Taverna

Taverna is a scientific workflow management system designed to assemble, run, document and share sequences sequences of web services and scripts. Large scale service providers, such as the EBI (European Bioinformatics Institute) in the bioinformatics domain, offer their resources as Web Services that can be executed and combined into multi-step analysis pipelines, or workflows, using systems like Taverna. The benefit is that researchers can perform large-scale analysis without the requirement to install tools and data sources locally, thereby reducing local infrastructure and maintenance costs and enabling rapid workflow development and testing.

Provider

The myGrid project.

Licensing and cost

LGPL 2.1 licence – free.

Development Activity

Taverna 2.4 was released in May 2012.

The project advertises guaranteed funding until 2014.

Platform and interoperability

Taverna is written in Java and can run in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X environments.  It requires at least 1GB of RAM, and a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 6 or later.

The system uses Graphviz to generate workflow diagrams, and has built-in support for myExperiment and BioCatalogue.

Functional notes

Taverna functionality consists of four applications: a Workbench, a Command Line Tool, a Server, and an Engine. The Taverna Engine is used for enacting workflows and powers both the Taverna Workbench, which is the desktop client application, and the Taverna Server, which allows remote execution of workflows. Taverna is also available as a Command Line Tool for users wanting the ability to quickly execute workflows from a terminal without the overheads of the GUI.

Taverna does not itself include any analytic or data services; instead, it provides the software for accessing these services, as well as a shim service that helps incompatible scripts interoperate within a workflow. Workflows may be nested as components of other workflows. Taverna can interact with a wide range of services; WSDL Web Services, local scripts and BioMart data warehouses,  RESTful Web Services, Grid Services, cloud services, R-scripts and distributed command-line scripts.

Documentation and user support  

Taverna supplies extensive documentation, including a FAQ, User Manual and Quick Start Guide. The site also offers a number of online tutorials.

The project offers additional support through the Taverna-users and taverna-hackers lists. Issues can be raised through a JIRA system.

Usability

Taverna offers a straightforward GUI, with tabs for finding, designing and executing workflows. The Taverna workbench allows users to identify and combine services by dragging and dropping them onto the workflow design panel. An 'Interaction Service' enables users to select parameters and data during workflow execution.

A built-in help facility offers workflow validation and debugging. Users with administrator rights on their machine can download a Windows installer. 

Expertise required

Users must be familiar with scientific workflow configuration.

Standards compliance

The software conforms to a number of security standards, including HTTP Basic Authentication, WS-Security support, HTTPS, and Java Cryptography Policy.

Taverna provides users with trackable results of their experiments using the OPM (Open Provenance Model) standard and the W3C PROV model.

Influence and take-up

The site advertises use by more than 350 academic and commercial organizations throughout the world.

Last reviewed: 
12 June, 2013