Introducing Research IT’s New Documentation Website

May 12, 2021

Research IT is excited to introduce our new documentation website! Our expert consultants from various backgrounds have collaborated to provide helpful and accessible documentation on Research IT services for our diverse user base. Individuals who are interested in our services or are actively using them in their research can now find quick answers to their questions on how these leading resources work and how to optimally access them. Documentation is currently available on Research IT services like High Performance Computing (Savio), with information on Secure Research Data & Compute (SRDC), Research Data Management, Analytics Environments on Demand (AEoD), and Cloud Computing Support in progress.

James Duncan

James Duncan, a BRC Domain Consultant and PhD student in Biostatistics, has worked closely with other graduate student consultants and Research IT staff members to move the project forward. James and the team are committed to modernizing the previous documentation website by improving its accessibility and usability so that users can get quick answers to their questions. “A lot of research on our high performance computing cluster Savio or on other Research IT services are incredibly impactful projects,” James explains, “our mission is to help them get their research done. Any small amount of time that you can save them will really add up in the long run.” 

The new Research IT documentation website is hosted on GitLab which encourages collaboration and direct input from community members. Users can suggest edits through the community contributions guide if they have any feedback or concerns. Other channels for usersupport are conveniently listed under the Getting Help section. GitLab provides a secure, open-source platform for community members to contribute to the website’s source code, creating a living document which continues to improve.

The new documentation website also uses MkDocs as its framework. This platform makes the website more accessible and user-friendly by providing extensive tools that make navigating the site easier. One key feature is nicely formatted code blocks which display examples of code in different programming languages by simply selecting a tab. The website also features a dynamic search function which immediately displays a drop down list of relevant results and is search engine friendly. The simplified underlying code also makes the website more accessible to users with screen readers and other assistive devices.

This website will continue to develop over time as Research IT expands and enhances its services. “Secure data is becoming more and more important in the research world, so we're trying to reflect that,” James mentions as he explains his next project, working on the SRDC documentation pages. Another exciting Research IT project James says to look forward to is Savio Open OnDemand, a new tool that allows users to utilize JupyterLab, Jupyter Notebooks, R Studio, Matlab, and other graphical user interfaces in a more accessible and seamless way. We should expect to see this innovative new service on the Research IT documentation website soon!

Creating the new Research IT documentation website has been and continues to be a collaborative effort. “It’s cool to have people from so many different domain backgrounds and so many different walks of life all working together,” James shares, “documentation is where it all gets compressed together.” We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the documentation website’s development and encourage your contributions!

Special thanks to the documentation website development team: Amy Neeser, Chris Paciorek, Christopher Hann-Soden, James Duncan, Jason Christopher, Mark Yashar, Oliver Mullerklein, Rick Jaffe, and our partners at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.