Scratchpads are an online virtual research environment for biodiversity, allowing anyone to share their data and create their own research networks. Sites are hosted at the Natural History Museum London, and offered freely to any scientist that completes an online registration form.
Sites can focus on specific taxonomic groups, or the biodiversity of a biogeographic region, or indeed any aspect of natural history. Scratchpads are also suitable for societies or for managing and presenting projects. Key features of Scratchpads (see also Scratchpads feature list) include: tools to manage biological classifications, bibliography management, media (images, video and audio), rich taxon pages (with structured descriptions, specimen records, and distribution data), and character matrices.
Scratchpads support various ways of communicating with site members and visitors such as blogs, forums, newsletters and a commenting system.
The Scratchpads are based upon Drupal, and therefore have many of the same dependencies as it does. We recommend installing Scratchpads using MySQL only, preferably on a Debian based server. We are currently working on a Vagrant/Chef setup to allow users to get their own copy of the Scratchpads up and running easily. We expect this to be ready by July 2015.
- Installation Support
Only limited support is offered for external installations. You should only attempt to get your own Scratchpads installation running if you feel comfortable with all of the technologies involved (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Solr, Memcache, Varnish). If you do not feel comfortable running your own installation, then please apply for a site at the link above.
- User Support
We offer extensive support to users of the Scratchpads, whether using an NHM maintained Scratchpad, or a local one. Support should be requested using the "Issues..." tab which is visible when logged in to a Scratchpad.
If you're reading this, you've either already downloaded the Scratchpads code, or are on our Github page. As we have just moved to using Github, we are relatively new to the concept of Pull requests, but we are certainly willing to consider them. If you are developing on top of the Scratchpads, please get in touch to let us know what you are working on.