Mendeley @ WWDC 2015

Mendeley is growing and wants to be on the edge of innovation, to better serve our users. It is therefore essential for us to be present where the technological (r)evolutions happen. So we send our developers to some of the biggest IT conferences around the world where they can learn about the latest development trends, find inspiration and speak with other developers.

Most recently we sent Stefano, (one of our developers from the Mobile Team) to the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, and this is the basis for today’s guest blog post.

From the 8th – 12th June 2015, I went to the Apple WWDC at the Moscone Center in San Francisco – this is where all development innovations on Apple platforms take place, and developers meet to talk about these latest products.

Aside from the mainstream keynote presentation, where Apple showcased the next major versions of its operating systems (OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, watch OS 2) and the new service Apple Music, the WWDC is the main opportunity for an Apple platform developer to learn new technologies in advance, consolidate the knowledge as well as to have the opportunity of speaking with Apple Engineers and asking them whatever questions.

The conference in fact was composed by three different types of training:
– Sessions where Apple engineers talk about new features and best practices.
– Labs offer a unique opportunity to spend time in a one-to-one discussion with an Apple engineer.
– Lunch sessions are less technical and more oriented on inspirational topics.

The main benefit of all these training sessions is to speed up the development of new features and to improve the integration between Apps and the Apple ecosystem, especially with the next generation of operating systems.

With more than 5000 developers and 1000 Apple engineers arriving in the city from all over the world, there were also plenty of side events during the conference days in San Francisco including some hosted by other companies based nearby. These provided additional training opportunities, but also a chance to catch up with other developers and speak face-to-face with some of our business partners who develop technologies that we use to create and test the iOS app. For instance I had an interesting chat with the developers of the PDF library we use in Mendeley iOS and I had the opportunity of clarify some doubts with the makers of the crash report tool we currently use to improve our products. I also visited the HQ of a potential partner where I got an overview of their products.

The time spent outside the conference place was as useful as the time spent inside for another reason: notorious bloggers of the Apple world and well known indie developers organised their own events, and so I had the opportunity of networking and partaking in technical discussions with people I that have previously only read and communicated with from in front of a screen.

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Coming out of this conference, we have already started to work on some of the hints  from the Apple engineers to improve some weaknesses of the Mendeley iOS App, for instance the internal search it’s faster and more reliable in version 2.7 just released, and we will improve the general stability and security of our mobile product. We will also be working on supporting multitasking on iPad in iOS 9 and adding new ways to import and open PDFs in our App.

We have also started to think about how to interact with the new intelligent search and proactive assistant made available from Apple that will permit searching documents in the user library directly from the iOS search… And maybe in the future ask Siri to lookup a paper for you within Mendeley!

London Tech Week

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The London Technology Industry is booming, and recruiting the best talent out there is the biggest challenge facing any start-up. What gives you the edge when competing with the likes of Google and Facebook? What actually matters to developers?

London Technology Week is a unique festival celebrating the capitals global position as a hub of innovation and creative talent, bring together tech specialists and enthusiasts from around the world to London for such a variety of networking, social learning and business opportunities. Events will range from large conferences to smaller workshops, investor meetings, pitching competitions and hackathons, covering a variety of topics including gaming, big data, IT, wearables, education, music, sport, fashion, finance and science.

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Mendeley are taking part in two events during London Tech Week. This is your chance to get some insight into what it’s actually like to work in a fast-growing tech company, directly “from the horse’s mouth”. Our own developers will talk about why they chose to work at Mendeley, some of the cool stuff we get up to, perks, hack days, and what it’s like to work in one of the world’s most exciting tech hubs.

On the 16th we have a session with Ben Kaube (Newsflo) and Jan Reichelt (Mendeley), both founders of innovative tech companies in the research space that were acquired by the world’s largest scientific publisher, Elsevier, will be talking about their acquisition experience, the benefits and challenges of taking the acquisition exit route for your startup, as well as how new and disruptive technologies can be integrated into established industries to benefit the user.

Then on the 17th we’ll be at a Lab event aimed at Developers, Engineers, Data Scientists and anybody else who works or is interested in exploring the possibilities of the Mendeley API and working in the technology industry. The team will be around to answer any questions and tell you about the roles we’re hiring for at the moment, but we also want to hear from you, it’s very much an open forum!

We’re looking forward to see you there!

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Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

By Joyce Stack, API Developer Outreach

Back in July I stumbled across writeLaTeX after a ‘tweet archaeology’ exercise where I found this old tweet, which mentioned integrating with Mendeley. So I promptly got in touch with the folks at writeLaTeX and we collaborated together to make it possible to import Mendeley bibliography into their writeLaTeX projects. WriteLaTeX “is an online service that allows you to create, edit and share your scientific ideas using LaTex.”

And now, not only can you import your Mendeley reference library into writeLaTeX, but try writeLaTeX Pro for 50% off as a Mendeley user!

Here is writeLaTeX co-founder John Lees-Miller on the Mendeley writeLaTeX integration:

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It’s here! The feature you’ve been asking for since we first launched our bibliography manager integration in September. You can now import your reference library directly from Mendeley to writeLaTeX, to make it easy to manage your references and citations in your projects.

This is thanks to a concerted effort from our development team – Tim Alby in particular – and the Mendeley API team with whom we’ve been working in order to refine and improve the BibTeX output from the API.

To see how it works, check out the illustrated guide below. We’re also pleased to offer a special promotion for all Mendeley users – save 50% on writeLaTeX Pro!

 

 

Using the new Mendeley reference importer in writeLaTeX

How does it work? It’s very simple – from the project menu in the editor select Add files -> Add bibliography, which brings up the bibliography import screen:

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The first time you do this, you’ll be prompted to connect your Mendeley account with your writeLaTeX account:

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And then to authorise this on the Mendeley website:

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Once the accounts are linked, all you need to do is choose a name for the Mendeley bibliography file in the project:

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Once the file has been uploaded into the project, you can use it with bibtex in the usual way:

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If you add more references to your Mendeley library, you can refresh the link to pull in the new .bib content (and the file can also be refreshed via the project menu).

Save 50% on writeLaTeX Pro if you’re a Mendeley user

To mark this feature launch, we’re pleased to offer a special promotion to all Mendeley users – you can get a full year of writeLaTeX Pro for only $48, a 50% discount on the regular price.

To take advantage of this offer, simply head to the promo page and claim your discount today!*

*Promotion runs until 31st December 2014. Please see promo page for terms and conditions.

 

 

Mendeley API Version 1 is Out!

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It has been a long 12-month journey, and the path wasn’t always lined with rose petals and unicorns, but last week we did allow ourselves a small celebration as version 1 of the Mendeley API was released.

API Celebrations

The API team designed this from the ground up, working alongside other Mendeley and Elsevier teams as well as key external partners, who all helped to test it out and provided crucial feedback to bring it into shape.

Mendeley users have already seen some of the results of this work, with better, seamless integration with Scopus and Science Direct in features such as the Web Importer and Readership Stats. This is something that Elsevier is really supportive of, as it provides an open platform to improve and optimise the research workflow at every step. The API is a key piece of that puzzle and we’re excited to see the new innovative applications it will lead to. If you’re a developer, be sure to check out the Mendeley Dev Portal and give the new API a whirl!

You can read more about this in our dedicated Mendeley Dev blog, and about API’s in general in this Huffington Post Article. As always, don’t be shy of letting us know what you think in the comments, Twitter or just email api@mendeley.com

Mendeley API – Blackout Testing

Today we performed something known as a “Blackout test” on the Mendeley Open API. As those of you who develop apps against this API know, we are planning to phase out OAuth1 authentication in favour of OAuth2 permanently from 2014-05-18.

We are doing this for a number of reasons:

1. Simplified authentication: OAuth2 doesn’t require clients to have a deep understanding of cryptography, which makes it much easier to use. You just need to worry about getting the right tokens and do your requests over HTTPS.
2. OAuth2 provides more flows so not only browser applications can use the API. OAuth2 provides a better user experience for installed applications like desktop or mobile applications.
3. You can specify more granular permissions in your application, which will make it more trustworthy.
4. Easier transition to updates on the Mendeley API.

If you are a developer who has built their app on OAuth1, you should already have migrated to OAuth2. If you have not done so yet, we have some guides to help you do this here.

What is a blackout test, and why is it a useful thing?

A blackout test can be defined as a planned, timeboxed event, when we will turn off a certain API to help developers better understand the implications of the eventual retirement of that API. In our case, we used a 1 hour period where the OAuth1 authentication endpoint was configured to respond to all requests with “HTTP-410 GONE”. This is the same response we  will return once the API is finally retired.

Hopefully this blackout test will help developers get a better idea of how the retirement of OAuth1 is going to affect their applications. In the perfect world, it would have zero effect. Furthermore, noticing a large spike in request failures blackout test can also act as a call to action for some developers who might have missed other announcements. We will also be analyzing our logs carefully to see how close we are to migrating all apps to OAuth2. This information will help us make a better decision on the full retirement of OAuth1.

The future of the Mendeley API

Moving forward, we have some pretty ambitious plans for the Mendeley API, and migrating clients to OAuth2 is an enabler for a lot of that work. Once all our clients are authenticating using the same protocol, we can start rolling out some great new API endpoints, and hopefully empower the creation of some brilliant apps on top of the Mendeley platform.
We’ve listened to your feedback and we want to provide the best platform we can. That’s why we’ll be releasing improvements in on the current API, specifically the Documents API, where syncing your documents has been simplified greatly (no more requesting the entire library every time), as well as new API endpoints to get your annotations or an improved search of the catalog.

On the future of our Open API: feature updates and eating our own dog food

There have been a few guiding principles that have directed the progress and business strategy of Mendeley from the very beginning, and chief among these is our mission to make research more collaborative and open. We want to build a bridge to a more modern way of using the web for scholarly communication.

To that end, we’ve been hard at work lately improving our Open API, as it’s a critical part of our strategy. We currently serve more than 100 million API calls per month to about 260 third-party apps. In addition, our API powers the analytics dashboard of the Mendeley Institutional Edition, and powers the Institutional Repository sync via Symplectics Elements. We hope to see the numbers of client applications grow, and to that end, we’ve made some fundamental changes to the API. Our overall goal is to further open up our data and extend third-party developers’ capabilities, so here’s a summary of recent and upcoming changes:Read More »

Mendeley handles 100 million calls for Open Science, per month

Imagine the rich ecosystem of third-party Facebook and Twitter apps, now emerging in the domain of science. More than 240 applications for research collaboration, measurement, visualization, semantic markup, and discovery – all of which have been developed in the past year – receive a constant flow of data from Mendeley. Today, Mendeley announced that the number of queries to its database (termed “API calls”) from those external applications had surpassed 100 million per month.

Akin to a “Wikipedia for academic data”, the information fueling this ecosystem has been crowdsourced by the scientific community itself. Using Mendeley’s suite of document management and collaboration tools, in just three years its global community of 1.9 million researchers has created a shared database containing 65 million unique documents and covering – according to recent studies – 97.2% to 99.5% of all research articles published. Commercial databases by Thomson Reuters and Elseviers contain 49 million and 47 million unique documents respectively, but access to their databases is licensed to universities for tens of thousands of dollars per year.

In contrast, Mendeley’s database is freely accessible under a Creative Commons license, and it is the only one that allows third-party developers to build their own tools with the research data anywhere on the web, on mobile devices, or on the desktop. Moreover, because Mendeley’s data is crowdsourced, it has a unique social layer: Each document comes with anonymized real-time information about the academic status, field of research, current interests, location of, and keywords generated by its readers. Mendeley’s API also adds information about related research documents and public groups on Mendeley that the document is being discussed in.

The most popular apps built on Mendeley’s platform fulfill academia’s need for faster and more granular metrics of scientific impact: ReaderMeter.org and Total-Impact.org display a researcher’s or a labs’ real-time impact on the academic community, while Mendeley itself recently announced the first sales of its real-time research impact dashboard to academic institutions around the globe. Hojoki pulls updates from Mendeley and other productivity tools like Evernote and Basecamp into a common newsfeed. Kleenk allows users to create free-form semantic links between documents in their Mendeley library and share them publicly. OpenSNP, winner of Mendeley’s $10,001 Binary Battle prize, makes the connection between raw genetic data and published research.

Bastian Greshake, co-founder of openSNP, explained: “We started openSNP to crowdsource the discovery of genotype-phenotype associations. In less than a year, our users have uploaded over 200 genetic testing results and more than 3400 phenotypic annotations for over 100 different genetically influenced traits, which is a great success. Mendeley’s API enables our users to find the latest scientific literature – including thousands of Open Access articles – relevant to their own genetic testing results.”

Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Analyst at the Wikimedia Foundation and creator of ReaderMeter.org, said: “By sharing a large corpus of open-licensed data, Mendeley is laying the foundation for a whole new science of the making and spreading of scientific knowledge. This offers coders and researchers alike an unprecedented opportunity to map and measure the real-time impact of scientific research. Mendeley’s API is a mountain of data just waiting to be mined.” Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar, co-founders of Total-Impact.org, added: “Using Mendeley’s data, we can show how papers are making a difference long before they show up in the citation record, as well as which papers are making a difference to student readers, or readers in developing countries. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without Mendeley’s commitment to releasing this data openly, under the CC-BY license.  A lot of us in the Open Science community are convinced that the we’re on the way to a system built on this kind of openness. In the future, researchers will interact with the literature via a web of interlocking, third-party applications for sorting, filtering, and conversing. By opening its valuable data to developers, Mendeley is helping us get there, today.”

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and also a Mendeley Binary Battle judge, added: “This milestone shows how the future of science is being built, app by app, data source by data source. Open data is the biggest science story of the 21st century.”

Dr. Victor Henning, CEO & Co-Founder of Mendeley, said: “Our vision was always to make science more open. The Mendeley API liberates data that has been locked behind paywalls for decades – enabling app developers to reinvent academic workflows, research data discovery, even scientific publishing. Max Planck said: Science progresses funeral by funeral. I think we’ve found a better method.”

Mendeley API graphs and app screenshots:
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