Go read this wonderful manifesto over at arXiv: Astronomical Software Wants To Be Free: A Manifesto by Weiner et al. The authors talk about some of the barriers to astronimical software development that are true in all scientific fields. The chief barrier they see is that there are no incentives (and are some real disincentives) for authors to release software and documentation to other users. The recommendations are great (modified here only to include all scientific fields):
- We should create an open central repository location at which authors can release software and
- Software release should be an integral and funded part of projects.
- Software release should become an integral part of the publication process.
- The barriers to publication of methods and descriptive papers should be lower.
- Programming, statistics and data analysis should be an integral part of the curriculum.
- There should be more opportunities to fund grass-roots software projects of use to the wider community.
- We should develop institutional support for science programs that attract and support talented scientists who generate software for public release.
The whole thing is a great read. Check it out!