Software development in the Engineering Team
Software development in the Bioassist Engineering Team is done with as primary goal to get more exposure for software developed elsewhere in NBIC. Some of the software developed in BioAssist or BioRange clearly addresses needs existing in (scientific) groups around the world, but it is difficult for an individual academic group that started the development of a software tool to professionalize it so that:
- other people can understand the software enough to add new features to it
- it is stable enough so that it doesn't break in unexpected ways when modified
The BioAssist Engineering Team can help with that task. Obviously, such an effort can take a lot of time, and resources are limited. Therefore, we have created a checklist to make sure that the software the engineering team is working on will generate the exposure that we want. The six criteria are:
- The software is already proven to work. No intellectual problems are left to make it go. We will not take any work that could be considered scientifically interesting enough to publish it; of course you are free to build further on new publishable features yourself.
- The tool is best of breed, i.e. it is better than other tools that are available. Being open source is a significant improvement over a commercial-only alternative.
- The tool is repetitive. There is a use for the tool in other scientific groups or maybe even in industry.
- You can't do it yourself. The development of the professionalized version is impossible for the group that developed the original program.
- It can become open source. All software we work on must be made available under an open source license. Dual licensing is fine.
- The original author is available as a consultant for the project (we will also require contacts to users that can be used as testers). As a compensation, the consultant will be awarded a travel grant from NBIC.
If these six criteria are met, the software is suitable for the engineering team to work on. Even then there is no guarantee that we will ever get to it. There is so much work to do that prioritization is necessary. The priority that we assign to a project depends on:
- Applicability for other NBIC Participants or NBIC Partners
- Applicability in the domain of biology or outside
- Whether the tool is part of an NBIC workflow or stand-alone
- Amount of work estimated to finish the project
- Visibility of the project to the world (power users, the rest of the scientific community, or even outside the academic science world).
- Potential commercial value
- Availability of external funding for the professionalization work.
If you think you have a project that fits the purpose of the BioAssist Engineering Team, send an E-mail about the project to firstname.lastname@example.org; Rob will be very happy to come by and talk with you.