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Test Drive the Ask IFAS website

After 25 years as a valuable online resource from UF/IFAS, we’ve launched a new updated online experience, and rebranded the EDIS website as Ask IFAS. The new site is modern, mobile-friendly and will make Extension publications even easier to find.

Follow along on this test drive to explore the new features. Short videos are available for each step. Or you can watch the Ask IFAS Features Tour playlist on YouTube.

STEP 1: Go to https://ask.ifas.ufl.edu

NOTE: If you are attached to the EDIS URL you can keep using that. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu and all the existing links to the EDIS site will continue to work for Ask IFAS.

STEP 2: Try out the responsive design

Watch Ask IFAS Features Tour: Responsive Design  (1:00 min)

If you are on a desktop computer, grab the corner of your browser window and move it around.  Notice how the EDIS Home page responds to the change in window size and shape. It is still easily usable whatever size the window is. If you are checking out the site on a mobile phone or a tablet, you are using the same site and seeing the same content, designed to be equally usable on any screen size.

Ask IFAS powered by EDIS 25th Anniversary

Notice the new Ask IFAS logo in the upper right.  Clicking it will always bring you back to the home page.

STEP 4: Use the search box

Watch Ask IFAS Features Tour: The Search Box (1:20 min)

The most prominent feature of Ask IFAS is not much changed from the old EDIS site – the search box. Try a search for “compost tips”.  You can search from any page.  The results will be ordered by relevance

Click the Ask IFAS logo to go back to the home page.

STEP 5: Explore the home page.

Watch Ask IFAS Features Tour: The Homepage (1:54)

Under the header image and the search box you’ll see three large buttons.

  • What is Ask IFAS? – Will tell you about this site, how Ask IFAS relates to EDIS, and its history
  • Advanced Search – The Advanced Search is helpful if you know the title, authors, publication number or UF/IFAS publishing department of an article and want to search on those elements. This is pretty basic now but look for more advanced search features here in the coming months.
  • Ask IFAS How-To – Will provide some guidance on how to navigate and find information.

Moving down on the page, you’ll see the five most Recent and Revised publications.  Do any of them look interesting? Click on READ MORE to open the article page.

You can click the Ask IFAS logo to go back to the home page when you are done.

STEP 6: Use the “hamburger”

Watch Ask IFAS Feature Tour: the Hamburger Menu (3:46)

One Ask/IFAS feature found on every page across the site is the “hamburger menu” in the upper right corner.  Let’s click on it. In addition to home and search links which are standard on UF/IFAS websites, there are two Ask IFAS specific indexes here: Experts and Topics.  Let’s check out the Topics link first.

Open up the hamburger and access the topic index. Notice two features specific to these index pages – a set of alphabetical tabs for jumping to entries beginning with that letter in the list, and a search box that only searches on this page.

Using the topic index

Let’s look for information about strawberries.

    • If you use the alphabet filter, strawberries are going to be toward the bottom of the S’s alphabetically, so you can use the down arrow to reverse the sorting if I use the first letter filter. Notice the nifty “top” link in the lower left if you want to jump back to the top quickly.
    • You might find that the string search is more efficient in this case. Notice you’re still filtering the list to S topics, so first click “all” here so you can get the whole alphabet
    • Type “straw” and notice you get the pine straw topic.
    • Notice too, that some will have “strawberry” and some will have “strawberries” so for this search you stop at “strawberr” to get them all – that’s different from the general keyword search, which uses Google’s algorithms to account for singular and plural forms.
    • If you remembered to click “ALL” you’ll see the “Biology and Management … series” in your list – you wouldn’t have found that by looking only under the S’s. You could have eventually found it under Strawberry Weed Management.

Using the Expert Index

The Ask IFAS Expert index is arranged similarly — alphabetically by last name. You can choose a letter to select only names with the same last initial, or do a string search within the results on the page.

  • Let’s find UF/IFAS strawberry disease specialist Natalia Peres and open her Ask IFAS expert page. This includes a brief bio, including a link to her faculty profile and ORCID, and a list of her active publications.  In the right margin, under “related resources” you’ll see a list of units she is affiliated with.
  • Notice that you can search from this page, navigate home using the Ask IFAS logo, or open up the hamburger again.

The expert and topic indexes, because they are easily available from anywhere on the site through the hamburger, can be a very efficient way to quickly get to people and topics.

STEP 7: Browse the Topic Areas

Watch Ask IFAS Features Tour: The Topic Grid (2:24)

Now scroll towards the bottom of any page. Every page of the Ask IFAS site features the same colorful grid of six blocks. These provide entry points into the topics starting with general topic areas. This approach is helpful if you don’t have the words for what you are looking for, or if you want to explore a subject. EDIS articles are arranged within a network of related topics, which you can follow like a map to drill down to what you are specifically looking for.

General Topic Areas

The general content areas are Agriculture, Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, Lawn & Garden, Family Resources.  These are not exclusive menus, so if you are looking for something that could be in more than one area, you can find it by many different paths.

Indexes & Collections will take you to the Expert and Topic indexes that are also linked from the hamburger menu, as well as an index of publishing departments.

Drilling down

Let’s drill down to find strawberry information for a home gardener. Choose Lawn & Garden, then find the subtopic Vegetable Gardening in Florida, then select the publication Growing Strawberries in the Florida Home Garden. Notice that this is less efficient than searching or using the index, but you end up seeing more general information about other Lawn & Garden and Vegetable Gardening topics.

Moving from an article back into the topics

Now, from the Growing Strawberries article, select the Strawberries topic from the Related Topics in the right panel.  Notice how this includes agricultural information for strawberry growers that you did not encounter by coming in through Lawn & Garden.

STEP 8: More on the article side panel

Watch Ask IFAS Features Tour: The Metadata Panel (2:46)

Now take a look at the article page features. EDIS articles on the Ask IFAS site feature a new side panel with information about the article. On narrow screen sizes, the panel will shift to the bottom of the article. Let’s look at the side panel for Setting Transparent Expectations for Successful Group Work to see what we can find:

IFAS Peer Review endorsement

This indicates this version of the article has been published in the EDIS journal after blind peer review and approval. Older articles and articles that are derived from other EDIS articles (such as translations) may not have this endorsement.

PDF Download button

Every article on Ask IFAS is available in PDF format as well as HTML.

Publication Number

IFAS Publication numbers may differ from the number used in the URL (the Digital Library Number or DLN) but many are the same.  Some of these numbers have been in use on paper and online versions of the same information for decades, and some are referred to in state legal and regulatory codes, so they can be important information when referring to an EDIS article

Date

This is the date the current version was made available online. The publication history used to be buried at the bottom of the page, so this gives you an easier to find indication of how old the information might be. EDIS articles should be reviewed or revised at least every three years.

Authors and Publishing Units

Immediately below the date are links to authors’ expert pages and the UF/IFAS unit that published the article. This information has been moved from across the top of the article page to the Ask IFAS side panel. Each of the authors on this publication has an Expert page. You can follow these links to find out more about the authors and publishers and find a list of their other articles.

Related topics

Below the authors is the list of related topics These topic pages will list other publications on the same topic and will allow you to browse the Ask IFAS site to find related topics.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

This is a permanent link to the EDIS journal page for this article content. We’re still busy registering all the EDIS articles for these addresses so some will have one listed, and some will not. Use the DOI when citing an article on Ask IFAS as a reference. Even if the article on the Ask IFAS site is updated or we determine it is no longer relevant and remove it, the EDIS journal article linked to by the DOI will never change. Click this link and look at  the article’s EDIS journal page. It has more academic information, including how to cite the article.

Category Icons

These icons provide a quick indication of the type of article you are viewing. The icon on this article indicates that it is a fact sheet.

Contact

Finally, locate the name of the UF/IFAS Expert who is the contact person for this article.

Look for adjustments to this panel as we add functionality.

This concludes the Ask IFAS test drive!  Happy Travels!