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null Developments in 2020 - by Delft-FEWS product management

Developments in 2020 - by Delft-FEWS product management

In this blog, Delft-FEWS product management presents an overview of the developments in 2020.

 

Delft-FEWS vision 2025

We developed a vision for Delft-FEWS in 2025. In summary, our vision is that Delft-FEWS will evolve into an ecosystem: Delft-FEWS is at the core and easily connects to external data sources, other software applications, and communication tools. The software is state-of-the-art due to the unique combination of:

  • a global community of practice

  • applied research

  • high-quality open software

You can read or watch a video about the vision here

Delft-FEWS 2020.01 and 2020.02

We released Delft-FEWS 2020.01 over the summer, and by the end of the year we had completed 90% of our testing for Delft-FEWS 2020.02. We expect to release this version in early 2021. Together the new versions contain more than 260 new developments! The most striking ones in 2020.01 were the new API on the Admin Interface, the extension of the Open Archive with 'generic' NetCDF storage, and more than 20 new data imports. The new “Computation Framework” mode makes it possible for Delft-FEWS to organize and manage your models and scenarios. This mode uses the new what-if concept, which combines the strengths of 'classic' what-if scenarios and modifiers. The most notable developments in 2020.02 include backend improvements to the Master Controller, web service improvements, and an extension of the dashboard functionality.

Software quality

One of our spearheads for 2020 was improving the monitoring of and maintaining the quality of our source code. For this reason, we implemented a tool named Sonarqube. This tool analyses the existing code base and all new or modified lines of code. We aim to maintain a high quality while our focus is on new and changed lines of code and slowly working backwards into the complete code base. We have divided the code into 12 logical packages, and every package is managed by (at least) two developers who share knowledge and responsibilities.

Our testing and release process was also evaluated by an external company. We received some useful feedback about how to make it even more focused and effective. We already implemented several of the recommendations during the 2020.02 release testing. E.g. we organized the testing in blocks (timeslots) to enable testers, developers, and ICT colleagues to join forces and share experiences. This worked well, and we will continue this approach!

Standardized support & maintenance service packages

We also worked on new standardised support and maintenance service packages to minimize administration and align with other Deltares software products. The new service packages will replace the existing service packages, step-by-step. The new support and maintenance service packages will be published in early 2021 on the Delft-FEWS portal for easy access for new clients. The transition of the existing support and maintenance contracts will be done on a client-by-client basis over the coming years.

The Delft-FEWS Community Strategy Board (CSB) is closely involved in the process towards more standardised support and maintenance packages. The CSB has been involved every step of the way and provided useful feedback on many aspects (timeline, content, prices, and next steps).

The structure of the new standardised support and maintenance services will have three standard packages with the option to include additional standardised modules (e.g. block of additional support hours, upgrade performed by Deltares, additional configuration, etc.) and a special package for organisations that act as a Delft-FEWS intermediary.

Delft-FEWS events

The Delft-FEWS community faced a new challenge in 2020: to host and participate in online user days. 5 organizing committees prepared and hosted their user meeting online last year. It was an interesting journey! We grappled with technical issues, sometimes even during events, and we discovered new ways to exchange information, cooperate online, and share experiences.

The following meetings were held in 2020:

  • Dutch User Days (3 online events) – Theme: More impact with data in Delft-FEWS. Each meeting had a different character, with plenary presentations, break-out sessions, and an open chat. Preparing the program was an educational experience as we learned to use several new tools for meeting online.

  • Regionales Anwendertreffen (1 online event) – The 5th annual meeting for German-speaking users, organized by Hydrotec and Deltares. Although attendance (43) more than doubled compared to the previous year (20), participants asked few questions and rarely turned on their cameras. This unfortunately resulted in a one-way event, as opposed to an open discussion, and inspired us to investigate more inviting and collaborative methods for online communication.

  • Australian User Days (8 2-hour online webinars spread across 4 weeks, featuring presentations, workshops and courses) – It was the first online delivery of the Australian Delft-FEWS User Days, hosted by the Bureau of Meteorology, Seqwater, Sunwater and Deltares. The result was a very lively meeting with over 170 unique participants from more than 20 organisations, with up to 98 participants per session. This led to lots of interaction through the chat as well as Q&A in between the presentations. The Miss-FEWS pageant has become a firm tradition down under, where the most beautiful Delft-FEWS displays get paraded around. This pageant hasn’t led to world peace just yet, but we remain hopeful.

  • International User Days (3 online events) – Theme: Observe to forecast, forecast to prepare. The events were well-attended by both new and familiar Delft-FEWS users (150!) from around the world. It was motivating to experience this new way of building our community and supporting each other in these challenging times. The three events had a similar format, each with a game and a presentation about new developments. Several breakout sessions were well-attended, but most Q&A sessions were not. We will consider offering more demo-oriented sessions in the future.

  • Latin American meeting – This was the second international meeting dedicated to the growing community of Delft-FEWS users in Latin America. More than 50 participants attended and discussed data sharing and exchanged knowledge to strengthen hydrological forecasting in Latin America.

Overall, we managed to stay connected, and we explored new ways to work together online. We also enjoyed the presence of new and old community members who would not have been able to attend in-person meetings. We expect to continue with a hybrid format in the coming years, which combines in-person and online meetings. Keep an eye on the portal for more information. If you have ideas about the future program or suggestions about new tools that could be helpful in hosting events, please contact the Delft-FEWS team at fews-userdays@deltares.nl.