Caution with copy links in OMERO

At a recent research data management meeting in Essen, I asked the representatives of half a dozen German universities who use OMERO for their top priority from the various OMERO wish lists they had brought and offered to write it up. This is what they chose.

Problem

Users are unaware that after “copying” an image into another dataset that a delete of that image doesn’t delete a copy but deletes the underlying image data.

  1. Copy a link

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 17.31.14

  1. Paste into another dataset

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 17.31.26

  1. Delete the “link”

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 17.31.44

  1. No images are present

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 17.32.00

Impact

Loss of data

Fixes

Suggested partial fixes (possibly conflicting):

  • Turn off the feature completely due to the danger
  • Rename the functionality
  • Change the icon to avoid the association with copy-n-paste
  • Change the wording to “link to this object”
  • Change the wording on delete “Delete all copies of this image and the original data” (Perhaps only when multiply linked)
  • Detect multiply linked images on delete and offer “Unlink this image or delete the original data”
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I’ve opened a PR to warn when you are deleting Images that have been copied into multiple Datasets: https://github.com/ome/omero-web/pull/124

CC’ing some of the related people reporters:

@sukunis @And @jellepostma @Peter.Zentis

I don’t have everyone’s image.sc account names. Feel free to add more.
~Josh

Thx @joshmoore to report this issue here.

As a quick workaround, the warning that @will-moore show on github is ok. Overall I would recommend to delete only the link to the image (or lets say the virtual copy) with the trash icon. Optionally allow deleting all links including the original data with an active selection in the upcoming message. This is much more intuitive and protects against accidental deletion of data. From experience, users quickly push warnings away without reading them correctly and regret it a second later. The active selection “delete all links including the original image” would prevent this.

Cut icon:
Users are used by the operating system to use cut to cut an object and paste it at another location. In OMERO the image-link is immediately deleted by using the cut icon. I think it’s worth to implement the same behaviour here as with an OS.

Best,
Thomas

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Hi Thomas,
Thanks for the feedback. I created an issue at https://github.com/ome/omero-web/issues/136.

For the “cut” behaviour - we went back and forth on this behaviour many years ago (since we had different behaviour in Insight and webclient) and settled on the current “cut” action because it allows you to remove an object from it’s container without needing to paste it somewhere else. Otherwise we’d need a separate “Unlink” option.

Will.

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Hi Will,
excuse my late reply. I was at a conference last week.
I checked the behavior of the cutting function again. I missed that you can insert the image somewhere else, so that the link is not lost if you use it by mistake. So it’s okay for me if it stays that way. If you change the behavior of the trash symbol as described above (or even just think about it, maybe other people have a different view than us), that would be very welcomed.

So thanks for opening the issue. Think it ok like this . :+1:

Best,
Thomas

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for your feedback. Good to hear that the Cut behaviour is OK.

We’ll certainly think about the best way to improve the Delete functionality.
Regards,

Will.

Hi @will-moore,
thank you for this issue. I also saw that it is marked as “Merged”.
Jut to confirm, which version of OMERO do I need to have installed so this error message will be displayed in .web and .insight?

Thank you for the support work and cheers,
Kai

Hi Kai,

The webclient (omero-web framework) and Insight are now released separately from the omero-server, so you can upgrade independently.
The PR: https://github.com/ome/omero-web/pull/124 was in the 5.6.2 release of omero-web: https://github.com/ome/omero-web/blob/master/CHANGELOG.md#562-february-2020

I believe Insight has had this warning for a while, although not quite as “Red” as the webclient.

Screenshot 2020-04-24 at 15.27.51

Cheers,

Will

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