Software Carpentry in Stockholm

Thor Wikfeldt, PDC

Published Jun 02, 2018

The Software Carpentry Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to teaching researchers the computing skills they need to get more done in less time and with less pain. After its start in 1998 as a week-long training course at US national laboratories, Software Carpentry has evolved into a worldwide volunteer movement - hundreds of workshops have been held around the world and the number of attendants has surpassed 34,000. After the success of Software Carpentry, similar initiatives were launched to teach other more specific computational skills, including Data Carpentry for domain-specific data management, Library Carpentry for computational skills relevant to librarians, and HPC Carpentry for users of HPC resources. Recently, these initiatives were joined under a common organisational structure called The Carpentries.

With support from the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), a Software Carpentry workshop was held at the KTH campus on 12-13 March 2018. The event was advertised through the SNIC training newsletter and, judging by the rapid rate at which registrations came in for the workshop, there is clearly a large demand for these types of courses in Stockholm. All Software Carpentry course material is directed towards students and researchers who want to learn the basics of fundamental tools for computational work. The topics chosen for the Stockholm workshop were (1) the Unix shell for automating and speeding up tasks, (2) Git for version control of scripts, programs and plain text files, and (3) the Python programming language.

Software Carpentry workshops are more foundational in nature compared to workshops taught in the related CodeRefinery project (run by the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration). The latter focus on tools and best practices for scientific software development for researchers who already write code as part of their work and, as such, provide a natural second step after attending a Software Carpentry workshop. A closer collaboration between CodeRefinery and The Carpentries is envisioned in the future, which will hopefully mean that more Carpentry workshops can be held in Sweden and the Nordic countries.

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