Who? Several open source software projects have pledged to use this forum as their recommended discussion channel henceforth—including ImageJ, Fiji, CellProfiler, scikit-image, Cytomine, Ilastik, BoneJ, and Icy. Discussion of any software packages in the imaging ecosystem is equally welcome, and other software projects are warmly invited to join this effort—the goal here is inclusivity. The NEUBIAS consortium is also a partner, and will use this forum as the central place for their “Call4Help” system. We will be presenting a poster about the new forum at the upcoming NEUBIAS conference in January.
Why? The goal is to bring the community closer together, improving the cross-visibility of these projects. It will enable scientists to ask “how do I do X?” without prior knowledge of these various software programs, give them access to a wider breadth of experts on various softwares, and make searching for previous discussions simpler. It will also educate software developers on the capabilities of the various projects being discussed, so that they can improve the links between tools, and develop features that are more likely to be novel.
Where? The URL will be forum.image.sc. We also registered imagesc.org for those who prefer traditional domain suffixes.
When? Our current timeline is to make the transition in a few months. The forums may be offline for several hours on the actual day of transition. We will post any updates to the timeline here.
What? The forum’s focus will be on discussion of software-oriented aspects of scientific imaging, particularly (but not limited to) image analysis, processing, acquisition, storage, and management of digital scientific images. Our objective will be to foster independent learning.
How? All existing ImageJ and CellProfiler forum data will merge. Redirects from the old URLs will be installed, so that existing links will continue to work. All existing ImageJ topics will be tagged with #imagej, and all existing CellProfiler topics will be tagged with #cellprofiler.
- What if the traffic is too much? Discourse has an excellent tagging system, so that topics can be organized non-hierarchically. E.g., if you ask a question about calling ImageJ from CellProfiler, you can add the
cellprofilertags. This will help people to narrow the scope of their attention as needed based on their time and interest. The front page will include a toplevel link to the tag feed of each partnered software project.
- What about hardware questions? While the primary focus is on software, sometimes discussion needs to touch on both, and the line between them is not always well-defined. So the current plan is to create a category for relevant hardware discussion as well.
- What about commercial software? Discussion of how to solve scientific problems with commercial software is very welcome, as long as it encourages independent learning. Here is an excerpt from the current ImageJ Guidelines explaining their philosophy about this:
- Our community is structured to foster not only scientific independent thinking, but just as importantly, independent learning. The open source process enables this sort of learning thanks to its accessibility, transparency, and reproducibility.
- Posts highlighting solutions besides ImageJ, both commercial and non-commercial, are very welcome here. This forum is a place to expand community knowledge and expertise. However, it is critical that these responses:
- Offer concrete details on how the software helps users achieve the workflows being discussed.
- Encourage knowledge and understanding of the scientific analysis process, including its principles, applications and pitfalls.
- Do not promise users commercial support in lieu of such knowledge and understanding.
- Do not simply highlight a particular software package as being “good at solving your problem” without further explanation or justification.
- In short: please keep your posts educational, not advertorial!
- Other questions? Please respond on the recent forum post for this announcement.
We will continue updates as the process continues to evolve.