The Dovetail #5: Updates from The Carpentries Workbench

Workbench Beta on Hold

This is the fifth post in a series that we are calling “The Dovetail.” In this series, we aim to keep members of The Carpentries community abreast of the current news for The Carpentries Workbench.

If you are interested in participating in discussions around The Carpentries Workbench, head over to our GitHub Discussions forum:


Workbench Beta Phase On Hold

The Workbench Beta phase is on Hold until after CarpentryCon, and it is likely that it will be on hold until mid-September. Over the last few weeks, like an unexpected late spring ice storm, situations unrelated to development of The Workbench both personal and professional (such as the departure of a good friend and colleague) have arisen, which forced me to stop pedaling and gently squeeze the brakes on this project so that the Dovetail does not turn into a fishtail.

What does this mean for the folks who have already signed up for the beta phase? It means that the schedule is delayed by a couple of months. This will give me enough time provide better documentation and coordination regarding The Beta Phase. In the end, the participants will end up with a better experience in working with their lessons than if I had rushed through with the Beta on the initial tentative schedule.

This is not a post that I am particularly excited about writing, especially since this project represents the vast majority of my work as Carpentries staff. That being said, I am proud to write this post because it embodies two of our core values: always learning, always acting openly, and championing people first. By setting aside the Beta Phase for a moment, I am able to focus more energy on preparing materials for the upcoming skillups I have for CarpentryCon. Moreover, this time will give me more opportunities to bolster The Workbench documentation so that the onramps are that much smoother. Ultimately, I am proud to write this post because I want to live in a world where it is okay to take a step back and move slowly when conditions change suddenly. While others like to release and iterate or move fast and break things, I prefer to slow down and make sure others can still see the light from my torch.

Upcoming Workbench Events

RStudio Conference (July 2022)

I will be giving a talk about The Workbench at the RStudio Conference entitled “Building Accessible Lessons with R and Friends” on Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 13:50 EST. The talk will be recorded and will be available for all after the conference concludes. In the talk I will highlight how we used our Core Values to design The Carpentries Workbench.

CarpentryCon (August 2022)

CarpentryCon is coming up at the beginning of August (so you should register to attend (its free!)) and there will be several opportunities to learn about The Workbench at the Skillup entitled: “Building Lessons with The Carpentries Workbench” lead by Toby Hodges and myself. Check out the times:

RSECon2022 (September 2022)

Toby Hodges and I will be leading a short workshop at The Conference for Research Software Engineering entitled “Collaborative Lesson Development with The Carpentries Workbench” where we will go over the principles of lesson development and how to use The Workbench to employ those principles.

Updates to The Carpentries Workbench

Since 2022-07-06,

  • {sandpaper} version 0.7.1 -> 0.9.0
    • Automated Pull Request comments are now more informative and have been set up to provide an automated check on unknown PRs so that the maintainer knows if they can safely build the pull request previews.
    • set_config() gains the option create to create new variables in config.yaml if they do not exist
  • {varnish} version 0.2.0 -> 0.2.2
    • A bug in tablet/mobile view where extra pages were not listed in the menu was fixed.
    • The formatting of list elements in solutions and instructor notes have been fixed.
  • {pegboard} (no updates)

To update your local Workbench installation, open R and use the following code:

# Enable repository from carpentries
options(repos = c(
  ropensci = '',
  CRAN = ''))
# Download and install sandpaper in R
install.packages(c('tinkr', 'pegboard', 'sandpaper', 'varnish'))

Upcoming and Current Lessons in Workbench Beta

List of Lessons to enter Workbench Beta in 2022

Official Lessons

Tentative schedule for official lessons


Community Lessons


Tips and Tricks for Using The Workbench

Stay Tuned for CarpentryCon!

Dialogue & Discussion

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