What is bio.tools?

bio.tools is a portal to bioinformatics resources worldwide, aimed to help bioinformaticians and scientists:

  • find, understand, compare and select resources == discovery
  • use and connect them in workflows == (inter)operability

Our vision is to be the sustainable primary archive for basic tool metadata, providing a persistent reference to high-quality (curated and verified) “canonical” descriptions of unique tools, with information about their provision via online services and various downloadable artefacts, and including entries for different versions of a tool, where these have major functional differences.


Our main objectives are:

  • build and maintain a comprehensive registry of high-quality software metadata / descriptions
  • provide a web portal enabling registration, editing, search and discovery of the registry content
  • support a community for the sustainable maintenance of the registry content and development of the portal features
  • expose results of tool performance benchmarking, online service monitoring and other metrics of software and service quality
  • integrate the registry with popular workbench environments in a way that improves resource interoperability
  • support registry stakeholders including tool providers and end-users


bio.tools scope is application software with well-defined data processing functions (inputs, outputs and operations). bio.tools includes a broad range of software types including tools available for immediate use as online services, or in a form which which you can download, install, configure and run yourself. This includes simple tools with one or a few closely related functions, and complex, multimodal tools with many functions. It also includes executable workflows, database portals and Web APIs.

Technical components

  • biotoolsSchema is a description model for bioinformatics software. It is a formalised XML schema (XSD) which defines 50 important scientific, technical and administrative attributes. It defines what attributes may be specified in a bio.tools entry, a precise syntax for those descriptions, and controlled vocabularies for consistent description of technical aspects such as software license and software type.
  • EDAM ontology is an ontology of well-established, familiar concepts that are prevalent within bioinformatics and computational biology, including types of data and data identifiers, data formats, operations and topics. It defines precise semantics for the scientific description of software registered in bio.tools.
  • Curation guidelines describe how each attribute should be specified, i.e. concern the quality of an entry. The guidelines go beyond the syntactic and semantic constraints defined by biotoolsSchema and EDAM, and are part of broader tool information standards being adopted by bio.tools.
  • Tool Cards e.g. https://bio.tools/signalp provide key information at a glance for registered tools. Tool cards have human-friendly, persistent URLs which include the unique tool identifier (“signalp” in this case). The identifier is assigned upon registration is a URL-safe derivative of (normally identical to) the supplied tool name.
  • Query interfaces available at https://bio.tools help bio.tools end-users with tool discovery and include the search bar, a compact “mini-card” view and a detailed “grid” view. See the Quickstart Guide.
  • Registration interface enables manual creation of valid registry content and editing, including graphical editing via tabbed panes and an interactive JSON editor with inline error reporting. It is available to logged-on users via “Menu … Add content”. See the Quickstart Guide.
  • bio.tools API provides programmatic means to query, add and edit registry content.
  • bio.tools metrics available at https://bio.tools/stats include registry growth, contributors, annotation breakdown etc.

bio.tools Tool Identifiers

Each bio.tools entry is assigned a unique identifier (biotoolsID): a manually verified, URL-safe version of (normally identical to) the supplied tool name. The IDs are used in persistent URLs, resolving to Tool Cards of essential information. The recommended short-form is a compact URI (CURIE), which is resolvable in Identifiers.org.

biotoolsID signalp
CURIE biotools:signalp
Identifiers.org http://identifiers.org/biotools/signalp
Tool Card URL https://bio.tools/signalp

Registered software which, for one reason or another, is no longer operational, retain their ID and URL but are marked as obsolete. Hence, descriptions of legacy resources are archived.

Docs overview

bio.tools development is supported by ELIXIR - the European Research Infrastructure for life science information. bio.tools content is freely available to all under open license.

Getting involved : a quickstart guide

  1. Read the docs but especially the contributors guide.
  2. GitHub is used for task and issue tracking, see the bio.tools and EDAM organisations, in particuar the biotoolsregistry and edamontology projects. Email us if you want to join.
  3. We run hangouts (coordination meetings) as required - mostly for technical people routinely involved with bio.tools curation or software development. To suggest or join these calls email us.
  4. Dive in at the deep end! There are no end of ongoing sub-projects and tasks to get involved with, see GitHub (at above links) or email us in the 1st instance to get orientated.