Python Training

We’re in that exciting period where we’re introducing a new language and new framework within IS Apps: we’re adopting Python with Django as our development platform of choice for web apps. Making such a significant change isn’t just about the technology or the underlying infrastructure but the people too, and means making a significant investment in developing our knowledge and skills.

To that end a group of intrepid developers and I have just undertaken the first of two training courses covering Python and Django.

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Code sprint five by five

Last week Development Services, in collaboration with colleagues in the University Website Programme team, helped run a code sprint with developers from around the University to work on fixes and enhancements for EdWeb, the Drupal-based content management system that underpins the University’s website.  This post gathers some technology-agnostic thoughts on what we did to prepare, and how we ran our sprint, that might be of interest to anyone thinking about running a similar event.

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ScotlandJS 2016


Scotland JS was held on the 2nd and 3rd of June at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. There were numerous talks, a few interesting and/or useful of which I have detailed here.

There were a few others, such as VR, JavaScript desktop applications and LiveJS (A demo of using MIDI input to create visuals) that I have not covered. If anyone wants to know more about these, I can also write up the notes I have about them. The rest I have written my notes on and what we can take away from them.

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ScotlandCSS conference

8On June 1st I attended the ScotlandCSS conference. This was a first ever edition of this event with 11 speakers and very interesting talks. The event was divided into four blocks which included three talks per block and were followed by the Discussion Track. I have found this structure very functional as there was a good chance to talk to the speakers or ask some questions.

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Render Conference 2016 sessions

In April this year I attended the Render Conference, a rebrand and reorganisation of 2015’s jQuery UK Conference. The name change signifies better the broader content of the conference, covering all sorts of front-end topics from CSS and JavaScript to form content and development philosophy.

In this post I’m going to go through each of the talks over the two days and summarise what the speakers talked about. I’ll also adds links to the slides and videos as they become available for those who want to look a little bit deeper. In a separate post, I’ll talk about what the lessons are that we can learn in the University of Edinburgh; and what we can start doing today.

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From 0 to OAuth2 with Spring Boot

Following on from the previous post about documenting MicroServices with Swagger, we also wanted to have a uniform authorisation/authentication model for access to our services.

Our basic requirements were as follows:

  • They must support client-side authorisation (e.g. via Javascript calls in browsers)
  • They should have a single authorisation point
  • Session authorisation timeout must be controllable
  • They should be multi-domain ready (e.g. authentication from <user> or <another-user>

After reviewing our options, OAuth2 was the obvious contender. We already have a web single sign-on solution called EASE which uses Cosign, so we need to use that for any web-based user authentication.

The remainder of this article shows how we went about setting up an OAuth2 service using Spring Boot.

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Software Development Community of Practice

Imagine having access to a safe environment where you can ask all sorts of subject related questions. Or perhaps you prefer meeting people and talking about your and their experiences? What about situations where you really need some advice or a second opinion on a method or how to apply a standard in some way?

A community of practice does all of this but lots more


As well as deliver tangible results

Communities of practice are a great way of getting people to connect and talk about a common area of interest. Working here at Edinburgh University I have seen fantastic work going on in my own department and Division but also in the Schools and of course in other parts of Information Services.

From working with UCISA as Vice Chair for the Infrastructure Group I have gained connections and contacts who have been great sources of information, ideas, new ways of thinking and these have really translated into tangible results. This is exactly what a community of practice should be about.

Universities have a long history of inter-organisation collaboration and for an organisation that has the scale and diversity of our own we have a fantastic opportunity to make the most of our own rich sets of skills, experiences and specialisms.

In my current role I can see a fantastic opportunity to create a Community of Practice in the University that focuses on Software Development and all that it involves. This interest area is a big thing for a lot of my direct colleagues and I firmly believe that a community of practice would be a great vehicle for encouraging collaboration on so many levels. So that’s what we are going to do!

So look out for activity with the new Software Development Community of Practice

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