EuroSciPy 2016

Posted by r.silva on 31 August 2016 - 2:04pm

Square at Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

When EuroSciPy 2016 was announced, I told to myself that I need to attend it. The first reason was to compare it with SciPy Latin America 2016, whose organisation I helped with last March, and be able to provide suggestions to both events in 2017.

Both conferences are about the use of Python in science and received between 100 and 200 attendees from different countries. SciPy Latin America 2016 attendees complained about the four tutorial parallel track and I believe that, for a conference of this size, having only beginner and intermediate tutorial tracks, as done by EuroSciPy, is the right choice. EuroSciPy had the last day reserved for sprints, something that was cut from SciPy Latin America—and that can be improved if the organizers provide an agenda for it. SciPy Latin America had some swags for the attendees that I really missed on EuroSciPy.

Another reason that I wanted to attend EuroScipy 2016 was to promote the Software Sustainability Institute, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry. I taught a Git Tutorial based on Software Carpentry material on the second day. The organisers told me that they received positive comments about the Git Tutorial—which made me happy! EuroSciPy also had some lightning talk sessions, where David Perez-Suarez and I invited other attendees to participate on the 4th Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE4), the job description of a Research Software Engineer and the First Research Software Engineer Conference, the Collaborations Workshop 2017, and we encouraged attendees based on the UK to apply for the Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship Programme.

My last reason for attending EuroSciPy was to discover new tools that researchers are using and/or developing in their everyday work. EuroSciPy's talks were full of new shiny hammers and I want to highlight a few: Min Ragan-Kelley mentioned Jupyter Declarative Widget Extension that allows the creation of widgets in Jupyter notebooks using only HTML; Oscar Najera showed Sphinx-Gallery that can be used to create a gallery of examples to your library; Vidar Tonaas Fauske talked about nbdime that implements diff and merge for Jupyter notebooks since standard diff isn't suitable; finally, Jeremy Sanders demonstrated Veusz, a GUI scientific plotting and graphing package, that helps users to create plots without remembering all the arguments of a plotting library.

Some talks weren't focused on a new tool and three of those talks deserved to be mentioned: Gael Varoquaux talked about "Writing Code for Science" and the impediments of reproducibility (although the scientific community has made great improvements in the last years to achieve reproducibility, there still a long way to fulfil our dream); Abigail Cabunoc Mayes talked about "Open Science, Lessons from Open Source" based on the work from Mozilla Science Lab and the things that any community should work on; finally, Kezban Sila Kunt talked about her user case to "be more prepared in emergency room by analyzing patient data with Python".

I had a remarkable time and made new friends that I hope to meet again at EuroSciPy 2017 or earlier. The organisers did a great work selecting the talks so that the attendees could learn, think and be inspired. I would recommend EuroSciPy to anybody who uses Python for science because in addition to useful talks it had an especially friendly atmosphere, including a social event where it took us to the 21km inners caves of Erlangen—the best beer-fridges on Earth till artificial ones were created in 1871. All in all, I’m looking forward to attending EuroSciPy 2017 seeing old faces and meeting new ones there!

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