If you’re looking for FigureZero, you’re in the correct location. This address (http://wholeslide.com/figurezero/) is the new home for all developments regarding FigureZero. The open source project is now online at https://github.com/wholeslide/figurezero/.

Figure Zero was an experimental take on the traditional Figure 1. We used modern technologies to create a new kind of research communication, available as web and iOS applications. The technology was intended to be a core component for a larger medical education platform being developed at UCSD.

About FigureZero

A recent push for online and open publication has yielded an opportunity to create rich, interactive presentations of scientific research. Unlike static images found in traditional publications, FigureZero is an interactive zoomable canvas on which authors can map regions of interest, create annotations, and embed citations to share with other researchers. A single FigureZero figure can contain hundreds of annotations, each unique and capable of encapsulating a variety of formats (PubMed ID, D.O.I., YouTube, and Vimeo).

FigureZero was built to fill a need of researchers and educators worldwide.

We hope you found it useful!

The Team

Who built FigureZero?

  • Rich Stoner @rmstoner – Lead developer and somewhat scattered (UPitt Neuroengineering PhD, UCSD Neurosciences postdoc CV). Trying to reinvent medical education.

Who helped?

  • Justin Kiggins @neuromusic – brains / beer / bicycling / computational neuroscience PhD student
  • Dan Knudsen @neurodan – I love brains more than zombies do. (UCSD Neurosciences PhD)
  • Philip Meier @hooPhilip – design / UX / video
  • Soren Solari – Opera Solutions (UCSD Neurosciences PhD)
  • Jonathan Cachat (@jcachat) – neuroscience PhD – always sprinting but not moving


  • Stephen Larson @slars0n – entrepreneur/scientist/engineer/nerd — excited by ai, neuroscience, computers, politics — oh & having fun as a human being in the real world too ;) (UCSD Neurosciences PhD)
  • Eli Spencer – UCSD School of Medicine, Div. of Infectious Disease (MD PhD Albert Einstein SOM)
  • David Matthews @e2pi – computational neuroscientist (UCSD Neurosciences PhD)

Additional thanks…

To the excellent group of hackers & neuroscientists from the INCF & AIBS hackathons for their feedback, criticisms, and technical advice. To http://sciple.org/ group for their helpful comments and for hacksfn.org, a tool to greatly improve SFN abstract search and sharing.


How can I use FigureZero?

  • Create a dynamic version of a poster by adding embedded links to pubmed ID, DOI url, and web-based video.
  • Share your poster easily by emailing a short link to the figure or printing out a QR code for others to scan.
  • Embed regions of interest, each directly citable, in blogs or wikis.
  • Search and star figures of interest to show your lab mates after the conference.
  • Collect statistics about how often your figure and regions of interest are viewed.

What else should I ask about FigureZero?

How much does it cost?

Nothing. During the beta period (until 12/31/2012), FigureZero will be run as an experiment. During this time we’ll be collecting valuable feedback to determine the best mechanism to support the service.

The Tech

Technical overview

FigureZero is built with recent modern web & iOS technologies. How they all work together is a bit of magic and mystery, but as a whole we have a reasonably stable, scalable platform. We have been feature complete since late September, 2012.

For a better description – check out the source code. The server code is online at https://github.com/wholeslide/figurezero/

Front end

On the mobile side, we’ve built a universal app with cocoapods.org for managing packages. We rely heavily on parse.com for user accounts and session management. User interface consists of SVSegmentedControl, UIGlossyButton, EGO, TSPopover and a bunch of custom code. ZXing for qrcode scanning. AFNetworking for anything parse.com doesn’t handle and Testflightapp for beta testing and Google for analytics.

If all of that sounds like gibberish, imagine how neuroscience terminology sounds to the startup crowd in Silicon Valley.

We’re in the process of opening the source code behind figurezero and repackaging it as a standalone amazon machine image.

Stay tuned!