Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Latest version published on 27 February, 2018.

12136957446_c5ed33d53c_z.jpgBy Robin Long, Lancaster University.

My proposal when applying for the Software Sustainability Institute’s Fellowship was to engage with all researchers at my institute, and get them talking about software, sustainable software, and best practices.  As with all plans, they changed along the way—a lack of time forced me to go from a piece meal department by department interaction to an all out “let’s get everyone together in one room”. I will admit there were many fears at the beginning (will they come, will they like it, will I forget something). It all came together well, people seemed to enjoy themselves, and the discussions were encouraging and insightful. The final good sign of a meeting is the requests for another, and people asking me to give more tutorials.  Let us now step back to the beginning and look at how the event was organised and how it went. Hopefully, this will encourage new fellows to branch out of their comfort zones and have the confidence to run their own events.

Initial Plans

As part of my fellowship with the Software Sustainability Institute, I had planned to try and give talks to all departments about sustainable and reproducible software. After a hectic year, I found myself running out of time to be able to do this and conduct the training I had planned to do. I knew I had to change the plans and was thinking of ways to do this—…

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Latest version published on 23 February, 2018.

CW18pic_0.pngBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer.

Mini-workshops & demos are a unique opportunity that Collaborations Workshop attendees have to share a particular software product, approach, standard, etc. The deadline for proposals is 28th February at 23:59.

This year, we already have four mini-workshops & demos for Collaborations Workshop 2018: "Making research software easily citable with the Citation File Format" with Stephan Druskat, "Code is Science—open source scientific code manifesto" with Yo Yehudi, "Python testing with pytest" with Matt Williams, and a session related to Overleaf, one of our Platinum Sponsors, with John Lees-Miller and Villy Ioannou. More information about these sessions is available at the mini-workshops & demos page.

There is still time to join this incredible group of facilitators and share something from your researcher utility belt or discuss approaches to boost culture change or productivity. For those that need a bit of inspiration, proposals on the lines of "Using GitLab to project manage home renovation priorities" or "100% Emacs: How To Do Everything In Emacs" will be considered…

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Latest version published on 21 February, 2018.

CW17.pngBy Nikoleta Glynatsi, Software Sustainability Institute fellow

The Collaborations Workshop is an annual workshop organised by the Software Sustainability Institute since 2012. The aim of the event is to bring together research software engineers, researchers and other parties interested in research software.

I became a Sustainable Software Institute Fellow as part of the 2017 cohort and one of my “commitments” as a fellow was attending the Collaborations Workshop 2017 (CW17), which did not feel like a commitment at all. CW17 took place from the 27th to the 29th of March, at the University of Leeds.

The theme of the workshop is different every year. At CW17 the theme was the Internet of Things (IoT) and open data in research. IoT refers to the networking of devices that enable those devices to send and receive data to and from each other. The IoT can be used by researchers to collect raw data and perform analysis for new insights. Open data refers to the concept that data should be freely available for everyone to use, but it's not limited to the raw data from IoT.

The event included two great keynotes; the first one about the IoT, delivered by Usman Haque. This discussed a number of ways that IoT can help engage people and communities. The second talk was about open…

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Latest version published on 16 February, 2018.

cw186.pngBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer.

Two activities that form part of  all our Collaborations Workshop are the discussion session and collaborative ideas session. They may not be self-explanatory, but we assure you they are a great opportunity for attendees to interact and exchange ideas.

For Collaborations Workshop first-timers, including our fellows, the discussion session and collaborative ideas session may be completely new. So in this blog we will explain these two sessions and provide some tips on how to make the best of them.

Discussion session

Based on the information that attendees provide during registration, we create a list of topics that they might find interesting to discuss. For example, during CW17 we had "Best practices in Open Data and IoT data; tools & frameworks, analysis patterns and data management", "Improving diversity in research software projects and events", "How to give a kind and balanced software review" and many others. Topics can also be suggested by participants on the day—last year suggestions included "Research, Research IT, and IT: cultural bridging. Or, 'how to stop the IT department slowing down my science'".

At the very beginning of the discussion session, attendees vote for the topic they want to discuss and groups start to form. Once the groups are formed, we assign them…

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Latest version published on 15 February, 2018.

14963879736_f7c42086ea_z.jpgBy Mark Woodbridge, Research Software Engineering Team Lead

This is the first in a series of blog posts by the Research Software Engineering team at Imperial College London describing activities funded by their RSE Cloud Computing Award. The team is exploring the use of selected Microsoft Azure services to accelerate the delivery of RSE projects via a cloud-first approach. This post was originally published at the Imperial London College Research Software Engineering team blog. 

A great way to explore an unfamiliar cloud platform is to deploy a familiar tool and compare the process with that used for an on-premise installation. In this case we’ll set up an open source continuous delivery system (Drone) to carry out automated testing of a simple Python project hosted on GitHub. Drone is not as capable or flexible as alternatives like Jenkins (which we’ll consider in a subsequent post) but it’s a lot simpler and a suitable example…

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