The 20:51 sprint (Roadmap team-building: UK edition)

17 June, 2016
This week we hosted the DMPTool team to flesh out our plans for ‘roadmap’ – the joint codebase we’re building together based on DMPonline and DMPTool. The key focus was reviewing and prioritising tasks for an initial release.  Building on discussions from the earlier US visit, we confirmed what work was to be done and agreed to begin with some well-defined, short tasks as a test of our co-development procedures. With everyone taking leave over the coming weeks, the first sprint will start in mid-July at which point we’ll begin adding documentation to the Github repository.
We also discussed communication plans. Stephanie and I will take turns to do monthly blog posts so you can stay in the loop with what’s happening, and we aim to start regular calls in a few months with others who are actively working on the code, such as the Portage group in Canada. This will allow everyone to share their plans for future enhancements and to coordinate development activities. We’re always learning about new people who have picked up on our software – the latest being a group in Germany who have extended the DMPTool code to offer a bi-lingual interface – so we want to do more to bring these efforts together. While we get our work underway, we encourage people to join the developers list as a place to start discussions and form a community of interest.
Machine-actionable DMPs was another key theme for which Daniel Mietchen joined our discussions. Stephanie has an RDA/US Data Share Fellowship to pursue work in this area and we’re planning to give talks at some upcoming events highlighting our ideas. We’ve started to refine the themes used for guidance in DMPonline. Currently, DCC defines 28 themes corresponding with UK funder questions that are often addressed in a DMP (e.g., Data format, Metadata, Ethical issues, etc.). These themes offer the perfect starting point for standardising and structuring DMPs so it’s more feasible to identify and mine relevant text. We’ll be seeking comments from our user communities and key working groups such as CASRAI, RDA and FORCE11 shortly on this. We’re also keen to capture more data in a controlled way so it can be put to better uses. One idea is to provide an actionable list of repositories to allow researchers to select where they are going to deposit research outputs, and then to use this data to push notifications out to alert repositories and/or monitor compliance. Machine-actionable DMPs have been part of the future plans of both teams for some years, and they are currently a hot topic. We’re excited that we now have the resources to develop those ideas and a system that will allow us to test them via deployment. We also want to collect additional use cases and explore integrations with other systems so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted some new faces in the team photos. The DCC has two student interns from Informatics working on DMPonline over the summer. Damodar is doing the internationalisation work that we consulted with the user group on at IDCC and Sam is busy developing an API. Both are making great progress so we’ll be looking for input from the user group again soon to try out the new features. The DMPTool team includes a new developer called Brian joining as technical lead. The visit was a great team-building opportunity for our transatlantic DMP roadmap project.

It was a jam-packed week with lots of meetings, brainstorming sessions and time working together on the code. We had new culinary experiences (deep-fried haggis balls no less!), heard some hilarious tales from the adventures of John Chodacki, and initiated the US team in the Glasgow-Edinburgh commute, including a quick dash one evening to make the 20:51 train home. Here’s the photographic proof of our first successful joint sprint. Stay tuned for what else we deliver over the coming months.