Minutes:2009 BOSC Meeting

Note: this is preliminary and needs some editing.

OBF Business Meeting at BOSC 2009

  • Location: Rica Talk Hotel, Restaurant 2nd floor
  • Present:
    • current BoD members: Hilmar Lapp, Kam Dahlquist
    • Guests:

Called meeting to order at 7.05pm.

  • Explained business meeting purpose and distinction to conference call that will make decisions
  • Introductions: Hilmar, Kam, everyone else around the table (see guests)


  • OBF does a very good job in servicing its member project
  • could look at open source projects more globally; specifically could come up with an open source policy statement that is global
  • Kam: in agreement, we are overdue with coming up with a broader vision statement
    • should maybe open this up and do it in an open and transparent manner
  • Location of incorporation issue
    • Has not been pursued further since the last conference call.
    • Issue of being under US export restrictions, and the open question of whether we can legally accept membership applications from citizens of countries under US trade sanctions.
    • Incorporating in Canada would be an option. Generally, need to look carefully at the local laws as to what they permit in terms of transferring funds.
  • Open-source hosting portals: what are the benefits of the various sites?
    • Github: very much focused on the code, working with other people.
    • SourceForge: temporary inaccessibility problems and interface changes can be nasty, especially for web hosting. They also
  • Shouldn’t OBF take a more outspoken role in software development best practices, patterns, and standards?
    • OBF history has provided a forum for such practice recommendations to be promulgated and to foster the community to converge among common practices, but has otherwise remained neutral.
    • Is that maybe a role the member projects could fill out? For example, EMBOSS or Biojava have done this in their communities.
    • Some mistakes are often repeated. Maybe create a repository of organizational knowledge about practices that have proven efficient, and anti-patterns.
    • What makes a project an Open Bio project? Could formalize some recommendations based on empirical experiences and lessons learned.
    • We may be easily duplicating efforts – there are many other organizations and fields defining design patterns and recommended practices.
    • There are still many new people coming into Bioinformatics that come from a different background. They shouldn’t have to learn by the hard way how not to do things.
      • Once people are into it they really need to make the first step of looking beyond their own little sphere themselves.
      • However, training and education needs to be built into the undergrad and graduate curricula.
      • Can and should the OBF play a role in this, for example by compiling and providing resources, information, and tutorial material?
      • ISCB actually has an education committee, and it takes simply showing up to participate. Members come from any different perspectives and backgrounds. A subgroup (which seems invitation-only) is working on
      • Should OBF maybe initiate an open resource (as opposed to a purchased book) for education and training? Really needs a critical mass of people to push it forward.
      • OBF could provide a coordination or point of contact or counselor role to help potential authors retain copyright when they publish a book.
    • caBIG infratructure increasingly mature and required to be built upon or in a compliant way by NIH grant applicants.
    • Everyone reinventing the wheel continues to be an issue. Need to reach local partnerships between faculty members to break down further the “do it on our own attitude).
    • caBIG had to dole out money for “early adopters”.
    • Biologists can be highly biased purely due to the application domain.
  • People may have odd preconceptions to open-source projects solely because they haven’t looked at the supporting community yet.
  • Bioinformaticists often are trying to solve a specific problem, only to move on to something else immediately afterwards.
  • BOSC conference:
    • Should keep requiring abstract submissions (rather than just title, for example), but should not require full papers to remain sufficiently inclusive.
    • Tutorials could be held in a session concurrent with the main ISMB conference.
      • These parallel tracks are separate submissions to ISCB. Lonnie and Peter volunteer to work out a proposal for 2010.
  • OBF remit: Should keep existing, support its member projects, and promote open-source software among biologists.
  • Conference proceedings:
    • Open source software work