South African National Bioinformatics Institute

Aug 30-31, 2016

09:00am - 4:00pm

Instructors: Peter van Heusden, Warren Jacobus, Michael Crusoe

Helpers: TBA

General Information

Study Group launched: see our website for info about the Study Group we are launching at UWC.

SANBI and partners are pleased to announce the first UWC Software Carpentry workshop. Software Carpentry's mission is to help scientists and engineers get more research done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic lab skills for scientific computing. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

This event forms part of a series of Software and Data Carpentry workshops which are run by newly qualified African-based instructors in collaboration with international mentors. The workshops form part of a twelve month program developed by the North-West University, University of Cape Town, Talarify, the Software Carpentry Foundation, Data Carpentry, and Mozilla Science Labs. For more information about the programme, please see A Programme for the Development of Computational and Digital Research Capacity in South Africa and Africa.

Who: The workshop is aimed at post-graduate students, postdoctoral research fellows, and researchers affiliated with the University of the Western Cape and surrounding institutions. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop. More experienced researchers and students are welcome to join as helpers.

Where: New Life Science Building, Robert Sobukwe Rd, Bellville, 7530, South Africa. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating sytem (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organisers have checked that:

Contact: Please mail swc@sanbi.ac.za for more information.

Registration Fee: A non-refundable registration fee of R 100 is payable (Note: this fee has been reduced thanks to sponsorship that we have received). The fee will cover teatimes on both days and support future Software Carpentry activities at UWC. Cash payments can be done at the UWC Cashiers (to reference number BGC0342992277, forward proof of payment to swc@sanbi.ac.za) or contact the workshop organisers for Electronic Payment instructions.

Registration: Please register by completing this form.


Schedule

Surveys

Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey

Day 1

09:00 Automating tasks with the Unix shell
10:30 Coffee
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Building programs with Python, Part 1
14:30 Coffee
16:00 Wrap-up

Day 2

09:00 Version control with Git
10:30 Coffee
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Building programs with Python, Part 2
14:30 Coffee
15:45 Input on Mozilla Science Study Groups
16:15 Wrap-up

Etherpad: http://pad.software-carpentry.org/uwc_swc_16.
We will use this Etherpad for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


Syllabus

The Unix Shell

  • Files and directories
  • History and tab completion
  • Pipes and redirection
  • Looping over files
  • Creating and running shell scripts
  • Finding things
  • Reference...

Programming in Python

  • Using libraries
  • Working with arrays
  • Reading and plotting data
  • Working with tabular data using Pandas
  • Creating and using functions
  • Loops and conditionals
  • Defensive programming
  • Reference...

Version Control with Git

  • Creating a repository
  • Recording changes to files: add, commit, ...
  • Viewing changes: status, diff, ...
  • Ignoring files
  • Working on the web: clone, pull, push, ...
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Open licenses
  • Where to host work, and why
  • Reference...

Setup

To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell that gives you the power to do simple tasks more quickly.

Windows

Video Tutorial
  1. Download the Git for Windows installer.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps bellow:
    1. Click on "Next".
    2. Click on "Next".
    3. Keep "Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt" selected and click on "Next". If you forgot to do this programs that you need for the workshop will not work properly. If this happens rerun the installer and select the appropriate option.
    4. Click on "Next".
    5. Keep "Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings" selected and click on "Next".
    6. Keep "Use Windows' default console window" selected and click on "Next".
    7. Click on "Install".
    8. Click on "Finish".
  3. If your "HOME" environment variable is not set (or you don't know what this is):
    1. Open command prompt (Open Start Menu then type cmd and press [Enter])
    2. Type the following line into the command prompt window exactly as shown:

      setx HOME "%USERPROFILE%"

    3. Press [Enter], you should see SUCCESS: Specified value was saved.
    4. Quit command prompt by typing exit then pressing [Enter]

This will provide you with both Git and Bash in the Git Bash program.

Mac OS X

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). See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open the Terminal. You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.

Linux

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.

Git

Git is a version control system that 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. You will need a supported web browser (current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or Internet Explorer version 9 or above).

You will need an account at github.com for parts of the Git lesson. Basic GitHub accounts are free. We encourage you to create a GitHub account if you don't have one already. Please consider what personal information you'd like to reveal. For example, you may want to review these instructions for keeping your email address private provided at GitHub.

Windows

Git should be installed on your computer as part of your Bash install (described above).

Mac OS X

Video Tutorial

For OS X 10.9 and higher, install Git for Mac by downloading and running the most recent "mavericks" installer from this list. After installing Git, there will not be anything in your /Applications folder, as Git is a command line program. For older versions of OS X (10.5-10.8) use the most recent available installer labelled "snow-leopard" available here.

Linux

If Git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distro's package manager. For Debian/Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install git and for Fedora run sudo yum install git.

Text 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. The default text editor on Mac OS X and Linux is usually set to Vim, which is not famous for being intuitive. if you accidentally find yourself stuck in it, try typing the escape key, followed by :q! (colon, lower-case 'q', exclamation mark), then hitting Return to return to the shell.

Windows

Video Tutorial

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. To install it, download the Software Carpentry Windows installer and double click on the file to run it. This installer requires an active internet connection.

Others editors that you can use are Notepad++ or Sublime Text or Atom. Be aware that you must add its installation directory to your system path. Please ask your instructor to help you do this.

Mac OS X

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open nano. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Text Wrangler or Sublime Text or Atom.

Linux

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Gedit, Kate or Sublime Text or Atom.

Python

Python is a popular language for scientific computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its scientific packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend Anaconda, an all-in-one installer.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.4 is fine).

We will teach Python using the IPython notebook, a programming environment that runs in a web browser. For this to work you will need a reasonably up-to-date browser. The current versions of the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers are all supported (some older browsers, including Internet Explorer version 9 and below, are not).

Windows

Video Tutorial
  1. Open http://continuum.io/downloads with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Windows.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Make Anaconda the default Python.

Mac OS X

Video Tutorial
  1. Open http://continuum.io/downloads with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for OS X.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation.

Linux

  1. Open http://continuum.io/downloads with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Linux.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation. (Installation requires using the shell. If you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself stop here and request help at the workshop.)
  4. Open a terminal window.
  5. Type
    bash Anaconda3-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.
  6. 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).