2 Replies - 867 Views - Last Post: 29 August 2019 - 09:22 PM

#1 Anastasia_123   User is offline

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Ecologists interested in learning to create a software program

Posted 29 August 2019 - 07:51 PM

Hello Programmers,
I am a research ecologist with VERY limited knowledge of coding. I have a complex portfolio decision analysis and spatial prioritization model that I built in GIS Desktop. I would like to turn this into a software package like MARXAN, ZONATION, and VORTEX (all software packages for answering complex ecological modeling questions). I have no programming background, but I am an avid learner and need to learn. Can anyone point me in the right direction of online courses? Would anyone be willing to talk to me in a little bit more depth and help me assess my problem and the approach I should take. I have no idea where I should start, most of my analyses and equations are currently programmed in Excel VBA, but I want to create better user interfaces and in general a more smoothly running software package. Please help if you can.

Thank you so much,
Ana (Ecologist in need of programming tips)

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Replies To: Ecologists interested in learning to create a software program

#2 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Ecologists interested in learning to create a software program

Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:15 PM

Learning to program is always worthwhile, but there is a significant difference between learning enough so the computer is helpful in your research and providing a deployment-ready application. I think if you are looking to do the latter yourself, that probably isn't reasonable. The amount of work it would take to get up to speed is comparable to having two new (large) classes to prep each semester, for two semesters. I think biting off this project yourself would take you away from your research and other obligations, perhaps more than you intend.

If you are looking to transition away from Excel, I highly recommend Python. It is widely adopted by the scientific community, in multiple disciplines, and fairly easy to learn. You can likely use it productively in your own research fairly quickly (though again, don't expect to be producing a deployable application in the immediate future).

I have heard good things about Learn Python the Hard Way: https://learnpythont...ay.org/python3/

Note that Python 2 will no longer be supported as of 2020, so make sure you are using some Python 3.

If you are dead set on producing a deployable application, I would recommend hiring someone to do so. Perhaps a Computer Science or Math student (graduate or undergraduate) at your institution would be interested in this. If there is the possibility to publish, I'm sure a graduate student would be especially happy to help!
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#3 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Ecologists interested in learning to create a software program

Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:22 PM

Honestly you would start with a book. Get the basics of programming under your feet, and make choices from there.

Err.. see above. :D
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