Last week I attended the Phase Field Methods Workshop at Northwestern University, see the PDF document about the meeting. The meeting was really aimed at finding ways to unify the effort in developing computational tools for phase field simulations and especially to reduce replicated effort. The main actionable item that came out of the meeting was a requirement for a focused web presence for meta analysis and discussion of the various phase field codes available. The general consensus was that a GitHub presence for the community could serve this purpose. It was suggested that the NIST contingent take charge of this item along with the some of the initial contributions.
What are the aims of a GitHub site for the phase field community:
location to create and collate data comparing code capabilities
location to finalize a set of canonical phase field examples
location to push scripts, recipes (IPython notebooks for example) for building and running phase field codes that solve the canonical examples (or any other phase field examples)
location for links to virtual machines for phase field codes
location to store phase field meta analysis on such things as efficiency (memory use), convergence, capabilities or ease of use
location for any phase field code that has no home elsewhere including student’s phase field codes or phase field analysis
eventual location of meta analysis tools for automated testing of multiple phase field codes
eventual location of a generic high level API to describe phase field problems with hooks into multiple codes
I should add the caveat that the above is probably biased in favor of some of my own ideas rather than ideas from all suggestions at the meeting.
Setting up the GitHub site
Of course we could just create a GitHub organization with the name “chimad_phase_field” and have unlimited public repositories. It’s free. However, my NIST based colleagues were fairly sure that we should create this organization within the “usnistgov” organization. This raises the question of whether sub-organizations can be created in GitHub. I’m unsure about this currently.
A second point of discussion was whether we needed an organization at all or just a repository. From my perspective a single repository is really not going to handle the kind of contributions that we are interested in (multiple codes maybe, different disconnected meta-analyses). The alternative is to just have a team and have multiple repositories connected with the team as a poor man’s organization. This may work failing all else.
Before setting this up, I’m awaiting the input of several NIST colleagues in order to see what direction we should go in and whether I’m officially allowed to set up a GitHub organization external to NIST.
One item that we should deal with in short order is the creation of a mailing list. The choices are:
NIST based mailing list (colleagues like this idea, I’m not enthusiastic)
Google Group (I’m more in favor, it’s easier to setup and archive easily)
A mailing list for the community is really important.
Some other links along similar lines
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