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What and how? The technical side of collaborative working - how to keep track of documents & file versions

When? Tue, 9th July 2013, 19:00

Where? Grabengasse 3-5, Building 2170, Groundfloor, Hörsaal 4a.

Who? A team of people working at several different life-science organisations within Heidelberg are organising HUB, with your help (just get in touch or add your comments to this page).

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19:00 Welcome & introduction
19:10 Discussion on technical side of collaborative working. Which tools are people using? What works/doesn't?
19:45 Introduction to version control using git
20:00 Practical session on working collaboratively using version control/git
20:30 Little fun game(s) using git
21:00 To the pub (Marstall).


Which tools have you used to collaborate with others?

Before getting to know working with GIT, we talked about the tools that we have been using so far to communicate and collaborate with others. We collected thoughts about what is good/bad about them and for which purpose we have used them.

GIT: people find it really useful in general. Problems are that it is hardly known and not everybody is familiar with its handling.

Word: many have used Word for working on a common document. Pros are its easy handling and its broad use. On the other hand its tracking is not the best. The whole document is often renamed to indicate the version, which can lead to confusion especially as everybody names it different.

Dropbox: is quite popular for sharing files, as well as ftp-servers.

Trac: positive about Trac is its user-friendly interface with resembles a webside, showing a timeline of things that have been done. People also like that with Trac one can assign tasks to persons that they can then mark as solved or state if and what kind of problems they had with it. As it’s also good to see who contributed how often it’s suitable for working with students you have to evaluate.

Content Management Systems: has actually been used to distribute data. Cons are that not everybody is familiar with its handling, it’s a lot of work and that not every used it in the end, although people had the opportunity to do so

MoinMoin Wiki: positive about MoinMoin is its ability to track changes.

Wrapping it up, we all agreed that we want a tool to track changes that have been done to the file, preferably also to indicate who has done them. We also can state that the ideal tool for collaborating with others depends on what’s your intention and what you want to use it for. Every tool has useful advantages for special purposes.


Please add yourself to the list of participants by editing the list below. Also bring your laptop, if you want to participate and indicate which Operating System you're running on your laptop (Windows, Mac, Linux). This will help us to gauge interest and to contact you with more details of the meeting.

If you want to participate in the practical part (which you should), please install git on your laptop; you'll find download links below. In case you have any problems in installing any of the software, just come 30minutes earlier, and we will help you set it up.

Download links:

SourceTree (a graphical user interface for git):

List of participants:

  1. Holger Dinkel, EMBL, (Mac OSX)
  2. Matthew Betts, Uni Heidelberg, (Mac OSX)
  3. Pierre Khoueiry, EMBL, (Mac OSX)
  4. Verena Tischler, EMBL, (Windows, Linux)
  5. Damien Devos, COS HD Uni, (Linux)
  6. Soldatos Th., MH, (Windows, Linux)
  7. Jelena Tica, EMBL, (Windows, Linux)
  8. Aidan Budd, EMBL, (Mac OSX)
  9. Ibai Irastorza, COS HD Uni, (Linux, Windows)
  10. Grischa Toedt, EMBL, (Mac OSX)
  11. Joachim Weischenfeldt, EMBL, (Mac OSX, Linux)
  12. Agnes Hotz-Wagenblatt, DKFZ, (WindowsXP)
  13. Maria Secrier, EMBL, (Mac OSX)
  14. Fernando Izquierdo Carrasco, HITS, (Linux)
  15. Jon Fuller, HITS, (Mac OS X)
  16. JC González, COS HD Uni, (Linux, Windows)
  17. Beifei Zhou, HITS, (Linux)
  18. Luis Pedro Coelho, EMBL, (Linux)
  19. Bronagh Carey, EMBO
  20. Alice Krebs, DKFZ, (Windows)
  21. Esther Schmidt, DKFZ, (Mac OSX)
  22. Chloe Cross, EMBL
  23. Katja Linssen


Task List

A list of tasks that need to be done on or before the meeting day. Just sign your name to say that you'll do a task, and the same again when the task is done.

To arrange before evening Person responsible Done
List of registered people Katja
Network/Connectivity Holger DONE
Ordering beer for evening Matt
Drinking Water and Cups Matt
A4 signs in plastic envelopes to help people find the room Katja
Treasury duties Matt
Create the poster Matt DONE
Print and display poster where relevant
  • BioQuant:
  • EMBL: Maria
  • DKFZ: Grainne
  • ...
  • BioQuant:
  • ...
Advertise on linkedin Katja DONE
Beamer Aidan DONE
Send reminder email Holger DONE

To do on the evening Person responsible Done
Open the room Aidan
Arrange room (tables/chairs) Maria, Grainne
Hang up signs to the room Bronagh
Setup and welcome attendees Maria
Bring extension cables (for all the laptops) Aidan, Grainne
Bring tape to fix cables Holger
Setup Network/Connectivity Holger
Setup AV equipment Bronagh
Help people with setup of their laptops Grainne
MC/Chair the meeting Holger
Chair the Standing-on-a-line warmup Aidan
Chair the initial discussion Aidan
Take notes during feedback of initial discussion Alice
Tidy and close room Bronagh

Planning Meetings

Wednesday May 29, 2013


Please add to this list

  1. HUB7
    1. choose topic
    2. choose date
    3. choose main coordinator
  2. HUB7.5 - do we want to have a barbecue in August? If so, when?
  3. Any other business.


Present: Aidan, Katja, Maria, Jon, Grainne, Holger, Clemens, Matthew

Topics for HUB7
Chosen topic

We chose a meeting focused on "Collaborative development/programing", with Holger coordinating it.

Aim is to give people a chance to use git, do some pair programming (perhaps in the context of simple Rosalind exercises). Will ask Maik Roeder if he'd like to get involved.

Other ideas/issues with this are:

  • Need people to bring laptops
  • Need internet access
  • Need to be careful how we sell it so that people without programming experience can (and want) to join with a title e.g. "Solving biolgoical problems with programming"
  • Try collecting ideas at the end for mini-projects for a future - collect ideas on a flip chart as they leave, and have already a few ideas ready to put on it; have a pre-prepared mail to send them the day after prompting them to give/add ideas etc.
  • Begin by presenting a vision which, if it works out, would aim to end in a publication either in a journal, or "just" a small fun useful piece of software with us all as authors i.e. producing something useful/tangible together
Possible future topic 1

Another topic we liked, and may try later, is a topic like "How to get your paper published", asking some of the HD big names to join and give their advice on this, maybe/instead some journal editors, we could find a case study where in small groups people try and fashion a response letter together to referee comments or something like that...?

Could maybe also try to find a writer who can talk or lead some exercises on storytelling - KL

Possible future topic 2

We agreed it'd be nice to have Andrew Hufton hosting a future HUB, focused on data standards, publishing large datasets, etc. - Aidan has written to him asking if/when he'd like to do that with us


Agreed to do one, at a weekend, preferably Sunday, Aidan has up Doodle poll for this to find a good date, also looking for someone to coordinate it - I've set up already a HUB7.5 page for this

Publicity videos for HUB

Katja asked if people were interested in it - they are, she'll organise follow-up meetings to start planning this