Saturday, October 18, 2014

Embracing Technology Change In Scientific Software

“πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει” [Everything changes and nothing stands still]  - Heraclitus of Ephesus.
True 500 BC, this statement for sure holds nowadays in the software world. Whether at micro scale, when replacing a third parties library or continuously refactoring, or at macro scale, when adopting a new language, a framework or making major paradigm shift such as going parallel. Evolution is part of the development cycle.
Change can be planned, when a prototype paves the route for a production software or unexpected, when a technology breakthrough emerges during the lifespan of a project.
Although every domain is concerned by the phenomenon, scientific software raises a couple peculiarities. Often serving research, the purpose of the code itself will pivot in unforeseen directions. Meanwhile, developers, as talented as they might be, rarely come from a software engineering background and sometimes (that might be an understatement) do not consider the software building process as a relevant priority.
Embracing evolution raises challenges in multiple dimensions. We will try to cover both the technical perspective as well as the leadership one.

Contents:  Build To Change - Where (and When) To Go? - Foster Evolution in Your Team.

Kayaking through the ice, to reach our glacier Patagonia, 2000

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Viewing graphs in the browser


Entities linked through relations are just everywhere. Social networks, biological entities, publications, any database tables joined with a foreign key etc. are countless examples but often not represented as graphs. Many tools exist to visualize them and this post will introduce my favorite five allowing to interact with a graph in a modern web browser: graphviz, neo4j, cytoscape.js, sigma.js and d3.js.
By far, we will not cover all the cool features of these tools (hei, this a simple blog post, not a book!) but rather give a short introduction to each of them. We will focus on small graphs with force layout methods, as it is the most general purpose one.
Kite drying, after a Greenland ice cap crossing, 2002