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Digital Data Flow

DDF Connectathon FAQ


What are the goals of the DDF Connectathon?

Some key goals of the DDF Connectathon are:

- Development Revision Feedback: As different groups use the SDR and USDM to connect their solutions, we will get a better idea of what future functionality will be needed and how to get there. This feedback will be collected formally at the end of the event and given to our development teams to incorporate into the next revision of the standard, both the USDM and SDR.

- Stress Tested System: We want to gain a better understanding how the system behaves when multiple users are being engaged, and what enhancements need to be made to scale the solution in response to a growing community.

- Community Kickstart: Showing the solution while also demonstrating community engagement will prove an open-source model which can be sustainable and productive to all involved. As the first organized event for DDF, we want this to be a central place for organizations to learn more about the SDR and start to think of ways they can contribute and engage with others in the community for mutual benefit.

It is also encouraged that participants of the Connectathon leverage the event as a way to network and connect to others, in the non-technical sense, in order to lay the foundation of the DDF community moving forward.

What is the purpose of the Connectathon?

The overall aim of the DDF Connectathon is to improve the DDF Minimal Viable Solution (MVS) by implementing and testing it out through connections with different software solutions. We will then discover what works and what does not, and identify possible improvements to be made. The different Connectathon tracks focus on different areas. (See also "What are tracks?")

In addition, we want to:

- Create Community Engagement: Build up open-source community within the ecosystem and encourage future participation in long-term development/governance of the DDF solutions. Ideally, this creates positive momentum in the community, encouraging organizations to integrate DDF into product roadmaps as result of the event.

- Be a Catalyst for Innovation: As a gathering of developers across the clinical studies space, we should have a unique opportunity and environment for novel concepts and designs to be built and shared with the community.

What types of roles/resources are expected to participate in this event?

The focus of this event will be working hands on with your technical solution, and how it connects to the DDF SDR. This will require technical resources, capable of developing, debugging, and configuring your solution. However, there will be other responsibilities during the event such as presenting your solution and answering questions around future development. To deal with these business and process questions it may be beneficial to have business and process experts available from your organization to contribute.

Logistics and Registration

Will the event be in-person or virtual?

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the world right now, we cannot ensure an in-person event would be possible with enough time to plan it. Therefore, our event will take place entirely virtually through the Be My App platform. We will ensure communication and interactions are facilitated as seamlessly as possible in a virtual environment. If there are issues encountered during the event, we will work to resolve these issues quickly.

What should I bring to the event?

The event will take place fully virtual. No hardware or software is provided - so come prepared and bring everything you need to develop and present your solution to your track leads and the overall group.

What time zone will the event take place in?

TransCelerate headquarters and most of their staff are located on the American East Coast, and we will schedule all group calls to take place during Eastern Time working hours, from 9:00am - 5:00pm.

However, you may work on your project at the time most convenient to you and your team. Track leads will be distributed across the United States and Europe and may be able to meet outside of the event hours, however you must work with your assigned track leads to secure a time with them.

Where are the key online resources for the event?

The Connectathon makes use of the DDF online areas, that you will want to get familiar with:

DDF Website: The official TransCelerate DDF website offers a good overview on the resources available.

TransCelerate on GitHub: This is the place to start researching the more technical aspects and details of DDF.

How do I register for the event?

Registration will open on August 1st, through the following link.

What happens during the event?

During the event, the main focus lies on working in your tracks. In addition, there will be also some keynote speakers talking about interesting topics. More information will follow.


What are “tracks”?

These are the subject oriented work streams that divide up the different activities happening during the sessions. Participating teams will self-organize into event tracks, each with a dedicated track lead who will maintain the track objectives during the event, provide support for participating teams, and act as an evaluator on final project submissions. Connectathon tracks are the “working groups” that take on a specific part of DDF and examine it, write code for it and so on. There is a Track Lead who facilitates the tracks and sets goals for the track, which may be decided on the day or published in advance.

All the work at a Connectathon will happen in one of the tracks. At the end of the Connectathon, the tracks will share with the group stating what they have achieved. There may also be a short presentation back to the whole audience at some stage during the event.

See also "Track Leads".

Do I need to pick a track? In advance? How?

All Connectathon work takes place on a track, so you should choose one to take part in and contribute to. In theory you could just do your own work, but the idea is to collaborate and that happens on the tracks.

The list of tracks will be published on the DDF GitHub page (forthcoming) in the weeks leading up to the Connectathon. There is also likely to be forum discussion on GitHub (link forthcoming). Also see “What are the key online resources” (add link) below.

Find the list of tracks and chose one that you are interested in and can help out with. You don’t need to be an expert in that area, just willing to learn and be useful. The actual track registration is done via the pre-Connectathon survey that is circulated, but you can always get in touch with the Track Lead or just show up. Choosing a track does not commit you to staying with it for the entire event. While it is preferable to focus on one track, there is nothing to stop you from finding another that suits you better.

Can I choose more than one track?

It is possible to do more than one, but this needs some care. Tracks want to achieve as much as possible in a certain domain area. Usually, there is a lot more work possible than can be done in two days, so it is unlikely that the track will finish all its work, allowing everyone to do something else. Time goes by very quickly and with some inevitable time for re-work etc., it is hard to truly contribute to more than one track.

Does everyone in my organization need to do the same track?

No, not at all. Divide up your efforts as you wish.

What if I don’t succeed in finishing my track? Or what if I get stuck?

Most tracks have a group goal and individuals can take on a part of it or just try to do as much as they can. The goals are often purposefully not concrete to leave room for own interpretation. So, there is no hard success or failure, just useful work in that area. Some tracks may have a more detailed list of objectives (e.g. read a resource, update, write, and perform a search by two different methods). How much you achieve is up to you. There is no way to fail - other than to get less done than you had hoped - and it’s a good learning experience.

Other participants are there to help, informally. It is not an obligation to do so, but in the spirit of collaboration people most likely are open to helping out. But, it usually is up to you to fix your issue or work through your problems or switch to some other area. Getting a bit stuck is pretty normal! In case you have specific questions, you can reach out to your track lead.

See also "Track Leads".

Who are the track leads?

The track leads will be announced in due time prior to the event.

Preparation and Participation

How will individual participants work within the Connectathon's framework?

Participants will join tracks and work jointly with others to test out and improve DDF solution connectivity.

Each track will have certain aims it wants to achieve. For individuals, everyone will judge success themselves. It may be proving in a semi-formal manner that your software works with another vendor's software or adding a new enhancement to your working code. It may be testing a DDF resource that is relevant to you to help move it along in published maturity - which may be important for your stakeholders.

Do I have to come prepared, or can I start on the day?

Either is fine. People can take a look at a new area for them or they bring working software that they have been writing for months or years. It would however be helpful if you have an understanding of DDF’s overall objectives/goals and what you would like to work on at the Connectathon. The most important thing is to set your own goals for your code.

How should I prepare for the Connectathon?

You will get more out of it the more prepared you are. But you will learn things even if you are almost a complete novice. The learning curve is steeper for beginners, so you may learn a lot, or you may get stuck on things that a bit of self-study would help with. Connectathon’s are short (compared to all the time in the weeks before). Though it may not be optimal, it’s still fun and good to be doing it with some other newcomers.

Make sure to find the resources for the Connectathon (see “Key Resources”).

A pre-Connectathon webinar may be hosted with some key orientation facts in the days leading up to the event. This session will be recorded in case you cannot get to see it live.

Will I be taught about DDF?

Ideally, you should have some prior knowledge of DDF to maximize your Connectathon time. The aim of the Connectathon is to test out and improve the DDF solution, so it is good to have the knowledge to be able to contribute to that. But it is also about learning. Having related domain knowledge (health care informatics) is of course beneficial.

Do I have to write code?

The Connectathon is all about testing out the SDR specifications in actual use. That means coding, running and testing relevant applications. Writing software is key to this and is one of the main activities of the Connectathon. Coding is not mandatory but is usual and is encouraged. Some people bring existing code, and some start from scratch. But, there are also non-coding software integration tasks such as testing and configuration (and to a lesser extent analysis). People also contribute to DDF at Connectathon’s by spending time reviewing, learning and commenting - this is welcome and appreciated.

Will I be taught to code?

No, this is not a coding tutorial. There is nothing to stop you doing your own learning, but it is not realistic to start with zero coding experience and be able to contribute a lot to the Connectathon. Other participants will be happy to help, but it’s not a programming lesson.

How experienced with code should I be (I’m a code beginner / It’s been years since I coded, etc.)?

You will want to make progress with coding at the event and don’t want to spend too much time learning foundation skills such as basic coding. The Connectathon is all about trying things, learning and expanding your ideas. If you want to code, you should ideally not be a total beginner (but maybe you are a fast learner!). It is also OK to not code but to find other ways to contribute to the work.

Does it matter what tools, systems, languages I use?

You can use whatever tools and software frameworks you wish. The SDR can be implemented in many ways.

Will someone be checking or marking what has been produced during the Connectathon?

Your code will not be reviewed by someone. But the idea of this Connectathon is interoperability. So, it is expected that you will connect the output of your code to that of others and see what works. That is how you can test out your (and their) code. One of your main goals will be to check your code’s operation against other systems.

Do I get a certificate?

No, there is no formal certification or accreditation. Some tracks have a way to informally record what you achieved (“Solution can successfully import and export additional data manually”). There is no formal verification.

Can I demo my software?

Please don’t use this forum to do this. The Connectathon is a TransCelerate hosted event and not a product demo. People may be interested in your product, but that is for outside of the Connectathon. Doing project demonstrations not necessary to facilitate the Connectathon work, or sale pitches are not welcomed. However, your great product will speak for itself, if it takes part in successful connection tracks!

Also, if you want more visibility for your product, consider becoming a keynote speaker for the event. You can reach out to us here.