PDF exchange: need beta testers

Edit (9.10.2014): I have removed this functionality from Lazy Scholar, so I no longer need testers. It may be incorporated in some other way in future versions.

I have reached an exciting point on something I have been working on for a long time now: a PDF exchange system that occurs fully in Chrome. After much testing it is built into Lazy Scholar in version 0.8.0 that I just pushed out, but by default you cannot see it unless I give you access. I am looking for 5-10 people to help test and find inevitable bugs. Go to the bottom to read how to volunteer.

Here is what I have come up with so far.

Let’s say you are surfing pubmed and come across this paper that you want to read. You press the Lazy Scholar button and find that there is no free full text out there. You can see a “Request PDF” button to send a request to everyone else who uses the extension. Clicking this automatically grabs the paper information and submits it- one click is all it takes. You can also view how many current open PDF requests there are here.




Clicking on the link that says “Go to XChange” opens a bare-bones page that displays all open requests by you and others, as well as files available to download that others sent. You can delete your own requests here. This page is updated live as others make requests or send files.




Now let’s say someone else had access to the paper you requested. They chose the file and clicked Send. Now you will see that the icon lights up with a PDF notification:


Clicking the icon opens the XChange page and shows that you have a file available:



Clicking the red text downloads the file (which is automatically renamed in the format: “LS_first author_year_journal.pdf”) and purges the file and record from the server.


To volunteer to test (please be willing to report issues to the bug tracker):

  1. Copy and paste this into Chrome’s address bar: chrome-extension://fpbdcofpbclblalghaepibbagkkgpkak/userid.html
  2. You will see an id number that is your randomly assigned userid. Copy this
  3. Paste the id in the comments below or send me an email to colby.vorland at gmail
  4. When I reply that you are approved, restart Chrome or wait 24 hours.
  5. Copy and paste this into Chrome’s address bar: chrome-extension://fpbdcofpbclblalghaepibbagkkgpkak/options.html
  6. You will now see a button at the bottom of the page that says “Click to allow access to XChange database”. Click this and approve the new permission.
  7. Restart Chrome once more and you will now see the link after clicking the browser icon.


Known issues/to do:

  • When clicking on files to download them, they are sometimes downloaded multiple times. 
  • You cannot currently submit a request if Lazy Scholar cannot find the information about the paper you are requesting. This means that brand new papers cannot currently be requested. I will implement some sort of manual request soon.
  • It is a bit resource intensive (on my end- it initiates an HTTP GET request to the server every minute that you are not idle). I am told this can be fixed in the underlying software in the future.
  • Drag/drop needs to be implemented to upload a file.
  • Requests should delete if open longer than a certain period of time (like a week).
  • I want to build a web version of this too so it is not necessary to have the Chrome extension to use it. I don’t anticipate this to be difficult.
  • It is ugly- I will making prettier in the future assuming it works effectively with multiple users.
Posted in Beta testing.
  • Joshua Hoffer

    I’ve already made some bug reports. My userid: 5135

    • http://www.nutsci.org Colby

      Added- thanks for the bug reports!

  • http://www.juliedecock.info Julie Decock

    Hi my id is 44209, love the idea of LazyScholar, sadly the only thing I get is a white box when i click the LS button in chrome.

    tested with (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23632023)

    • http://www.nutsci.org Colby

      Hi Julie,

      I added you so next time you restart Chrome it will be activated. However, the server I am using has been having some problems and I haven’t had time to look at it recently, so it likely will not work. I’ll let you know when I get to it.

      Regarding the white box problem, I tried that link and it works on my end, so that is strange. Can you confirm that loading the Google Scholar webpage normally works? If it does, could you do this: right click on the button and select “Inspect popup”. Copy/paste all the text from the Console tab into an email to me (colby.vorland at gmail). Thanks!

      • http://www.juliedecock.info Julie Decock

        Hi Colby,
        Got it working , seems I need to be patient , slow connection to your server maybe. If it happens again I will do as you suggested. I love where you are going. Just need to add some bling, maybe include the add to zotero/mendely function, that’s one less extension needed.

  • Srijan Kumar

    Was this legal to do, by the way?

    • http://www.nutsci.org Colby

      That is basically what I scrapped it, because it couldn’t be. There are obviously not well hidden paper exchanges on public platforms that have not encountered legal threats but I didn’t want to take the chance. Maybe I will revisit it someday.