Use cases as an interface to tool discovery

Scott Chamberlain  


September 10, 2013

Good discovery tools for sotware are important as they can facilitate the pace of software development, bugs are found and squashed and new features added more quickly, and users find software they need faster. We have a page on our website for our packages that provides an overview of the packages we have, with descriptions and links.

Two other ways to discover things include

  • A gallery of examples, or use cases, in which the entry point is something someone would want to do. This is opposed to a list of software packages in which the entry point is a description of what the package does. Examples include the Rcpp gallery, R graph gallery, and the iPython Notebook Viewer gallery.
  • Images: Scrolling through images is a fast way to select an item of interest.

We just rolled out a new page for user stories, or use cases, organized in an gallery of thumbnail images with a brief description, which goes to another page with a brief script and output. Check it out here http://ropensci.org/usecases/index.html. On this page we are gathering brief examples of tasks scientists can carry out in R. So far these include:

  • Testing the species abundance distribution
  • Ecological niche modelling
  • Make a phylogeny simply from a list of species names
  • And more…

We think a use cases entry point will allow people to more easily discover tools they need based on their task or problem. In addition, the use cases provide complete code to do the task in question.

Get in touch with us on Twitter @ropensci or via email with your use cases, or requests for particular use cases, so that we can build up a large collection. If you’re curious what we’re looking for take a look at one of the current pages.


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