MentorJeffrey Warren (jywarren)
Project Website
Project Repository
Suitable for Beginners?yes
Tagsruby on rails javascript
Applications (1st Choice)4 (4 submitted | 0 in-progress)
Applications (2nd Choice)5 (5 submitted | 0 in-progress)
Code of Conduct
LicenseGNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPL-3.0)

Project Description

The website is a collaborative platform to support the Public Lab community in co-building knowledge about environmental problems and what to do about them. It includes:

It features a Bootstrap-based UI and a variety of community and attribution features that help the Public Lab community collaborate on environmental technology design and documentation, as well as community organizing. Originally a Drupal site, it was rewritten in 2012 in Ruby on Rails, and has since extended but not entirely replaced the legacy Drupal data model and database design.

Some key features include:

  • a WYSIWYG editor
  • wiki editing and revision tracking
  • tagging and tag-based content organization
  • email notification subscriptions for tags and comments
  • a search interface
  • a user dashboard presenting recent activity
  • a Question and Answer system

The data model can be found at


Public Lab is a very small non-profit which supports communities facing environmental problems. Our work involves open source hardware, developed collaboratively across our network of community groups, environmental advocates, scientists, and organizers -- and the software we create supports their work in collecting, analyzing and understanding environmental problems.

Project's Requirements

No matter what the project, we'd love if people had familiarity with Git and Github Flow conventions for collaborating:

We have guidance for this here:

Our main project is in Ruby on Rails, so familiarity with Rails is a plus, but we're happy to work with willing and interested newcomers no matter what. We can also use help with:

  • HTML template design and implementation
  • User Interface design work, including wireframes, mockups, and user studies
  • JavaScript work on interfaces including our tagging forms, search interface, and rich editor (

Tasks And Features

We have an initial welcoming page for new contributors, which lists some starting tasks, and links to more advanced ones once you've cracked an initial one:

And we have a group of reviewers who actively welcome new contributors into the community. We maintain a batch of issues written to a “first-timers-only” standard to ensure that there are clear expectations, guidance, and welcoming language which smooth the integration into our community.

We also have a list of bigger "project ideas" at, and we would be happy to help people select a set of smaller issues, or tackle and break down a larger project into smaller parts.


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Jeffrey Warren, Monday, March 6, 22:36 UTC

Hi, all -- please note that we're asking everyone to post a proposal (it can be largely the content of the one you're posting to this site) over at this page, so we can have some community dialog about proposals and features. We'd really appreciate your starting a conversation!

Jeffrey Warren, Friday, February 3, 22:10 UTC

Thank you! We've put a lot of effort in, and if you have suggestions we're always looking to improve.

Laura RGSoC, Wednesday, February 1, 16:55 UTC

Hey Jeffrey, this look like it could be a good project for some of the applicants that are starting out. Love how new-contributor-friendly the project looks — happy to have you on board for RGSoC 2017.