A flurry of deadlines: Grants, GSoC, workshops, and more…

We blogged in February commenting that we had a lot of events over the March / April period. Here’s a re-cap:

  • Attending conferences: Amongst the team we attended Bioschemas, the Elixir all-hands, and the Cambridge Scientific Computation Day.
  • InterMine training: We delivered a training workshop about using InterMine at the EBI, part of their Introduction to Omics data integration week-long course.
    • This went well despite a server-room meltdown which conveniently timed itself for the morning of the same day (the training session was in the afternoon, so we thankfully had time to get the servers back up!).
    • In contrast to previous years, every single hand went up when we asked if the participants wrote code as part of their job. Next time, we will try to allow for a longer session on using InterMine web services, rather than the 15 minute slot we allocated this time!
  • Developer Workshop and Hackathon: 5 days in sunny California, spending time with InterMiners from around the world. Longer blog posts to follow, but in the meantime you can browse the agenda for links to slides from each session, or the storify summary of tweets.
  • Google Summer of Code: We’re participating in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) this year (previously) as a mentoring organisation. We had over 50 interested students and 30 distinct applications, many of which were simply brilliant. The deadline for students applying, naturally, was the day after the hackathon, making finding time to provide student feedback a challenge. Maybe there’s a reason to be grateful for jet-lag induced wakefulness at odd hours!
  • Grants: A tale of two grants… :
    • New application: We had a grant application deadline that was, once again, the day after the hackathon. Uh-oh! Feverish figure fixes, tentative typo tweaks and word-count winnowing was squeezed in at every opportunity.
    • Good news about an old application: Meanwhile, we got the news that we’d been fortunate enough to have our hard work pay off: a grant we’d applied for last year as part of the BBSRC BBR 2016 call was agreed to! Hint: the future of InterMine is looking very FAIR, possibly even SPARQLing. More details in a later post.

Events coming up soon:

New Blog!

We’ve decided to streamline our blogging experience a little bit. Rather than maintaining several separate but mostly similar blogs for HumanMine, FlyMine, and InterMine, this blog will act as a combined stream.

Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to view irrelevant updates if you’re only interested in one of the sub categories. WordPress is great about filtering via tag or category. Here are a few quick links:

InterMine-specific updates: https://intermineorg.wordpress.com/category/intermine/

FlyMine-specific updates: https://intermineorg.wordpress.com/category/flymine/

HumanMine-specific updates: https://intermineorg.wordpress.com/category/humanmine/ (It’s empty now, but coming soon!)

2016 InterMine RoadMap

We have a brand new blog and so would like to take this opportunity to tell you our grand plans for 2016.

InterMine 2.0

Gradle

Currently InterMine is built with a series of ant commands, and dependencies are managed manually. This of course is not ideal, and we plan to use Gradle to replace Ant and manage our dependencies automatically. This change will make builds faster, easier and more efficient.

For those of you with InterMines of your own, this means that you will use different commands for building your databases and deploying your webapps. We’ll provide the new commands along with documentation, and aim to make the transition as easy as possible.

Keyword Search

We currently use Lucene for our search index but plan to greatly expand our utilisation of this great library — making search on InterMine more robust, sensitive and powerful.

The Cloud

Some have already deployed their InterMine to the cloud. We intend to make this process much easier, probably by creating a custom InterMine buildpack which pre-configures a Docker container with all of InterMine’s dependencies.

New Data Sources

We are always adding new data sources and would like to hear your suggestions. On our list right now is:

And of course we will continue to update our current data source library as file formats and data change.

New User Interface

We’ve developed a new user interface which should be ready for beta testing in early 2016. It’ll exist alongside the current interface for some time, allowing you to feed back ideas, suggestions, and critiques in the new interface, whilst still being able to rely on the old one.

Here’s a sneak preview (subject to plenty of change, of course!):

Sneak preview: Homepage for the (work-in-progress) Intermine 2.0 UI.
Sneak preview: Homepage for the (work-in-progress) Intermine 2.0 UI.

New Tools

To go along with our new interface, we’re going to be adding a lot of new tools for you to use. Our wish list so far (not in order of priority):

  1. Advanced Search / Query builder / Guided search
  2. Recommendation engine (which gene is like my gene?)
  3. Complex Interaction viewer
  4. more powerful region search
  5. phenotype viewer
  6. InterMine search tool
  7. R plug-in
  8. Text mining tool
  9. JBrowse / other genome browsers
  10. UniProt protein browser

We’d like to hear which tools are important to you. We also will improve the tools we currently have, making them easier to adapt to your data sets.

2017 and beyond

Genomes are being sequenced every day, technology is moving at an ever more rapid pace and everyone is facing a challenging funding environment. We don’t know quite what the world will look like in the next five years but we are working hard to be future proof. We’ve always had a deep commitment to openness, flexibility and collaboration, and feel that this will help us meet any future challenges.

Towards this end, we are running a pilot program to test out various graph databases and to explore the semantic web. We will keep you posted on our progress as always, and would like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to our great community for all of their support over the years! We look forward to a really exciting year!