In Focus Magazine

A New Compendium Website

Words: Jennifer Ross and Daniel Wüstenberg, GÉANT

The Compendium website is many things to many people: it is the place where NREN representatives fill in the survey every autumn; it is the database that holds previous responses; it is the place you go to find Compendium Reports; and it is once again the best place to see the data collected.

The Compendium Report has always served its purpose of showing the “State-of-the NREN Nation” – the big trends and changes sweeping across the GÉANT community. Now, the new Compendium Data Explorer section of the website allows users to really narrow in on a specific question or a small subset of NRENs at a time, to see how they have evolved.

We spoke to Jennifer Ross and Daniel Wustenberg of the GÉANT Partner Relations team, to understand more about the site.

Jennifer, what are you trying to achieve with the new site?

This new website is an opportunity to ensure that key information from EU NRENs is readily available in an easy, accessible, and enduring way. Planning this new website allowed us to really think about how we could use it to support understanding and transparency within the NREN community, and ensure that the great deal of time and effort dedicated to responding to the Compendium survey each year is put to good use.

As a member of the Partner Relations team, every now and again over the years, someone from an NREN would send me a little message saying, “I’m writing a proposal seeking funding for X or Y, and I’m sure I remember filling in a question in the Compendium at some point about this… can you tell me if you have data from other NRENs about this?”. Of course, I could find out pretty quickly whether we did indeed have the relevant Compendium data, but it got me thinking that only people who’ve filled in the Compendium questionnaire know which questions are asked. Are there other people out there struggling to develop a case for new developments or additional funding simply because they don’t know that there are comparable examples elsewhere in the community?

We hope the new site will help NRENs get to know their peers, provide insight, and spark new connections. As the Compendium Advisory Board member Hank Nussbacher of IUCC says, “The GÉANT Compendium is the preeminent source for understanding the technical and economic situation of academia in Europe.” It is our intention that with the new website, even more people can benefit.

How is it more user friendly now?

The new site presents visitors with two choices: the Compendium Reports and the Compendium Data. In the Data side of the site, visitors can see at a glance all the different topics covered by the survey, arranged by thematic areas – Organisation, Standards and Policies, Connected Users, Network, and Services. These themes can be expanded to show every question asked, and the responses. Users can choose to see the data from as many or as few NRENs as they like. A new feature is that, conveniently, if you’ve made a selection of a few comparable NRENs the site remembers and shows you the curated data as you move from question to question.

The website is also the new home of the Compendium Reports, which go back to 2004. Some of the data from early surveys was no longer in a format that could be included in the new data explorer but can be shared on request. We are also working on sharing graphs and tables from previous Reports in an easy-to-use format. However, we are looking forward to users generating their own graphs, by choosing a subset of NRENs and/or years, then downloading them in a variety of formats, to be included neatly in their own reports, presentations, and publications.

Daniel, the new website was used to run the 2023 survey, how did that go? Will it have an impact on the Compendium Report?

Around 130 contributors from 41 of Europe’s 44 NRENs have been using the new site for the last half year. We opened the 2023 survey in the autumn on the new platform, and since early March the responses have been available in the data section of the site.

In the past, interested parties had to wait for the publication of the Compendium Report in the late spring to see what changes had occurred in the NREN landscape but, with the new site, the data is available far quicker.

With users being able to access the data directly and to generate their own graphs, we are now also thinking about possible changes to the Compendium Report. We know NRENs really like having a physical report to share, to explain the main trends sweeping the community and gives clues as to the next “big thing” in the NREN world. This year, the Compendium Report will still have its familiar format, but for the future we might pivot towards a more slimline report. However, despite the data being available to everyone, we still think that the Report can add value by carrying out deeper analysis and by making connections between the information NRENs share in the survey and other sources of data.

GÉANT’s Software Development Manager Erik Reid, and colleagues Saket Agrahari and Bjarke Madsen of NORDUnet were the technical team behind the site. Here, Erik explains the process:

Redeveloping the Compendium website was a great opportunity to address a couple of long-standing problems with this service. First, the platform stack had become outdated and difficult to maintain or extend. We took the dual approach of using a more mature tech stack while also integrating with some modern third-party solutions to replace large libraries of custom code, all with the intention of allowing for future extensions and maintenance.

But most importantly, this project helped to formalise the processes and the working relationship between the developers and our ‘customers’ in partner relations. The goal was to make the development roadmap transparent and maintainable, which has allowed the work and responsibility to be shared and documented at the team level instead of being siloed and opaque. The amount of information that’s now available on the site and the capacity for future enhancements, particularly when compared with what’s being replaced, hopefully validates this new approach.

Overall, we feel the best part of this project was transforming a site that was run by one person into something sustainable and scalable that we could all work on together across multiple teams.

The whole team working on the site are enormously proud of the end result, and hope that the Community finds it a user friendly, trusted source of information for years to come.

Visit the new Compendium website at!

GÉANT CONNECT Magazine - CONNECT 45. Spotlighting the heroines behind the scenesThis article is featured on CONNECT 45, the latest issue of the GÉANT CONNECT Magazine!

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