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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


Modern neuroscience increasingly relies on custom-developed software, but much of this is not being made available to the wider community. A group of researchers are pledging to make code they produce for data analysis and modeling open source, and are actively encouraging their colleagues to follow suit.

Concepts: Scientific method, Computer program, Free software, Open-source software, Executable, 2004 albums


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


QuPath is new bioimage analysis software designed to meet the growing need for a user-friendly, extensible, open-source solution for digital pathology and whole slide image analysis. In addition to offering a comprehensive panel of tumor identification and high-throughput biomarker evaluation tools, QuPath provides researchers with powerful batch-processing and scripting functionality, and an extensible platform with which to develop and share new algorithms to analyze complex tissue images. Furthermore, QuPath’s flexible design makes it suitable for a wide range of additional image analysis applications across biomedical research.

Concepts: Unix, Graphic design, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Operating system, Sun Microsystems


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


We present a general purpose, open-source software library for estimation of non-linear parameters by the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm. The software, Gpufit, runs on a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and executes computations in parallel, resulting in a significant gain in performance. We measured a speed increase of up to 42 times when comparing Gpufit with an identical CPU-based algorithm, with no loss of precision or accuracy. Gpufit is designed such that it is easily incorporated into existing applications or adapted for new ones. Multiple software interfaces, including to C, Python, and Matlab, ensure that Gpufit is accessible from most programming environments. The full source code is published as an open source software repository, making its function transparent to the user and facilitating future improvements and extensions. As a demonstration, we used Gpufit to accelerate an existing scientific image analysis package, yielding significantly improved processing times for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy datasets.

Concepts: Computer program, C, Source code, Open source, Free software, Open content, Open-source software, Sun Microsystems