[Yt-dev] A Mission Statement for yt

Matthew Turk matthewturk at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 09:43:00 PDT 2011

Hi everyone,

I hope you'll take the opportunity to read and respond to this email,
even if you're not a heavy-developer, or even a heavy-user, of yt.
Your feedback and contributions would be greatly, greatly appreciated,
particularly as this will help guide where yt development,
community-building and (optimistically) use will go.  I know that
sometimes the signal-to-noise on the yt lists can be a bit low, but I
think this is a particularly useful discussion to have.

A few of us have been brainstorming, in person, in IRC, etc about the
direction yt has been going.  There are a number of reasons for doing
this -- to provide focus, to provide an idea of the
off-in-the-distance goal, and to have a public statement of what we're
about, which shows ambition, concern for the values that go into a
scientific code, and an interest in providing access to that code.
This boils down to coming up with a mission statement, which will help
both focus our goals on what we want to provide, as well as describe
those areas we do not want to provide.  Much of this is based on the
contents of “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon, specifically around
page 71 in the PDF available on www.artofcommunityonline.org/get/ .

“Mission statements are intended to be consistent and should rarely
change, even if the tasks that achieve that mission change regularly.
When building your mission statement, always have its longevity in
mind. Remember, your mission statement is your slam-dunking, audacious
goal. For many communities these missions can take decades or even
longer to achieve. Their  purpose is to not only describe the finish
line, but to help the community stay on track.”

To develop a mission statement, which will act as a precursor to a
strategic plan, we need to construct answers to three questions.
These will provide the initial basis for a broader mission statement.
For reference, here are some “principles” we came up with several
years ago:


As I mentioned above, a few of us have been spitballing answers to
these questions, and it has reached the point where we really need to
bring this forward, to conduct these discussions in public, to bring
some clarity and engagement to the process.  Ultimately, once we have
sketched out a couple broad goals and bullet points, this can then be
distilled into a short, pithy block of text that serves as a "Mission
Statement."  Below are some potential bullet points, but I feel
strongly that it's important that these get refined and discussed.

= What is the mission? =
 * To create a fun, community-led, open source tool for asking and
answering astrophysical questions through simulations, analysis and
 * To create reproducible, cross-code questions and answers from
astrophysical data
 * To construct a consistent language for asking questions of
simulation data from many sources
 * To encourage researchers to participate in constructing a community code

= What are the opportunities and areas of collaboration? =
 * Development of new tools, new techniques, and adding support for new codes.
 * Adding components to the GUI
 * Providing outreach-capable frontends
 * Improving visualization qualities
 * Adding new methods of accessing data
 * Performance analysis & optimization
 * Deployment to new platforms
 * Designing new web pages
 * Writing documentation and recipes
 * Spreading the word
 * Support for Cartesian non-astrophysical simulations (weather, earthquakes)
 * Extension to non-Cartesian coordinate systems
 * Mentoring new developers

= What are the skills required? =
 * Thoughtful process
 * Careful quality control
 * Ability to communicate
 * An investment in “the answer”
 * Eagerness to participate in an open fashion

What other bullets, ideas, inclinations do people have?  If we can
start a discussion, maybe we can draft some text.  This would
certainly help with focusing our strategies for presenting yt to
others, directing our development in conjunction with our scientific
goals, and collaborating as a community.

Thanks very much for any thoughts,


More information about the yt-dev mailing list