Curators Guide

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: guidelines for bio.tools curators, including EDAM annotation guidelines. Please provide comments via GitHub

bio.tools includes all types of bioinformatics tools - application software with well-defined data processing functions (inputs, outputs and operations). This ranges from simple tools with a single primary function, to complex, multimodal tools with many disinct functions. Tools may be available for immediate use as online services, or in a form which a user can download, install, configure and run themselves.

Each bio.tools entry describes a discrete tool. The scope, i.e. the types of tools that may be included, and the attributes for their description, are defined in biotoolsSchema.

Guidelines below include:

Individual attribute guidelines are organised as follows:

  • Automatically verified guidelines are checked as part of automated QC performed periodically by the bio.tools system
  • Manually verified guidelines are checked as part of manual QC performed by trusted curators (bio.tools admin, entry owners etc.)
  • Advice given in boxes (notes, tips, caution etc. are not verified

The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 as follows:

  • “MUST”, “REQUIRED” or “SHALL” mean that the guideline is an absolute requirement of the specification.
  • “MUST NOT” or “SHALL NOT” mean that the guideline is an absolute prohibition of the specification.
  • “SHOULD” or “RECOMMENDED” mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular guideline, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before doing so.
  • “SHOULD NOT” or the phrase “NOT RECOMMENDED” mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when acting contrary to the geuideline is acceptable or even useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before doing so.
  • “MAY or “OPTIONAL” mean that the guideline is truly optional; you can choose to follow it or not.

Note

  • the guidelines are a key component of an emerging information standard for tools being adopted by bio.tools. Conformance to this standard (including passing automated and manual QC checks) will, in the future, be labelled within bio.tools.
  • for curation advice or to make suggestions about these guidelines please add comments via GitHub or mail registry-support directly.

General guidelines

Before you start

Consider the following before creating a bio.tools entry:

  1. Are one or more entries required to describe the software?

    If in doubt, mail registry-support.

  2. What tool types apply?

    • one or more types may be assigned in a single entry reflecting different facets of the software that are described in that entry.
    • read the tool type-specific guidelines.
  3. What if the software is already registered?

    • if you’re the rightful owner of the entry (i.e. the tool developer or provider of an online service) then request ownership of it
    • otherwise, request edit rights

    Make these requests using the buttons at the bottom of the Tool Card). If you plan to register multiple entries en masse, please discuss this first with bio.tools admin.

  4. Are there version-specific considerations?

    • as a rule, a bio.tools entry describes the latest version available at the time of registration and is updated, as required, for subsequent releases.
    • in exceptional circumstances, a new version with fundamental functional differences (operations, inputs and outputs) and can be registered as an entirely new entry. In such cases, follow carefully the guidelines for tool name and version annotations.
  5. Plan how to describe the tool functions in detail (see below)

  6. Read the general EDAM annotations guidelines (see below) before starting.

Attention

The current version of bio.tools allows version specification via a discrete component in the Tool Card URL (e.g. https://bio.tools/SignalP/version/4.1). Version specification will be dropped in the next release (e.g.. https://dev.bio.tools/SignalP), however, it will still be possible to specify the version of a tool that is being described.

Tool functions

bio.tools uses a model of software (see below) defined within biotoolsSchema. A tool can have one or more basic functions (modes of operation), each function performing one or more specific operation (e.g.”Sequence alignment”), each of which may have one or more primary inputs and outputs, each of a defined type of data and listing supported format(s).

_images/tool_function.PNG

Plan how how to describe the software:

  • identify the distinct functions (modes of operation) and the individual operations associated with each one. For well documented tools this is usually obvious. If in any doubt mail registry-support.
  • as a general rule, if the tool allows an option between doing one thing or another, then annotate these as distinct functions. If in contrast a tool always does one or more things, then annotate these as distinct operations within a single function
  • bio.tools aims for fairly coarse-grained description, i.e. specify the primary functions and operations, from a typical end-user perspective; if in doubt mail registry-support
  • this holds for input and output too, e.g. a sequence alignment tool would be annotated as reading sequences (input), and writing a sequence alignment (output), but not with gap insertion and extension penalties, or other parameters.

EDAM annotations

The EDAM ontology is used to annotate applicable topics, operations, and the type and format of inputs and outputs. The general guidelines below apply for all EDAM annotations.

Automatically verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST NOT use both a term and it’s parent or other ancestor, when annotating a single attribute
  • 2. MUST NOT use “organisational” EDAM concepts e.g. Topic of “Topic” or Operation of “Operation” (see note below)
  • 3. SHOULD use the most specific term(s) available, bearing in mind some concepts are necessarily overlapping or general. If multiple sibling terms are applicable (i.e. terms under a common parent), the parent term may be applicable.

Tip

If you’re struggling to find the terms you need, or the meaning of a term is not obvious, search EDAM using the browsers below (they have different functionalities). Multiple searches using synonyms, alternative spellings etc. can help.

If you cannot find the right term, request it’s added to EDAM via GitHub but first read the guidelines on how to request a term.

Note

It currently takes some time from requesting new EDAM terms for these to be supported in bio.tools. In future, you’ll be able to request terms directly via the bio.tools registration interface and these terms will become immediately available for use, albeit subject to approval and possible change before inclusion in EDAM and bio.tools.

Note

Some high-level “organisational” concepts defined in EDAM are intended primarily to structure the hierarchy, and are not intended for annotation in bio.tools. THey are defined in EDAM.owl via <uiTip>Not recommended for annotation in bio.tools.</uiTip>

Attribute guidelines

Summary group

Name

Canonical software name assigned by the software developer or service provider

e.g. “SignalP”

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. SHOULD use the name in common use, i.e. in the tool homepage and publication.
  • 2. SHOULD use the short form of the name e.g. ExPASy not ExPASy Bioinformatics Resource Portal.
  • 3. MUST preserve capitalisation e.g. ExPASy not expasy.
  • 4. MUST NOT include general or technical terms such as “software”, “application”, “server”, “service”, “SOAP”, “REST”, “RESTful” etc. unless these are part of the common name
  • 5. MUST NOT misappropriate the names of other tools, e.g. there are many online BLAST services besides the original NCBI BLAST tool; calling any of them “BLAST” would be wrong
  • 6. SHOULD NOT include version information unless this is part of the name in common use in the tool homepage and publication.
  • 7. SHOULD follow the naming patterns (see below) where original tools are re-used

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • the name has a 100 character limit and may only contain uppercase and lowercase letters, decimal digits, spaces, periods, commas, dashes, colons, plus symbols, semicolons and parentheses.
  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Note

Naming pattern

  • for database portals use the pattern:

    name (acronym) e.g. The Protein Databank (PDB)

  • a common abbreviation can be given instead of an acronym: if no common acronym or abbreviation exists, omit this part (do not invent one!)

Note

Naming pattern

  • for tools that simply wrap or provide an interface to some other tool, including Web APIs (REST), Web services (SOAP+WSDL), and web applications over command-line tools, use the pattern:

    {collectionName} toolName {API|WS}{( providerName)} e.g. EMBOSS water API (ebi)

where:

  • collectionName is the name of suite, workbench or other collection the underlying tool is from (if applicable)
  • toolName is the canonical name of the underlying tool
  • use API for Web APIs or WS for Web services
  • providerName is the name of the institute providing the online service (if applicable)

In exceptional cases (i.e. when registering, as separate entries, versions of a tool which have distrinct functionality), substitute for toolName in the pattern above:

toolname versionID e.g. FindPeaks 3.1.

where versionID is the version number.

Tip

  • in case of mulitple related entries be consistent, e.g. Open PHACTS and Open PHACTS API
  • be wary of names that are very long (>25 characters). If shortening the name is necessary, don’t truncate it in a way (e.g. within the middle of a word) that would render it meaningless or unintuitive

ID

Unique ID of the tool that is assigned upon registration of the software in bio.tools

e.g. signalp

Attention

  • the ID is set (and can only be changed) by bio.tools admin: if you’re not a bio.tools admin you can ignore this section

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • the ID is used in the Tool Card URLs, e.g. https://bio.tools/signalp
  • the ID is a URL-safe derivative of (often identical to) the tool name restricted to 12 characters maximum. Unreserved characters (uppercase and lowercase letters, decimal digits, hyphen, period, underscore, and tilde) are allowed. All other characters including reserved characters and other characters deemed unsafe are not allowed. Spaces are preserved as underscore (“_”).
  • the 12 char limit is not currently enforced by bio.tools and will be increased in the next release of biotoolsSchema.

Important

Transforming name to toolID (bio.tools admin only)

  • the ID should be clean and intuitive: where possible, simply use the default (a URL-safe version of the tool name)
  • do not truncate the name (in the middle of a word, or at all) if this renders the ID ugly or meaningless
  • replace ‘ ‘ (spaces) in the name with underscores (a single underscore in case of multiple spaces)
  • preserve all reserved characters (uppercase and lowercase letters, decimal digits, hyphen, period, underscore, and tilde), but remove other characters
  • use ‘_’ to delimit parts of names but only if these are not already truncated in the original name
  • for Web APIs and Web services, follow the patterns for tool name above, e.g. EMBOSS_water_API_ebi

Version

Version (typically a version number) of the software assigned by the software developer or service provider.

e.g. 4.1

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST specify exactly the public version label in common use
  • 2. MUST correctly identify the tool version as described by the other attributes (see box below)
  • 3. MUST NOT include tokens such as “v”, “ver”, “version”, “rel”, “release” etc., unless these are part of the public version label
  • 4. MAY specify a version for database portals and web applications, but only if this is used in the common name

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • the version has a 100 character limit and may only contain uppercase and lowercase letters, decimal digits, period, comma, dash, colon, plus symbol, semicolon and parentheses.
  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Important

Care is needed to ensure annotations correspond to the indicated tool version.
  • only change the version if you’re sure there’s no fundamental change to the specified tool functions (operations, inputs and outputs)
  • if there are fundamental changes, update the tool function annotation

Caution

  • do not assume version “1” in case the version number is not readily findable

Description

Short and concise textual description of the software function

e.g. “Prediction of the presence and location of signal peptide cleavage sites in amino acid sequences from different organisms.”

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. SHOULD use declarative sentences (ideally a single sentence!) in the present tense
  • 2. SHOULD only provide a terse statement of the tool function: what is done not how: this can include the primary operation(s) and possibly the types of primary input and output data
  • 3. MUST NOT include any of the following:
    • technical terms describing the type (e.g. “command-line tool”) of software
    • details about the software provider e.g. institute or person name
    • statements about how good the software is (although mentions of applicability are OK)

Automatically verified guidelines

  • 4. MUST begin with a capital letter and end with a period (‘.’)
  • 5. MUST NOT include URLs
  • 6. SHOULD NOT include tool name

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • description is minimum 10 and maximum 1000 characters.
  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Homepage

Homepage of the software, or some URL that best serves this purpose

e.g. http://cbs.dtu.dk/services/SignalP/

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

A valid URL is specified.

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. SHOULD resolve to a web page of information specific to the software
  • 2. MUST NOT be a general URL such as an institutional homepage, unless nothing better is available

Tip

In case a tool lacks it’s own website, URL of it’s code repository is OK

Collection

Unique ID of a collection that the software has been assigned to within bio.tools.

e.g. CBS

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • the ID is a URL-safe name restricted to 12 characters maximum. Unreserved characters (uppercase and lowercase letters, decimal digits, hyphen, period, underscore, and tilde) are allowed. All other characters including reserved characters and other characters deemed unsafe are not allowed.
  • the 12 char limit is not currently enforced by bio.tools and will be increased in the next release of biotoolsSchema.

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. SHOUD be short and intuitive

Tip

  • collections may be created for for any arbitrary purpose
  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In the meantime, collections may be used to group together related entries.

Function group

Operation

The basic operation(s) performed by the software

e.g. ‘Protein signal peptide detection’ (http://edamontology.org/operation_0418)

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST correctly specify operations performed by the tool, or (if version) is indicated, that specific version of the tool
  • 2. MUST be correctly organised into multiple functions, in case the tool has multiple modes of operation (see guidelines for tool functions).
  • 3. SHOULD describe all the primary operations performed by that tool and SHOULD NOT describe secondary / minor operations: if in any doubt, mail registry-support.

Attention

see the general guidelines for EDAM annotations)

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

Data type (input and output data)

Type of primary input / output data (if any)

e.g. ‘Sequence’ (http://edamontology.org/data_2044)

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST correctly specify types of input or output data processed by the tool, or (if version) is indicated, that specific version of the tool
  • 2. MUST be correctly associated with the operation(s); for each function in case the tool has multiple modes of operation (see guidelines for tool functions).
  • 3. SHOULD describe all the primary inputs and outputs of the tool and SHOULD NOT describe secondary / minor inputs and outputs: if in any doubt, mail registry-support.

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

Data format (input and output data)

Allowed format(s) of primary inputs/outputs

e.g. ‘FASTA’ (http://edamontology.org/format_1929)

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST correctly specify data formats supported on input or output by the tool, or (if version) is indicated, that specific version of the tool
  • 2. MUST be correctly associated with the data type of an input or output (see guidelines for tool functions).
  • 3. SHOULD describe the primary data formats and MAY exhaustively describe all formats: if in any doubt, mail registry-support.

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

Tip

  • many tools allow a primary input to be specified in a number of alternative ways, the common case being a sequence input that may be specified via a sequence identifier, or by typing in a literal sequence. In such cases, annotate the input using the EDAM Data concept for the type of data, not the identifier.

Comment

Concise comment about this function, if not apparent from the software description and EDAM annotations.

e.g. This option is slower, but more precise.

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST not duplicate what is already apparent from the EDAM annotations
  • 2. SHOULD concisely summarise only critical usage information
  • 3. SHOULD NOT duplicate online documentation; give a link if necessary

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Labels group

Tool type

The type of application software: a discrete software entity can have more than one type

e.g. Command-line tool, Web application,

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. MUST assign all types (see below) that are applicable

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Type Description
Command-line tool A tool with a text-based (command-line) interface.
Database portal A Web application, suite or workbench providing a portal to a biological database.
Desktop application A tool with a graphical user interface that runs on your desktop environment, e.g. on a PC or mobile device.
Library A collection of components that are used to construct other tools. bio.tools scope includes component libraries performing high-level bioinformatics functions but excludes lower-level programming libraries.
Ontology A collection of information about concepts, including terms, synonyms, descriptions etc.
Plug-in A software component encapsulating a set of related functions, which are not standalone, i.e. depend upon other software for its use, e.g. a Javascript widget, or a plug-in, extension add-on etc. that extends the function of some existing tool.
Script A tool written for some run-time environment (e.g. other applications or an OS shell) that automates the execution of tasks. Often a small program written in a general-purpose languages (e.g. Perl, Python) or some domain-specific languages (e.g. sed).
SPARQL endpoint A service that provides queries over an RDF knowledge base via the SPARQL query language and protocol, and returns results via HTTP.
Suite A collection of tools which are bundled together into a convenient toolkit. Such tools typically share related functionality, a common user interface and can exchange data conveniently. This includes collections of stand-alone command-line tools, or Web applications within a common portal.
Web application A tool with a graphical user interface that runs in your Web browser.
Web API An application programming interface (API) consisting of endpoints to a request-response message system accessible via HTTP. Includes everything from simple data-access URLs to RESTful APIs.
Web service An API described in a machine readable form (typically WSDL) providing programmatic access via SOAP over HTTP.
Workbench An application or suite with a graphical user interface, providing an integrated environment for data analysis which includes or may be extended with any number of functions or tools. Includes workflow systems, platforms, frameworks etc.
Workflow A set of tools which have been composed together into a pipeline of some sort. Such tools are (typically) standalone, but are composed for convenience, for instance for batch execution via some workflow engine or script.

Note

bio.tools includes all types of bioinformatics tools: application software with well-defined data processing functions (inputs, outputs and operations). When registering a tool, one or more tool types may be assigned, reflecting the different facets of the software being described.

Tip

In cases where a given software is described by more than one entry (e.g. a web application and its API are described separately) then assign only the types that are applicable

Topic

General scientific domain the software serves or other general category

e.g. ‘Protein sites, features and motifs’ (http://edamontology.org/topic_3510)

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

Operating system

The operating system supported by a downloadable software package.

e.g. Linux

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Language

Name of programming language the software source code was written in.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Maturity

How mature the software product is.

e.g. Mature

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
  • assign the tag (see below) that is most applicable; if you are not sure, then do not complete this field
Maturity Description
Emerging Nascent or early release software that may not yet be fully featured or stable.
Mature Software that is generally considered to fulfill several of the following: secure, reliable, actively maintained, fully featured, proven in production environments, has an active community, and is described or cited in the scientific literature.
Legacy Software which is no longer in common use, deprecated by the provider, superseded by other software, replaced by a newer version, is obsolete etc.

License

Software or data usage license.

e.g. CBS License

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
  • valid types are defined in biotoolsSchema : assign the one that applies
  • use ‘Proprietary’ in case where some license (not defined in biotoolsSchema) exists and must be obtained from the provider before the software can be downloaded, used, owned etc.
  • use ‘Other’ in all other cases where a license exists but is not defined in biotoolsSchema (and consider requesting it’s addition via GitHub)

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

Most permisible values are identifiers from the SPDX license list (https://spdx.org/licenses/). In future, based on the specified license a label (e.g. “Open-source”) may be attached to the bio.tools entry (see table below)

Labelling based on license (future work)
License Description
Open-source Software is made available under a license approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The software is distributed in a way that satisfies the 10 criteria of the Open Source Definition maintained by OSI (see https://opensource.org/docs/osd). The source code is available to others.
Free software Free as in ‘freedom’ not necessarily free of charge. Software is made available under a license approved by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The software satisfies the criteria of the Free Software Definition maintained by FSF (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html). The source code is available to others.
Free and open source Software is made available under a license approved by both the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and satisfies the criteria of the OSI Open Source Definition maintained (https://opensource.org/docs/osd) and the FSF Free Software Definition (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html). Such software ensures users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. The source code is available to others.
Copyleft Software is made available under a license designated as ‘copyleft’ by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The license ensures such software is free and that all modified and extended versions of the program are free as well. Free as in ‘freedom’ not necessarily free of charge, as per the Free Software Definition maintained by FSF (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html).

Cost

Monetary cost of acquiring the software.

e.g. Free of charge (with retritions)

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
  • apply the tag (see below) that is applicable
Cost Description
Free of charge Software which available for use by all, with full functionality, at no monetary cost to the user.
Free of charge (with restrictions) Software which is available for use at no monetary cost to the user, but possibly with limited functionality, usage restrictions, or other limitations.
Commercial Software which you have to pay to access.

Accessibility

Whether the software is freely available for use.

e.g. Open access

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
  • apply the tag (see below) that is applicable
Accessibility Description
Open access An online service which is available for use to all, but possibly requiring user accounts / authentication.
Restricted access An online service which is available for use to a restricted audience, e.g. members of a specific institute.
Proprietary Software for which the software’s publisher or another person retains intellectual property rights usually copyright of the source code, but sometimes patent rights.
Freeware Proprietary software that is available for use at no monetary cost. In other words, freeware may be used without payment but may usually not be modified, re-distributed or reverse-engineered without the author’s permission.

Contact group

Details of primary point(s) of contact, e.g. person, helpdesk or mailing list.

  • this is the first port-of-call when seeking help with the software
  • ‘Name’ must be specified along with one or both of ‘Email’ and ‘URL’ (see below)
  • in general, a URL is preferable to an email

Name

Name of the primary contact.

e.g. Henrik Nielsen

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.
  • this is the name of the thing for which an email and/or URL is specified
  • specify a name of a person, or something like “Mailing list”, “Helpdesk” etc. as appropriate

Email

Email address of the primary contact.

e.g. hnielsen@cbs.dtu.dk

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.
  • only give an email if it already publicly advertised as a contact point for the software, e.g. on a webpage or in a publication

Note

A syntactically email address (e.g. hnielsen@cbs.dtu.dk) must be specified however this will be rendered in bio.tools UI in a spam-resilient form (*e.g. hnielsen at cbs.dtu.dk)

URL

URL of the primary contact.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo
  • the URL must resolve to a page of contact information

Telephone number

Telephone number of primary contact.

e.g. +49-89-636-48018

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.
  • only give a telephone number if this is already publicly available

Download group

A link to a download for the software, e.g. source code, virtual machine image or container.

URL

Link to download (or repo providing a download) for the software.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo
  • the URL must resolve to an appropriate download

Comment

Comment about the download

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Download type

Type of download that is linked to.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Download type Description
API specification File providing an API specification for the software, e.g. Swagger/OpenAPI, WSDL or RAML file.
Biological data Biological data, or a web page on a database portal where such data may be downloaded.
Binaries Binaries for the software.
Binary package Binary package for the software.
Command-line specification File providing a command line specification for the software.
Container file Container file including the software.
CWL file Common Workflow Language (CWL) file for the software.
Icon Icon of the software.
Ontology A file containing an ontology, controlled vocabulary, terminology etc.
Screenshot Screenshot of the software.
Source code Software source code.
Source package Source package (of various types) for the software.
Test data Data for testing the software is working correctly.
Test script Script used for testing testing whether the software is working correctly.
Tool wrapper (galaxy) Galaxy tool configuration file (wrapper) for the software.
Tool wrapper (taverna) Taverna configuration file for the software.
Tool wrapper (other) Workbench configuration file (other than taverna, galaxy or CWL wrapper) for the software.
VM image Virtual machine (VM) image for the software.

Documentation group

A link to documentation about the software e.g. manual, API specification or training material.

URL

Link to documentation on the web for the tool.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo
  • the URL must resolve to a page of documentation

Comment

Comment about the documentation.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

Documentation type

Type of documentation that is linked to.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Documentation type Description
API documentation Human-readable API documentation.
Citation instructions Information on how to correctly cite use of the software.
General General documentation.
Manual Information on how to use the software.
Terms of use Rules that one must agree to abide by in order to use a service.
Training material Online training material such as text on a Web page, a presentation, video, tutorial etc.
Other Some other type of documentation not listed in biotoolsSchema.

Publications group

Publications about the software

  • the specified ID should resolve to a valid publication

Note

We are considering broadening the scope of what qualifies as a valid publication to include formal documents available via URL, such things as online manuals. Obviously care is needed here to avoid misuse.

PubMed Central ID

PubMed Central Identifier (PMCID) of a publication about the software.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

PubMed ID

PubMed Identifier (PMID) of a publication about the software.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Digital Object ID

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of a publication about the software.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Publication type

Type of publication.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Download type Description
Primary The principal publication about the software itself; the article to cite when acknowledging use of the software.
Benchmark A publication which assessed the performance of the software.
Review A publication where the software was reviewed.
Other A publication about the software but not the primary publication or a benchmark study.

Credits group

An individual or organisation that should be credited for the software.

GRID ID

Unique identifier (GRID ID) of an organisation that is credited.

e.g. grid.5170.3

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Note

Global Research Identifier Database (GRID) IDs provide a persistent reference to information on research organisations, see https://www.grid.ac/.

ORCID ID

Unique identifier (ORCID iD) of a person that is credited.

e.g. http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1825-0097

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo

Note

Open Researcher and Contributor IDs (ORCID IDs) provide a persistent reference to information on a researcher, see http://orcid.org/.

Name

Name of the entity that is credited.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.
  • do not give a redirect, e.g. “See publication” or any other information than the name of the entity that is credited.

Email

Email address of the entity that is credited.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.

URL

URL for the entity that is credited, e.g. homepage of an institute.

e.g. ****

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • todo
  • the URL must resolve to an appropriate page

Entity type

Type of entity that is credited.

e.g. Person

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Entity type Description
Person Credit of an individual.
Project Credit of a community software project not formally associated with any single institute.
Division Credit of or a formal part of an institutional organisation, e.g. a department, research group, team, etc
Institute Credit of an organisation such as a university, hospital, research institute, service center, unit etc.
Consortium Credit of an association of two or more institutes or other legal entities which have joined forces for some common purpose. Includes Research Infrastructures (RIs) such as ELIXIR, parts of an RI such as an ELIXIR node etc.
Funding agency Credit of a legal entity providing funding for development of the software or provision of an online service.

Role

Role performed by entity that is credited.

e.g. Developer

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • one or more terms from a controlled vocabulary (see below)
Role Description
Developer Author of the original software source code.
Maintainer Maintainer of a mature software providing packaging, patching, distribution etc.
Provider Institutional provider of an online service.
Documentor Author of software documentation including making edits to a bio.tools entry.
Contributor Some other role in software production or service delivery including design, deployment, system administration, evaluation, testing, documentation, training, user support etc.
Support Provider of support in using the software.
  • specify all the roles that are applicable

Note

The current version of biotoolsSchema and bio.tools only supports one “role” assignation per credit; this will be changed to support multiple asignations (see https://github.com/bio-tools/biotoolsSchema/issues/80)

Comment

A comment about the credit.

e.g. Wrote the user manual.

Manually verified guidelines

  • 1. todo

Note

biotoolsSchema syntax

  • line feeds, carriage returns, tabs, leading and trailing spaces, and multiple spaces are not allowed / will be removed.
  • use this to elaborate on the contribution of the credited entity.

Attention

do not merely duplicate information that is, or can, be provided via the role attribute, i.e. do not specify only “Developer”, “Support” etc.

Tool type guidelines

Command-line tool

A tool with a text-based (command-line) interface.

Database portal

A Web application, suite or workbench providing a portal to a biological database.

Desktop application

A tool with a graphical user interface that runs on your desktop environment, e.g. on a PC or mobile device.

Library

A collection of components that are used to construct other tools. bio.tools scope includes component libraries performing high-level bioinformatics functions but excludes lower-level programming libraries.

Ontology

A collection of information about concepts, including terms, synonyms, descriptions etc.

Plug-in

A software component encapsulating a set of related functions, which are not standalone, *i.e.* depend upon other software for its use, e.g. a Javascript widget, or a plug-in, extension add-on etc. that extends the function of some existing tool.

Note

  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the isPluginFor relationship will allow specification of the tool to which the plug-in is applicable.

Script

A tool written for some run-time environment (e.g. other applications or an OS shell) that automates the execution of tasks. Often a small program written in a general-purpose languages (e.g. Perl, Python) or some domain-specific languages (e.g. sed).

SPARQL endpoint

A service that provides queries over an RDF knowledge base via the SPARQL query language and protocol, and returns results via HTTP.

Note

  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the isInterfaceTo relationship will allow specification of the data resource (database portal) that a SPARQL endpoint provides an interface to.

Suite

A collection of tools which are bundled together into a convenient toolkit. Such tools typically share related functionality, a common user interface and can exchange data conveniently. This includes collections of stand-alone command-line tools, or Web applications within a common portal.

  • describe the attributes of the suite as a whole, not (typically) individual tools or functions provided by it
  • individual tools included in the suite should be registered as separate entries
  • when annotating the operation of the suite, pick one or two of the primary operation(s) of the included tools
  • entries for the suite itself and it’s component tools can be associated by annotatong them as part of a common collection

Tip

If you are considering to register a suite with many tools, it is a good idea to discuss this first with the bio.tools admin.

Note

  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the includes relationship will allow specification of the tools that are included in a suite.

Attention

do not annotate the type and `format <>`_ of input and output data, unless all tools in the suite happen to have these in common

Web application

A tool with a graphical user interface that runs in your Web browser.

Note

  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the isInterfaceTo and uses relationships will allow specification of the tools that a web application provides an interface to or uses.
  • for software that essentially just wraps or provides an interface to some other tool, e.g. a web application or web service over an existing tool, use the pattern toolName providerName where providerName is a name (without spaces) of some institute, workbench, collection etc., e.g. cufflinks cloudIFB. Do not misappropriate the original name!

Web API

An application programming interface (API) consisting of endpoints to a request-response message system accessible via HTTP. Includes everything from simple data-access URLs to RESTful APIs.

  • in general, describe the attributes of the API as a whole, not individual endpoint of the API (see note below)
  • in case the API has a single endpoint only, the input(s), operation(s) and output(s) may be annotated
  • in case the API has many endpoints, annotate the primary operation(s), but not the inputs and outputs
  • annotate the location of machine-readable API specification (e.g. openAPI file) using the download attribute with download type of API specification - annotate the location of any human-readable documentation using the documentation attribute with documentation type of API specification
  • when assigning the name, use the pattern name API e.g. Open PHACTS API
  • in case the web service provides an interface to an existing tool registered in bio.tools, try to ensure the relevant annotations are consistent

Note

  • biotoolsSchema includes a basic model of an API specification including endpoints however this is not yet supported in bio.tools
  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the isInterfaceTo relationship will allow specification of the tool or data resource (database portal) that the web service provides an interface to.

Web service

An API described in a machine readable form (typically WSDL) providing programmatic access via SOAP over HTTP.

  • in general, describe the attributes of the web service as a whole, not individual endpoint of the service (see note below)
  • in case the web service has a single endpoint only, the input(s), operation(s) and output(s) may be annotated
  • in case the web service has many endpoints, annotate the primary operation(s), but not the inputs and outputs
  • annotate the location of the WSDL file using the download attribute with download type of API specification
  • annotate the location of any human-readable documentation using the documentation attribute with documentation type of API specification
  • when assigning the name, use the pattern name WS e.g. EMMA WS
  • in case the web service provides an interface to an existing tool registered in bio.tools, try to ensure the relevant annotations are consistent

Note

  • biotoolsSchema includes a basic model of an API specification including endpoints however this is not yet supported in bio.tools
  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the isInterfaceTo relationship will allow specification of the tool that the web service provides an interface to

Workbench

An application or suite with a graphical user interface, providing an integrated environment for data analysis which includes or may be extended with any number of functions or tools. Includes workflow systems, platforms, frameworks etc.

  • describe the attributes of the workbench as a whole, not (typically) individual tools or functions provided by it
  • individual tools included in the workbench, especially where these tools are indepepdently available, should be registered as separate entries
  • individual functions provided by the workbench, especially where these are not independently available, should each be described in their own function
  • entries for the workbench itself and it’s component tools can be associated by annotatong them as part of a common collection

Tip

If you are considering to register a complicated workbench with many tools or functions, it is a good idea to discuss this first with the bio.tools admin.

Note

  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the includes relationship will allow specification of the tools that are included in a workbench.

Workflow

A set of tools which have been composed together into a pipeline of some sort. Such tools are (typically) standalone, but are composed for convenience, for instance for batch execution via some workflow engine or script.

  • when deciding how to annotate a workflow inputs, operations and outputs, consider the worfklow as a “black box” , i.e. annotate the input(s) to, output(s) from and primary operation(s) of the workflow as a whole

Note

  • bio.tools does not currently contain many examples of workflows. We welcome input on how to describe worfklows and ensure good coverage: please get in touch with us.
  • biotoolsSchema allows tool relationships to be defined, but these are not yet supported in bio.tools. In future, the includes relationship will allow specification of the tools that are included in a workflow.

Important

workflows can contain many tools; do not list all the operations performed by these tools, just the main operation(s) of the workflow as a whole.