Rebecca Sutton Koeser deposited Bridging Digital Humanities Internal And Open Source Software Projects Through Reusable Building Blocks on Humanities Commons 1 month, 1 week ago
Software development is often an integral aspect of Digital Humanities projects. By working to generalize and build small modules or utilities targeting specific needs rather than large-scale systems, DH software developers have the capacity to generate tools with greater potential for scholarly reuse, which should enable more rapid development on future projects, and allow developers to focus on innovative work. This poster demonstrates a case study of modular software developed as part of ongoing DH projects.
There is a tendency among some institutions, particularly libraries, to adopt existing large-scale Open Source Software solutions and adapt them for local needs; but as Hector Correa points out, this approach results in skipping the work of thinking carefully about users and local needs (Correa, 2017). If large-scale software solutions developed by coalitions of libraries are problematic (Princeton University Library Systems, 2017) where needs are at least similar, even where content structures or workflows differ, this problem is redoubled for research software, which is much more likely bespoke to a particular problem. As Correa argues, single-purpose software is less complex and easier to understand and manage; and understanding the logic of code is crucial for research that is based on or otherwise makes use of software (Koeser, 2015).
Applying best practices from software development such as modular design can mitigate these problems through an emphasis on delivering working components of software and focusing on simplicity of purpose.
These projects provide a view into the ongoing process of balancing customized solutions to DH projects with generalizing focused portions of functionality. Modular design aimed at ‘doing one thing and doing it well’ offers the possibility of creating an ecosystem of reusable packages that are widely useful and applicable, and can participate in a larger community of open source and other DH software research.