Leveraging ecocloud infrastructure to benefit the Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Community

Categorised: INSPIRE, News

The Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory/Research Data Cloud (HASS DEVL/RDC) project aka “Tinker” is a great example of connecting existing infrastructure between the HASS community. Tinker provides an online ‘storefront’ to existing and new tools and services, thanks to the development of the Tinker "workbench" environment, now publicly accessible via tinker.edu.au.  

The Tinker website provides an entry point into the workbench for HASS researchers who have novice to intermediate skills working with digital tools and data. It provides quick access to sandpit environments that allow for experimentation with new digital tools. In addition to this, it has ‘recipes’ (instructions on how to start using the tools), case studies, training materials, descriptions of the reference datasets made available through the project and the opportunity for community contributions.

Harbouring similar goals to ecocloud, a workbench built out of the EcoScience DEVL/RDC project, the Tinker had to deliver the following outputs as part of the project:  

  • a digital workbench
  • three community endorsed tools: transcription; text analysis; geo-coding.

Through close proximity of the collaborative teams, it became evident upon demonstration of the ecocloud’s beta workbench, there was an opportunity to leverage the ecocloud workbench framework to establish the ‘Tinker workbench’, saving time, resources and budget. This was developed at Griffith University’s eResearch Centre.

In line with ARDC efforts to make data more FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable), the Tinker project team developed a data curation framework, tested on three reference data sets relevant to the HASS community. This work was focussed on improving accessibility and reusability, and as a method of developing and testing new data pipelines.   

The adaptation of ecocloud to power the Tinker ‘Studio’ establishes a Data Explorer environment that models a new method of discovering and reusing data for HASS researchers, making the data much more findable. The development team are working to adapt the Data Explorer to ensure suitability and ease of use. Similarly, the team is working with national research infrastructure initiatives such as the Australian Data Archive, to improve discoverability of their and other data in this environment. However, because of the short project time (12 months), it hasn't yet been possible to to create new data set records to expand their findability through metadata aggregator, discovery records of the data sources and archive locations that already exist.

What customisations occurred that saw a clone of ecocloud’s workbench become Tinker’s?

Like ecocloud, the Tinker workbench incorporates a public facing website (hosted on WordPress) and a back-end programming environment (maintained by Griffith University’s eResearch Centre). The Tinker tools are currently deployed within the Tinker domain and as external services.

A version of the ecocloud workbench software, which was originally TERN’s platform ‘COESRA’ before it was ecocloud, was shared with the Tinker project. Progress to date on customising the system to the needs of HASS researchers includes:

  • ecocloud Skin removed and a Tinker branded theme developed and deployed
  • Jupyter Notebooks for R & Python, with the Python Notebook customised for the HASS domain
  • a data explorer filter for EcoScience related data removed and replaced with HASS
  • recipes and example notebooks connected via the Tinker Github repository.

To find out more information on ecocloud or Tinker or have a play in their environments, or join our upcoming webinar series: Adopt, adapt, reuse: sharing and reusing outputs from ARDC funded Domain projects. This webinar series aims to provide a platform for the funded RDC/DEVL projects to show each other their outputs and reuse potential.  


Join the Webinar Series

Webinar Topic: Adopt, adapt, reuse: sharing and reusing outputs from ARDC funded Domain projects.
Speakers include:

  • Sarah Richmond,  Project Manager, ecocloud Project, Griffith University
  • Gerhard Weis - Senior Software Engineer, Griffith University
  • Nick Rossow - Manager, eResearch Services, Griffith University
  • Jonathan Yu - Data Scientist, CSIRO
  • Siddeswara Guru - Data Science Director, TERN

Who should attend: DEVL/RDC project stakeholders
Date: 18 March 2019, 12pm - 1:30pm ACST


The ecocloud and Tinker are parts of projects partially funded by ARDC in 2018, with continuity funding granted for 2019. We are proud to be supporting projects like these that help transform the way our communities conduct their research.

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