Software Carpentry with R

Netherlands eScience Center

Sep 21-24, 2020

9:00 - 13:00

Instructors: Jens Wehner, Mateusz Kuzak, Pablo Rodríguez-Sánchez

Helpers: Dafne van Kuppevelt, Sven van den Burg

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General Information

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: The workshop will take place online. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

When: Sep 21-24, 2020. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below).

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organizers have checked that:

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch (using contact details below) and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email p.rodriguez-sanchez@esciencecenter.nl or m.kuzak@esciencecenter.nl for more information.

Roles: To learn more about the roles at the workshop (who will be doing what), refer to our Workshop FAQ.


Code of Conduct

Everyone who participates in Carpentries activities is required to conform to the Code of Conduct. This document also outlines how to report an incident if needed.


Collaborative Notes

We will use this collaborative document for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


Surveys

Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Schedule

Day 1 . Sep 21st

Before Welcome and pre-workshop survey
09:00 Automating Tasks with the Unix Shell
10:15 Coffee break
10:30 Automating Tasks with the Unix Shell (Continued)
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 Automating Tasks with the Unix Shell (Continued)
12:45 Wrap-up
13:00 END

Day 2. Sep 22nd

09:00 Version Control with Git
10:15 Coffee break
10:30 Version Control with Git (Continued)
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 Version Control with Git (Continued)
12:45 Wrap-up
13:00 END

Day 3. Sep 23rd

09:00 Introduction to R and RStudio
10:00 Data structures
10:15 Coffee break
10:30 Data structures (Continued)
11:00 Exploring data frames
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 Data frame manipulation with dplyr
12:45 Wrap-up
13:00 END

Day 4. Sep 24th

09:00 Graphics with ggplot2
10:00 Functions explained
10:15 Coffee break
10:30 Functions explained (continued)
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 Producing reports with knitr
12:30 Wrap-up and post-workshop Survey
13:00 END

Syllabus

The Unix Shell

  • Files and Directories
  • History and Tab Completion
  • Pipes and Redirection
  • Looping Over Files
  • Creating and Running Shell Scripts
  • Finding Things
  • Reference...

Version Control with Git

  • Creating a Repository
  • Recording Changes to Files: add, commit, ...
  • Viewing Changes: status, diff, ...
  • Ignoring Files
  • Working on the Web: clone, pull, push, ...
  • Resolving Conflicts
  • Open Licenses
  • Where to Host Work, and Why
  • Reference...

Programming in R

  • Introduction to R and RStudio
  • Working with Vectors and Data Frames
  • Creating and Using Functions
  • Loops and Conditionals
  • Manipulating Data Frames with dplyr
  • Plotting Data with ggplot2
  • Producing reports with knitr
  • Reference...

Setup

To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.

Data for Shell Lesson

  1. Download data-shell.zip and move the file to your Desktop.
  2. Unzip/extract the file. You should end up with a new folder called data-shell on your Desktop.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell that gives you the power to do tasks more quickly.

  1. Download the Git for Windows installer.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps below:
    1. Click on "Next" four times (two times if you've previously installed Git). You don't need to change anything in the Information, location, components, and start menu screens.
    2. From the dropdown menu select "Use the nano editor by default" and click on "Next".
    3. Ensure that "Git from the command line and also from 3rd-party software" is selected and click on "Next". (If you don't do this Git Bash will not work properly, requiring you to remove the Git Bash installation, re-run the installer and to select the "Git from the command line and also from 3rd-party software" option.)
    4. Ensure that "Use the native Windows Secure Channel library" is selected and click on "Next".
    5. Ensure that "Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings" is selected and click on "Next".
    6. Ensure that "Use Windows' default console window" is selected and click on "Next".
    7. Ensure that "Default (fast-forward or merge) is selected and click "Next"
    8. Ensure that "Enable file system caching" and "Enable Git Credential Manager" are selected and click on "Next".
    9. Click on "Install".
    10. Click on "Finish" or "Next".
  3. If your "HOME" environment variable is not set (or you don't know what this is):
    1. Open command prompt (Open Start Menu then type cmd and press Enter)
    2. Type the following line into the command prompt window exactly as shown:

      setx HOME "%USERPROFILE%"

    3. Press Enter, you should see SUCCESS: Specified value was saved.
    4. Quit command prompt by typing exit then pressing Enter

This will provide you with both Git and Bash in the Git Bash program.

Video Tutorial

The default shell in some versions of macOS is Bash, and Bash is available in all versions, so no need to install anything. You access Bash from the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities). See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open the Terminal. You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.

To see if your default shell is Bash type echo $SHELL in Terminal and press the Return key. If the message printed does not end with '/bash' then your default is something else and you can run Bash by typing bash

If you want to change your default shell, see this Apple Support article and follow the instructions on "How to change your default shell".

Video Tutorial

The default shell is usually Bash and there is usually no need to install anything.

To see if your default shell is Bash type echo $SHELL in a terminal and press the Enter key. If the message printed does not end with '/bash' then your default is something else and you can run Bash by typing bash.

Git

Git is a version control system that lets you track who made changes to what when and has options for easily updating a shared or public version of your code on github.com. You will need a supported web browser.

You will need an account at github.com for parts of the Git lesson. Basic GitHub accounts are free. We encourage you to create a GitHub account if you don't have one already. Please consider what personal information you'd like to reveal. For example, you may want to review these instructions for keeping your email address private provided at GitHub.

For macOS, install Git for Mac by downloading and running the most recent "mavericks" installer from this list. Because this installer is not signed by the developer, you may have to right click (control click) on the .pkg file, click Open, and click Open on the pop up window. After installing Git, there will not be anything in your /Applications folder, as Git is a command line program. For older versions of OS X (10.5-10.8) use the most recent available installer labelled "snow-leopard" available here.

Video Tutorial

If Git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distro's package manager. For Debian/Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install git and for Fedora run sudo dnf install git.

Text Editor

When you're writing code, it's nice to have a text editor that is optimized for writing code, with features like automatic color-coding of key words. The default text editor on macOS and Linux is usually set to Vim, which is not famous for being intuitive. If you accidentally find yourself stuck in it, hit the Esc key, followed by :+Q+! (colon, lower-case 'q', exclamation mark), then hitting Return to return to the shell.

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It is installed along with Git.

Others editors that you can use are Notepad++ or Sublime Text. Be aware that you must add its installation directory to your system path. Please ask your instructor to help you do this.

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open nano. It should be pre-installed.

Video Tutorial

Others editors that you can use are BBEdit or Sublime Text.

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Gedit, Kate or Sublime Text.

Data from Gapminder

Gapminder produces free teaching resources making the world understandable based on reliable statistics.

In the present course we will use this dataset. It contains time series of life expectancy and GDP per capita for different countries. Please download it and store it in your working directory, ideally inside a folder called data.

R

R is a programming language that is especially powerful for data exploration, visualization, and statistical analysis. To interact with R, we use RStudio.

Install R by downloading and running this .exe file from CRAN. Also, please install the RStudio IDE. Note that if you have separate user and admin accounts, you should run the installers as administrator (right-click on .exe file and select "Run as administrator" instead of double-clicking). Otherwise problems may occur later, for example when installing R packages.

Video Tutorial

You can download the binary files for your distribution from CRAN. Or you can use your package manager (e.g. for Debian/Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install r-base and for Fedora run sudo dnf install R). Also, please install the RStudio IDE.