Confluence Retirement

In an effort to consolidate USGS hosted Wikis, myUSGS’ Confluence service is scheduled for retirement on January 27th, 2023. The official USGS Wiki and collaboration space is now SharePoint. Please migrate existing spaces and content to the SharePoint platform and remove it from Confluence at your earliest convenience. If you need any additional information or have any concerns about this change, please contact Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
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As previewed at the February 2020 Monthly Meeting, we will embark on a few different learning journeys in the spring, and we hope you will join us.

Why join: If you want to spend time learning about these topics, but think that if you don't tell anyone you're going to do it, it won't happen.

Sign up for Group Learning Here!

How it Works

This round of group learning will take place from March - May 2020:

  1. Set a goal: Gain knowledge in three topical areas by completing simple, time-bounded tasks (see below)
  2. Gather a group: Sign up here if you're interested in any of the topics below
  3. Make a deadline: I will target about one topic per week and share my progress.
  4. Share your progress: if you sign up, you will get reminders of the resource links and updates and summary thoughts when I complete the task, and will be invited to share your own thoughts upon completing the task.

Topics and Goals

Usability Resource Reviews

The CDI's new Usability Collaboration Area is churning out tons of info in both live/recorded presentation mode and "resource reviews," crafted and posted by Sophie Hou. Goal: read the resource reviews on three usability concepts posted in January and apply them to my own projects.

Do you have a site or project that could benefit from integrating usability in design, including usability principles efficiently, or fostering a user centered approach? The Join me!

  • Three summaries on the CDI wiki and links to resources (posted here)
  • About 30 minutes of reading time
  • Identify three ways to apply these concepts to various wiki and web sites that I manage.

NetCDF - Why and How

People talk about NetCDF format often, and how it has great documentation, and interoperability. Will I ever be asked to review a NetCDF file, or expected to open one? I need to find out more, and I think this well-rated (1500 views and 34 thumbs ups) 75-minute YouTube video will help. Watch with me.

  • 75-minute video on YouTube
  • Understand which communities in USGS are most likely to use NetCDF.
  • Understand if I’m likely to ever use NetCDF.

Level Up! Your coding skills: Unit Testing

I always nod my head when someone more knowledgeable about programming says that unit testing is necessary. I nod my head when they say it is an important element to consider in software reviews. But... What is unit testing? How do I do it? I hope to find out on March 17. You too?

Microsoft Power Automate and Power Apps

If you are in the Department of the Interior and just got migrated over to Microsoft Office tools, there are apps that are supposed to make our lives easier by automating tasks. Power Automate and Power Apps are two tools that I think I need to know more about, but haven't identified specific learning resources yet. But if you are intrigued by the potential of saving time and energy with these tools, please sign up to join me


After a bit too much searching, I have settled on the following page for learning about Power Automate:
It is 1 hr and 8 min which is probably over my attention span, but I will try to get it done over the next two weeks and report back if it is useful. I think this may be useful for the CDI proposal submission process and other repetitive CDI actions. At this point I am a bit beat down on learning new things, haha, but I'll give it a shot. Please join me. Comments welcome here.

Sign up for Group Learning Here!

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  1. Week 1: Introduction Unit Testing Webinar

    I watched the Unit Testing Webinar "live" today and loved it.

    1. The hosts unpacked the what, why, and how of unit testing
    2. I had zero understanding of the mechanics of unit testing before the webinar, but now know that one way to do it is with the python package, a test program file, and running pytest to get a list of "passed" and "failed" tests in the terminal. (Being able to visualize what exactly happens helps my understanding a lot. See image 1.)
    3. I learned that there are ways to evaluate the "coverage" of your testing to see how much of the code is tested, but not to trust that number too much.
    4. I learned that unit testing can help with writing more modular code, which I have problems with.
    5. The hosts gave additional resources for us to learn more. See image 2.

    When ready, the recording will be posted here, on the CSDMS webinars page.

    Wondering what others found most useful from the webinar? Feel free to reply here!

  2. I enjoyed the different 'use cases' of unit testing at various career levels: I thought that was a unique approach to describing the benefits. I also enjoyed the short, practical example of running unit tests.

    Phone audio wasn't working for me for the first 5 minutes or so, but I don't think I missed much and can watch that portion of the recording when it's available.

  3. Week 2: NetCDF Why and How

    Hi all. Well, I watched the NetCDF video, and trust me, I would've prioritized something else if I hadn't promised you that I'd watch it. I give the video a thumbs up because:

    1. the presenters explicitly showed how to create, open, display CF-compliant NetCDF files using command line utilities and python.
    2. I feel confident that if someone gave me a bunch of GeoTiff files and told me to make a CF-compliant NetCDF file, I could figure it out with these resources.
    3. I saw how easy it was to open a NetCDF file in Panoply.
    4. I was reminded that people who work in fixed-width fonts have a quirky sense of humor (utility ncks = netCDF Kitchen Sink).
    5. I know why the time data might look like 0.5, 1.5… if in day units (that corresponds to noon of the day).
    6. I learned that you only need a handful of python packages are needed, including netcdf4.
    7. I saw how long a compliant netCDF header could be (could fit on one screen).
    8. NetCDF is less scary than before and I can envision an actual example. Thank you NASA EarthData. I recommend this video to anyone who wants a basic understanding of NetCDF.
    9. Link to webinar, slides, tutorials, and demonstration data:

    Did others find this video enlightening as well?

  4. Unknown User (

    Hi everyone, for this week's Usability Resource Reviews, if you have any questions or feedback about the usability topics and resources that I have covered so far (including all the posts from January and March), please post your comments here or feel welcome to get in touch directly. I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss how usability can help you with your work. Thanks!

  5. Week 3: Usability Resource Reviews

    Once again - group learning completed here this week only because of peer pressure. Resource reviews posted here.

    Anyone else have thoughts on how to apply these concepts to your own work? 

    Sophie did a great job summarizing the resources and assuring me that they would take a short time to read on the wiki pages.

    My highlights:

    When should I conduct usability testing for a product? (2 min)

    1.  look at competitor’s products and put them through usability tests too
    2. Need to plan to use the results! You need time to conduct the tests, time to analyze the results, and time to put the findings into useful practice.

    Guerrilla usability testing: How to introduce it in your next UX project (less than 10 min!)

    1. Users not recruited in advance but just approached in places. Maybe at CDI-related workshops? Or at a call??
    2. Write a test plan - where improvements can be made
    3. Keep it simple
    4. Tip: people tend to be friendlier on Fridays, and if there is free food!

    Sharing ownership of UX

    1.  As Sophie predicted in her summary, my initial thought was "what?! I and no one I am working with are trained in any of these things (Product Management, UX Design, Engineering), blah!" (flips table) (That thought is untrue, but that was my reaction). I found it to be a better theoretical read, but I came up with an action point below.

    Three ways to apply these concepts to CDI products/ideas:

    1. Look at a bunch of center and organization websites and find things I like and dislike, in order to inform the design of (Luckily Amanda Liford and Grace Donovan are helping with this.)
    2. Try guerrilla usability testing at a CDI call, maybe at a usability community of practice call: find a simple thing to test and ask a simple question about it.
    3. Try to be more tolerant and open to learning about product management, UX design, and engineering. Try to introduce this concept of balance between the three elements to CDI projects where it is relevant.
    1. Unknown User (

      Hi Leslie, 

      Thank you for sharing your highlights from reading the resource reviews. A few thoughts from me:

      • Comparative analysis (i.e. looking at competitor's products and putting them through usability testing) is actually one of my go-to usability techniques. I always get a lot of great lessons learned that I can share with my project teams to help us accelerate our own usability activities. It is important to note though that it is helpful to identify what products are considered to be "competitors" and why. This way, the test results can be analyzed and integrated appropriately with our own projects.
      • For the guerrilla usability testing, CDI related workshops and calls are definitely great opportunities. Additionally, as you have also mentioned, identifying potential usability challenges and developing testing plan as part of the project development process can help the project teams in being ready for impromptu testing opportunities. 
      • In terms of sharing ownership of UX, you are right that not all teams will have the exact same three roles (i.e. Product Management, UX Design, Engineering) that are discussed in the resource. However, regardless of the roles/job titles, for creating/fostering user-centered project environment, it is productive if the team members can work together to discuss and determine the following three areas (as identified by the resource):
        • What's needed, and therefore, valuable
        • What's usable, useful, and desirable
        • What's possible and what's not

      The three ways that you have identified to apply the resources to CDI products/ideas are great! If you need any additional input/would like to brainstorm some more, please feel welcome to let me know. I would be happy to help. - Sophie