Hello Imperial RSEs, and welcome to the November edition of our newsletter.
One month to go before the much awaited season holidays and, hopefully, we can see some silver lining before the end of the year. Meanwhile, a number of virtual events and compelling readings will keep us interested and busy with research software. In addition to the information provided in this month’s newsletter, you can always find out more about what’s going on in the community and get hints, suggestions and advice on our Slack workspace or by joining the weekly RS Community coffee (Fridays at 3pm). And if you have news or input to share, please contribute via email@example.com.
As usual, there is the monthly submission deadline: get your submissions in by the end of 30 November for the next review round.
The SORSE YouTube channel has had some new recordings added this week: check it out if you’ve missed any of the previous sessions.
If you are writing software for research and want to meet other RSEs in the international community, you can join the first online get-together event of the Nordic Research Software Engineer initiative, from 30 November to 2 December. This virtual event is replacing the Nordic-RSE conference that has been postponed until May 2021.
Advent of Code (AoC) 2020 starts on 1 December, a fun series of daily coding puzzles that can get quite challenging. A great way to test and enhance your programming skills in a language that you’re already familiar with, or why not try something new. If you’re not familiar with languages like, for example, Rust or Go, this can be a great way to start developing skills in a new programming language. There is a global “Leaderboard” for AoC and in recent years, we’ve also run a local Imperial leaderboard. If you’d like to join the Imperial leaderboard, send a message on Slack or look out for an email to the community mailing list with details of how to add yourself.
On 3 December 2020, join the Be-RSE group at their first online event: the Research Software Developers Day.
7th December: Registration opens for the Software Sustainability Institute’s (SSI) annual Fellowship Programme. Fellows are awarded £3000 to spend over 15 months on a variety of possible activities. Our own community committee member Diego Alonso-Alvarez is a current SSI Fellow and if you’re interested in applying you are welcome to get in touch with him. As highlighted on the programme’s information page: “The main goals of the programme are to improve computational practice and to promote this improvement across all disciplines. We encourage our Fellows to use software sustainability practices themselves and to be ambassadors of good practice in their own domains.”. The Fellowship Programme provides a great opportunity to undertake or contribute to a range of activities in the areas of software sustainability and RSE. It’s also a great way to develop your profile within the RSE community and demonstrate funding success so it’s certainly worth considering making an application.
The RSLondon community, in collaboration with ARCHER2 and PRACE, is running the 2 day training workshop Reproducible computational environments using containers - Introduction to Docker and Singularity on the 8th/9th December 2020. See https://www.archer2.ac.uk/training/courses/201208-containers/ for further information and registration. Although the web page shows this course as “Fully booked”, there is a specific allocation of spaces for the RSLondon community, please put “RSLondon participant” or similar in the “Reason for participation” box on the registration form to be allocated one of the reserved RSLondon places.
10th and 11th December: BristolRSE and AWS are organising the Christmas in the Cloud free online workshop. It is a hands-on workshop focused on learning how to port and optimise applications for the cloud and how to use portable technologies to configure and deploy infrastructure-as-code applications. Attendees will be given free AWS accounts during the workshop, with plenty of free credits to support all of the hackathons and break-out groups that will take place. Free for RSEs and researchers working in academia or the public sector.
If you wonder what the most suitable “home” is for RSEs, have a look at the position paper RSEs in Research? RSEs in IT?: Finding a suitable home for RSEs by Jeremy Cohen and Mark Woodbridge, which was accepted for the RSE-HPC-2020 workshop held as part of this year’s SuperComputing (SC20) conference. Jeremy participated in a panel as part of the workshop which took place on 12th Nov. A number of other position papers were also accepted for this workshop providing some interesting perspectives on RSE and RSE-related work.
A vision for supporting research software sustainability across Europe and beyond - an interesting article from Tesfaye, Haupt, et al. highlighting the European Software Sustainability Infrastructure (EuSSI) and the various ideas and principles behind it.
Is the command line your natural working environment? Make it beautiful with Rich.
Dr Watson: The perfect sidekick for your scientific inquiries presents “an efficient scientific workflow, taking time off of project management and giving it to doing science”, and it is also a nice example of open source software publication.
If you need a tutorial about how to make a computational research project reproducible using several different tools (e.g. Git, Conda, Docker, etc.), have a look at the NBIS Reproducible Research Course.
Docker is considered a great tool for creating reproducible setups for training and research. And it appears often in our newsletter. Ten simple rules for writing Dockerfiles for reproducible data science helps researchers write understandable Dockerfiles for typical data science workflows.
There are several platforms offering online courses, but it is still possible to find new ones: find an online seminar at Agora (some of which may be of RSE interest), and consider Udemy if you have some funds to invest.
Follow Unix tool tip on Twitter for hints on Unix utilities and related topics.
Every week you can listen to a new episode of Research Software Engineer Stories: latest instalments are Give me Security, Give me Hope, Key is your value set, and Open Science is Critical.
The 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop took place in September and a blog post describing the event is now available! In addition, blog posts from a series of breakout groups that took place during the workshop are being published on an approximately fortnightly basis on the Research Software Engineers International site.
There are many many many software tools that are useful for research. Sometimes, the problem is to find the right one for the problem at hand. The Research Software Encyclopedia (rse) is a collection of tools and interfaces to support management, query, and understanding of research software.
The interesting part of it, is that we can all contribute to evaluate each software repository on a set of criteria and organize the database entries into a taxonomy of research software. This way, it will be easier in the future to search for the perfect solution for our research needs.
The code can be found on GitHub and there is also a Python API available. New software tools to consider for software criteria and taxonomy annotation are presented regularly on this blog.
Each month we highlight a piece of research software that is being used or developed at Imperial, or that we think is of particular interest to the Imperial community. If you have a suggestion of some software that you’d like to see us feature, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RS Community coffee continues weekly via Zoom - normally on Friday afternoons at 3pm but check our Slack workspace for exact times and connection details.
If you’re developing open source research software at Imperial then please consider submitting it to the Research Software Directory by either opening a pull request or dropping a line to Christopher Cave-Ayland.
That’s all for this month. Thanks to everyone who provided content for this edition.
Drop us a line with anything you’d like included in the newsletter, ideas about how it could be improved… or even offer to guest-edit a future edition! email@example.com.
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This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Stefano Galvan. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.