Notes from a Software Bootcamp at Max Planck Institute

On the 25 and 26th of January we helped to organise another Software Carpentry workshop. This workshop was held on the Tuebingen Campus of the Max Planck Institute, Germany.

First morning of the bootcamp
As with the previous events of this type (see here, here or here) in which we were previously involved, this was a hands-on workshop, with several exercises on topics such as version control, testing or databases.

This workshop was organised by Lewis Chuang, from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, and delivered by Steve Crouch, from the Software Sustainability Institute, and Luis Figueira, from the SoundSoftware project. Around 35 PhD or postdoc students, with backgrounds that ranged from biology to psychology attended the two-day course. The bootcamp started with a lecture by Steve on software development and its importance for researchers. On the remainder of the first day the subjects were Python, bash and Databases. The second day started with version control (using Mercurial and Bitbucket as an external repository) and continued with testing and some more Python.

Unfortunately there wasn't enough time for Scientific Python, which was one of the most expected topics of the workshop.

Feedback from the attendees

As usual we did a very quick evaluation at the end of the workshop (see image above). The general opinion was that the workshop had been interesting and useful, with some attendees finding the model quite appropriate for the contents that were delivered. On the other hand, some complained that it was too much information to pack in such a small amount of time. Bash, Python and version control were the topics that got the most votes on possible future utility, with almost everybody saying that they found them useful.

This workshop also served as a training ground for two workshops that we'll be delivering soon for students at Queen Mary. More about those, and any conclusions or implications for further work at other institutions, will follow!