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ECMWF has published a new Software Strategy, outlining its plans for the development of software outside the weather prediction process until 2027. We feel this is the right moment as we transition towards a framework for increased collaboration based on software componentisation.
One of the guiding ideas is for software to be developed openly, with interaction and feedback from the community.
Software components are also to be made smaller, more reusable, and simpler to integrate with each other.
The Strategy aims for a good balance between in-house development of software that is critical for ECMWF on the one hand, and well-maintained and supported community software on the other.
It emphasises the need for improved scalability of data handling as the amount of forecast data continues to grow rapidly.
The Strategy marks a turn towards the open development of new software. This is based on the belief that interaction and feedback from the community, including in particular our Member and Co-operating States, leads to increased quality.
ECMWF has already had an open-source policy for all software not related to its Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) for many years. Much of it has been available on the online software development platform GitHub.
However, this only made the end result accessible. It did not enable continuous feedback and contributions from external users.
To encourage greater collaboration, ECMWF aims to widen its use of GitHub and other open platforms.
Areas of development
The Strategy foresees action in ten areas, some of which are related to multiple applications and some of which concern specific ones.
An example of the former is visualisation software, which is used across many applications and services to display observation and forecast data.
An example of the latter is data dissemination and acquisition software, which manages the acquisition of incoming information and the dissemination of forecasts products.
Another specific area is the post-processing framework that ECMWF is developing to scale its model output and provide an environment that users and researchers can reuse in their own workflows.
The Strategy outlines the current status, motivation for changes, an action plan, milestones, and interactions for each of the ten areas.
ECMWF’s approach is outlined in a Technical Memorandum on a Software Strategy and Roadmap 2023–2027.
You can also read a short summary of the guiding principles of the Software Strategy.