Lowering Barriers to Simulation
Accelerating Deployment of Scientific Software
In June 2005, NCN released Rappture 1.0, a new, open toolkit to facilitate the rapid development and robust deployment of scientific simulation packages. Designed to work as a library for a variety of programming languages, including Matlab, C/C++, Fortran, Python, Perl, Tcl, and Ruby, Rappture automatically generates a graphical user interface from a description of the inputs and outputs of the simulation program. Rappture has become the main vehicle for software deployment on nanoHUB. Students across the NCN network are using Rappture to enable simulation applications for use on nanoHUB.org. Simulation usage on nanoHUB has grown seven-fold to over 7,900 users in less than four years and we attribute this increase to the friendly interfaces afforded by Rappture.
Prior to Rappture, a significant portion of nanoHUB users downloaded software and installed it on their own computers. However, since the introduction of Rappturized applications, the number of software downloads has all but vanished – Rappturized software is user-friendly. Rappture is also central to NCN’s long-term strategy to link simulations in complex workflows. Because of the scale of the NCN initiative, we expect that Rappture will have broad impact on scientific computing outside NCN. There are currently over 282 Rappture software development projects under way with 318 developers. In all, 140 tools have been deployed on nanoHUB, with all but seven using Rappture. Although we do not force developers to use Rappture, approximately 95% of the deployed projects use it, which indicates developer buy-in and the ease of development with Rappture technology.