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Concept: Open-source software


BACKGROUND: Automated image analysis methods are becoming more and more important to extract and quantify image features in microscopy-based biomedical studies and several commercial or open-source tools are available. However, most of the approaches rely on pixel-wise operations, a concept that has limitations when high-level object features and relationships between objects are studied and if user-interactivity on the object-level is desired. RESULTS: In this paper we present an open-source software that facilitates the analysis of content features and object relationships by using objects as basic processing unit instead of individual pixels. Our approach enables also users without programming knowledge to compose “analysis pipelines” that exploit the object-level approach. We demonstrate the design and use of example pipelines for the immunohistochemistry-based cell proliferation quantification in breast cancer and two-photon fluorescence microscopy data about boneosteoclast interaction, which underline the advantages of the object-based concept. CONCLUSIONS: We introduce an open source software system that offers object-based image analysis. The object-based concept allows for a straight-forward development of object-related interactive or fully automated image analysis solutions. The presented software may therefore serve as a basis for various applications in the field of digital image analysis. Virtual Slides The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:

Concepts: Logic, Two-photon excitation microscopy, Object, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Sun Microsystems


Hi-C experiments explore the 3D structure of the genome, generating terabases of data to create high-resolution contact maps. Here, we introduce Juicer, an open-source tool for analyzing terabase-scale Hi-C datasets. Juicer allows users without a computational background to transform raw sequence data into normalized contact maps with one click. Juicer produces a hic file containing compressed contact matrices at many resolutions, facilitating visualization and analysis at multiple scales. Structural features, such as loops and domains, are automatically annotated. Juicer is available as open source software at

Concepts: Structure, Analysis, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Sun Microsystems, 1-Click


Implant placement has been widely used in various kinds of surgery. However, accurate intraoperative drilling performance is essential to avoid injury to adjacent structures. Although some commercially-available surgical navigation systems have been approved for clinical applications, these systems are expensive and the source code is not available to researchers. 3D Slicer is a free, open source software platform for the research community of computer-aided surgery. In this study, a loadable module based on Slicer has been developed and validated to support surgical navigation. This research module allows reliable calibration of the surgical drill, point-based registration and surface matching registration, so that the position and orientation of the surgical drill can be tracked and displayed on the computer screen in real time, aiming at reducing risks. In accuracy verification experiments, the mean target registration error (TRE) for point-based and surface-based registration were 0.31±0.06mm and 1.01±0.06mm respectively, which should meet clinical requirements. Both phantom and cadaver experiments demonstrated the feasibility of our surgical navigation software module.

Concepts: Surgery, Research, Java, Source code, Open source, Free software, Open-source software, Automotive navigation system


VSEARCH is an open source and free of charge multithreaded 64-bit tool for processing and preparing metagenomics, genomics and population genomics nucleotide sequence data. It is designed as an alternative to the widely used USEARCH tool (Edgar, 2010) for which the source code is not publicly available, algorithm details are only rudimentarily described, and only a memory-confined 32-bit version is freely available for academic use.

Concepts: Genomics, Computer program, C, Programming language, Source code, Open source, Free software, Open-source software


MOTIVATION: Data collection in spreadsheets is ubiquitous, but current solutions lack support for collaborative semantic annotation that would promote shared and interdisciplinary annotation practices, supporting geographically distributed players. RESULTS: OntoMaton is an open source solution that brings ontology look-up and tagging capabilities into a cloud-based collaborative editing environment, harnessing Google Spreadsheets and the NCBO Bioportal Web services.  It is a general purpose, format-agnostic tool that may serve as a component of the ISA software suite. OntoMaton can also be used to assist the ontology development process. AVAILABILITY: OntoMaton is freely available from Google widgets under the CPAL open source license; documentation and examples at: CONTACT:

Concepts: Collaboration, Open source, Open-source software, Editing, Linux, Open source licenses, Web widget, Shared source


The Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) is organized by the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF), a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting the practice and philosophy of open source software development and open science within the biological research community. Since its inception in 2000, BOSC has provided bioinformatics developers with a forum for communicating the results of their latest efforts to the wider research community. BOSC offers a focused environment for developers and users to interact and share ideas about standards; software development practices; practical techniques for solving bioinformatics problems; and approaches that promote open science and sharing of data, results, and software. BOSC is run as a two-day special interest group (SIG) before the annual Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology (ISMB) conference. BOSC 2015 took place in Dublin, Ireland, and was attended by over 125 people, about half of whom were first-time attendees. Session topics included “Data Science;” “Standards and Interoperability;” “Open Science and Reproducibility;” “Translational Bioinformatics;” “Visualization;” and “Bioinformatics Open Source Project Updates”. In addition to two keynote talks and dozens of shorter talks chosen from submitted abstracts, BOSC 2015 included a panel, titled “Open Source, Open Door: Increasing Diversity in the Bioinformatics Open Source Community,” that provided an opportunity for open discussion about ways to increase the diversity of participants in BOSC in particular, and in open source bioinformatics in general. The complete program of BOSC 2015 is available online at

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Molecular biology, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Pseudoscience


Electronic health records (EHR) are a key tool in managing and storing patients' information. Currently, there are over 50 open source EHR systems available. Functionality and usability are important factors for determining the success of any system. These factors are often a direct reflection of the domain knowledge and developers' motivations. However, few published studies have focused on the characteristics of free and open source software (F/OSS) EHR systems and none to date have discussed the motivation, knowledge background, and demographic characteristics of the developers involved in open source EHR projects.

Concepts: Electronic health record, Electronic medical record, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Medical informatics, Personal health record


Ecological, behavioral, and biomechanical studies often need to quantify animal movement and behavior in three dimensions. In laboratory studies, a major tool to accomplish these measurements is the use of multiple, calibrated high-speed cameras. Until very recently, the complexity, weight, and cost of such cameras have made their deployment in field situations risky; furthermore, such cameras are not affordable to many researchers. Here we show how inexpensive, consumer-grade cameras can accomplish these measurements both within the laboratory and in the field. Combined with our methods and open source software, the availability of inexpensive, portable and rugged cameras will open up new areas of biological study by providing precise 3D tracking and quantification of animal and human movement to researchers in a wide variety of field and laboratory contexts.

Concepts: Psychology, Euclidean space, Behavior, Human behavior, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software


As metagenomic studies continue to increase in their number, sequence volume and complexity, the scalability of biological analysis frameworks has become a rate-limiting factor to meaningful data interpretation. To address this issue, we have developed JCVI Metagenomics Reports (METAREP) as an open source tool to query, browse, and compare extremely large volumes of metagenomic annotations. Here we present improvements to this software including the implementation of a dynamic weighting of taxonomic and functional annotation, support for distributed searches, advanced clustering routines, and integration of additional annotation input formats. The utility of these improvements to data interpretation are demonstrated through the application of multiple comparative analysis strategies to shotgun metagenomic data produced by the National Institutes of Health Roadmap for Biomedical Research Human Microbiome Project (HMP) ( Specifically, the scalability of the dynamic weighting feature is evaluated and established by its application to the analysis of over 400 million weighted gene annotations derived from 14 billion short reads as predicted by the HMP Unified Metabolic Analysis Network (HUMAnN) pipeline. Further, the capacity of METAREP to facilitate the identification and simultaneous comparison of taxonomic and functional annotations including biological pathway and individual enzyme abundances from hundreds of community samples is demonstrated by providing scenarios that describe how these data can be mined to answer biological questions related to the human microbiome. These strategies provide users with a reference of how to conduct similar large-scale metagenomic analyses using METAREP with their own sequence data, while in this study they reveal insights into the nature and extent of variation in taxonomic and functional profiles across body habitats and individuals. Over one thousand HMP WGS datasets and the latest open source code are available at

Concepts: Scientific method, Microbiology, Mathematical analysis, Computer program, Source code, Open source, Free software, Open-source software


While researchers are becoming increasingly interested in studying OSS phenomenon, there is still a small number of studies analyzing larger samples of projects investigating the structure of activities among OSS developers. The significant amount of information that has been gathered in the publicly available open-source software repositories and mailing-list archives offers an opportunity to analyze projects structures and participant involvement. In this article, using on commits data from 263 Apache projects repositories (nearly all), we show that although OSS development is often described as collaborative, but it in fact predominantly relies on radically solitary input and individual, non-collaborative contributions. We also show, in the first published study of this magnitude, that the engagement of contributors is based on a power-law distribution.

Concepts: Source code, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Sun Microsystems, Apache HTTP Server, Apache Software Foundation