ADASS XXII University of Illinois
November 4-8, 2012
ADASS2012 program header image

ADASS XXII Conference

Birds of a Feather Sessions

Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions at ADASS are an opportunity for informal, free-flowing discussions among groups of attendees with a common interest. Sometimes the agenda features short presentations from selected participants. If you would like more information about a BOF topic and its agenda, or you would like to propose a presentation or discussion topic for the session. please contact one of the BoFs organizers as noted below.

B1: Bring out your codes! Bring out your codes! (Increasing Software Visibility and Re-use)
B2: Application Interoperability with SAMP
B4: Major Instrumentation at Ground-based Observatories: Software systems, Data & Metadata

B1: Bring out your codes! Bring out your codes! (Increasing Software Visibility and Re-use)

Time/Location: Monday Oct. 5, 17:00/Illinois Ballroom
Organizers: Alice Allen (Astrophysics Source Code Library, alice.allen1 at
Bruce Berriman (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, California Institute of Technology)
Gary Ferland (University of Kentucky)
Robert J. Hanisch (Space Telescope Science Institute/VAO)
Robert Mann (University of Edinburgh/Editor, Astronomy & Computing)
Jessica Mink (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Christer Sandin (Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam)
Keith Shortridge (Australian Astronomical Observatory)
Peter Teuben (University of Maryland, teuben at

Progress is being made in code discoverability and preservation, but as discussed at last year's ADASS, many codes still remain hidden from public view. With the ASCL now indexed by ADS, the introduction of a new journal, Astronomy & Computing, focused on astrophysics software, and the increasing success of education efforts such as Software Carpentry and SciCoder, the community has the opportunity to set a higher standard for its science by encouraging the release of software for examination and possible reuse. We have assembled representatives of the community to present issues that inhibit the release of codes and would like community discussion on how we tackle these factors. Among the questions the BoF seeks to find actionable answers to are:

  • How do we ensure code release is recognized as an essential part of assuring reproducibility of research?
  • How can the community change the culture so developers will release their programs?
  • What can we do to ensure code authors receive credit for writing and releasing their software, and encourage them to release it even if it's "messy" code?

The session will open with brief statements by panelists on recent progress, mechanisms by which software can be shared, and reasons researchers don't release codes, open the floor for discussion and ideas, and then panelists will summarize the discussion by focusing on the actionable solutions proposed.

B2: Application Interoperability with SAMP

Time/Location: Wednesday Oct. 7, 17:15/Illinois Ballroom
Organizers: Mike Fitzpatrick (NOAO, fitz at,
Omar Laurino (CfA, olaurino at,
Mark Taylor (Bristol UK, m.b.taylor at

The Simple Applications Messaging Protocol (SAMP) is a Virtual Observatory (VO) specification that enables astronomy software tools to exchange control information and data, allowing desktop applications to work as an integrated suite of tools rather than requiring complex functionality to be (redundantly) built into tools individually. In addition, SAMP allows new workflows to be created for the science user that leverages the advantages of each tool (e.g. visualization of tables or images, analysis, etc), greatly reducing the time needed to switch between applications and tasks.

This BoF is intended for project developers that may wish to SAMP-enable their applications and for users who wish to learn how to effectively use existing SAMP-enabled tools. We will present an overview of the protocol itself and the existing toolkits for use by application developers and scripters, we will also discuss frameworks being developed for building new SAMP-ready applications as well as work being done to enable collaboration of tools and astronomers in real-time using multiple machines on the internet. Our hope is to use projects presented at ADASS this year as real-world examples of how SAMP might be used to expand their capabilities and to begin discussions with users and developers about which tools and toolkits are appropriate for them to use, and which must still be developed.


Time/Location: Monday Oct. 5, 17:00/Humanities Room
Organizers: William Pence (NASA/GSFC, William.Pence at,
Arnold Rots (SAO)

This Birds-of-a-Feather session will present a summary of current activities related to the FITS data format and will provide a forum for the discussion of current issues. Topics of discussion will include:

  1. Brief update on changes within the FITS committees.
  2. Status update on interactions with the Vatican Library on the use of FITS as an archival format for scanned documents.
  3. Discussion of the new draft of the WCS Paper V on Time Coordinate Systems.
  4. Open forum on any other FITS-related topics.

B4. Major Instrumentation at Ground-based Observatories: Software systems, Data & Metadata

Time/Location: Wednesday Oct. 7, 17:15/Humanities Room
Organizers: Rob Seaman (NOAO, seaman at,
Tim Axelrod (LSST),
Michael Wise (Astron),
Kim Gillies (TMT)

Astronomers have always sought to squeeze the most science out of the light and radio waves impinging on their telescopes. This has never been more true than now. ADASS is a forum for many techniques driven by this ultimate goal, including pipelines and archives, astroinformatics and portals, the virtual observatory and supercomputing. Instrumentation, however, is where the rubber meets the road.

We will discuss issues of data and metadata, software and systems common to major instrumentation. We welcome speakers or topics from any and all projects and institutions dealing with the needs of unprecedented technologies, large data volumes and rates, extreme engineering requirements, and in either development or operational phases.