OpenEI:Meetup 1 December 2010

From Open Energy Information

NREL’s Active OpenEI Users Meetup #1: December 7, 2010


Ryan M., Jamey W., Jon W., Jørn A., Sadie C. Sam T., Jaquelin C., John N., Witt S. Nafisa M., KC H..


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Summary of Attendee Comments


Summary Info: Recently started working with OpenEI team. Primarily working on the LEDS toolkit (from a developer/programmer perspective). Working with the “International team” and the “Community Tools team” to resolve any potential issues and better coordinate the template and form(s) used for adding and editing tools.
Question(s) Posed: Is there a way to associate a lat/long with “general” locations (e.g. Africa) for tools/programs/etc when more specific information is not provided? → Witt and Ryan both explained how the location information works in OpenEI (hierarchy: city/county/state/country), showed examples, and pointed out GeoNames.


Summary Info: Developing the Community Energy Tools website. Much of the content and information for the communities regarding low-impact development and climate programs will be static html content, but, there will also be a custom search interface for the various tools and resources and that component will be powered by OpenEI. Witt and his team (including John N and Jessica K will be populating OpenEI with more tools and programs).


Summary Info: Sadie is involved with several components of OpenEI.

  • Gateway:International Clean Energy Analysis. Provides tools to developing countries; makes available info about international initiatives
  • Gateway:Coordinated Low Emissions Assistance Network (CLEAN). Allows users to easily add info about activities, keeps an inventory of activities, links to webinars, pages for participating organizations.
  • (LEDS). U.S. government involvement, information about strategies for low emission development, provides a faceted search to help users find the right tools, models, programs for their needs.
  • Latinoamerica. Sadie works with the folks who developed this Gateway, which is in Spanish and focuses on efforts within the Latin American region.

Question(s) Posed:(1) Regarding the LEDS toolkit, are there additional tags and topics we could think about and include? → Witt and Jørn and others will be working with Sadie to improve the template and forms for tools on OpenEI. (2) How can OpenEI better “work with” other open data, for example the reegle database, which is part of REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership)? → Meeting attendees noticed that reegle is set up with linked open data standards, provides a SPARQL endpoint. This is now on Jamey and Ryan’s radar. Sadie has contact information for a technical person with reegle. Meeting is scheduled for 12/13.


Works closely with Sadie on the above projects. Specifically working on LEDS Gateway, and looking at new ways of organizing and structuring the materials on that Gateway to be more accessible to all users.


Works closely with Sadie and Sam on the above projects. She just gave a presentation about OpenEI in Cancun at the UN convention on climate change . The presentation was very well received; there were a lot of questions and apparent interest by the audience. Her presentation was recorded, and video should be available soon. She made a contact with someone from NOAA involved with, and he’s interested in collaborating with OpenEI (should connect with our technical team).


Just joined the OpenEI team. He’s primarily involved with the integration of OpenCarto into OpenEI, and will likely be working closely with the International Team (Sadie, Sam, Jaquelin).


Much of his work is related to GHG accounting; he’s very involved with the Community Energy Tools project, working closely with Witt and Jessica.


Works on the Gateway:Utilities, very involved with the development of the Utility Rate Database, including adding utility rates and developing documentation to support it. She didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it much, but this is a great example of OpenEI’s usefulness for developing a crowd-sourced database.

Summary of “Tips” from Jamey and Ryan

Images corresponding to pdfs

Now, when you upload a pdf to OpenEI, an image from the pdf is available. Default is the first page, but you can edit so that a different page is displayed; you can also size the image (just like other image files). When adding the pdf, you can add it as “File:name_of_your_pdf.pdf” or as “Media:name_of_your_pdf.pdf”.

Uploaded Files

  • “File” vs. “Media”: Note that if you include a file (such as a pdf) in a wiki page as “File”, when a user clicks on the pdf from within the wiki page, they’ll be taken to an intermediate page that allows them to quickly glance at each page in the pdf or click again to go to the full pdf. In contrast, if the pdf is added as “media”, when a user clicks on the pdf from within the wiki page, they’ll be taken directly to the pdf.
  • Finding Previously Uploaded Files: You can review previously uploaded files here:
  • Licensing: Be sure to make a note of the licensing of all files you upload to OpenEI (e.g. creative commons licenses or other public domain licenses). Be sure to include the URL of where you found the file (especially with images) in the “summary” section on the upload page.
  • Images: It is important that we only add images (and other information, data and files, for that matter) that are open and in the public domain. To find images that are “good” to use, consider some of the following resources:
    • Flickr: choose “Advanced Search”, and select “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
    • Wikipedia: all (or nearly all) images in Wikipedia are okay for OpenEI
    • Stock Exchange Free Photos: the URL is


Does everyone understand the concept of a namespace? It is not a concept unique to OpenEI; the idea comes directly form MediaWiki (the wiki platform that OpenEI was built on). In MediaWiki, wiki pages are grouped into collections called "namespaces", which differentiate between the purposes of the pages at a high level. Pages in certain namespaces can also have special properties or behave differently when they interact with other pages. Some examples of namespaces include: Main, Gateway, User, Help, Category, Talk, Media, and File (note! both “Media:” and “File:” are mentioned above in the Upload section, they both represent pages that contain images and pdfs and other kinds of files that you might add to the wiki). The “Help:” namespace distinguishes all pages that provide OpenEI ‘help’; the “Gateway:” namespaces are all Gateways (so at the moment there are only 14); the “User:” namespace distinguishes pages that contain information about OpenEI users. Most of the pages that a “typical” viewer of looks at are part of the “Main:” namespace.

To see a list of all namespaces (and read more about them), go to Help:Namespaces.


OpenEI now has an enhanced search capability. The user can refine the search to look only at “content pages”, or only at “multimedia pages” (e.g. images), or they can select an “advanced search” and explicitly choose within which namespaces they want to conduct their search.

Google Group

Please join the Open Energy Info Google Group. Most OpenEI questions should be posed in the Google Group, rather than among NREL staff only.


Is everyone familiar with the idea of a “watchlist”? Generally, you watch pages where your care most about the content. For example, if you make a significant edit to a page, you might chose to watch the page, to see if there are any follow-up edits. Note that there is a “Watch this page” tick-box provided on the editing screen for this purpose; you can also select to watch a page under the tab “Page Actions.” There are different ways to access your watchlist, including choosing to receive email notification when a change has been made to page you are watching. You can structure your watchlist by going to User-Preferences-My watchlist, and also at the bottom of the User-Preferences-User Profile page.

“Community” Tab (Coming Soon!)

This is a new feature available to OpenEI users that will be available soon. This new functionality will allow groups who use OpenEI to request a forum/discussion for their group, and create a community, which supports numerous features beyond ‘forums’, including: blogs, event calendars, the ability to upload files for the group, etc.