BOSC 2015 wrap up

Posted July 13th, 2015 by konrad

I am just back from this year’s BOSC (Bioinformatics Open Source Conference) 2015 in Dublin. BOSC is definitely one of my favorite community gatherings. One reason for this is that the common value – the understanding that openness is an essential part of science – is omnipresent and the foundation of every project presented there. During the two days of the meeting numerous, mostly short talks were given and I think the format is ideal to be exposed to many projects in a short time. The talks are recorded and will soon be publicly available. Anybody who is interested in the discussion that took place online (a tweet dump of #BOSC2015 had more than 3000 tweets!) can have look at the storyfied collections (day 1, day 2). Some of the photos I took are on flickr. Despite the broad range of topics certain patterns were crearly detectable:

1) Docker, docker, docker

There was barely a talk that did not mention docker. Either it was already part of e.g. the deployment process or planned to be integrated. As seen in other fields it is clear that docker (or other container implementations) is here to stay.

2) Common Workflow Language

The Common Workflow Language seems to be on a similar track as docker but in a much earlier phase. Still, considering that it is a rather new initiative it could win quite many supporters and adaptation by several projects.

3) Funding of projects

The majority of presented projects that could be considered as backbone or at least as very important toolboxes of the bioinformatical community like Biopython, BioGems, BioJS or bionode are mostly run as side projects and don’t have dedicated funding. The same is the case for other very promising endeavors like OpenSNP. The development is done in the spare time and/or with little bit of tolerance of the developers’ funding/hosting institutions. This is not a sustainable working mode and quite scary considering how much we rely on them. Funding bodies still seem to miss the importance of such projects and common grants are hard to get for them and/or the structure is no well suited for this open source community developing mode. It is an old, but unsolved problem that gets bigger the with the growing importants of the bioinformatics data analysis.

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