University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, JCMB

May 9-10, 2017

9:00 - 17:00

Instructors: Mike Jackson, Rupert Nash, Manos Farsarakis

Helpers: TBC

General Information

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills.

This workshop is hosted by EPCC, Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, and organised in collaboration by ARCHER, the Software Sustainability Institute, and UoE Research Data Service.

ARCHER, the UK's national supercomputing service, offers training in software development and high-performance computing to scientists and researchers across the UK. As part of our training service we are running a two-day Data Carpentry workshop.

The Software Sustanability Institute's mission is to cultivate better, more sustainable, research software to enable world-class research (better software, better research). Software is fundamental to research: seven out of ten UK researchers report that their work would be impossible without it.

The Research Data Service is a suite of tools and support for University staff and students to aid them in data management planning, working with data, sharing and preserving their data, and re-skilling. It is delivered by a virtual team spanning across a number of sections of Information Services including EDINA and Data Library, Library & University Collections, IT Infrastructure, User Services, and the Digital Curation Centre.

This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: Room 3217, James Clerk Maxwell Building, Peter Guthrie Tait Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FD. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organisers have checked that:

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email g.peru@epcc.ac.uk, support@archer.ac.uk for more information.


Registration

To register, or to get more information, please, visit the ARCHER training page.

Surveys

Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Schedule

Day 1

9:00 Welcome and set-up
9:30 Version control with Git
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Version control with Git
12:30 Lunch break
13:30 Automating tasks with Make
15:00 Coffee break
15:30 Automating tasks with Make
17:00 Close

Day 2

9:00 Python
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Python
12:30 Lunch break
13:30 Python
15:00 Coffee break
15:30 Python
16:30 Wrap-up and feedback
17:00 Close

Hackpad: https://hackpad.com/2017-05-09-edinburgh-jQyqxOVZDdW.
We will use this hackpad for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


Syllabus

Version Control with Git

  • Creating a repository
  • Recording changes to files: add, commit, ...
  • Viewing changes: status, diff, ...
  • Ignoring files
  • Working on the web: clone, pull, push, ...
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Open licenses
  • Where to host work, and why
  • Reference...

Automating tasks with Make

  • Make is not just for compiling code
  • Basic Tasks
  • Automatic Variables and Wildcards
  • Patterns
  • Variables
  • Reference...

Building programs with Python

  • Using libraries
  • Working with arrays
  • Reading and plotting data
  • Creating and using functions
  • Loops and conditionals: for, if, else, ...
  • Defensive programming
  • Using Python from the command line
  • Reference...

Setup

To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need working copies of the software described below. Please make sure to install everything (or at least to download the installers) before the start of your workshop.

Overview

Editor

Make sure you install, or have available, a text editor that you are comfortable with using. When you're writing code, it's nice to have a text editor that is optimized for writing code, with features like automatic color-coding of key words.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell. Using a shell gives you more power to do more tasks more quickly with your computer.

Git

Git is a state-of-the-art version control system. It lets you track who made changes to what when and has options for easily updating a shared or public version of your code on github.com.

Python

Python is becoming very popular in scientific computing, and it's a great language for teaching general programming concepts due to its easy-to-read syntax. We teach with Python version 3. Installing all the scientific packages for Python individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend an all-in-one installer.

Make

Originally invented to manage compilation of programs written in languages like C, Make can be used to automatically update any set of files that depend on another set of files. This makes it a good solution for many data analysis and data management problems. While there are many build tools now in existence (e.g. ANT and CMake) they share the same fundamental concepts as Make.

Databases and SQL

SQL is a special-purpose language for describing operations on relational databases - a collection of data organised into tables.

Windows

Editor

nano is the editor installed by the Software Carpentry Installer, it is a basic editor integrated into the lesson material.

Notepad++ is a popular free code editor for Windows. Be aware that you must add its installation directory to your system path in order to launch it from the command line (or have other tools like Git launch it for you). Please ask your instructor to help you do this.

Git Bash

Install Git for Windows by download and running the installer. This will provide you with both Git and Bash in the Git Bash program.

Python

  • Download and install Anaconda.
  • Use all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Make Anaconda the default Python.
  • Note: Remember to choose Python version 3 if/when prompted.

Make

Once you have installed Git Bash you can install Make by:

  • Download make.exe from here
  • Place it in the bin directory where you installed Git Bash e.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin.
  • To test: open a Git Bash window, type make, and press Enter.
  • You should see the following message
    make: *** No targets specified and no makefile found. Stop.
    This means that Make was successfully installed. Otherwise, you'll see this error message:
    bash: make: command not found

SQLite

For this workshop we're going to use the Firefox SQLite Plugin. It works through the web browser Firefox.

  • If you don't already have Firefox installed install Firefox
  • Start Firefox
  • Go to the plugin homepage.
  • Click the "Add Now" button.
  • Click "Install Now" on the dialog that appears after the download completes.
  • Restart Firefox when prompted.
  • Select "SQLite Manager" from the "Tools" menu and it will open within Firefox

Mac OS X

Editor

We recommend Text Wrangler or Sublime Text. In a pinch, you can use nano, which should be pre-installed.

Bash

The default shell in all versions of Mac OS X is bash, so no need to install anything. You access bash from the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities). You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.

Git

Install Git for Mac by downloading and running the installer. For older versions of OS X (10.5-10.7) use the most recent available installer available here. Use the Leopard installer for 10.5 and the Snow Leopard installer for 10.6-10.7.

Python

  • Download and install Anaconda.
  • Use all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Make Anaconda the default Python.
  • Note: Remember to choose Python version 3 if/when prompted.

Make

For OS X, version 10.9 (Mavericks) or above, download the Command Line Tools by doing:

xcode-select  --install

For more information, see the OSX Daily blog.

If you have an older OS X version and you do not already have access to make from within your shell, you will need to install XCode (which is free, but over a gigabyte to download).

  • Go to the Apple app store
  • Search for XCode
  • Click Free
  • Click Install App

Once XCode has installed:

  • Click Applications
  • Click XCode
  • Select XCode→Preferences...
  • Click Downloads
  • Select Command Line Tools
  • Click Install

You will now be able to run make within your shell.

SQLite

For this workshop we're going to use the Firefox SQLite Plugin. It works through the web browser Firefox.

  • If you don't already have Firefox installed install Firefox
  • Start Firefox
  • Go to the plugin homepage.
  • Click the "Add Now" button.
  • Click "Install Now" on the dialog that appears after the download completes.
  • Restart Firefox when prompted.
  • Select "SQLite Manager" from the "Tools" menu and it will open within Firefox

Linux

Editor

Kate is one option for Linux users. In a pinch, you can use nano, which should be pre-installed.

Bash

The default shell is usually bash, but if your machine is set up differently you can run it by opening a terminal and typing bash. There is no need to install anything.

Git

If Git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distro's package manager (e.g. apt-get or yum).

Python

We recommend the all-in-one scientific Python installer Anaconda. (Installation requires using the shell and if you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself just download the installer and we'll help you at the workshop.)

  1. Download the installer that matches your operating system and save it in your home folder.
  2. Open a terminal window.
  3. Type
    bash Anaconda-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.
  4. Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. When there is a colon at the bottom of the screen press the down arrow to move down through the text. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).
  5. Note: Remember to choose Python version 3 if/when prompted.

Make

Make is a standard tool on Linux systems and should already be available.

SQLite

For this workshop we're going to use the Firefox SQLite Plugin. It works through the web browser Firefox.

  • If you don't already have Firefox installed install Firefox
  • Start Firefox
  • Go to the plugin homepage.
  • Click the "Add Now" button.
  • Click "Install Now" on the dialog that appears after the download completes.
  • Restart Firefox when prompted.
  • Select "SQLite Manager" from the "Tools" menu and it will open within Firefox

Virtual Machine

As an alternative to the above, you can use a virtual machine (VM) rather than install all the software above. To use a VM:

  1. Install VirtualBox.
  2. Download our VM image. Warning: this file is 1.7 GByte, so please download it before coming to your workshop.
  3. Load the VM into VirtualBox by selecting "Import Appliance" and loading the .ova file.

SQLite

For this workshop we're going to use the Firefox SQLite Plugin. It works through the web browser Firefox.

Check your setup

To check you have the necessary software and tools:


Recognising prompts and how to exit

If you find yourself in a shell that you don't recognise, or in an editor that you can't get out of then see Recognising prompts and how to exit.


Useful links

Software Carpentry online lessons:

Git:

Python:

Training:

Papers:

Wilson G, Aruliah DA, Brown CT, Chue Hong NP, Davis M, et al. (2014) Best Practices for Scientific Computing. PLoS Biol 12(1): e1001745. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001745.

Sandve GK, Nekrutenko A, Taylor J, Hovig E (2013) Ten Simple Rules for Reproducible Computational Research. PLoS Comput Biol 9(10): e1003285. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003285.

Noble WS (2009) A Quick Guide to Organizing Computational Biology Projects. PLoS Comput Biol 5(7): e1000424. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000424.

Ram K (2013) "git can facilitate greater reproducibility and increased transparency in science", Source Code for Biology and Medicine 2013, 8:7 doi:10.1186/1751-0473-8-7.

Glass, R. (2002) Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering, Addison-Wesley, 2002. (PDF).

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