Saturday, 25 of June of 2016

Programmers At Tufts

The goal of the Programmers At Tufts (PAT) affinity group is to improve collaboration and resource re-use between Tufts developers.  It is modelled after a similar group at Brown University.  To quote the documentation of the organization at Brown:

We all have practices we’ve developed, solutions we’ve devised, and challenges we work through for a wide range of programming tasks. Let’s share our insights and experience, and get feedback from one another to improve our knowledge and practices.

As at Brown, Tufts developers are organizationally embedded into functional units.  This reduces their opportunities for collaboration and leads to the re-implementation of solutions, reduced productivity due to lack of sharing experience, and excessive multiplicity in technologies and infrastructure.  Recognizing these chronic issues, Brown began all-hands meetings for developers.  Meetings are held every other month and last for 90 minutes.   Attendees can make brief presentations reporting on recent solutions they discovered, conferences they attended or technical challenges they are facing.  A typical meeting includes two or three “keynote” presentations on emerging technologies or common issues.  Agendas for Brown meetings can be found at

We suggest creating PAT.  It closely follows the successful group at Brown.  It would also meet every other month for 60 to 90 minutes.  Each meeting would begin with an ignite-style set of lightning talks.  Any developer could talk for up to 5 minutes to present a problem they need help with or share new technologies and resources.  The lightning talks would typically be followed by two roughly 20 minute presentations.  These would review an important new technology expected to be widely used, new infrastructure or tools most developers need, or emerging trends in technology and higher education that will impact our work.  It would also provide a forum for UIT groups responsible for elements of the infrastructure (e.g., security, storage, etc.) to give a single presentation to all their customers.

Initially, we will plan for roughly 10 attendees.  We can achieve this by focusing on programmers on the Somerville/Medford campus.  We hope to include staff from Educational and Scholarly Technology Services, Research and Geospatial Technology Services, Perseus development team, Web Communications, Enterprise Application Services, and the Library Information Technology team.  Individuals from other technical groups in UIT, ITS as well as other technical staff will also be invited.

The first meeting can be scheduled one month after the the concept has been approved.  Steve McDonald will coordinate with potential partners to identify specific time, location and topics.

Possible topics for meetings include:

  • Solr and the importance of search
  • Application testing with Selenium, unit testing and continuous integration
  • Rapid development frameworks (Ruby on Rails, SpringRoo)
  • Authentication and authorization at Tufts (LDAP, Shibboleth, etc.)
  • Storage and database resources at Tufts
  • Security at Tufts
  • Cloud services
  • Mobile plans and development
  • Emerging database trends including NoSQL, Solr, etc.
  • HTML5

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