Posts by Kevin Paul

Templating isn’t just for Web Developers!

Recently, I found myself rambling on in an unprepared attempt to explain templating to a colleague of mine who had no prior experience with frontend design. It didn’t take me long to realize that my explanation was convoluted and confusing, not that I stopped talking, mind you. Attribute that to being unprepared, or sleep deprived (i.e., child still not sleeping through the night!), or just a bad teacher.

Regardless, I decided to point them to a tutorial online that certainly must exist, but after a brief Google search (which you should read as, “I didn’t find anything in the first page of search results!”), all I could find were tutorials for frontend developers. And if you aren’t an HTML expert, or already have experience with Flask or Django, teaching templating in those contexts can actually be more confusing than illuminating.

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We are Xdev!

More than a year ago, Matthew Long and I started shopping around the idea that a lot of what we do here at NCAR, as well as how we do it, needed a bit of a facelift. Our pitch was simple: As an institution that supports the geoscientific community by providing valuable datasets, supercomputing facilities, and computer models, NCAR needs to exemplify modern best practices in the development and use of these resources. We took inspiration from the remarkably effective Pangeo community, which continues to show enormous success with Open Source development when coupled with modern software best practices, and we started to develop a plan of how to help shift, albeit slowly, both NCAR and—though collaboration with the Pangeo community—the geoscience community toward a better future.

To implement our plan, Matt and I started to see how much benefit to NCAR it could be to have a small, Agile team that was dedicated to prototyping new technologies for the benefit of the rest of the organization and the rest of the geoscience community, as a whole, like the UK Met Office’s Informatics Lab. However, instead of just churning out technology, this group would also serve as an example to the rest of NCAR on how (and why) to use modern best practices (GitHub, continuous integration, test-driven development, etc.) for scientific software development. …and for science itself!

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