Software and research: the Institute's Blog

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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Latest version published on 8 February, 2018.

groupc.pngBy Stuart Grieve, Research Software Developer, University College London, Eike Mueller, Lecturer in Scientific Computing, University of Bath, Alexander Morley, DPhil in Neuroscience, University of Oxford, Matt Upson, Data Scientist, Government Digital Service, Richard Adams (Chair), Reader, Cranfield University, Michael Clerx, Post-doctoral researcher in Computational Cardiac Electrophysiology, University of Oxford.

This blog post was motivated by a discussion amongst academics and research software engineers from different disciplines on the challenge of writing good, sustainable software in teams with different backgrounds. Specifically, how can a mixed team of, say, scientists, librarians, engineers and project managers be encouraged to write good software together?

Our discussions led us to two broad recommendations: first, to ensure that research software…

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Latest version published on 8 February, 2018.

2011.11.15_building_software.pngBy Adam Tomkins (Chair), University of Sheffield, James Grant, University of Bath, Alexander Morley, University of Oxford, Stuart Grieve, University College London, Tania Allard, University of Sheffield.

There is a growing interest in the adoption of software best practices in research computing and allied fields. Best practices improve the quality of research software and efficiency in development and maintenance as well having the potential to deliver benefits outside software development.  However, this interest in these methods is not universal and there is a possibility that a drive for best practice could lead to a widening divide between those who embrace this change and those who do not. It is therefore vital that Research Software Engineers (RSEs) work closely with domain specialists, to bridge this divide and attempt to meet the challenges of efficiency and reproducibility:

  • How do we…

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