Sleep Medicine Epidemiology
Brigham and Women's Hospital · Harvard Medical School

Slice 0.21.0

Schedules and Project Page Redesign


This release introduces a new feature called Schedules along with a redesign to the Project Page.

Schedules and Events

Schedules are used to plan forms that a subject must fill out over a series of events. These events could be a baseline visit, a monthly call, or an initial meeting with the subject. The events are offset by a predetermined amount of days which can be set in the schedule. The first screenshot below displays a schedule which contains four events. The first and last event in the schedule, both of which are visits, require several forms to be completed at that event. Note that schedules now allow a single form to be collected at two distinct events (time points).

The second and third screenshots display two different subjects that are at different stages in each of their schedules. Selecting any of the entered or unentered designs from the subject page will allow the data to be entered or updated. We’re excited to see how our existing projects will leverage the new subject schedules and events, and we will also expand on this in upcoming releases.

Project Page Redesign

The project page has been redesigned into six key components each with a specific use for the project. The project is split into Collect, Explore, Setup, Share, About, and Activity.


The first screenshot reflects Slice’s strong focus on data collection. Our research staff spend most of their time entering various forms for subjects and participants, and will spend most of their time entering and reviewing sheets, and adding new subjects.


The second screenshot allows project managers and data managers the ability to export the data that has been collected in a variety of formats, as well as view preset reports, and create and save new reports.


While project setup is initially important, the emphasis on changing designs, events, and schedules becomes less important throughout the project. The third screenshot shows the setup tab that allows project editors to define exactly how they would like their data to be collected.


The fourth screenshot shows the share tab for the project where users can be added to the project as either an editor or a viewer. While editors can create, edit, and view everything on the project, viewers can only view sheets, subjects, and reports, and can make comments on existing sheets. The share page also displays site members. Site members are identical to project viewers with the small difference that site members can only view subjects and data collected for their site along with making comments on sheets.


The fifth screenshot displays the project documentation that includes includes project documents, news posts, contacts, and customized links. The tab provides additional project resources that a project manager may want the editors, viewers, and site members to view, i.e. MOPs, Study protocols, and other documentation. The links section also provides the project manager to set up links to commonly required reports, or links to other external sites and documentation.


The final screenshot display the activity tab for the project. Activity includes new sheets being created or updated, and comments being made on sheets. Activity provides a quick glance on what has happened on the project over the last week. Additionally, a short one day view of the activity that can be seen from any of the project tabs.

You can view a full list of changes here:

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Slice for Dummies


Okay, maybe the title is misleading; I’m not going to be teaching you how to work Slice. But that’s the exact beauty of it; you don’t need to be taught at all to use Slice. When I was first placed with the Bioinformatics group, I was seated in front of a computer and told to make an account on Slice. Within seconds, my account was activated and I was on my way to exploring this new, sleek, innovative data collecting tool. With no instructions and only data entry experience on REDCap (another data collecting tool), I was told to create a ‘Project,’ create a ‘Design’ (i.e. questionnaire, form), and the ‘Variables’ and ‘Domains’ that came alongside the ‘Design.’ During all this, Mike and Remo were standing behind me, watching me explore Slice and figure out everything on my own.

The greatest thing about this and the group is that while I was working my way through creating this new ‘Design,’ Mike and Remo were behind me discussing all the things they could change to make it more user-friendly, more self-explanatory, and essentially, better. Through detailed documentation, up-to-date archivesopen source coding, and even a Twitter, Slice and all other tools made by Mike and Remo are in masterful hands. The group’s transparency and openness to feedback has only and will continue to help make Slice and other tools better (anyone can submit issues or suggestions via GitHub).

Just in case you didn’t think Slice was modern or innovative enough, Slice and the other tools employ Bootstrap, which has 4 viewing modes, Mobile (for your mobile devices), Small (for smaller tablets like iPad Mini), Medium (for large tablets like the iPad), and Large (for your regular computer/laptop). So now you can enter data using any platform, but be sure to follow the HIPAA guidelines!

Slice 0.20.0

Bootstrap 3 RC1


Our new release of Slice now runs on Bootstrap 3 RC1. Slice and our other applications have run on Bootstrap 2 for quite some time now, so the look and feel should remain very familiar.

Sleek, intuitive, and powerful mobile-first front-end framework for faster and easier web development.

You can also now favorite a project and in doing so, add up to three of your projects to the menu bar.

Favoriting a Project in Slice

Once you have favorited the project, you will be able to access a quick project navigation menu that will provide some quick shortcuts.

Project Menu in Slice

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Slice 0.19.0

Survey Slugs


We’ve released a new version of Slice that contains a few Quality of Life changes for Slice. Notably, public surveys can now have a unique survey slug that cleans up the URL for linking to that survey. For example, a survey may now be called: /survey/task-tracker-survey, where task-tracker-survey is a slug that is based on the survey name.

Other changes have also been made to smooth out the design creation process, and also to reduce clutter when entering sheet data.

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Slice 0.18.0

Simpler Design Editing


While entering data on sheets for designs has been straightforward, creating and editing designs has been a tedious process. This release streamlines the design editing and creation process by:

Adding Sections and Variables to a Design

Sections and variables can be quickly added to a design. The screenshot below shows the variety of options of types of questions and data that can be collected on a design. To add a section, we will click on the “Section” option.


Design Builder Part 2 in Slice


Next we want to provide a section name for our new section along with an optional description.

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Slice 0.17.0

Survey Changes, Design Overview Updates, and Security


We’ve put together a release that makes some changes to surveys, design overviews, and makes security changes.

Survey Changes

Surveys now provide the ability for users to optionally enter their email address. The email address is used to send the user a link to their filled in survey if they wish to make changes to it after the original submission.

slc_survey_email » More »

Slice 0.16.0

Design Overviews, Restructured Data Exports, and Survey Links


We have put together a new release that focuses on improvements for three areas in Slice: Designs, Exports, and Surveys.

Design Imports

A while back we introduced Design Data Imports that allowed users to import data to a newly created design. With this release, we have expanded this feature to allow additional data to be added to existing designs. To import additional data to an existing design, go to the design, and click “Reimport”.

Importing Additional Data in Slice » More »

Slice 0.15.0

SAS Exports, Daily Digests, Report Updates, and More


We’re happy to release a new version of Slice that brings a variety of new updates to the existing system.

Project Roles

In recent presentations of Slice, we have had difficulties in explaining the difference between project librarians, project members, and site members. To myself, this usually indicates unnecessary complexity in the way an application is designed. In this release we decide to simplify project roles.

This setup also closely mimics the roles that we use in Task Tracker.

Data Exports

We have continued to make improvements to our data export process to facilitate further analysis of data collected in Slice. With this release, we’ve added the ability to generate a SAS export. The SAS export includes two .csv files which include the exported data, and a .sas file that is used to setup the workspace, variables, and labels in SAS. Data exports now also show the total progress of the data export as seen in the screenshots below.

SAS Export in Slice Step 1 » More »

Slice 0.14.0

Rails 4, Design Imports


Web technology has been speeding forward and we’re happy to announce that as of today’s release, Slice will be running on the new Rails 4.0! This release also brings a new feature to Slice that should speed up design creation for data collected outside of Slice in the form of a design data importer.

Rails 4.0

The first official Rails 4.0 beta was released one week ago, and we’ve updated Slice to leverage the new version of Rails. Benefits of the upgrade include enhancements speed and responsiveness, a better defined JSON web API, and numerous changes to the development cycle of a Rails app which should translate to more frequent updates to Slice.

Design Data Imports

A large addition in this release is also the ability to import existing data into Slice by uploading CSVs. The import process is fairly straightforward and can be done by clicking “Create Design from Import” on the designs index, selecting the CSV you would like to import, and then specifying the data type for each column you wish to import. The following screenshots illustrate this process.

Step 1: Select CSV File

Design Import Step 1 in Slice


Step 2: Specify the data type of each column

Design Import Step 2 in Slice

Step 3: Wait for the import to complete!Design Import Step 3 in Slice

An email is sent out when the design import has completed
Completed Design Import in Slice

The data that is imported can then immediately be explored using Slice’s reporting interface.

A full list of changes include:

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Slice 0.13.0

Study Date Removed, Variable Domains Streamlined


We have made some changes to the underlying architecture of how data is stored and collected in Slice in our recent update. First, we have removed the Study Date as a required field when entering sheets. Second, we have streamlined all variables that have options to store those options in a domain.

Study Date Removed

When we initially designed Slice, we had the requirement that a sheet could not be entered for the same subject multiple times on the same day. While this made sense for the original sheets we started entering, as we created new designs the study date did not always make sense. This led us to allow the Study Date to be renamed for each individual design in Version 0.8.0. This change introduced more configurability of designs, however there were still cases in which designs did not need to be restricted to one a day. In this release, we have finally removed the Study Date all together, and have moved existing data that captured it into a variable that is now stored on the design itself. This change provides researchers with more freedom in capturing data for their designs, and reduces the complexity of setting up a design itself. This change also goes in line with our constant focus of convention over configuration, and a large focus on making design creation and sheet data capture as intuitive, streamlined, and simple as we can make it. Future updates will contain further simplifications in terms of creating data capture designs, and this change allows us to move forward in that direction. The screenshot below shows how the study date has been removed as a sheet requirement, and now exists as a variable on the design itself.

Sheet Study Date Removed from Slice

Variable Domains Streamlined

We also took a look at how data was being captured for variables with choices (ex: drop downs, radio, checkbox variables). While scale variables where already able to leverage common domains, other variables with choices were not. All variables with choices are now required to use choices provided by a domain. This change has a large impact on the code that powers Slice and creates a more robust framework for changing variable definitions without breaking existing data. The screenshot below shows the information provided when attempting to change an existing variable with captured data to a domain that does not cover all of the values. A change like this is now prevented in Slice, and the researcher will get a warning that the new domain must cover all existing values.

Changing Variable Domains in Slice

This release also address some security related issues and some minor bug fixes. A full list of changes include:

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