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Katacoda and RAPIDS 2018 | Katacoda Blog

On a bright summer morning in London, my phone springs to life with a new notification from the Dotmesh slack channel. Luke Marsden, the founder of Dotmesh, excitingly asking, “Can we use Katacoda to teach 150 people about Dotscience at our RAPIDS conference please?” Fortunately, this is where Katacoda excels, removing all the barriers and configuration nightmares associated with running a workshop, enabling people to focus on learning new skills instead of fighting with random dependencies not installing.

Dotmesh focuses on solving how to manage datasets and have been using Katacoda to demonstrate their platform, both on their site and at meetups. With Dotscience, they’ve created a compelling solution that uses the Dotmesh infrastructure to enable the data science community to have repeatable experiments with seamless integration into tooling such as Jupyter notebooks.

On the day, the RAPIDS conference was focused on starting the conversation about how to manage data and repeatable experiments within the data science community. The morning consisted of thought-provoking talks from both academia and commercial companies sharing their experiences and the problems they’ve faced around the goal of repeatability. The afternoon was dedicated to teaching how to make this a reality, providing people with hands-on training about how the technologies discussed including Docker, Git Version Control and Dotscience worked.

With a huge explosion from Mark, the afternoon workshops began. Luke begins by teaching people how to use Katacoda to deploy Dotscience, and the Dotscience Web UI and Jupyterhub. The room falls silent; the Dotmesh team run around checking that everyone was following. A somewhat nervous Luke looks on from the stage. After what must have seemed like a lifetime, but in reality a short 60 seconds, people start to look up and are eager for him to continue. Everything they needed was ready.

By using Katacoda, attendees were able to visit a dedicated landing page for the event and have everything they need already configured and setup directly via the browser without any signups, downloads or configuration required.

Luke and the Dotmesh team delivered a great session. Once they explained how Dotscience enabled repeatability, they set a challenge. Could attendees improve the algorithm provided within the Jupyter notebook? The best accuracy wins!

People jumped in, some working as teams, others speaking with Dotmesh to understand more about the product. Everyone was getting involved, no matter what device they had brought.

After an hour, it was time to dig deeper into the technology under the covers and explain the fundamentals of Docker. Luke stepped aside for a well-deserved rest and left it to Kai to take charge.

Kai took advantage of Katacoda’s existing materials, arranging them into a great story that followed on from what had already been discussed. Kai gave a quick overview of building containers, using Katacoda to explain what to look for and the critical aspects before handing it over to attendees to focus on the task at hand. The Katacoda materials gave additional context and details to guide everyone to complete the tasks, meaning no one had to be concerned about asking for help or becoming lost if they struggled. Those who completed could continue with additional scenarios, building more examples or understanding how tooling such as Docker Compose can help.

To finish the day, Kai introduced Git and how to start using version control. The previous talks had highlighted poor versioning patterns such as final.pdf, _finalv2.pdf, _finalreallythistime.pdf and indicated Git as a solution. By introducing Git, attendees could see the complete story, providing context and hands-on experience to the lessons discussed in the morning. Everyone went away having learned new skills, gaining confidence and understanding of new possibilities.

Catch up on the rest of the conference and conversation with the hashtag #rapids2018 and posts such as

You can complete the workshop materials using the Katacoda Docker and Git courses. Learn more about the Dotscience product at

If you are delivering workshops or training, either publically or internally at your company, speak to us about how we can help.