Robert Haines

Research IT, Enterprise ITBy Laurence Billingham, British Geological Survey, David Golding, University of Leeds, Robert Haines, University of Manchester, Martin Hammitzsch, German Research Centre for Geoscience, James Hetherington, University College London, Simon Hettrick, Software Sustainability Institute.

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2017 speed blogging series.

Universities need to strike a balance between risk and strategic opportunities (world-class research and world-class teaching). A semi-independent "sandboxed" service for research IT can deliver both, by isolating the stuff that needs to change fast from the stuff that needs to always work.

In mobile development, apps are "sandboxed" so that one app cannot break the phone. This analogy can work for services too. In research-led universities, we need…

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Dagsthul Perspectives WorkshopBy Carole Goble, Manchester Principal Investigator at the Software Sustainability Institute, and Mike Croucher, Robert Haines, and Caroline Jay, Fellows at the Software Sustainability Institute.

How should we build the research software of the future? This was the question under consideration at the Dagstuhl Perspective’s Workshop ‘Engineering Academic Software’, co-organised by the Software Sustainability Institute’s Manchester PI Carole Goble. Experts in the area from across the world spent an intensive week presenting, discussing, debating and writing, to define current problems in the field and determine how we could address them.

The Institute was out in force, with fellows Mike Croucher, Robert Haines and Caroline Jay offering their thoughts on the present and future states of application…

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Path. Image by Miguel Carvalho. Mark Stillwell, Cisco Meraki, Caroline Jay, University of Manchester,  Robert Haines, University of Manchester, Louise Brown, University of Nottingham, Jeremy Cohen, Imperial College London, Alys Brett, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Shih-Chen Chao, University of Manchester, Raquel Alegre, UCL, James Davenport, University of Bath, and James…

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By Robert Haines, Institute Fellow & Research Software Engineering Manager, IT Services, University of Manchester and Caroline Jay, Institute Fellow & Lecturer, School of Computer Science, University of Manchester.

As we move into a world where (hopefully) more and more people are trying to make their research as reproducible as possible, a lot of us are turning to Docker to help out with the task of distributing our research software in a way in which it is as accessible as possible to others. As we move in this direction we need to be able to cite the software environments that we are executing, not just the source code itself.


In the IDInteraction project we are working on tools that allow people to use object tracking over a video to create models of human behaviour - a technique known as 'behavioural coding'. This process was previously done manually, and so these tools could be very useful to others, but what is the best way to make them available? Ensuring our code is open source is an important first step, but this isn't optimal for a researcher who doesn't have the technical expertise (or time) to build the software from scratch. In the rest of this post we describe our approach to making research software easily available, by citing the…

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Head of Research Software Engineering, IT Services, University of Manchester


Software engineering; programming; open-source software; agile processes, techniques and tools; testing, test-driven development and test coverage; continuous integration and continuous deployment; code quality; code sharing and reuse; software as a first-class output of the scientific process - all with a focus on sustainability and reproducibility, both of the software and the research.


I have been a Research Software Engineer for my entire career, although it is only recently that I have been able to identify as such. My team and I work with academics and researchers to design, implement, modify and install maintainable, usable and well-tested software systems to enable them and other scientists to do their research. This might mean creating new software, researching entirely new ways of doing things or identifying and possibly modifying existing applications.

As well as developing software for researchers, we also help them get the most from their own code and provide advice, consultancy and training for them and their research groups. I have worked in a wide range of domains (including condensed matter physics, computational chemistry, hydrodynamics, bioinformatics, biodiversity and reproducibility) for research projects of various types and sizes from small "proof of concept" investigations, through technology and knowledge transfer projects, up to long…

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By Alex Nenadic, Alan Williams, Robert Haines and Alasdair Gray of MyGrid, Anton Güntsch of the Freie Universität Berlin, and Aleksandra Pawlik of the Software Sustainability Institute.

You have a piece of data-processing code, it works well, and both your colleagues and other researchers think it is useful. So, you decide to turn it into a Web Service so that it can be used by anyone with Web access. Yet do you know how to go about it? These Top Tips will help you get started.

Do not “press a button” on existing code

Creating a Web Service should not be a box-ticking exercise. It is very easy to think that providing a service can be done by running a tool over existing code. Web Services are nearly always implemented as an afterthought. As a rule, service providers usually have some local code and an interface that they set aside as a public service. Sadly, the interface often ends up being cumbersome…

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