Since June 2012, The Software Sustainability Institute and Software Carpentry have been working with the DiRAC consortium to develop a "driving test" or basic software skills aptitude test. The test is now ready to be rolled out across DiRAC.
The test is intended to take an hour and covers useful software development skills including the shell and automation, version control, testing, code review, using public/private keypairs and secure shell.
The test has been developed in close collaboration with DiRAC's project director, Jeremy Yates, and project manager, Harpreet Dhanoa, based at University College London, James Hetherington, head of the Research Software Development team at UCL, and Andrew Turner at EPCC. We adopted an iterative development approach and trialled it with 4 sets of researchers from EPCC, The Software Sustainability Institute and UCL (see, for example our blogs on our first and second dry-runs).
We have now handed over the driving test and Jeremy will roll it out across the DiRAC consortium. Training coordinators at each DiRAC regional site will collectively run through ~70 post-doctoral research associates by the end of September and then ~130 PhDs and 40 new users by the end of the year.
Both Software Carpentry and The Software Sustainability Institute will continue to work with Jeremy, and DiRAC, in evaluating the effectiveness of the driving test. This contributes to research into assessing the impact of software development training and in how best to deliver training to UK researchers. We look forward to reporting on progress.