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Research Software Development


Reliability, readability, and efficiency in scientific software


Archive for April, 2013

Seminar: Dr James Smith on Open Development

James P J Hetherington22 April 2013

As part of the “Research Programming in Practice” seminar series, Dr James Smith of the Open Data Institute will be giving a seminar entitled:

Running around naked: how open development helps me be a better programmer.

At the Open Data Institute, we build all our technology in the open. This may seem terrifying, but it’s probably one of the most powerful things we do. By using open tools and practices, we communicate better as a team, engage with our community, avoid cutting corners, and at the end of the day, produce better results.

This talk will show you the open tools and techniques you can apply to do the same. I’ll share how we use git and Github to manage parallel development; how behaviour driven development helps us make sure we build the right thing; and how automation helps us to pull it all together once it’s ready.

The seminar will take place on Tuesday 30th April at 11am in Room 309 in the UCL Roberts Building.

Call for Projects

James P J Hetherington22 April 2013

UCL Research Software Development makes a termly call for free software development effort in line with UCL’s research priorities. The third such call for has now opened. Proposals should be completed according to the submission guidance and emailed to rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk. Supported projects will be provided with 50% FTE for three months in the quarter following the call. Key staff from submitting groups should be available in the weeks following submission for discussions. Proposals will be reviewed by our academic governing bodies according to published selection criteria. Resubmission of proposals which have previously been submitted is welcomed.

The timeline for the current call is:

19/04/2013 Call opens.
09/05/2013 Call closes
23/05/2013 Shortlisting
20/06/2013 Final selection

In addition to this termly free call, research teams preparing grants involving software development should consider bringing in the team as collaborators through grant-funded software development effort, costing programming effort from our developers into the grant – we can provide fractional or full time effort as needed, throughout the project or at critical intervals.

We look forward to receiving your proposals, and to working with you to build and maintain great research software,

UCL Research Software Development Recommends GitHub

James P J Hetherington12 April 2013

We are pleased to announce the launch of a pilot service in Research Software Development Infrastructure. This will make available to those UCL researchers who create their own research software the tools they need to do so in a sustainable, professional manner.

The GitHub collabocats, from http://octodex.github.com/, used by permission.

The GitHub collabocats, from http://octodex.github.com/, used by permission.

Part of this service access to GitHub’s source code management service. This is provided as a ‘free at the point of use’ service to UCL researchers and their nominated collaborators. GitHub are the leading providers of cloud source code management and collaboration tools, including great support for version control, issue tracking, and code review, as well as the ability to manage software documentation and websites linked to the source code. GitHub repositories can be interacted with via git or subversion, or via their dedicated GUI clients. We recommend use of GitHub as a third party service to provide, in GitHub’s hosted cloud, management of software being developed and maintained by UCL researchers.

GitHub provision for non-profit research is free. Our service means costs for non-qualifying researchers will be covered by UCL’s Research IT Services Department . Please follow our signup instructions, if you want to have a go.

Although researchers should contact us to avoid paying fees for private repositories, open source repositories carry no cost on GitHub, and UCL research groups should feel free to go ahead and set up public repositories themselves. Do let us know about your open source repository, at rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk, so that we can follow your great work!

This service is an open beta, and UCL’s adoption of GitHub will be reviewed following this beta phase by the UCL Research Software Development academic governance bodies. In the event of transition to a different provider following this beta period, all research groups involved in this beta phase can be assured of extensive support in moving to any replacement. Researchers who use the beta service will be invited to provide feedback as to the quality and appropriateness of the tools provided, to ensure that we are able to develop and provide services that are responsive to the needs of UCL researchers.

During the beta period, our ability to provide support, training and advice for your use of GitHub will be limited by our availability, and supplied on a best efforts basis. Nevertheless, please get in touch with us at rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk and let us know about your needs. We aspire to provide more comprehensive local training and support as the service matures.

GitHub’s service is cloud-based, and worldwide. This may not be appropriate for some research groups, for example, those with legal obligations to reserve code within particular jurisdictions. Groups worried about this should get in touch. We will, where time and costs permit, be able to develop bespoke solutions for source code management for projects with specific requirements. We will also in due course be providing advice regarding risks associated with the service as we develop the pilot.

We hope to provide further research software development infrastructure, such as support for continuous automated multi-platform testing of code, as we develop our services.

Dr James Hetherington,

Team Leader,

UCL Research Software Development