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  • Rishi, Jits, Mannie

Below is a debriefing document concerning the Dev8D JISC Developer Days (links included).

London Dev8d De-Briefing


1. Yahoo Pipes

User Interface Observations:

• Canvas as buttons for layout options - Layout, Expand All, Collapse all

• Saving a pipe - perhaps for workflows, once the user is happy and all services/components are configured, allow saving to myExperiment or workspace or both?

• Results by E-mail or Phone - when a workflow run is finished, successful or not - notify the user automatically.

• Arbitrarily collapsing a collection into a pipe - same for components

• Results and Provenance - when the pipe is run more than once, it tells the user the changes from previous results - e.g. how much new data - "+68 more....". Display provenance information when running the same workflow where the output is different.

• Filtering node:
o Allow or Block items that match All or Any of the following
+ Rules -----
+ Rules ----

• Pipe border colour conventions represents status - green - configured & ready, orange - needs configuring

• Pipe options (outside editor) - New, Save, Save a Copy, Properties

2. Clojure

Learn't how to setup a Clojure environment in a few seconds (download clojure, java -cp clojure.jar clojure.main).

Programmed a series of functions to express and solve mathematical problems using: simple operators, recursion, conditionals, calling/finding functions.

Programmed a series of functions to increase the accuracy of an operator expression, symbolic differentiation and finally made them 'packaged' as an application.
3. Ruby On Rails

Hit & miss workshop. The speaker intended the workshop to be for people that were already familiar with the use of Ruby on Rails; the session ended up turning into a "Ruby on Rails tutorial".
4. iPhone Application Development

This was a well planned out session which catered to the different user levels and familiarity with XCode (the Mac IDE) and the iPhone SDK.
Created a simple app to do a Twitter search using the Twitter search API. This example outlined a few issues with the use of the Cocoa framework on its own e.g. for handling server responses with xml and JSON representations; this meant that we had to plugin other frameworks into the app.
The session did not go into painstaking detail as a textbook would, but at the same time not missing out on the key principles of Cocoa development.

5. Google Apps Engine

Google Apps Engine is a free programming environment/framework which also has support for hosting apps. The engine currently supports Python, Java, and other languages that can run on the JVM (JRuby, Scala, Clojure, etc).
Has a Dashboard (management system) for the owner's apps; each google account may have up to 10 Google apps.
Apps must have a unique name when deployed onto the WWW.
Google Apps are based on the MVC architecture.
Has a lot of conventions much like Ruby on Rails, such as view templates, folder structure (though different from Rails Apps), etc
The session was well laid out, but due to it being 4 hours long, fatigue will play it's role in attention draining.
Hacked/Tweaked a series of apps, learning the structure Google Apps. No excessive background tutoring and learning the fundamentals of Python, just enough tutoring to help one understand what an app is doing. Any "silliness" of the programming language was addressed as per request.
6. Python

Another hit & miss workshop. Learnt about the basics of Python, the advantages it brings, setting up an environment, practical example was inadequately chosen.

Lightning Talks:

Interesting Talks:

1. OSSWatch

Open Source Software Advisory.
Mailing List on
Gnome Accessibility a11y -

2. OSSWatch - Sander Van Der Waal

  • Free to higher education
  • Procurement, engagement, development
  • Key Attributes
    § User Engagement
    § Transparency
    § Collaboration
    § Agility
  • Community - who is it
    o Order of importance:
    § Disengage users
    § Engaged users
    § Contributors
    § Developers
    § Managers
  • Social System
    o Understand who your users are - stakeholders...
  • Project Scope
    o Define boundaries - allow others to explore beyond/through welcome 3rd parties, they have different boundaries, with their own resources.
  • The Environment
    o Relation to other projects, engaging with the environment.
  • Existing Community
    o Raise awareness of work.
    o Attract users from connected communities.
    o Learn from successful communities.
    o Stay abreast of current thinking.
  • Build New Community
    o Limited visibility.
    o Retain independence.
  • Essential Processes
    o Decision making - structure
    o Conflict resolution
    § Meritocracy of contribution
    § Benevolent dictator
  • Economy
    o A quote from Marten Mickos.
  • Barter Monetisation
    o User feedback.
    o Evangelism.
    o Affordance.
  • Exchange
    o Do things in the open.
  • Action Points
    o Identify areas from a common interest.

2. Social Science for Software Developers

Works here at the University of Manchester.

3. Unlock - Geological web services

  • Uses Java, Apache, Tomcat, Spring, MVC
  • Providing geographic data - loads of data
  • Restful Services
  • E.g.
  • Output format - json

4. Linked Data - Hugh Glasser - University of Southampton

  • Interlinking the web of data
  • The web of data has many equivalent URIs. This service helps you find co-references between different data sets.
  • Linked data.
  • Uses strength of semantic distances.
  • Linked data (like wiki)
  • can get JSON back
  • A discovery explorer.

5. Linked data in the web

  • Ed Summers
  • "Linked data is the semantic web done right" Tim Berners Lee Library of congress
  • Where to start:
    o Model your stuff.
    o Identify your stuff with cool URIs.
    o Link stuff together with HTML.
    o Link to machine friendly formats (RSS, ATOM, JSON etc).
    o Use RDF to make your database available on the web using vocabularies other people understand.
    o Question? What about a RDFa? RDFa serialising RDF graph - making meta data available in html view - can decorate links.

6. Mendeley

  • Wants to help researchers manage, share, discover academic knowledge
  • Mendeley desktop <-> Mendeley Web.
  • Similar to endnote.
  • Manage, share, read and annotate your research papers - both on the desktop and online.
  • 14 Million documents (research papers).
  • can provide usage-based impact factors of research papers.
  • Audience/reach of research papers.
  • Reading time & repeat readings per paper
  • Quality ratings
  • Demo web:
    o Dashboard, Library, Statistics, MyProfile, People, Support
    o Readership statistics.
    o My publications.
    o Looking to share the data because they're focusing on getting & cleaning:
    § Open API
    § RESTful
    § OAuth
    § JSON
    o 2 Parts
    § Open Data
    § User Data - require user credentials - access to your library - docs, tags, notes, collections
    o Access to statistics
    § Top authors
    § Papers
    § Tags
    § Publications
    o Research Papers
    § Search by....
    § Open data due March
    § User data due April
    o API .. working on making data available.

6. The collaborative Tools Project - University of York

  • Aim to improve collaboration
  • Intranet
    o Use cases.
    o Project.
    o Department.
    o Thingy.
  • Public Presentation
    o Media.
    o Engagement.
    o Conferences.
    o Community of practice.
  • Better Meetings
  • Tools
    o Blogs.
    o Wikis.
    o Instant Messaging.
    o Files.
  • Toys
    o Horizon report.
    o Space and Time.
    o Room wiki room.
    o People project
  • Training
    o LinkedIn.
    o Network thinking.
    o Uservoice.
    o Crowd sourcing.
    o Delicious.
    o Tag clouds.
    o Information design.
  • Why rather than how... Assemble, create..
    o Life-ray.
    o Jive.
    o Maltego - mining.

7. The Open University

Mistakes made.

  • "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who does the credit taking"
  • Difference between: something that works / something that is production quality.
  • Refer to alpha/beta/launch
  • State the number of bugs - quantitive bugs
  • Functional -> Production code.

8. Visualising data with Processing.

  • Ross McFadden
  • Made by MIT peeps,
  • Advanced graphics for Java
  • Get pixels out quickly on the screen.

9. Hudson - Jim Downing.

  • It's usage - info.
  • Crediting developers with Commit Points.

10. Agile Development

  • Travelling light
  • Don't design for more than the immediate goal
    o FlyWeb & CLAROS
  • Web app framework or javascript - My received wisdom about web application vs a pragmatic get-something working approach.
  • None