Hi, folks. I hope you don't mind another mail out of the blue, but I got notice on Saturday that the Department of Energy is giving me $860K over two years to support development of easier-to-use software engineering tools. All of the work will be Open Source, and will be done in Python, with a strong emphasis on design, testing, and documentation. The project's long-term objective is to encourage scientists and engineers to treat programs in the same way as they do other experiments, i.e. to calibrate, test, peer review, and so on.
To kick-start things, we're going to be holding a two-round design competition. Anyone (individual or team, professional or student) can submit a short entry for the first round; the judges will pick four candidates to go forward in each of four categories, and those individuals or teams will be asked to submit full entries. The four categories are:
* an issue tracking system to replace Gnats and Bugzilla;
* a build system to replace make;
* a platform inspection and configuration system to replace autoconf; and
* a testing framework to replace XUnit, Expect, and DejaGnu.
Would you be interested in participating in any way---judging, entering a design, critiquing things from the pointer of view of end users, or anything else? I realize that you're probably up past your eyeballs with work, and that the money on offer is nothing special, but I think this could be a lot of fun, and could help to shift the emphasis of the Open Source community from hacking to design (both by drawing attention to, and rewarding, design, and by creating a corpus of examples and commentary for programmers to refer to). It could also make life a lot easier for computational scientists and engineers...
Please let me know if you'd like to be involved, or if you'd like more information than is contained in the FAQ (attached). Timescales are a bit tight---I'd like to be able to make an announcement on January 14---but I'll be reading email at this address several times a day during the holiday.
I look forward to hearing from you,
p.s. please note that the attached FAQ is a first draft; I'd be grateful if you could show it to anyone you think might be interested, but I'd also be grateful if you wouldn't broadcast it until it's gone through one more editing pass.