University of Arizona

Feb 10-11, 2018

8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Instructors: Marnee Dearman, Benjamin J. Hickson, Uwe Hilgert, Andreina C. Siri, Brian A. Smith

Helpers: Shu Cheng, Dawson Fairbanks, Xiao Feng, Manoj Gopale, Monique Lassere, Lolita Mathew, Jeanine McGann, Xue Pan, Travis Struck, Dhiraj Thakare

The workshop is taking place during the annual
Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase,
the largest of its kind in the world.

Come for the gems, minerals & fossils, and stay to learn how to mine data!

Apply for the workshop at

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: Drachman Hall B109, UA.

When: Feb 10-11, 2018. 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). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

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

Links to workshop materials are being provided below. If we can provide additional resources to help making learning easier for you (e.g. large-font hand-outs, sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch (using contact details below) and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email for more information.

Required Surveys


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

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Sunday February 11

08:30 Analyze scientific data with Python and git/GitHub
10:30 Break
11:00 Analyze scientific data with Python and git/GitHub, cont.
12:00 Break
13:00 Analyze scientific data with Python and git/GitHub, cont.
14:45 Break
15:00 Analyze scientific data with Python and git/GitHub, cont.
17:00 End of Day

Schedule subject to change if necessary.

Online Collaboration

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

Syllabus & Learning Objectives

Take control with the Bash Shell (Command Line/Shell/Unix)

  • Work in vs. work below the GUI
  • Navigate the shell
  • Find, create, copy, move and delete folders and files
  • Shell over GUI: Command history and tab completion
  • Connect commands into workflows: pipes and redirection
  • Automate repetitive tasks: loops
  • Save and run workflows in scripts

Collaborate with git/GitHub

  • Access a repository and pull files
  • Create a repository
  • Record changes: add, commit, ...
  • View changes: status, diff, ...
  • Ignore files
  • Work on the web: clone, pull, push, ...
  • Resolve conflicts

Analyse scientific data with Python

  • Use libraries
  • Work with arrays
  • Read and plot data
  • Create and use functions
  • Use loops and conditionals
  • Use Python from the command line
  • Defensive programming

Syllabus subject to change if necessary.


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. Unless you prepare your laptop as described below you will be unable to follow along. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser, we recommend Firefox, Chrome or Safari as Internet Explorer can be buggy.

Should you encounter issues while installing the software below, please look for a solution in our Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page. If even this does not help, please get in touch (using contact details above) and we will attempt to provide a solution.

The Bash Shell (a.k.a. Command Line/Shell/Unix)

Bash is a commonly-used shell (= Unix command language) that gives you the power to quickly do simple tasks on your computer. Bash stands for 'Bourne Again Shell'; if you are interested in the history of the term and the underlying technological development, please search the Web for 'Bash Shell'.


Video Tutorial
  1. Download the Git for Windows installer.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps bellow:
    1. Click on "Next".
    2. Click on "Next".
    3. Click on "Next".
    4. Click on "Next".
    5. Select "Use the Nano editor by default"
    6. Ensure that "Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt" is selected and click on "Next". (If you forget to do this gitbash will not work properly, requiring you to remove the GitBash installation, re-run the installer and to select the "Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt" option.)
    7. Ensure that "Use the OpenSSL Library" is selected and click on "Next".
    8. Ensure that "Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings" is selected and click on "Next".
    9. Ensure that "Use Windows' default console window" is selected and click on "Next".
    10. Ensure that "Enable file system caching" and "Enable Git Credential Manager" are selected and click on "Install".
    11. Click on "Finish".
  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.


The default shell in all versions of macOS is Bash, 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.


The default shell is usually Bash, but if your machine is set up differently you can run it by opening a terminal and typing bash. There is no need to install anything.


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 You will need a supported web browser (current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or Internet Explorer version 9 or above).

You will need an account at 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.


Git should be installed on your computer as part of your Bash install (described above).


Video Tutorial

For OS X 10.9 and higher, install Git for Mac by downloading and running the most recent "mavericks" installer from this list. 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.


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

Writing code is much easier with respectively optimized text editors that include features such as automatic color-coding of key words and syntax-highlighting. We will use the basic editor 'nano' in the workshop; it comes pre-installed with the git-bash download above for Windows, Mac and Linux.


Click the Start button and type 'nano' into the search window. If your computer is unable to locate nano, install it by downloading/saving the Software Carpentry Windows installer. Double-click the installer file to run it. (CAVEAT: This installer requires an active internet connection.)


During the workshop we will be using the basic editor nano. nano should be pre-installed; see the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open nano.


During the workshop we will be using the basic editor nano. nano should be pre-installed


Python is a popular language for research computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its research packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend Anaconda, an all-in-one installer.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.6 is fine).

We will teach Python using the Jupyter notebook, a programming environment that runs in a web browser. For this to work you will need a reasonably up-to-date browser. The current versions of the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers are all supported (some older browsers, including Internet Explorer version 9 and below, are not).


Video Tutorial
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Windows.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Make Anaconda the default Python.


Video Tutorial
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3.6 (or later) installer for OS X.
  3. Install Python 3.6 (or later) using all of the defaults for installation.


  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3.6 (or later) installer for Linux.
    (The installation requires using the shell. If you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself stop here and request help at the workshop.)
  3. Open a terminal window.
  4. Type
    bash Anaconda3-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear. If it does not, navigate to the folder where you downloaded the file, for example with:
    cd Downloads
    Then, try again.
  5. Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. To move through the text, press the space key. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).
  6. Close the terminal window.