The University of Edinburgh

Room 3217, James Clark Maxwell Building, Kings Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ
Dec 3-4, 2013
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Instructors: Mike Jackson, Mario Antonioletti

Organisers: This boot camp is being organised by EPCC as part of PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) and The Software Sustainability Institute.

What: Our goal is to help scientists and engineers become more productive by teaching them basic computing skills like program design, version control, testing, and task automation. In this two-day boot camp, short tutorials will alternate with hands-on practical exercises. Participants will be encouraged both to help one another, and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems during and between sessions. Attendants are offered online office hours: regular events to get one-on-one help from Software Carpentry instructors, online.

Who: The course is aimed at postgraduate students and other scientists who are familiar with basic programming concepts (like loops, conditionals, arrays, and functions) but need help to translate this knowledge into practical tools to help them work more productively.

Registration: please visit our registration site

Contact: Please mail host-edinburgh@software-carpentry.org for more information.


Timetable

Tuesday 3rd December Wednesday 4th December

Prerequisites

Attendees should have some experience of writing code and be familiar with conditionals, loops, arrays and functions.

Attendees will also be expected also be comfortable with using the bash shell. For an introduction to the shell, please see Software Carpentry's Unix shell lesson.


Required Software

In order to take part in the bootcamp, please set up this software before you arrive.

Editor

When you're writing code, it's nice to have a text editor that is optimized for writing code, with features like automatic color-coding of key words.

Windows / Editor

Notepad++ is a popular free code editor for Windows.

Mac OS X / Editor

We recommend Text Wrangler or Sublime Text.

Linux / Editor

Kate is one option for Linux users.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell. Using a shell gives you more power to do more tasks more quickly with your computer.

Windows / Git Bash

Install Git Bash following these instructions. This gives you Git as well as Bash.

Mac OS X / Bash

The default shell in all versions of Mac OS X is bash, so no need to install anything. You access bash from the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities). You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.

Linux / Bash

The default shell is usually bash, but if your machine is set up differently you can run it by opening a terminal and typing bash. There is no need to install anything.


Python

Python is becoming more and more popular in scientific computing, and it's a great language for teaching general programming concepts due to its easy-to-read syntax. We will be using Python version 2.7. Installing all the scientific packages for Python individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend using an all-in-one installer.

Linux / Python

We recommend the all-in-one scientific Python installer Anaconda. (Installation requires using the shell and if you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself just download the installer and we'll help you at the boot camp.)

  1. Download the installer that matches your operating system and save it in your home folder.
  2. Open a terminal window..
  3. Type
    bash Anaconda-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.
  4. Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. When there is a colon at the bottom of the screen press the down arrow to move down through the text. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).

Mac OS X / Python

We recommend the all-in-one scientific Python installer Anaconda. (Installation requires using the shell and if you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself just download the installer and we'll help you at the boot camp.)

  1. Download the installer that matches your operating system and save it in your home folder.
  2. Open a terminal window.
  3. Type
    bash Anaconda-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.
  4. Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. When there is a colon at the bottom of the screen press the down arrow to move down through the text. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).

Windows / Python

For Windows we recommend the Enthought Canopy distribution since it seems to work well with Git Bash.

For other options check the Python4Astronomers page on installing scientific Python.

Git

Git is a state-of-the-art version control system. It lets you track who made changes to what when and has options for easily updating a shared or public version of your code on github.com.

Linux / Git

If Git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distro's package manager (e.g. apt-get).

Mac OS X / Git

Installing Git may require you to first install XCode. This is a very large download (several gigabytes), so please do it before arriving at the bootcamp.

For Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8:

Go to the Xcode website. Get XCode from the App Store making certain to install the command line tools (from the Download preferences pane). Git is included in the command line tools.

For Mac OS X 10.6

If you have Mac OS X 10.6, first get XCode by going to the Apple developer site. You have to sign in with an Apple ID linked to a Developer account. If you don't have one, you can register and create one. Once you log in, go to page 8 and find "XCode 3.2.6 and iOS SDK 4.3 for Snow Leopard". Click to open that section, and then download the .dmg file. Finally, install just git.

Windows / Git Bash

Install Git Bash following the instructions here. This gives you Bash as well as Git.


Checking your installation

To test you have everything, download the following Python scripts and run them within your bash shell:

For example

$ python swc-installation-test-1.py
$ python swc-installation-test-2.py

Best Practices for Scientific Computing

Greg Wilson, D. A. Aruliah, C. Titus Brown, Neil P. Chue Hong, Matt Davis, Richard T. Guy, Steven H. D. Haddock, Katy Huff, Ian M. Mitchell, Mark Plumbley, Ben Waugh, Ethan P. White, Paul Wilson. Best Practices for Scientific Computing, arXiv:1210.0530 [cs.MS], September 2013.


Reference Guides