Newsletter 7

Platform-News - 16.12.2021


Dear colleagues in the MaterialDigital community,

The year is coming to an end. Time to pause and look back. A lot has happened at the platform in the past year and we have made a lot of progress in all areas.

Review 2021

The community is growing and we welcomed our academic projects to the platform in spring. One by one, the projects have started their work and are getting more and more involved with the platform. Within PMD, we have expanded our working groups and have now established a community working group in addition to workflows, ontology and IT architecture. All working groups have a section in the forum where they will report on news and discuss questions, ideas and comments with you.

We would like to give you a brief overview of the milestones achieved (Fig.1) in the individual fields of action.

Achieved milestones 2021
Fig.1 Achieved milestones 2021

Community Interactionen

Our website has been completely revised this year. A Glossary was inserted for an easier understanding. Since recently there is an Event page, where you can always see the most important dates of PMD as well as important dates in the community. Also our flyer has been revised and brought up to date. This will soon be linked on our website.

In addition to our YouTube channel, you can find us now on LinkedIn as well. Feel free to stop by and follow us for job postings, events and the latest information.

Both the website and our YouTube channel feature now our first image film. Haven't seen it yet? Then watch it right now. In just over 3 minutes, the whole project is explained to you in a nutshell. Subtitles (DE, EN) can be added optionally.

The Forum is slowly being filled with content. Many of the discussions are now moved to the forum. For more transparency and to give you the opportunity to actively participate in the discussions. With your PMD account you can easily log in to the forum. Furthermore, we will bundle links to all tools offered and supported by PMD in the forum, so that you can get a quick overview here.

At the end of November, a survey was sent to all those who indicated an industry association in their profile [1]. This industry survey is intended to provide a baseline for PMD to more closely track industry interests. If you have not yet completed this survey, please take 15 minutes to help us, and/or forward the survey to industry contacts. Based on the survey results, the platform strategy will be adjusted to better meet industry needs. Your input will greatly help us in the future direction of PMD. Thank you very much!

We were also allowed to design a door for the DGM Advent Calendar (December 1) and added a Christmas touch to the tensile test ontology (Fig.2). Please have a look at the advent calendar if you want to see the ontology animated and accompanied by music.

the tensile test ontology
Fig.2 the tensile test ontology


A fundamental innovation in the area of IT architecture for all newsletter subscribers this year was the connection of the website to the PMD Single Sign On (SSO) service. This makes it possible, among other things, to use other PMD services, such as the Forum, with the same access data. If you have not yet linked your profile to the PMD SSO service, you can do so in your Profile under "MaterialDigital SSO ID".

Another new feature was the release of the PMD Deployment Guide. This provides instructions on how to set up initial PMD services on your own resources.

Furthermore, a first simple app store was developed for the deployment of PMD-specific applications in containers. This is intended to act as a trusted source for PMD-specific applications.

Work also continued on the decentralized PMD infrastructure. To this end, the prototype of a PMD mesh, a WireGuard VPN, was designed and instantiated as an alternative connection between PMD instances. Within the IT architecture group, concepts were further developed on how to link workflow and ontology services using JSON Web Tokens (JWT).


This year, our PMD Workflowstore went online and was filled with the first workflows. For this purpose, among other things, a common metadata standard for workflows was developed, which makes it possible to represent workflows in a uniform format and lays the foundation for planned functionalities of the store, such as validation, sorting or searching. The continuous development of workflow solutions and the underlying platforms can also be seen in numerous examples of complete workflows, which can be found on the GitHub repository of PMD.

Another major task was the integration, of the projects which started this year. In an onboarding workshop, the workflow group and the two workflow platforms SimStack and pyiron were first introduced. In the second part, the participants were then able to create and execute their own workflows. For this purpose, a workflow server was provided which is also available to interested parties after the workshop. This is done by means of a web interface for pyiron or the SimStack Client, which is now available for download. The presentations and tutorials were also posted to the PMD YouTube channel, where they are available to anyone interested.

A survey provided initial insights into which workflow solutions are already in use and which programs need to be integrated. However, the main integration was done by including workflow experts from the projects in the workflow group. In weekly virtual meetings, the individual projects, the latest developments at pyiron and SimStack, but also external tools from the community like eLabFTW or Simphony were presented. Other topics like the integration of experiments into workflows were also discussed.

Finally, a user story was also developed by all the projects involved, outlining the project's requirements for workflows in PMD. In the further course, these will be transferred to the forum and form the basis for discussions and the future workflow activities of PMD as well as the entire community.

In addition, however, the meetings also offered external guests the opportunity to make contact with the workflow group. Under Workflows on the website, interested parties can now also contact the workflow group directly via the forum or a form.


In the ontology area, the first application ontologies were built and published this year. In addition, the OntoDocker was built and integrated. The functions include authentication via Single Sign On (SSO), management and querying of ontologies via Graphic User Interface (GUI) & Application Programming Interface (API), and visualization of ontologies.

With the start of the academic projects in phase 2, a common format had first to be introduced for the needs assessment and the query of the knowledge level of the new project partners. For this purpose, an ontology exchange meeting has been established once a week in the meantime to network the projects with each other and with the PMD. Here, the ontology development is harmonized together with the partners. First guides were provided in the common GitLab repository. These guides support the project partners in developing their own application ontologies, which should later be compatible with the PMD core ontology (PMDco). Possible synergies between the partner projects are to be used at an early stage. A curation process will ensure the further development of PMDco. In addition, connections to other mid-level ontologies will be discussed.

What can we expect in 2022?

In 2022, the industry-led MaterialDigital projects will start, bringing us ever closer to industry. We are very excited to see which projects will await us. These projects, together with the academically led projects, will as well help to further expand PMD to include more industry-oriented aspects.

As the platform continues to develop, it will be opened more and more to the community to facilitate external collaboration and create more transparency. The first major platform event is scheduled to take place in spring, with our first general assembly in 2022. We will inform you about this in due time and keep you up to date.

Herewith, we at PMD wish our community and the entire team a peaceful end of the year, happy holidays and a good start into 2022. Next year also holds many exciting innovations for us with the launch of our industry-led projects. We very much hope to see you next year at one or the other PMD event, hopefully this time really in presence.

Stay well, everyone, and thank you for your interest and participation. Feel free to contact us at any time with questions or suggestions.

[1] In addition to users with an industry association, the survey was also sent to all those who did not specify an organization. Please take this opportunity to update your [profile]( if necessary.

The PMD team