Runnable Gists : Bioinformatics Sandbox

A few months since CodersCrowd went online, and the amount of comments I received to criticize some of its functions and to improve some feature were a source of joy for me each time I read my emails.

At the time I am writing this article, we are 573 users on CodersCrowd, and I wanted first to thank you all to join us for this CrowdCoding experience.

Ok let's get right to the exciting updates we have for the next release of CodersCrowd.

The next version of CodersCrowd 1.2 will be released with a very exciting feature : Running bioinformatics gists live on the browser !!, ...., Ok let's think about it for a second .. what does it mean ? ..

  • Live code debugging
  • Being able to reproduce your bugs/results
  • Embark your software into a demo mode instead of writing long description pages
  • Reimplement algorithms live with coders all over the places
  • Code on the move !! You can code from your mobile devices from everywhere
  • Create Interactive Tutorials
  • Test codes
  • and the list is long ... :)

CodersCrowd now brings that possibility in its new version to be released mid April 2014 (but already accessible)

Here is a sneak peek of the new release.
When you will open a code to view, either it is a problem to be fixed or a valid code shared by a member you will be able to see that small button below the code :

That small little button will allow users to run the code live and see the exact same message that he would see on a terminal ... it is like you have a terminal in your browser.

In that example in particular, it is a python code that implements Smith Waterman and Needlman Wunsch alignment. I found that code on Github, tried it and made sure it is working, then I introduced intentionnally some errors inside, in order to see if we can get the correct error message that we would see on a terminal.

Ok, now ! this is what you would see when you hit the Run button :

Awesome ! A nice Traceback with the exact line where the problem is !

Ok to be honest I introduced 2 errors in the method names (Neeeedle() instead of needle(), and waterm() instead of water()), it is a python code, so it stopped at the first bug found and reported the Traceback

Let's push it further, now let's fix the first error and post a solution and see what's the outcome of that :

Excellent ! It is partially working, we can see the diff in the solution posted, and run it directly ! The solution shows another Traceback, that's the second bug, let's fix it and run another solution : And the winner iiiiis ... :)

Now let's see the entire code review of this example :

What can we run on CodersCrowd ?

I'd love to answer : pretty much everything you want :) but let's be realistic, but what I am going to list here is already awesome. You can run :

  • Perl / Bioperl
  • Python / Biopython
  • Java / Biojava
  • Scipy, Numpy, Matplotlib
  • R / Bioconductor
  • Shell (awk..)

Yes, I am serious :)

Only Python and Perl are supported for the test phase though

Update : perl, python, shell and R are runnable now

Limitations ?

Hmm, yes sure ! Currently codes using arguments are not supported (they run ! but they will output errors), the reason is that I am not yet allowing access to IO on my server. For codes using access to files, I will create demo files covering pretty much the long list of format we use in bioinformatics, under a same location. If you think of a specific format please leave a comment ;

  • Fasta
  • Fastq
  • Bam/Sam
  • Genbank
  • alignments formats
  • text
  • Vcfs
  • etc ...

I will make an update with files that you can use as a test for your codes.

How is that possible ?

The idea of running code on the browser was one of the main important features I wanted to implement at CodersCrowd. First I started with the CrowdCoding aspect of the application, and then I started to look around at how to implement that BIG CHALLENGE task of running user's problem online as fast as a microsecond :) something similar to what JSFIDDLE is doing for Javascript community. The task was huge, and the challenge was even bigger, until I met Docker

I started to dig deep into their API and succeeded to do what will be (hopefully) of a great help to the community towards code reproducbility

You need to be a member to run codes on CodersCrowd

Runnable code will be accessible only for members since it is still experimental, when we pass the test phase I will update the public access to this feature.

Have fun !!


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