Indexed on: 22 Oct '14Published on: 22 Oct '14Published in: BMC Research Notes
Heterogeneity in the features, input-output behaviour and user interface for available bioinformatics tools and services is still a bottleneck for both expert and non-expert users. Advancement in providing common interfaces over such tools and services are gaining interest among researchers. However, the lack of (meta-) information about input-output data and parameter prevents to provide automated and standardized solutions, which can assist users in setting the appropriate parameters. These limitations must be resolved especially in the workflow-based solution in order to ease the integration of software.We report a Taverna Workbench plugin: the XworX BIFI (Beautiful Interfaces for Inputs) implemented as a solution for the aforementioned issues. BIFI provides a Graphical User Interface (GUI) definition language used to layout the user interface and to define parameter options for Taverna workflows. BIFI is also able to submit GUI Definition Files (GDF) directly or discover appropriate instances from a configured repository. In the absence of a GDF, BIFI generates a default interface.The Taverna Workbench is an open source software providing the ability to combine various services within a workflow. Nevertheless, users can supply input data to the workflow via a simple user interface providing only a text area to enter the input in text form. The workflow may contain meta-information in human readable form such as description text for the port and an example value. However, not all workflow ports are documented so well or have all the required information.BIFI uses custom user interface components for ports which give users feedback on the parameter data type or structure to be used for service execution and enables client-side data validations. Moreover, BIFI offers user interfaces that allow users to interactively construct workflow views and share them with the community, thus significantly increasing usability of heterogeneous, distributed service consumption.