Introducing Stencila and Nokome Bentley

Jul 22, 2016

This week Coko is hosting Stencila founder Nokome Bentley in San Francisco for a week. We are excited about Nokome’s innovative ideas around the production of data-driven documents for scientific research and publishing. Stencila, at its heart, is an open source platform for creating smart, living, documents. Today, most researchers use tools like Excel to summarise data sets and copy and paste static images into Word documents to send to publishers. This is fallible for many reasons, but perhaps the most interesting is that the data and the processing of that data are not knowable from looking at the jpg in the word document. So auditing and building upon the results is difficult – the well-known problems of reproducibility that many are trying to solve. Stencila produces living documents where the tables and plots can be linked to living data sets. This means that the results can be validated and any changes to the data are immediately represented in the research article. Stencila differs from other solutions to reproducible documents in providing interfaces for different types of users. Those who are used to working within visual interfaces can leverage the power of established open source languages like R and Python, and emerging languages like Julia. The more technically inclined can develop within their preferred code interface (eg Atom, Emacs) and still collaborate with the visual interface users on the same document. Additionally, Stencila can be used to create a diverse range of document types. It can be used to create computational notebooks, research articles, or sophisticated interactive documents. This opens the door to considerable innovation around how we generate and present content based on data. Nokome has developed the full stack for solving these problems from file formats through to beautiful production environments. This ecosystem is also interoperable with existing platforms and file formats like Jupyter Notebooks and RMarkdown (this week RMakrdown support was added to Stencila!).

We are introducing Nokome to San Francisco people interested in what he is doing. If you would like to meet Nokome and learn more about Stencila and data-driven documents please email us! Be in quick, he is only here this week.