On Thursday 26 October, TU Deft Library together with ICT hosted the third, but possibly not the last, of a series of Innovation Sandbox Sessions on Open Source Software at TU Delft. The topic of the session was training and support.

There were three very interesting presentations and lots of engagement from the audience.

  1. Carlos Martinez Ortiz – Netherlands eScience Center. He talked about open source software and software sustainability.
  2. Julian Kooij – TU Delft, Assistant Professor “Visual Sensing and Learning” in the Intelligent Vehicles group, part of the Biomechanical Engineering department, 3mE faculty. Julian talked about the use of Gitlab (and Robot Operating System, ROS) in the Prius Demonstrator vehicle.
  3. Rob van Laarhoven –  TU Delft, Manager of the Data Management department, ICT. Rob talked about the same Gitlab project and broader ambition of setting up a TU Delft-wide Gitlab.

How to keep research software alive?

This discussion caught my attention. Software decays over time because it depends on other code or technology (operating systems, browsers, etc.) that change over time. To keep up with these changes, software needs to be maintained and updated, but this takes time, skill and resources.

10 Ways to keep your successful scientific software alive

This is the title of a blogpost from Vincent van Hees, an eScience Research Engineer at The Netherlands eScience Center. One of his recommendations is to build a community of developers. Building a large community may only be possible for generic research software, but it may still be worth the effort for more domain-specific pieces of software if that leads to a reduction of the maintenance work load.

Screenshot-2017-11-8 Vincent van Hees on Twitter

There is no magic recipe for how to build a community. The Netherlands Research Software Engineer community is a recent initiative “to bring together the community of research software engineers from Dutch universities, knowledge institutes, companies and other relevant organizations to share knowledge, to organize meetings and raise awareness for the scientific recognition of research software.”