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How can developers help fight coronavir…

How can developers help fight coronavirus - continuation

17 Mar 2020

A new post "How Can Developers Help Fight Coronavirus?" appeared in the Fluent{C++} blog. We have a practical consideration on this subject, although it is not directly related to COVID-19. If programmers would like to do something useful in this regard, we recommend fostering the efforts in the general development of research libraries in the field of medicine, and related applications. At least, even if developers can't add new capabilities, they can work on the quality of these projects.


So here is the original article that caught my attention: How can developers help fight coronavirus? It is suggested that if someone knows software projects that are somehow related (directly or indirectly) to assisting patients with COVID-19, then volunteers can help in the development of these programs.

I must honestly say that I do not know such projects. However, if you want to do something useful, then you can pay attention simply to open projects related to medicine. It may not help specifically the fight against COVID-19, but the energy of willing programmers will find useful application.

In the view of this situation, I deduce the analogy of blood donation after mass accidents or terrorist attacks. People go in large numbers to donate blood. Not all this blood is useful or suitable for those who have suffered. But hospitals replenish supplies, which is useful in itself. This is the same with medical software. Let's just help different medical projects by investing in their code. In any case, it will be meaningful and over time will help to find new medicines, save more lives.

The peculiarity of such projects is that they are difficult to develop without being immersed in the subject area. For example, I have no idea how a research library can be developed by improving peptide research capabilities. I don't even know what these peptides are. However, you can make the world a better place, at least by fixing bugs and refactoring. Yes, a C++ programmer may not know what peptides are, but he knows that the following loops do not work correctly:

bool Peptide::operator==(Peptide& p) {
  for (i = 0, j = 0;
       i < this->stripped.length(), j < p.stripped.length();
       i++, j++) { 

This is not a made-up code fragment. This code is from the Trans-Proteomic Pipeline (TPP) library, meant to study proteins and their interactions in living organisms. I wrote about this and other similar errors in the article "Analysis of the Trans-Proteomic Pipeline (TPP) project".

As you can see, we programmers have some things to do. If you want to contribute, but are not a chemist / biologist who can write research algorithms, then you can make a contribution as a programmer. You can make refactoring, you can fix bugs, you can improve the GUI.

In order to search for errors, as one of the creators of PVS-Studio, I definitely suggest using this particular static code analyzer. With it, you can improve the code of projects in C, C++, C#, Java. In turn, our team is ready to support enthusiasts, help configure the analyzer, integrate it into the build process, and so on. Feel absolutely free to write to us.

Several options of free licensing are available. For example, if you plan to use PVS-Studio for an open project on GitHub, then you simply get a free license for a year and start working.

From my experience, there are definitely plenty of things to improve. Here is a couple of review articles, where we've touched upon the analysis of various libraries related to medicine.

Let's make the world a little better. I suggest sharing links to various medical projects, albeit not specifically related to COVID-19. You can do your bit in improvement of these programs.

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