Google Summer of Code at InterMine

We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be participating in Google Summer of Code 2017 as a mentor organisation, under the umbrella of the Open Genome Informatics. Here’s the full ideas list for Open Genome Informatics Projects – InterMine projects are numbers 3 to 9.

Information for students:

About us:

InterMine is an open source biological data warehouse, based in the University of Cambridge. There are nearly thirty instances of public InterMines, covering a range of subjects from organisms like mice and rats, mines dedicated to plants such as the soybean, insects like the fruitfly or bees and wasps, and even mines dedicated to mitochondrial DNA and discovering drug targets.

We’re interested in mentoring students from a bioinformatics, computational biology, or computer science background.

You don’t have to be a biologist to work on InterMine related projects – many of the full time developers on the team didn’t come from a biology background – but biological knowledge is an advantage.

We use a range of languages in our projects, but most commonly you’ll see Java, PostgreSQL, Clojure/ClojureScript, and JavaScript. Each instance of InterMine has its own set of web services, and there are client libraries in five different languages, with a sixth in final stages of development.

Browse through our GitHub repos to see more of our projects:

Getting started:

If you’re interested in applying for one of our projects, drop an email to the people named in the project description to introduce yourself, and explain which of the project(s) you’re interested in. There’s already been quite a lot of interest in the Similarity project from multiple students, so you might want to consider one of the other projects as a backup if you think you’d particularly like InterMine.

When you mail us, please make sure to include as many of the following as possible:

  • A CV / Resume. Tell us about yourself!
  • Links to GitHub, BitBucket, LinkedIn or similar.
  • Sample code. If you don’t have GitHub/Bitbucket etc. we’d still like to see what you can do. A class coding assignment or personal project you’re proud of is a great alternative.

A great way to familiarise yourself with the basics of building InterMine is to run through our tutorial: – or alternatively you could try familiarising yourself with the web interface for your preferred InterMine. You can find the full list of InterMines at, or try our experimental interface here:

We’ve also set up a few tickets on the core InterMine repo with the tag “Good first bug” if you’d like to get your hands dirty. Pop a note on the ticket and make a pull request when you think you’re ready. We have some guidelines for contributing that you should read before you make the pull request.

Finally, if you have any ideas or questions, please don’t hesitate to email us.

Useful links:

– Our twitter feed:
– Here’s a blog post about some of the cool things the community has done with InterMine resources:
– Our interactive web services docs:
– Our very in-the-works new ClojureScript UI. Demo: repo:
– Developer documentation:

Upcoming Events

March and April 2017 are looking to be quite exciting for the InterMine team. Here’s where to spot us over the next couple of months:

6-8 March 2017: BioSchemas kick-off meeting – If you’re there, look out for Gos and Justin!

8 March 2017: As part of the EBI’s Introduction to Omics Data Integration course, Rachel will be delivering a session on InterMine “Open tools for data integration – hands on example with InterMine

20 March 2017: Scientific Computation in the University of Cambridge Seminar Day – Daniela will be giving the talk “InterMine: Best Practices for Open Source Software

29 March 2017 – 2 April 2017: Our very own InterMine Dev Workshop and Hackathon. Registrations are still open at the moment (21 Feb 2017), but the early bird room rate will be expiring in early March, so try not to delay if you’re planning on coming!

24-27 April 2017: Josh will be attending the HUPO-PSI 2017 meetup in Beijing.

2016 holiday period


Quick FYI:

We’ll have several people out of the office – but not everyone – over the week before Christmas, starting from today (16 December). If you need to contact us, you may get a prompter response by emailing our lists (e.g. the dev list) which will reach all of us, rather than emailing individuals directly.

The annual InterMine office closure will be between 23rd December evening until 3rd January morning UK time. During this period no one will be in the office, and we may not be able to respond to emails, tweets, blogs, etc.

See you all in 2017!!


Notice: Removing “Node” Syntax

Please note that in InterMine 2.0 we will longer support the “Node” syntax in queries. This is an old way of writing path queries and hasn’t been used for several years.

Here is an example of the old way of doing things:

<query name="employeeDepartmentCompany" model="testmodel" view="">
    <node path="Employee" type="Employee"></node>
    <node path="Employee.department" type="Department"> </node>
    <node path="" type="String">
     <constraint op="=" value="DepartmentA1" description="" identifier="" code="A">

This is the current syntax for the same query:

   <query name="employeeDepartmentCompany" model="testmodel" view="">
    <constraint path="" op="=" value="DepartmentA1" identifier="" code="A"/>

You can see why we changed! If you think this is going to inconvenience you in any way or have any questions, please get in touch.

Cool InterMine features roundup

I’ve said this before, but I’ll proudly say it again: one of the greatest things about being open source is the community. People are continually creative and resourceful with the tools we’ve built, and we love seeing all the different things you guys do with InterMine. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the things we’ve seen so far this year:

TargetMine’s Auxiliary Toolkit

TargetMine’s Auxiliary toolkit offers advanced analysis for networks and enrichment

TargetMine links out from report pages to provide external enrichment and interaction tools. Read more about it here, or  browse the tutorials: [Enrichment] [Interaction Network].

The Beany Mines:

The beany mines (Soy, Peanut, Legume, and Bean) recently added a shared motif search, as well as a couple of other great visualisations:legume-shared-motif-search


R and SOLR

Colin of HymenopteraMine and BovineMine did a great blog post about using our R client, InterMineR, and then continued to impress by making efforts to upgrade InterMine to use Solr.


Ever wondered what Model Organism Linked Data might look like?  MOLD includes a queryable SPARQL endpoint and draws from multiple different InterMines to create a single dataset.


Tip: Make it generic

Generic tools are ones that aren’t hard-coded to a specific Mine or model. We’re always on the look out for new and exciting features, whether it’s a visualisation or a web service or a database tweak. If you think it’s good, you can email us to discuss it or simply create a pull request, and bask in glory forever after.

We’d love to see more!

This list is awesome (thanks everyone!!) but by no means conclusive. If you think we’ve missed something out, or you’re doing something new at the moment, drop us a line and we’ll add you to the next round up. We’d also love to hear from others who might be interested in guest-blogging an InterMine related feature.

Where’s Wally?

Last week InterMine attended the first RSE (Research Software Engineer) conference (look at the picture…we are there!)


But what’s an RSE? In the Introduction main talk, the first day, Caroline Jay from the University of Manchester defines RSEs as “the coalface of ensuring that computational science is accurate, reliable and reproducible, and their views on making progress in this domain are therefore particularly valuable.”  Particularly valuable because, as a slogan that everyone loved says, “Software can exist without a paper but a paper and the results can’t. If the software is wrong, the science is wrong”.

As promised by the organizers, the conference focused exclusively on the issues that affect people who write and use software in research, not people who write papers. In two days there were a lot of interesting talks and workshops about how research software engineers can grow a project for science, best practices, software development process, docker…

As InterMine team, we’ve contributed to the conference, sharing our story, what “open” really means to us, why we choose open source and how we try to be open. The image below shows our vision about Open Source.


We have also shared the best practices we’ve learned, over the years, in designing, writing and maintaining open source software for science, hoping that people embarking on their first open source project could benefit from these. [Slides from our talk]

We had a great time talking and meeting with a lot of very friendly and passionate people sharing idea, best practices, issues and doubts.

Thank UK-RSE folks for organizing a so great event!

See you next year!