“The goals of the hackathon were to bring together scientists and software developers to work on developing tools and software for biology, using some of the new web services and tools from the Open Tree of Life and Arbor projects,” said Cody Hinchliff, an EEB postdoctoral fellow and the local event organizer.
Open Tree provides datasets containing information about evolutionary relationships among nearly all known species of life. Arbor provides what are called "rEvolutionary workflows" that simplify the process of creating and executing sophisticated scientific analyses to explore the evolutionary process in myriad ways.
The event was jointly sponsored by Open Tree, Arbor, and Phylotastic, a working group interested in promoting best practices and sustainable software development in science.
“It was a great success!” Hinchliff said. “We had 35 visitors from as far as away as Australia and the UK, who self-organized into six teams, working on projects as diverse as integrating Open Tree with Arbor, providing better programmatic access to Open Tree services for computational biologists, extending Open Tree capabilities to store more and different kinds of data, and actually using Open Tree and Arbor test scientific hypotheses about groups like mammals and tropical flowers.
“Both Open Tree and Arbor received a ton of useful feedback from our hackathon participants, which will help us make ongoing improvements to usability and features. One of the biggest positive outcomes of the event was that all our participants spent a week learning about the capabilities of Open Tree and Arbor and discovering ways they can continue to be involved with these very community-driven projects.”
Caption for photo within text above: Karen Cranston and Francois Michonneau sharing progress with the group during one of the stand up (aka reporting) sessions.