With such a large international collaboration, the small-scale “working together” that has to happen can be challenging. DUNE collaborators are finding that an instant-messaging platform makes it easy to conduct free-flowing discussions and share code, images and other files. Slack — with a “k” — is the chosen platform.
This online environment strikes a good balance between the focus required for a phone call and the often slow response time of email. It’s great for focused group work when several people are communicating in near-real time. For instance, it came in very handy during Supernova Hack Days.
Slack lets you set up dedicated, topic-specific “channels,” either public or private, that offer easily searchable history. This makes it easy to jump into conversations and pick up the backstory. And with lots of collaborators listening in — or a few with the right expertise — you may get insights you would never have known to ask for, things like “Hey, I just ran into that error last week, here’s what you need to do…”
Slack packages a lot of functionality nicely all in one place and has a lot of interesting features that DUNE can explore in time. For example, NOvA has set up a channel that receives notifications of all the commits to a repository, along with color-coded results from integration tests they are conducting. This makes it easy for them to figure out what happened when something breaks.
There is a real advantage to having a single platform where everyone is connected. It can help us feel like — and actually become — a more cohesive collaboration.
DUNE now has one unified Slack team at dunescience.slack.com. If you have a “fnal.gov” address you can join the team by going to dunescience.slack.com/signup. Otherwise, ask one of the team admins for an invite: Eileen, Alex, or Kate.