Category Archives: ADASS

ASCL poster on software citation at ADASS XXXII

Are others using software you’ve written in their research and citing it as you want it to be cited? If not, this poster will help! Software can be cited in different ways, some good, and some not good at all for tracking and counting citations in indexers such as ADS and Google Scholar. Generally, indexers need to match citations to resources, such as journal articles, they ingest. There are several reasons why your code might not be cited well (in a trackable/countable way). One common reason is the lack of clear and explicit instructions on a code’s download site. Most astro code sites don’t list a preferred citation method! Make it easy for people to cite your software by listing a (good! trackable!) preferred citation method where others can easily find it. Creating a standard software metadata file, such as a CITATION.cff or codemeta.json, and adding it to the root of your code repo is easy to do with the ASCL’s metadata file creation overlay (see handout below), and will help out anyone wanting to give you credit for your computational method, whether it’s a huge carefully-written and tested package, or a short quick-and-dirty-but-oh-so-useful code.


Using the Astrophysics Source Code Library: Find, cite, download, parse, study, and submit

This morning, I gave a tutorial on the ASCL at ADASS XXXII, which is being held virtually from the University of Toronto and the University of Victoria. I’ll write more extensively about ADASS later this week; it is, as always, a fabulous conference with a lot of great work, talks, software, data, discussion, posters, chats, demos, tutorials… well, a lot! It’s my favorite astro conference.

But for now, slides from the tutorial and a link to the recording are below. Thanks to ADASS for accepting the proposal and to the participants for attending and for all the interesting (and occasionally scary!) comments and questions!

Slides (PDF)
Session (video)

WE20211030: This week in the ASCL

The ADASS conference took place this week. The ASCL presented a poster about SciCodes at the conference. Though ADASS took up most of my time, eight new code entries, three of them submitted by their authors, were assigned ASCL IDs and moved into production. I also wrote and submitted an abstract for an iPoster presentation at the AAS’s January 2022 meeting.

ASCL poster on SciCodes consortium at ADASS XXXI

Poster describing the SciCodes consortium and how it might be of interest to astronomers

The Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL, started in 1999, is a free open registry of software used in refereed astronomy research. Over the past few years, it has spearheaded an effort to form a consortium of scientific software registries and repositories. In 2019 and 2020, ASCL contacted editors and maintainers of academic discipline and institutional software registries and repositories in math, biology, neuroscience, geophysics, remote sensing, and other fields to develop a list of best practices for research software registries and repositories. At the completion of that project, performed as a Task Force for a FORCE11 working group, members decided to form SciCodes as an ongoing consortium. This poster will cover the consortium’s work so far, what it is currently working on, what it hopes to achieve for making scientific research software more discoverable across disciplines, and how the consortium can benefit astronomers.

Download poster (PDF)


ADASS Prize for an Outstanding Contribution to Astronomical Software

Awarded for the first time in 2020, the Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS) Prize for an Outstanding Contribution to Astronomical Software is awarded every year at the annual conference. Eligible candidates are the developers of astronomical software ranging from those that have stood the test of time to those that are new and cutting edge. Depending on the software and the nomination, the award is given to either a group or an individual. Nominations can be for a single program, a package, or a library.

Nominations for this year’s ADASS Software Prize are due by midnight UTC on June 15th June 18. After that date, the Program Organizing Committee (POC) will review the nominations and descriptions and determine the winner. The winning software author, or a representative of the winning team, will be invited to give a talk at ADASS this year, have their ADASS conference fee waived, and receive a plaque.

Lightning talk at ADASS XXX: Making organizational software easier to find

The excellent ADASS XXX conference concluded yesterday. I missed meeting ADASS attendees face-to-face, but was delighted to spend time with them safely online, to learn about their projects and research, to talk about software and data, to share what the ASCL has been doing, and to meet old and new friends. The all-virtual conference was just about perfect; the technology set-up was excellent, providing opportunities to see sessions as they happened or at a later time on video, ask questions, comment on and discuss what was presented, and have one-on-one or small group video calls. The schedule was easy to keep track of, as one could subscribe to the schedule and get updates to it (mostly additions) immediately. Support was extremely responsive; an online Help Desk provided answers to queries almost immediately. There was even a conference photo!

Poster presenters were invited to record and upload a lightning talk — no more than three minutes — for their posters; two-minute lightning talks via Zoom were also arranged at the conference. The ASCL presented a poster on Making organizational software easier to find in ASCL and ADS; the hastily-put-together lightning talk presented at the conference for this poster is below.

ADASS attendee Simón Torres offered to download all the pre-recorded lightning talks and stream them during the conference, so a Poster Video Watching Party was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The stream was great fun to watch! It was interesting, too, to see all the different ways people presented their lightning talks.

What a great conference this was! I look forward to next year’s!

ASCL poster on NASA software project at ADASS XXX

Software is the most used instrument in astronomy, and organizations such as NASA and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Physics (HITS) fund, develop, and release research software. NASA, for example, has created sites such as and to share its software with the world, but how easy is it to see what NASA has? Until recently, searching NASA’s Astrophysics Data System (ADS) for NASA’s astronomy software has not been fruitful. Through its ADAP program, NASA has funded the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL to improve the discoverability of these codes. Adding institutional tags to ASCL entries makes it easy to find this software not only in the ASCL but also in ADS and other services that index the ASCL. This poster presentation covers the changes the ASCL has made as a result of this funding and how you can use the results of this work to better find organizational software in ASCL and ADS.

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Poster about ASCL API
We have developed an API for the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) that enhances the ability of users to conduct complex and automated queries on ASCL indexed codes. The API is public and allows anyone to programmatically search and filter the ASCL software database via an HTTP request. For example, the search returns a list of authors with ASCL-indexed codes involving supernovae in JSON format. We will demonstrate the API and show its use in answering a researcher’s questions regarding the growth and usage of both interpreted and compiled languages in the database, gaining a more nuanced understanding of trends in astrophysics software development. Our findings confirmed a piece of conventional wisdom: that Python is growing in market share, while low level programming languages like C and C++ remain very popular. Further documentation for the API is available at

Siddha Mavuram (UMD), Alice Allen (ASCL/UMD), Robert J. Nemiroff (MTU), Judy Schmidt (ASCL), Peter J. Teuben (UMD)

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ADASS 2020 in the time of pandemic

Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS), which was to have been in Granada, Spain this year, kicked off the fully online ADASS XXX meeting yesterday with four tutorials, as is usually done, though not quite like it was done this year. The Programming Organizing Committee and especially the Local Organizing Committee had to convert a conference that had been two years in the planning to a virtual meeting. This offered numerous challenges and learning opportunities! One challenge is that the conference is international; scheduling sessions for access to all participants couldn’t have been easy, but with the technology stack they chose, which includes the conference website, Zoom, YouTube, and Discord, and hard work, all of ADASS’s resources are available to all participants. One might have to get up early or stay up late to hear all of the talks live — the sleep-deprived author of this post awoke at 12:15 AM today to catch the opening sessions — but there are asynchronous options available, so groggy stumbling as one makes her way to the computer is a choice, not a requirement.

The ASCL has several presentations and activities this year. ASCL Chair Peter Teuben, ASCL Advisory Committee member Bruce Berriman, and I organized a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session on How to better describe software for discovery and citation today. We have organized BoFs focused on some aspect of software in the past, and, as in the past, this BoF offered a number of very short presentations and then open discussion.

The BoF session focused on software metadata, to improve how software is described and can be discovered and cited. After Teuben opened the session, Berriman presented his experience with using CiteAs to see how it suggested his software Montage be cited. CiteAs uses numerous ways to find a code’s citation method, including looking for metadata files — specific files that contain metadata for the software — on the code’s website and/or GitHub repository. Montage does not currently have a metadata file on its sites, so the citation method CiteAs suggested was not as robust as it could have been. The results of the search and its provenance are shown in the BoF’s slides, which can be downloaded at a link below.

This led nicely into my short talk on metadata files and how the ASCL can create a metadata file from an ASCL entry. The files the ASCL creates programmatically, codemeta.json and CITATION.cff, are intended to be starting points and contain placeholders for data the ASCL does not capture, but which we feel should be included in the metadata file; we encourage software authors to edit these files before they are placed on one’s code site.

Yan Grange, who had organized an earlier BoF on Best licensing practices, presented a summary of the session and the results of two of the several polls taken during that BoF.  Providing a license for your software is vitally important, as it lets others know what they can and cannot do with your software. Resources and other information from the earlier BoF are available online, and Grange’s summary slides for our software metadata BoF are included in the slides file below.

Teuben presented on several related topics: expanding or deepening a codemeta file with “API” information, the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) and keywords, and the possibility of taking a software census at a niche science meeting. For this latter, he would like to take a well-defined field in astrophysics and have members of that community take an inventory of the software used and categorize it. He thinks a conference would be an ideal event for getting all the stakeholders together, and has identified a possible candidate conference for this activity.

The floor, if there can be a floor in a virtual meeting, was then open for comments, questions, answers and ideas, though discussion had already started in the Discord channel. One outcome of this session was that before the end of it, several participants had added metadata files to code repositories!

All slides for this session are in the PDF file below. If you would like more information about the session, please let us know in the comments section below, pinging us at ADASS if you are participating in the meeting, or by emailing me at

Slides (PDF)

ASCL research poster at ADASS XXIX

This presentation covers research on software authorship and citation, which we carried out between July and September 2019. We examined codes authored by three or fewer people (“short author list” codes) and codes authored by institutional teams, to determine how many codes in the ASCL can be attributed to one of these categories. Utilizing ADS data, we measured the number of citations per authorship category. We carried out further research to determine whether we could infer software usage and code usage statistics from the number of citations to code description papers. Our research shows that citations to code description papers are not a reliable proxy for software usage.

P. Wesley Ryan, Astrophysics Source Code Library

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