LINGUIST List 29.4061

Thu Oct 18 2018

Software: New Tool for Web-based Experiments

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 18-Oct-2018
From: Florian Schwarz <>
Subject: New Tool for Web-based Experiments
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We are very excited to announce the first official release of PennController, a new tool for web-based experiments using Ibex, developed by Jeremy Zehr in Florian Schwarz’s lab, along with a website providing documentation, a tutorial, and example experiments. Details below.

Florian Schwarz & Jeremy Zehr

- An Ibex library for versatile online experiments
- Instant free hosting on Ibexfarm
- Simple code allowing flexible task structure
- Free, open-source, and extendible
- Full documentation, tutorial and examples
- Compatible with any recruitment platform

Online collection of experimental data is becoming increasingly common in linguistics and other fields, and allows for rapid collection of large amounts of data, speeding up behavioral research and pre-testing, e.g., for acquisition or neuroscience studies. However, experiment implementation options are largely quite limited in what they can do, or very expensive, resulting in many researchers creating their own code for custom-solutions.

Ibex is a free, javascript-based platform for running experiments online, developed by Alex Drummond to conduct common text-based, psycho-linguistic tasks, including self-paced reading and rating studies. PennController is an extension library developed by Jeremy Zehr within a project in Florian Schwarz’s lab. It provides a versatile and user-friendly tool to implement more complex experimental task paradigms, with a wide range of dynamic and interactive features (e.g., visual stimuli, flexible, multi-stage trial structure, response feedback, scripted/ timed events, playing audio and video).

PennController uses a stream-lined code interface requiring no javascript skills. It allows you to combine your own task template with a spreadsheet providing item-specific information. Combined with the free hosting offered by Ibexfarm and templates that can be directly imported from github, posting simple experiments online just takes a few simple steps.

See the PennController website ( for full details. For questions and feedback, use the forum or write to

Zehr, J., & Schwarz, F. (2018). PennController for Internet Based Experiments (IBEX).

This project has been made possible by a grant from Penn’s University Research Foundation, titled ‘Building a Comprehensive Library for Online Experiments in IBEX.’

Initial development of preliminary versions of many of the tools that are part of PennController took place as part of work on NSF-grant BCS-1349009 to Florian Schwarz.

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            General Linguistics
                            Language Acquisition

Page Updated: 18-Oct-2018