Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Dev8D: dipping a toe in the developers’ world

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

I’m on my way home from my first developer-fest: the Dev8D conference. I don’t have a background in software development, so this was a new experience for me, and I have to admit that I was massively impressed by the unadulterated enthusiasm on display.

The Software Sustainability Institute is mainly staffed by software developers, so it’s not like Dev8D was the first time I’ve engaged in a conversation that involved more abbreviations than actual words. However, this was the first time I’ve had to give a presentation to an undiluted audience of developers. That’s why I started…

Ask Steve! - How to Meet that Perfect Developer?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

I received this, possibly nepotistic, question from Mahendra Mahey of the DevCSI project. He asks:

“Today is the day that people look to find their perfect match. But what about getting together with developers? Do you have any advice on the best way to meet that perfect developer you’ve always dreamt of?”

Finding the right place to meet developers can indeed prove difficult, and finding the right…

Ask Steve! - To C or Not to C: which programming language should I use?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

There I was sitting back reading a copy of ‘What Compiler?’ when I received a particularly tricky AskSteve question…  Ok, ok, Simon nudged me whilst I was reading xkcd and chomping on a sandwich and mentioned we had received a particularly tricky AskSteve question…

“Hi Steve, I’m an ambitious programmer just starting out in a new research team. I want my code to not just work fast, but to last as long as possible and I want others to admire and…

Thinking about migrating to a different repository?

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

Taverna is an internationally successful workflow environment developed by the myGrid team at the University of Manchester. The team recently moved the Taverna source code from SourceForge to Google Code and GitHub. We asked Shoaib Sufi – myGrid project manager and community liaison for the Software Sustainability Institute – to explain their thinking behind the move. The work behind this post was completed by Stian Soiland-Reyes, Jiten Bhagat, Stuart Owen, Alan Williams and Shoaib Sufi.

Google Code

Taverna was moved from SourceForge to Google Code due to the ad-ridden…

Continuous integration gets a new butler

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

Heavy users of the Hudson continuous integration server software are, no doubt, following the community vs. Oracle tussle in the news and blogosphere. Those of you who aren't, may not care. Before I touch on the current state of names and name-calling, let me put in a word of recommendation for Hudson from a pure software-development perspective.

Hudson is a server software stack that provides an environment for continuous integration. We've used it in projects here at the Software Sustainability Institute. Taverna are big Hudson users, and the ADMIRE project at Edinburgh…

Organising a successful event: the CW11

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

Events are like dentists. Everyone thinks they're a good idea, but people aren’t always that keen to attend. This year, I'm organising an event called the Collaborations Workshop (known, to its friends, as the CW). It’s certainly an easy event to organise, because the feedback from previous years has been very good. My problem is: how do I maintain this success and hopefully make it bigger and better than previous years?

Before we go any further, let’s get something straight: I have no problem… liberating… any ideas that people reading this post might have about…

Increasing our understanding of location - GeoTOD II

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

The time it takes for an ambulance arrives, the routes that police should patrol or the measures put in place during a national emergency all rely upon an understanding of location. This not only requires an understanding of geographical features like hills, buildings, roads and rivers, but also of information relating to a location at any point in time, such as road works, diversions, burst riverbanks and collapsed bridges. With this in mind, the UK Government have proposed a Location Strategy which seeks to maximise the value of geographic information by combining maps with information…

GeoTOD II linked data demonstrator is live

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

GeoTOD-II's linked data server, built using OGSA-DAI, is live, allowing geo-spatial data to be browsed and queried.

Over the past six months we have been providing the GeoTOD-II project with advice on using OGSA-DAI. GeoTOD-II, based at STFC, have been exploring ways of linking geographic information with location data. A lot of the required data is already available in existing databases (for example, in relational databases or files), so GeoTOD II built a framework, based on OGSA-DAI, to access this data and expose it as linked data. GeoTOD II have deployed a demonstration…

Experiences with ParaView and Python

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

While working with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy on streamlining the visualisation of output from the GS2 fusion simulation suite we've had a few tussles with the ParaView visualisation tool.

Beginning with an existing Python program that post-processes GS2 output into a format that can be read by ParaView, our initial goal was to modify the program so that it could be use as a component (a Reader) in a ParaView/VTK pipeline (ParaView is built on VTK).  One main requirement was to enable the user to be able to select input files via a dialog.

We worked with…

Ask Steve! - What is test-driven development?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

Got this question the other day from Andrew Milstead, also from the University of Southampton…

Test-driven development is a way of working – a discipline – when developing software. Essentially, you develop the unit tests for code before you write the code itself.

In general, testing is often given short-shrift in academic projects, because academia generally lacks the resources to place a proper emphasis on testing – functionality is often prioritised over quality. This is completely understandable because you are often developing proof-of-concept software. However,…