Common Workflow Language Viewer: (Talk)

Mark Robinson, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Michael R. Crusoe, Carole Goble

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

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The Common Workflow Language (CWL) project emerged from the BOSC 2014 Codefest as a grassroots, multi-vendor working group to tackle the portability of data analysis workflows. It’s specification for describing workflows and command line tools aims to make them portable and scalable across a variety of computing platforms.

At its heart CWL is a set of structured text files (YAML) with various extensibility points to the format. However, the CWL syntax and multi-file collections are not conducive to workflow browsing, exchange and understanding: for this we need a visualization suite.

CWL Viewer
is a richly featured CWL visualization suite that graphically presents and lists the details of CWL workflows with their inputs, outputs and steps. It also packages the CWL files into a downloadable Research Object Bundle including attribution, versioning and dependency metadata in the manifest, allowing it to be easily shared. The tool operates over any workflow held in a GitHub repository. Other features include: path visualization from parents and children nodes; nested workflows support; workflow graph download in a range of image formats; a gallery of previously submitted workflows; and support for private git repositories and public GitHub including live updates over versioned workflows.

The CWL Viewer is the de facto CWL visualization suite and has been enthusiastically received by the CWL community.
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Source Code:
Software License: Apache License, Version 2.0
Submitted abstract: CWL Viewer: The Common Workflow Language Viewer
Technical Report: Reproducible Research using Research Objects(
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2017
EventBioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) 2017 - ISMB/ECCB 2017, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 22 Jul 201723 Jul 2017


ConferenceBioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) 2017
Abbreviated titleBOSC
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


  • cwl
  • workflows
  • scientific workflows
  • research object
  • visualization


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  • BioExcel

    Goble, C. & Soiland-Reyes, S.


    Project: Research

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