AARNet and the ARDC Collaboration Brings BinderHub to Researchers

Australian researchers are creating flexible and shareable code repositories using BinderHub in the Australian Text Analytics Platform, and a national BinderHub service is in development, thanks to an ARDC and AARNet collaboration.
BinderHub logo

When the Australian Text Analytics Platform (ATAP) team was looking for a way to bring researchers and providers of data and text analytic tools together, BinderHub was seen as the best solution.

BinderHub allows researchers to create flexible and shareable code repositories, and enables reproducible research. However, it takes considerable technical skill to set up BinderHub, which prevents many researchers from using it.

Seeing the demand for BinderHub, AARNet laid the groundwork to set up BinderHub for ATAP. AARNet then reached out to the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud (Nectar) team to collaborate to get the first BinderHub installation up and running on Nectar. This began the mutually beneficial partnership between AARNet and the ARDC.  

Ben Foley, Applications and Training lead for ATAP (an ARDC co-investment project) at the University of Queensland said, “BinderHub is key to ATAP because it makes our text analytics tools more accessible to researchers. In 2022 we introduced over 400 researchers from multiple disciplines, including computer science, linguistics, social sciences and digital communication to using ATAP’s tools. This was possible because of the ease of access provided by BinderHub, enabled by the ARDC and AARNet. In the future, we aim to make ATAP a platform for collaboration, and BinderHub will be the key to that also.”

ATAP is used by Australian researchers to analyse, process and explore large collections of text, for example, Twitter data, and digitised historical records held in archives and libraries. It provides researchers with access to an ecosystem of data and code repositories, online workspaces, scripts, and training in text analytics.

An Ongoing Collaboration

The ARDC and AARNet are now working together to make BinderHub part of the new ARDC Community Data Lab, which is due to be released in mid-2023. The partnership builds on the groundwork done by AARNet, and issues are troubleshot collaboratively.

Ryan Fraser, Director, Digital Research at AARNet said, “AARNet is committed to developing and delivering technical solutions and infrastructure that meet the unique and specialised needs of researchers. Collaborating with the ARDC to develop a BinderHub service and build digital skills is a great example of this and together, we can deliver many benefits to the research community.”

Carmel Walsh, Director of eResearch Infrastructure and Services at the ARDC, “The collaboration has proved mutually beneficial, as both AARNet and the ARDC are looking at developing BinderHub services for the projects that they are supporting. In a time of skills shortage in the research ecosystem, this technical partnership has shown the benefit of shared knowledge and finding the opportunities to work across organisations to benefit the national research community.”

The 2 organisations are also working together to release BinderHub as a managed service for researchers later in 2023, to be hosted on the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud.  The national BinderHub service will provide access to BinderHub to all Australian researchers, in a similar way to the JupyterHub server that runs the ARDC’s Jupyter Notebook service, but with additional capabilities.

On BinderHub, users can run any computing environment for their research. For example, the BinderHub service can point to GitHub or pre-packaged containers of notebooks, software and data, and spin up that containerised environment. Software need not be restricted to the computing environment offered by a particular instance of JupyterHub. 

The new BinderHub service for Australian researchers will be launched in the second half of 2023.

Learn more about the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud and the Australian Text Analytics Platform (ATAP)

The ARDC is funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national digital research infrastructure for Australian researchers.