Server transition process to AWS servers

Our aging server which has run for 5+ years the OBF sites has finally reached end of its lifespan. We are currently migrating sites to AWS volumes and sites for a temporary period while we decide about how to continue to support these services in the future.  There will be some downtime while the all-volunteer OBF admin team makes time to fix this.

Nearly all projects use public source code repositories such as github or sourceforge so no problems with access to the code should be limiting. Mailing lists are still using the old server but will be moved to the AWS site in the next few days and we are working to have little downtime for the lists.  Mediawiki sites are moving in stages and so far Bioperl, Biopython, and the OBF wikis have been migrated.  This news site has also been migrated to AWS and this is the 1st post from it (will it work!?)

Posted in OBF, OBF Projects, Website | 3 Comments

OBF is now an SPI-associated project

I am very pleased to announce that the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (O|B|F) is now a Software in the Public Interest (SPI) associated project, rather than its own not-for-profit incorporation.

An electronic vote of O|B|F members on whether or not to provisionally approve the invitation from SPI closed yesterday at 19:00 UTC. We had a participation of 39 out of 105 eligible, or 37%, which is far above the quorum of 10%. The tally is 38 for provisionally accepting and 1 against. The tally can be seen (and audited) here:

The SPI Board vote on resolution 2012-09-28.jb.1 (“Open Bioinformatics Foundation as associated project”) resulted in 8 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain. Given the result of our election, I accepted the invitation right away.

Thanks to everyone who voted. On behalf of the Board, I am thrilled about the turnout!

This terminates O|B|F’s status as its own corporation, which over the years has been more trouble than gain. As an SPI-associated project, we can now accept donations that are 501(c)3 tax-exempt in the US, aside from other benefits. In the coming weeks and months we will be articulating what kind of objectives, platforms, and activities we can or should pursue, given our new status. I’ll communicate separately about that once it gets off the ground.

Finally, please join me in thanking Josh Berkus (SPI & PostgreSQL) for shepherding our joining SPI all the way through. And please also join me in saying hi to the SPI community – as I have done earlier I’d like to encourage everyone to consider joining the SPI as well. It’s a friendly community, and I like to think we can enrich it.

This is a historic day for our organization. Have a drink tonight :-)



Note: This post is based on an email sent yesterday to the OBF member’s mailing list.

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BioRuby 1.4.3 released

We are pleased to announce the release of BioRuby 1.4.3. This new release fixes bugs existed in 1.4.2 and improves portability on JRuby and Rubinius.

Here is a brief summary of changes.

  • Bio::KEGG::KGML bug fixes and new class Bio::KEGG::KGML::Graphics for storing a graphics element.
  • Many failures and errors running on JRuby and Rubinius are resolved.
  • Strange behavior related with “circular require” is fixed.
  • Fixed: Genomenet remote BLAST does not work.
  • Fixed: Bio::NucleicAcid.to_re(“s”) typo.
  • Fixed: Bio::EMBL#os raises RuntimeError.
  • Fixed: bin/bioruby: Failed to save object with error message “can’t convert Symbol into String” on Ruby 1.9.

In addition, many changes have been made, including incompatible changes. For more information, see RELEASE_NOTES.rdoc and ChangeLog.

The archive is available at:
Gem file is also available at:

We also put RubyGems pacakge at and RubyForge. You can easily install by using RubyGems. First, check the version number by using search command:
% gem search –remote bio
and find “bio (1.4.3)” in the list. Then,
% sudo gem install bio

Acknowledgments: Thanks to all persons reporting issues and/or submitting patches.

Hope you enjoy.

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Travis-CI for Testing

Earlier this year BioRuby and then Biopython and BioPerl started using, a hosted continuous integration service for the open source community, to run their unit tests automatically whenever their GitHub repositories are updated:

The BioRuby team are also using Travis-CI for automated testing of their new ‘plugin’ ecosystem, BioRuby Gems, or BioGems.

Travis-CI gives us continuous testing, but for the moment only covers one operating system (currently 32 bit Ubuntu Linux using Virtual Machines). This automated testing is therefore complementary to our existing OBF BuildBot server which aims to run nightly tests on volunteer developer machines setup to cover a broad range of operating systems and configurations.

However, Travis-CI are working on a new feature – automatic testing of pull requests, currently only available on a donation basis – which the OBF was happy to support.

What this means is that when a contributor has some code ready for integration, they can issue a GitHub pull request, and then Travis-CI will automatically run the unit tests with those proposed changes. This is something that currently the core-developers would normally do manually as part of evaluating proposed changes, so having this happen automatically should be a big help.

We’re excited about making more use of Travis-CI for other OBF projects. Thus far we’ve been really impressed with Travis-CI.

Posted in BioPerl, Biopython, BioRuby, Blogroll, Code, Community, Development, OBF, OBF Projects | Leave a comment

Biopython 1.60 released

Source distributions and Windows installers for Biopython 1.60 are now available from the downloads page on the Biopython website and from the Python Package Index (PyPI).


We currently support Python 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7 and also test under Jython 2.5 and PyPy 1.9 (which does not cover NumPy or our C extensions). Please note that Python 2.4 or earlier is not supported.

Most functionality is also working under Python 3.1 and 3.2 (including modules using NumPy). We are now encouraging early adopters to help beta testing on these platforms, and have included a ‘beta’ installer for Python 3.2 under 32-bit Windows.


New module Bio.bgzf supports reading and writing BGZF files (Blocked GNU Zip Format), a variant of GZIP with efficient random access, most commonly used as part of the BAM file format and in tabix. This uses Python’s zlib library internally, and provides a simple interface like Python’s gzip library. Using this the Bio.SeqIO indexing functions now support BGZF compressed sequence files. See this blog post for more background on BGZF and SeqIO.

The GenBank/EMBL parser will now give a warning on unrecognized feature locations and continue parsing (leaving the feature’s location as None). Previously it would abort with an exception, which was often unhelpful.

The Bio.PDB.MMCIFParser is now compiled by default (but is still not available under Jython, PyPy or Python 3).

The SFF parser in Bio.SeqIO now decodes Roche 454 ‘universal accession number’ 14 character read names, which encode the timestamp of the run, the region the read came from, and the location of the well.

In the Phylo module, the “draw” function for plotting tree objects has become much more flexible, with improved support for matplotlib conventions and new parameters for specifying branch and taxon labels. Writing in the PhyloXML format has been updated to more closely match the output of other programs. A wrapper for the program RAxML has been added under Bio.Phylo.Applications, alongside the existing wrapper for PhyML.

Additionally there have been other minor bug fixes and more unit tests.


Many thanks to the Biopython developers and community for making this release
possible, especially the following contributors:

  • Brandon Invergo
  • Eric Talevich
  • Jeff Hussmann (first contribution)
  • John Comeau (first contribution)
  • Kamil Slowikowski (first contribution)
  • Kevin Jacobs
  • Lenna Peterson (first contribution)
  • Matt Fenwick (first contribution)
  • Peter Cock
  • Paul T. Bathen
  • Wibowo Arindrarto
Posted in Biopython, Code, Development, OBF, OBF Projects | Tagged | 2 Comments

BioJava 3.0.4 released

BioJava 3.0.4 has been released and is available from as well as from the
BioJava maven repository at .

- This is mainly a bug fix release addressing issues with the protein
structure and disorder modules

- One new feature: SCOP data can now be accessed from either the
original SCOP site in the UK (v. 1.75) or from Berkeley (v. 1.75A) .

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Students selected for GSoC

Hello all,

I’m very pleased and excited to announce that the Open Bioinformatics Foundation has selected 5 very capable students to work on OBF projects this summer as part of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program.

The accepted students, their projects, and their mentors (in alphabetical order):

  • Wibowo Arindrarto:
    SearchIO Implementation in Biopython
    mentored by Peter Cock
  • Lenna Peterson:
    Diff My DNA: Development of a Genomic Variant Toolkit for Biopython
    mentored by Brad Chapman, Reece Hart, James Casbon
  • Marjan Povolni:
    The worlds fastest parallelized GFF3/GTF parser in D, and an interfacing biogem plugin for Ruby
    mentored by Pjotr Prins, Francesco Strozzi, Raoul Bonnal
  • Artem Tarasov:
    Fast parallelized GFF3/GTF parser in C++, with Ruby FFI bindings
    mentored by Pjotr Prins, Francesco Strozzi, Raoul Bonnal
  • Clayton Wheeler:
    Multiple Alignment Format parser for BioRuby
    mentored by Francesco Strozzi and Raoul Bonnal

As in every year, we received many great applications and ideas. However, funding and mentor resources are limited, and we were not able to accept as many as we would have liked. Our deepest thanks to all the students who applied: we sincerely appreciate the time and effort you put into your applications, and hope you will still consider being a part of the OBF’s open source projects, even without Google funding. I speak for myself and all of the mentors who read and scored applications when I say that we were truly honored by the number and quality of the applications we received.

For the accepted students: congratulations! You have risen to the top of a very competitive application process. Now it’s time to “put your money where your mouth is”, as the saying goes. Let’s get out there and write some great code this summer!

Best regards,

Robert Buels
OBF GSoC 2012 Organization Administrator

Posted in BioLib, Biopython, BioRuby, Blogroll, Community, Development, Google Summer of Code, OBF, OBF Projects | Leave a comment

Announcing OBF Summer of Code 2012

Applications due 19:00 UTC, April 6, 2012.

The Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) Summer of Code program provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate, masters, and PhD students to obtain hands-on experience writing and extending open-source software for bioinformatics under the mentorship of experienced developers from around the world. The program is the participation of the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) as a mentoring organization in the Google Summer of Code (GSoC).

Students successfully completing the 3 month program receive a $5,000 USD stipend, and may work entirely from their home or home institution. Participation is open to students from any country in the world except countries subject to US trade restrictions. Each student will have at least one dedicated mentor to show them the ropes and help them complete their project.

The Open Bioinformatics Foundation is particularly seeking students interested in both bioinformatics (computational biology) and software development. Some initial project ideas are listed on the website. These range from sequence search I/O in Biopython to lightweight sequence objects and lazy parsing in BioPerl, a next-generation BioRuby interface to Ensembl to developing cloud-optimized versions of BioJava modules. All project ideas are flexible and many can be adjusted in scope to match the skills of the student. We also particularly welcome and encourage students proposing their own project ideas; historically some of the most successful Summer of Code projects are ones proposed by the students themselves.

TO APPLY: Apply online at the Google Summer of Code website (, where you will also find GSoC program rules and eligibility requirements. The 12-day application period for students runs from Monday, March 26 through Friday, April 6th, 2012.


We strongly encourage all interested students to get in touch with us with their ideas as early on as possible. See the OBF GSoC page for contact details.

2012 OBF Summer of Code:

Google Summer of Code FAQ:

Rob Buels
OBF GSoC 2012 Admin

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OBF accepted for GSoC 2012

Google announced today that the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) has been accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2012!

GSoC 2012 LogoGoogle Summer of Code (GSoC) is a Google-sponsored student internship program for open-source projects, open to students from around the world (not just US residents). Students are paid a $5000 USD stipend to work as a developer on an open-source project for the summer. For more on GSoC, see the GSoC 2012 FAQ.

Student applications are due April 6, 2012 at 19:00 UTC. Students who are interested in participating should look at the OBF’s GSoC page, which lists project ideas, and whom to contact about applying.

For current developers on OBF projects, please consider volunteering to be a mentor if you have not already, and contribute project ideas. Just list your name and project ideas on OBF wiki and on the relevant project’s GSoC wiki page.

Thanks to all who helped make OBF’s application to GSoC a success, and let’s have a great, productive summer of code!

Rob Buels
OBF GSoC 2012 Administrator

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Call for abstracts for BOSC 2012

Call for Abstracts for the 13th Annual Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC 2012), a Special Interest Group (SIG) of ISMB 2012.

Dates: July 13-14, 2012
Location: Long Beach, California
Web site:
BOSC announcements mailing list:

Important Dates:

  • April 13, 2012: Deadline for submitting abstracts
  • May 7, 2012: Notification of accepted talk abstracts emailed to authors
  • July 11-12, 2012: Codefest 2012 programming session
  • July 13-14, 2012: BOSC 2012
  • July 15-17, 2012: ISMB 2012

The Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) is sponsored by the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (O|B|F), a non-profit group dedicated to promoting the practice and philosophy of Open Source software development within the biological research community. To be considered for acceptance, software systems representing the central topic in a presentation submitted to BOSC must be licensed with a recognized Open Source License, and be freely available for download in source code form.

We invite you to submit one-page abstracts for talks and posters. This year’s session topics are:

  • Cloud and Parallel Computing
  • Linked Data
  • Genome-scale Data Management
  • Data Visualization and Imaging
  • Translational Bioinformatics
  • Software Interoperability (possibly a joint session with BSI-SIG, the Bioinformatics Software Interoperability SIG)
  • Bioinformatics Open Source Project Updates
  • Interfacing with Industry (panel)

Thanks to generous sponsorship from Eagle Genomics and an anonymous donor, we are pleased to announce a competition for three Student Travel Awards. Each winner will be awarded $250 to defray the costs of travel to BOSC 2012.

For instructions on submitting your abstract, please visit

BOSC 2012 Organizing Committee:
Nomi Harris (chair), Jan Aerts, Brad Chapman, Peter Cock, Chris Fields, Erwin Frise, Peter Rice

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