Best practices in programming 2016

Date 19 - 20 October 2016
Speaker(s) Bern Rinn's group
ECTS 0.5
Fees *academic: 100 CHF   -   for-profit: 0 CHF
Cancellation deadline 12 Oct 2016
City Zurich
*academic fee includes non for-profit organisations as well as unemployed participants at the time of application.

This workshop is organised by the SIB PhD Training Network. Priority is given to its members, but is open to everyone.


The workshop will focus on learning and internalizing the practices of unit testing, refactoring, and version control through hands-on experience. The first morning will start with an introduction into these concepts and tools used to support them. In the afternoon, we will transition to a code clinic and work together in small groups applying these practices to make improvements to code brought by participants. The second day will continue with the code clinic.

The focus of this course is not object-oriented programming, software architecture, design patterns or algorithms. The goal of this course is to introduce skills and techniques for effectively developing software.


If the answer to two or more of the following questions is “yes”, then this course is for you.

  • Do you write software to analyze data or implement in-silico models as part of your daily work?
  • Do you write scientific publications based on software you created yourself but do not know what unit testing, refactoring or version control are?
  • Are you writing code that you find hard to understand some weeks later?
  • Do you have thousands of lines of code, but no automated way of verifying that the code works correctly?
  • Do you find yourself regularly using “copy & paste” to re-use code you wrote earlier?
  • Do small changes in your code later cause trouble in other unexpected places?

Learning objectives

At the end of the workshop, the participants should be able to:

  • identify and avoid the most common mistakes in the process of writing software in a scientific context
  • improve the quality of her/his code
  • exploit techniques for effectively developing software


Knowledge / skills:
Working knowledge of one programming language.


  • Participants should bring their own laptop with a Wifi connection.
  • Participants should send their code at least 2 weeks before the course


The registration fees for academics are 100 CHF (free for members of the SIB PhD Training Network). This includes course content material and coffee breaks. Participants from non-academic institutions should contact us before application.

Deadline for application and cancellation is set to the 5 OctoberCancellation after this date will not be reimbursed. Please note that participation to SIB courses is subject to our general conditions.

Location & Timing

ETH Zurich, LEE building, room E 308
Leonhardstrasse 21, 8092 Zurich

19 October: 10h00 - 18h00
20 October: 8h00 - 16h00

Additional information

Tutors: Franz-Josef Elmer, Uwe Schmitt, Juan Fuentes, Matthew Baker, Stefan Bienert, Andrew Waterhouse

Coordination: Grégoire Rossier