Wolfgang Bangerth, Timo Heister
What makes computational open source software libraries successful?
Computational Science & Discovery, vol. 6, article 015010 (18 pages), 2013

Software is the backbone of scientific computing. Yet, while we regularly publish detailed accounts about the \textit{results} of scientific software, and while there is a general sense of which numerical methods work well, our community is largely unaware of best practices in writing the large-scale, open source scientific software upon which our discipline rests. This is particularly apparent in the commonly held view that writing successful software packages is largely the result of simply "being a good programmer" when in fact there are many other factors involved, for example the social skill of community building.
In this article, we consider what we have found to be the necessary ingredients for successful scientific software projects and, in particular, for software libraries upon which the vast majority of scientific codes are built today. In particular, we discuss the roles of code, documentation, communities, project management, and licenses. We also briefly comment on the impact on academic careers of engaging in software projects.



Wolfgang Bangerth
Thu May 4 14:55:18 MDT 2017