Topic outline

  • General

    Best practices in programming

    Location: L-floor, building Y55, room 12 (Y55-L-12), University of Zurich

    Dates: 19-20 October 2015


    The course will focus on learning and internalizing the practices of unit testing, refactoring, and version control through hands-on experience. The first morning will start with an introduction into these concepts and tools used to support them. In the afternoon, we will transition to a code clinic and work together in small groups applying these practices to make improvements to code brought by participants. The second day will continue with the code clinic.

    Learning objectives

    At the end of the workshop, the participants will be able to:

    - identify and avoid the most common mistakes in the process of writing software in a scientific context
    - improve the quality of her/his code
    - exploit techniques for effectively developing software

    The focus of this course is not object-oriented programming, software architecture, design patterns or algorithms. The goal of this course is to introduce skills and techniques for effectively developing software.


    If the answer to two or more of the following questions is “yes”, then this course is for you.
    - Do you write software to analyze data or implement in-silico models as part of your daily work?
    - Do you write scientific publications based on software you created yourself but do not know what unit testing, refactoring or version control are?
    - Are you writing code that you find hard to understand some weeks later?
    - Do you have thousands of lines of code, but no automated way of verifying that the code works correctly?
    - Do you find yourself regularly using “copy & paste” to re-use code you wrote earlier?
    - Do small changes in your code later cause trouble in other unexpected places?


    Knowledge: Working knowledge of one programming language.

    Technical: Participants should bring their own laptop with a Wifi connection.


    Franz-Josef Elmer, Bernd Rinn, Uwe Schmitt, Jakub Straszewski, Milan Simonovic


    Institute of Molecular Sciences, University of Zurich.


    This course is full. You can add your name to the waiting list at the following link.

    The registration fees for academics are 50 CHF. This includes course content material and coffee breaks. Participants from non-academic institutions should contact us before applying.

    Deadline for applications and cancellation is set to the 10 October 2015.

    Additional information

    No exam is planned.

    You are welcome to register to the SIB courses mailing-list to be informed of all future courses and workshops, as well as all important deadlines using the form here.

    For more information, please contact

    Please note that your participation to SIB courses is subject to the general conditions described here.

    • Important note: participants must bring their own computers


      First Day
      10h - Welcome talk & start with the coffee
      10:15 General Programming Principles (Kuba)
      10:45 Unit Testing (Uwe)
      11:15 break without coffee
      11:30 Refactoring (FJE)
      12:00 Git (Milan)
      12:30 Lunch
      14:00 Code clinic
      15:30 - coffee break
      15:45 Code clinic
      18:00 free time

      Second Day
      9:00 Code Clinic
      10h30 Coffee break
      10:45 Code Clinic
      12:00 Lunch break
      13:30 Code Clinic
      15:30 Coffee break
      15:45 Code Clinic
      17:45 Closing remarks