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o2r on tour: eLife Sprint and JupyterHub/Binder workshop

This week, the o2r team was on tour. We put our o2r tasks aside for a few days to interact with and contribute to the awesome Open Science/publishing/research community.

Markus and Daniel were two of the fortunate few who were invited to participate in the eLife Innovation Sprint 2019. Thanks eLife! eLife is a non-profit Open Access publisher with a mission to innovate and push scholarly communication, peer review, and publication of reproducible articles to new heights. The #eLifeSprint is a two-day event and brings together scientists, developers, designers, architects, thinkers, community leaders, publishers, and early career researchers to come up with relevant challenges and promising ideas for the scientific community. It took place for the second time in Cambridge, UK, where eLife’s headquarter is located, in the welcoming Cambridge Junction. Just like last year, the event was excellently organised and run by eLife staff.

After introductions and pitching ideas, the participants formed into project groups and spent ~1.5 days on realising a first prototype. You can learn about the results in the “time to shine” presentation and on social media under #eLifeSprint #timetoshine: an Open Science card game, a user interface for generating citation files for software, extracting data from text such as the used instruments, a prototype for discovering preprints from authors with underrepresented backgrounds, or a template project for running a journal on GitHub, to name just a few. Daniel and Markus really enjoyed the event and contributed with their developer skills (containers, UI development, eating cake) to several projects.

While it was a little disappointing that Markus’ idea of a JavaScript image comparison library (hopefully more on that soon!) did gain attention but did not end up in a team, the sprint was a great occasion to give back to the community, to broaden the horizon beyond the o2r project, to make new acquaintances, and to get to know potential collaborators. And we did all that!

After the #eLifeSprint, Daniel hopped on a plane to Oslo, Norway, to participate in a Binder/BinderHub/ event generously organised by Simula. The event allowed long-term collaborators to meet in person, some for the first time, for some effective joint work. Participants happily hacked away on their own or formed discussion groups on specific topics for a few hours before taking on a new challenge. Ten to twelve developers of diverse backgrounds filled a hotel meeting room and turned coffee and delicious catering into pull requests, issues, and hackpads with new ideas and solutions in the Binder/Jupyter universe. It was a great experience to get to know the friendly faces and delightful personalities behind GitHub usernames. Daniel enjoyed participating in the discussions and picking the brains of the core developers of BinderHub and repo2docker, and the maintainers of He was able to contribute a few pull request to repo2docker and enjoyed the discussions on future directions of the core tool in the Binderverse, such as a new user interface (a must to make BinderHub even more like magic), pinning the repo2docker version (a must for reproducibility) and re-enabling composability for all supported configurations (a must for many users).

Thanks to all participants for making the meeting so much fun and educational. Daniel’s participation will surely help to pave the way for a Binder-powered scalable infrastructure for the o2r pilots and for CODE CHECK. You can learn more about the numerous tasks tackled in the sprint in this HackMD pad:

Cite this blog post as Daniel Nüst, Markus Konkol. "o2r on tour: eLife Sprint and JupyterHub/Binder workshop" (2019) in Opening Reproducible Research: a research project website and blog. Daniel Nüst, Marc Schutzeichel, Markus Konkol (eds). Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1485437

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