Article Galaxy integrates all these three, inlcuding our featured gadgets such as the 3D protein viewer
When Twitter co-founder Evan Williams was asked if he is building a platform or a service, he answered, "Do I have to choose?"
At Reprints Desk, we share that sentiment. But what, exactly is the difference, and what difference does it make to you? No doubt, the terms can engender confusion. To some, a platform is a fully integrated solution upon which users build their infrastructures—including such things as knowledgebases. To others, a platform is a product on top of which other products (perhaps apps) are built—products that would not otherwise function without the underlying support and technology that the platform provides.
With the newest version of Article Galaxy, we don’t make a distinction between the two definitions. In fact, in our view, the platform should perform both functions. Article Galaxy is, indeed, a fully integrated knowledge management solution that addresses everything from article discovery to acquisition and all points between. It also provides for such things as reference management, copyright compliance, rights management, and a host of other functions that are vital to a smooth running research organization.
But beyond integrating with other tools in the research ecosystem through respective APIs, how do parties build solutions on top of Article Galaxy? Well, in much the same way that iTunes works with apps. Enter Article Galaxy Gadgets! Gadgets are powerful but compact apps that sit within Article Galaxy in the same way that apps appear on your smartphone. But our gadgets go a step further by also integrating directly with the functions of the platform itself, working seamlessly with your research workflows. Take, for example, our 3-D Protein Viewer. This is a gadget that visualizes protein structures extracted from any bibliographic citation. In fact, it’ll even detect mentions of proteins anywhere on the page and bring them to life for you. You can also enter PubMed IDs directly, and the gadget will automatically extract the structures and even allow you to manipulate them. Pretty cool app—or gadget!
But what about the services aspect? Again, we encounter at least two meanings. To many, the term “service” means a set of related software functions that can be reused for different purposes. Think, for example, “platform as a service”—the cloud-based version of application software.
In this sense, we like to think of the Article Galaxy platform as a research framework—a framework that allows for tremendous functional flexibility—flexibility that comes, for example, with a fast-growing ecosystem of gadgets that help researchers do their work better, fast, and more efficiently. That’s the endgame for us: to make the research experience better for everyone using the system. And a part of that experience is the “old fashioned” definition of service—the one where you pick up the phone and talk to a real person. Sometimes the human touch is exactly what’s needed at critical research junctions.
Because we’re as focused on technology as we are on the people we serve, we’ve forged a hybrid path that bridges platform (both definitions) and service (both definitions) to deliver the best user experience possible.
Do we really have to choose?