Discovering and Addressing Social Challenges in the Evolution of Scientific Software Projects

The IDEAS Productivity project, in partnership with the DOE Computing Facilities of the ALCF, OLCF, and NERSC and the DOE Exascale Computing Project (ECP) has resumed the webinar series on Best Practices for HPC Software Developers, which we began in 2016.

As part of this series, we offer one-hour webinars on topics in scientific software development and high-performance computing, approximately once a month. The next webinar in the series was titled Discovering and Addressing Social Challenges in the Evolution of Scientific Software Projects, and was presented by Rene Gassmoeller (UC Davis). The webinar took place on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET.


In recent years scientific software projects have increasingly incorporated state-of-the-art technical best practices like continuous integration into their development cycle. However, many projects still struggle to create and maintain an active and welcoming user/developer community, and there exists little documentation on what makes a scientific software community successful. In this webinar I will introduce my work — as a Better Scientific Software Fellow — typical social challenges and potential solutions that arise during the evolution of a scientific software project. Aimed at current and prospective software maintainers and community leaders, I will discuss topics such as building and maintaining a welcoming community atmosphere, overcoming skepticism of sharing science and software, mediating between users working on conflicting topics or publications, and providing credit and growth opportunities for community members. Finally, I hope to initiate a conversation among project and community leaders about what makes communities successful so that we can learn from each other and improve scientific software development together.