. A domain is a nodegoat environment in which you can run multiple projects. All the Types you create will only exist within this domain and can be included in multiple projects.

    • ‘Design’
      The engine of your nodegoat environment can be accessed under the heading Design. Here you design your data structure, including all internal relations. Your custom data Design autoconfigures the backbone of nodegoat’s core functionalities.

      Your Design consists of a number of Types. Each Type will be populated with Objects (this can be done under the heading ‘Data’, see below). Per Type you can specify Object Descriptions that will be used to describe an Object and define Sub-Objects that can be included in an Object. Due to the Object-oriented nature of nodegoat, the need for reciprocal relations is redundant. For example, to construct a data Design on personal relations, you could construct two Types: ‘Person’ and ‘Nuclear Family’. In the Type Person, you define Object Descriptions such as ‘Given Name’ (string), ‘Family Name’ (string), ‘Gender’ (relation to Classification: ‘Gender’), ‘Child of’ (relation to Type: ‘Nuclear Family’) and Sub-Objects like ‘Birth’, ‘Decease’, ‘Place of Residence’. In the Type Nuclear Family you define two Object Descriptions: ‘Partner’ (relation to Type: ‘Person’), ‘Partner’ (relation to Type: ‘Person’) and one Sub-Object describing the place and time of the institutional/religious recognition of the pair. Following this structure, three brothers are now linked to each other via the Object of the Nuclear Family they all share. This keeps you from saving the same relation in 3 x 2 instances. In case you only have information on siblings and not on the Nuclear Family they belong to, you should construct a placeholder (a Nuclear Family Object with no partners) for this family which connects the siblings to each other.

    • ‘Management’
      Under the heading Management, you manage the usage of your data structure in Projects, and when nodegoat runs on your server, you can also manage Users and clearance levels.

      A Project is a selection of Types and Classifications to which specific settings can be assigned. You can specify the order in which the Types and Classifications are displayed, assign Project-specific colours to Types and Classifications and specify which Types can be used as Sources. Types and Classifications can be included in multiple projects. You could, for example, run one Project in which you manage your bibliographical data, while you conduct your research in a different project (and only refer to your Types with bibliographical data).

      nodegoat Design: Object Subs
      nodegoat Projects: edit Project (Click to enlarge)

      Users can be assigned to multiple Projects and may have differentiated clearance levels. The data entered/modified by users with lower clearance levels has to be accorded by a user with a higher clearance level. Each modification is stored, previous versions can always be accessed and restored. This allows you to use nodegoat in a project setting in which data is gathered and curated by heterogeneous user groups (senior researchers/Ph.D students/students/volunteers).

    • ‘Data’
      Under the heading Data you are able to enter data in your Types and Classifications. You can also navigate, perform filtering actions and visualise your data.

    nodegoat Design: Object Subs
    nodegoat View: Sub-Objects for the Type ‘Painting’ (Click to enlarge)

    How do I start a project?
    The first thing you should do is create a new project (Management → Projects → Add Project) and enable the shared Type ‘City’ and/or ‘Country’ (both are available to everyone using nodegoat) should you want to use these in your project. You will need to design a data structure (Design → Design → Add Type/Classification). Once you’ve created a new Type or Classification, you have to enable it in the Project where you want to use it (Management → Projects → edit). The data can be entered under the heading ‘Data’.

    How do I enter data?
    After you have clicked the Type you want to work on, you click on ‘Add [name of Type]’ to add a new object. After filling in the Object’s Descriptions and Sub-Objects, you click ‘Save [name of Type]’ to save your Object. After you have entered your first Objects, you will see them appearing in lists per Type. Clicking the magnifying glass allows you to inspect the Object in a view-mode. By clicking the blue ‘edit’-button, you can edit your Object. The red ‘del’-button, lets you delete your object. For a mass delete operation, you can use the multiselect checkboxes next to the ‘del’-button and delete your selection by clicking the ‘del’-button at the top of the list.

    nodegoat Design: Object Subs
    nodegoat Data: edit Object in the Type ‘Painting’ (Click to enlarge)

    What are shared Types?
    In order to provide access to structured geographical coordinates, we have included two Types that can be used by any nodegoat user. These Types consist of georeferenced information of the GeoNames database (http://geonames.org/). The Type ‘City’ includes over 120.000 Objects of cities with a population over 5000 people. You can add new (smaller) cities to this Type. If you do this, always consult http://geonames.org first and include the ‘Geoname ID’, ‘Country Code’ and if applicable ‘Alternate Names’ as well as the Latitude and Longitude. The Type ‘Country’ includes all the current countries of the world with a geographical coordinate to the centre of the country.

    4. Interoperability
    How can I export data?
    Each data selection can be exported to CSV files. These files can be used to feed network analysis programmes like Gephi or Pajek.

    How can I import data?
    The import functionality allows you to import XML, JSON or CSV (semi-colon separated, UTF-8 encoded) files. Based on these ‘Source Files’, you can create ‘Import Templates’ that you can run in varying speeds and precision. In this forum topic, you find more information on importing data.

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Network analysis in the historical disciplines