View markdown source on GitHub

Galaxy Tool Management with Ephemeris



last_modification Published: Jan 27, 2019
last_modification Last Updated: May 29, 2024

Galaxy tools

Speaker Notes

A Galaxy tool or wrapper is an XML file describing how some software program works

The wrapper xml file contains definitions of the tool input form and instructions to translate form entries into a command to execute the tool

Underlying software packages could be packages like samtools or biopython.

A repository in the Galaxy Tool Shed is a versioned code archive containing one or more Galaxy tools

The tool panel

.left-column50[ Tool panel ]


Speaker Notes

The tool panel on the left hand side of a Galaxy site contains all of the tools available on that Galaxy instance, arranged into sections.

In this picture the Text Manipulation section has been expanded.

There are tools that come with the galaxy code such as the uploader, but the vast majority of tools on a public galaxy have been installed from the toolshed.

The contents and layout of the tool panel are customisable.

class: left

Tool configuration files

tool_conf.xml (default tool_conf.xml.sample)



Speaker Notes

The contents of the tool panel are defined by three configuration files

The tool_conf file contains galaxy built in tools and manually added tools

The shed_tool_conf file is managed by galaxy and contains all tools installed from the tool shed

The integrated_tool_panel file contains all of the tools from tool_conf and shed_tool_conf and can be edited to change the layout of the tool panel

class: left


<toolbox monitor="true">
    <section id="getext" name="Get Data">
        <tool file="data_source/upload.xml"/>
        <tool file="data_source/ucsc_tablebrowser.xml"/>


<toolbox tool_path="../shed_tools">  <!-- path to installed repositories -->
  <section id="assembly" name="Assembly" version="">
    <tool file=""

Speaker Notes

The tool_conf file contains paths to local tool wrapper XML files.

Each tool element is within a section, telling galaxy where to put the tool in the panel.

The shed_tool_conf file also contains paths to tool wrapper XML files where they are installed (a complex directory structure)

It contains some metadata for each tool.

Tool Shed

Speaker Notes

The tool shed is Galaxy’s app store.

It’s a free service hosts repositories containing Galaxy tools and can be found at this URL.

It’s not a development platform: tools are usually maintained in open source github repos and uploaded to the toolshed.

##### Toolshed

Speaker Notes

The Galaxy tool shed has thousands of tools (almost 8000 as of October 2020)

You can go to this site to search for toolshed tools by category, or search for them by name

class: left

Ways to add tools

You can add tools to Galaxy either

Speaker Notes

Tools can be added manually or from the toolshed.

Toolshed tools can be installed through the admin UI but using ephemeris is recommended.

How to add tools manually

Speaker Notes

Tools can be added manually to the tool_conf.xml file.

If this doesn’t exist it can be copied from the default file tool_conf.xml.sample.

There is also a variable in the galaxy ansible role for adding these.

The dependecies need to be installed separately.

How to install Tool Shed tools through the UI

Speaker Notes

An administrator can look up any tool from the main toolshed in the admin panel and click the ‘Install’ button.

Advantages of using the Tool Shed

Speaker Notes

Installing from the tool shed will install tool dependencies.

This is typically a conda virtual environment containing every package that the tool requires.

A toolshed tool might have multiple revisions.

This is important for reproducibility.

If you use a tool in an analysis on a public galaxy server it will be there forever.

If you need to rerun your analysis in a year’s time, the tool you have used will still be there even if a is a newer revision of the tool has been installed.

Which Tool Shed?


<?xml version="1.0"?>
    <tool_shed name="Galaxy Main Tool Shed" url=""/>
<!-- Test Tool Shed should be used only for testing purposes.
    <tool_shed name="Galaxy Test Tool Shed" url=""/>


Speaker Notes

Repositories in the test tool shed are also public.

The toolshed is a web app backed by a database and anybody can run one, but we discourage running local tool shed.

By default, Galaxy only accepts tools from the main toolshed but also contains a commented out entry for the test toolshed.

What happens when installing a repo from the Tool Shed

Speaker Notes

The repository is downloaded

The tool’s dependencies are installed if needed (they may already be there)

If needed, reference data tables are installed

An entry for each tool is created in the Galaxy database (or the tool install database depending on the configuration of galaxy)

The tools are added to shed_tool_conf.xml

How to install with Ephemeris

Speaker Notes

Find a repository to install from the tool shed and install it with the ephemeris shed-tools command


Small Python library for Galaxy Management

Speaker Notes

Ephemeris is a Python library for Galaxy management.

It can be used to install tools, reference data, workflows and data libraries onto a Galaxy Instance.

It can also be used to run tool tests.

Ephemeris can be installed with pip.

Ephemeris manages tools through the Galaxy API.

There is no need to be using ephemeris commands from the server running Galaxy (though you can).

Get installed tool list for a Galaxy instance

get-tool-list [-g GALAXY] [-u USER] [-p PASSWORD] [-a API_KEY]
  [-h] [-v] 
	[--get_data_managers]  # admin only
	[--get_all_tools]  # admin only

Speaker Notes

Ephemeris can be used to get a list of installed tools for any public galaxy instance

An API key is not required for this but some options are not available unless an admin API key is provided.

- name: 'column_maker'
  owner: 'devteam'
  tool_panel_section_label: 'Text Manipulation'
  - '464b9305180e'	# 1.2.0
  tool_shed_url: ''
- name: 'bwa'
  owner: 'devteam'
  - '051eba708f43'  #
  - '4d82cf59895e'  #
  tool_panel_section_label: 'Mapping'
  tool_shed_url: ''
- name: 'tabular_to_fasta'
  owner: 'devteam'
  - '0b4e36026794'  # v1.1.0
  tool_panel_section_label: 'Convert Formats'
  tool_shed_url: ''

Speaker Notes

The output contains all of the information we would need to install tools on a different galaxy instance.

The revisions correspond to tool versions. There are comments to highlight this.

There are two different revisions of bwa corresponding to two different versions.

Install/Update/Test tools

shed-tools install [-h] [-v] [-g GALAXY] [-u USER] [-p PASSWORD] [-a API_KEY]
	[--log_file LOG_FILE]
	[--name NAME]
	[--owner OWNER]
	[--revisions [REVISIONS [REVISIONS ...]]]
	[--toolshed TOOL_SHED_URL]
	[--test_json TEST_JSON]
	[--test_user_api_key TEST_USER]
	[--test_user TEST_USER]
	[--section_label TOOL_PANEL_SECTION_LABEL]

Speaker Notes

A galaxy administrator can install tools by providing their administrator API key.

They can specify the name, owner and section label or provide a yaml list of tools (TOOL_LIST_FILE)

Example: Installing circos

.left[ (1)

shed-tools install -g <galaxy url> -a <api key> \
  --name circos --owner iuc --section_label 'Graph/Display Data'


shed-tools install -g <galaxy url> -a <api key> -t tools.yml


- name: circos
  owner: iuc
  tool_panel_section_label: Graph/Display Data


Speaker Notes

shed-tools can be used to install a tool from command line arguments or from a yaml file containing one or more tools.

These two examples are equivalent to each other.

The advantage of the second approach is that many tools be listed in tools.yml to be installed at the same time

The argument ‘revisions’ can also be provided to install a specific revision or more than one revision of the repository.

In the absence of a ‘revisions’ argument, shed-tools will install the latest revision of the tool.

Test tools

shed-tools test [-h] [-v] [--log_file LOG_FILE] [-g GALAXY] [-u USER]
  [-y TOOL_YAML] [--name NAME] [--owner OWNER]
  [--revisions [REVISIONS [REVISIONS ...]]]
  [--toolshed TOOL_SHED_URL] [--test_json TEST_JSON]
  [--test_user_api_key TEST_USER_API_KEY]
  [--test_user TEST_USER]
  [--parallel_tests PARALLEL_TESTS]

Speaker Notes

A good tool comes with tests: instructions within the wrapper to run the tool with test input and see whether the tool produces the expected output.

You need to be an an administrator to install tools but any galaxy user with an API key can run tool tests.

Tool test output

Speaker Notes

Running tool tests with ephemeris will yield

The python library planemo (also part of the galaxy project) can be used generate a user-friendly report from the json data.

List tools from a Galaxy workflow

        A space separated list of galaxy workflow description
        files in json format
        The output file with a yml tool list
        The name of the panel where the tools will show up in
        Galaxy.If not specified: "Tools from workflows"

Speaker Notes

From a downloaded workflow file, workflow-to-tools generates a yaml list of all toolshed tools required to run that workflow

Setup data libraries

setup-data-libraries [-h] [-v] [-g GALAXY] [-u USER] [-p PASSWORD] [-a API_KEY]

Speaker Notes

An administrator can use the ephemeris command setup-data-libraries to upload shared data files

  type: library
  name: "Cool Training Library"
  description: "A longer description."
  synopsis: "Optional - does anyone ever set this?"
  - name: "Test Folder 1"
    description: "Description of what is in Test Folder 1"
      - url:
        src: url
        ext: fasta
        info: "A cool longer description."
        dbkey: "hg19"
  - name: "Test data segmentation-fold"
      - url:
        name: workflow-test_cd-box_kturns.xml
        info: Downloaded from
        src: url
        ext: xml

Speaker Notes

A yaml file describing two folders with one file each to upload to galaxy’s shared data.

Contains instructions to download the file contents from public URLs

Wait for Galaxy

$ galaxy-wait -g http://localhost:8080 -v
[00] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused
[01] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused
[02] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused
[03] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused
[04] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused
[05] Galaxy not up yet... HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080):
	 Max retries exceeded with url: /api/version (Caused

Galaxy Version: 17.05

Speaker Notes

galaxy-wait sends an API request to a galaxy server to check whether it is running and able to accept the request.

If the server is ready it will return straight away.

If not it will keep sending requests.

This is useful if you want to run any of the other commands such as shed-tools install and you don’t know whether Galaxy will be ready.

More on Tool Management

class: normal

Simple tool shed repository (remove_beginning)

├──          # optional accompanying script
├── remove_beginning.xml         # tool wrapper
├── .shed.yml                    # metadata file
└── test-data                    # subdirectory for test data
    ├── 1.bed                    # test input file
    └── eq-removebeginning.dat   # test output file

Speaker Notes

A tool shed repository containing one tool: remove_beginning.

The repository contains

class: normal

.shed.yml file

Contains repository’s metadata.

- Text Manipulation
description: Remove lines from the beginning of a file.
long_description: |
  This tool removes the specified number of lines from the beginning
  of the input dataset.
<span id="remove_beginning"><i class="fas fa-link" aria-hidden="true"></i> remove_beginning</span>
owner: devteam
type: unrestricted

Speaker Notes

The tool name and owner are set in the metadata file.

The file also contains the development url for the tool.

The development URL is displayed in the toolshed as a link to the tool’s files within its development environment.

This is the github repo you would go to raise an issue the the tool or make a pull request to improve the tool.

class: normal

Complex tool shed repository (varscan)

├── macros.xml                         # defines tool macros
├── .shed.yml
├── test-data
│   ├── control_chrM.bam
│   ├── fasta_indexes.loc              # Loc file for tests
│   └── varscan_mpileup_result1.vcf
├── tool-data
│   └── fasta_indexes.loc.sample       # Sample loc file
├── tool_data_table_conf.xml.sample    # Sample data table
├── tool_data_table_conf.xml.test      # Data table for tests
├── varscan_copynumber.xml             # wrapper for tool #1
├── varscan_mpileup.xml                # wrapper for tool #2
└── varscan_somatic.xml                # wrapper for tool #3

Speaker Notes

This is a more complex toolshed repository containing three tool wrappers related to the same software.

Installing this repository will add three tools to the tool panel.

Data tables and loc files

Speaker Notes

Sometimes tools will need reference data such as genomes.

Loc files and data tables are used to link tools with reference files.

If CVMFS is installed a lot of your reference data needs will be taken care of.

There are data manager tools in the toolshed for installing reference data for tools.

These can be run from the admin panel or using ephemeri

Suite repositories

Speaker Notes

There are also repositories in the Tool Shed that are suite repositories.

Suite repositories can be used to install multiple tool shed repositories at once.

For example: there are many tools associated with samtools owned by the IUC, such as samtools_view or samtools_mpileup.

Installing samtools_suite will result in all of these samtools repositories being installed.

Resolving Galaxy Tool Dependencies

Speaker Notes

The preferred method for resolving tool dependencies is through containers. Apptainer particularly works well in the context of cluster jobs. It is also possible to use non-container dependency resolution methods. There is further reading available on this topic.

Key Points

Thank you!

This material is the result of a collaborative work. Thanks to the Galaxy Training Network and all the contributors! page logo Tutorial Content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.