Friday, June 05, 2020

Downloading files from Google Cloud

In doing some testing with GATK 4, I found myself in need of downloading files from Google Cloud. Google Cloud likes to use URL's
that start with gs: For example, the URL for some tumor data is

gs://gatk-best-practices/somatic-b37/HCC1143.bam .

You can't just visit that URL in your browser though; or at least I couldn't. I had to install gsutil as described here: . This is one of those weird installs where they provide a script online that you can run; a bit dangerous, but at least they don't ask for sudo. It downloads about a gazillion files then asks permission to muck with your settings. I said no, of course, and it gave me a couple of files to source if I wanted. One of them had to do with providing autocomplete, but the other one simply added a directory to the path, so I created
an environment module to do that work. Now I can download the files I need:

$ gsutil cp gs://gatk-best-practices/somatic-b37/HCC1143.bam .

Friday, May 15, 2020

Github offers successor options

Github is putting some thought into what happens to to your repositories if you're "unable" to manage them - a kind way of saying if you die. Nothing I have would have any consequence, but certainly I'm involved with some organizations that would need taking over. Here's how you name a successor for your repositories:

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Covid-19 infections by county, rate of increase

So this image shows rate of increase of the number of cases on a daily basis. It's not as smooth as I would like.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Generating sequentially increasing values in C++

Say you need to generate a sequence, in C++, simply consisting of the first so many integers, like, 1,2,3,4,5.

With a little programming experience, you can come up with a dozen different ways to do this, but here's an obscure one:

std::list<int> l(5);
std::iota(l.begin(), l.end(), 1);

According to CppReference, the function is named after the integer function ⍳ from the programming language APL.

The more you know.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Command Line tips from CLI Magic

Tips for working with the command line from CLI magic. I like this one to show all listening TCP/UDP ports for the current user:

$ lsof -Pan -i tcp -i udp

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Covid-19 infections by county, over time

This is a visualization choropleth I put together of Covid-19 infections for each county over time. It's based on the NY Times data set and I built the images in Python based off a very good, if ancient, tutorial I found at FlowingData.

Edit: Updated through Apr. 13 data, and also made the original larger. Not sure if that matters for this web page or not.

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. I would appreciate attribution if you care to use it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

BeautifulSoup4 in Python

A lot of code available that uses BeautifulSoup tells you to call it like so:

from beautifulsoup import BeautifulSoup

If you've installed BeautifulSoup4, though, this won't work. The main module name has been changed to bs4. So change the code that does that to 

from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
Please make a note of it.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pre-defined compiler macros

If you're working in a multiple-compiler environment, you may wish to get information at compile time about which compiler you're building with. Here's a list of macros defined by many compilers:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Take a newick tree and stre-e-etch the leaves to make it ultrametric

I needed to generate some ultrametric Newick trees for some simulations. There's a nice Newick tree generator online at http:/Trex/, but it doesn't have any way to make an ultrametric tree. (Ultrametric means that the lengths from root to tip are all of the same.) So I put together a short script using BioPython to replace the length of each leaf node to make the lengths all identical to the longest length.

How to delete empty rows in an Excel spreadsheet

How to delete empty rows in an Excel spreadsheet:

Monday, August 10, 2015

How Installing a Random Tool Caused Ruby on Rails to Stop Working

At work I maintain a little Ruby on Rails site. Not a particularly interesting site, just a set of pages of statistics gathered from various databases around the organization. It runs on a RHEL6 virtual machine and I write most of the code on my Windows laptop using RubyMine from JetBrains - a product I wholeheartedly endorse, by the way.

It does take a little patience to run Rails on Windows - not due to any deficit in either product, just because the vast majority of people who work with Rails are running it on some other platform, so when you have problems, a lot of times you're on your own.

Take this problem I ran into recently, for example. I launched RubyMine to check out a bug, fired up the ol' testing server, browsed to the web page, and was greeted with this:

JSON::ParserError in Statistics#index
Showing /app/views/layouts/application.html.erb where line #5 raised:

757: unexpected token at 'Node Commands

    node {operator} [options] [arguments]

        /? or /help   - Display this help message.
        list          - List nodes or node history or the cluster
        listcores     - List cores on the cluster
        view          - View properties of a node
        online        - Set nodes or node to online state
        offline       - Set one or more nodes to the offline state

For more information about HPC command-line tools,

(in /app/assets/javascripts/

Now, of all possible error messages to get, one involving HPC command-line tools was not one that I had ever considered. What's going on here?

The line that gives the error is one that occurs in every Rails application:

<%= javascript_include_tag 'application' %>

What it really comes down to saying is, take all of the Javascript and Coffeescript code in the application, and include it here. A little wasteful, perhaps, but in a production environment all of the code will get glommed into a single file appropriate for caching in the browser, so it's not a bad system. Still, where's the error?

Obviously it must be in the Coffeescript file referenced at the end of the error message. But why is it suddenly complaining about HPC? I went and commented that whole file out - no joy. The same error got reported with a different file. I could find no information anywhere about what the cause might have been, and I didn't expect searching for the error message itself would do any good. I work in an HPC - which stands for High  Performance Computing, incidentally - environment so I was fairly sure the error was something very specific to my machine.

I tried, of course. Several different Google searches failed - but I finally hit on the right combination of keywords that led me to a Google Plus comment on a YouTube tutorial.

It turns out that Rails, in its infinite struggle for flexibility, relies on a gem called ExecJS to decide how it's going to convert Coffeescript to Javascript. ExecJS, in turn, is of the opinion that Node.js is a really good way to do the conversion. And it determines if Node.js is available by trying to run an application called Node.

Which is fine, unless you happen to run Windows; and you happen to work in an HPC environment; and you happen to have gone to a conference the other week where you decided to install Microsoft's HPC tools; which happen to include a nice command for managing compute nodes; called - you guessed it - Node. ExecJS was trying to use Microsoft's Node command to convert Coffeescript to Javascript, resulting in the error you see. Hats off to Jonathan McDonald for nailing the issue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trinity RNA-Seq

In January a site went live called I suspect due to the timing and the subject matter it was a student project. The idea was to write summaries - no more than 500 words - of scientific papers and allow people to comment on and discuss them. I thought it was a neat idea. They had some ideas for incentivizing writers and so forth, but I didn't have time to contribute anything until this summer, by which time the authors had apparently lost interest. I sent in a summary of a paper, but after several weeks it had not been approved by the moderators. Maybe it just wasn't that good! 

The paper is Trinity: reconstructing a full-length transcriptome without a genome from RNA-Seq data

This is what I sent them:

The reconstruction of a transcriptome from the short reads generated by RNA-Seq techniques presents many challenges, particularly in the absence of an existing reference genome with which to compare the reads. Challenges include: uneven coverage of the various transcripts; (ii) uneven coverage inside each transcript; (iii) sequencing errors in highly expressed transcripts; (iv) transcripts encoded by adjacent loci can overlap and thus can be erroneously fused to form a chimeric transcript; (v) data structures need to accommodate multiple transcripts per locus, owing to alternative splicing; and (vi) sequences that are repeated in different genes introduce ambiguity. The Trinity pipeline leverages several properties of transcriptomes in its assembly procedure: it uses transcript expression to guide the initial transcript assembly procedure in a strand-specific manner, it partitions RNA-Seq reads into sets of disjoint transcriptional loci, and it traverses each of the transcript graphs systematically to explore the sets of transcript sequences that best represent variants resulting from alternative splicing or gene duplication by exploiting pairs of RNA-Seq reads. The series of steps performed by the pipeline correctly reconstructs a significant percentage of the transcripts without relying on the existence of a reference genome.

A major data structure used the pipeline is the de Bruijn graph. A de Bruijn graph places each k-mer in a node, and has connected nodes if the k-mers are identical in all but the first or last position. While an efficient structure for representing heavily overlapping sequences, there are challenges in the usage of these graphs: (i) efficiently constructing this graph from large amounts (billions of base pairs) of raw data; (ii) defining a suitable scoring and enumeration algorithm to recover all plausible splice forms and paralogous transcripts; and (iii) providing robustness to the noise stemming from sequencing errors and other artifacts in the data. Sequencing errors would introduce false nodes to the graph, potentially resulting in a great deal of wasted memory.

The Trinity pipeline consists of the following steps: it first analyzes the short reads to create a dictionary of all sequences of length 25 in the reads, indexing the locations where each sequence may be found. After removing likely errors, the unique k-mers are recombined, starting with the most frequently occurring sequences and extending the combination until no more k-mers can be matched. Each contig is then added to a cluster based on potential alternative spliced transcripts or otherwise unique portions of paralogous genes. Then, a de Bruijn graph is generated from each cluster with the weight of each edge assigned from the number of k-mers in the original read set that support the connection. In the final phase, a merge-and-prune operation on each graph, for error correction, is performed, followed by an enumeration of potential paths through the graph with a greater likelihood placed on paths with greater read support.

The authors built transcriptomes from both original data and reference sets, having a great deal of success in either case.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Slim protocol

I wrote earlier about Fitnesse and Slim style integration testing.

There are only a few commands associated with Slim tables, but the precise meaning of the command is left to the Slim server. For example, according to the Slim documentation, the Import instruction:

causes the <path> to be added to the search path for fixtures. In java <path> gets added to the CLASSPATH. In .NET, the <path> would name a dll. 

This explains why import tests are always green. You can pass them any random string and it's just added to the path. In WaferSlim, the concept is extended slightly: if the string has a slash or backslash in it, it's considered a path. Otherwise, it's considered a file and is added to the list of files searched for classes. Let's take an example. Create a file called with the following code:

class SomeDecisionTable:
def setInput(self, x):
self.x = str(x)

def getOutput(self):
return int(self.x) + 1

There's an odd Unicode issue that I think requires context variables to be saved as strings. I don't know if Fitnesse, Slim or Waferslim is responsible for that. At any rate, it's simple enough: set the input to an integer and the output will be the integer plus one.

Save that file. Now the Import table will take two lines, one with the path, one with the file:

!|import |

Now WaferSlim knows where to find our code, so let's take a look at another table.

Here's what the Slim protocol tells us: it can send Make instructions and Call instructions. A Make instruction tells the server to create an object; a Call instruction tells it to call a method on that object. I'd hoped to go through the Fitnesse code to determine exactly how that works, but I didn't. We'll take it on faith that the first line of a table sends a Make instruction and further lines send Call instructions. So, in order to make calls into our object, we write:

|input|get output?|
|1    |2          |
|10   |11         |

From the first line of the table, Fitnesse sends a Make: SomeDecisionTable command to the Slim server. Because of our Import statements, the server searches the /path/to/fixtures directory for the file, finds the SomeDecisionTable class, and instantiates it. 

The second line of the table tells Fitnesse what Call statements to make. It will call setInput and then getOutput. Each further line of the table gives arguments for the input and output. So the sequence of events from the Slim server's perspective is as follows:

Make: SomeDecisionTable
Call: setInput(1)
Call: getOutput()
Call: setInput(10)
Call: getOutput()

Click the test button now and everything should run green.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fitnesse and Slim

Fitnesse is a rather nice testing tool. It's been around since what seems like the beginning of the integration testing movement. It's based around HTML tables that are translated into application code. The wiring that translates tables into code are called fixtures. Since Fitnesse was written in Java, it was mostly useful for testing Java code, although many translations and tricks were devised to allow tests of other languages. Fitnesse also includes a wiki to make the process of creating the test tables easier.

A few years after Fitnesse was introduced, an alternate translation tool, SLIM, was created. The idea behind Slim was to allow testers to implement tests in their language of choice, with the communication between Fitnesse and the tests taking place over a socket. This allows any application that implements the correct protocol to run tests written in Fitnesse tables.

Several applications were created to support the protocol in various languages, including RubySlim for Ruby and WaferSlim for Python. I had occasion to write a set of integration tests recently, so I thought it would be simple to set up a Slim server to get the tests running. Turned out, I was wrong.

For my tests, I wanted to set up the simplest thing that could possibly work. So what is the minimum requirement for a Slim test page? If you look at the RubySlim documentation you end up with a page that looks something like this:
    !define TEST_SYSTEM {slim}
    !define TEST_RUNNER {rubyslim}
    !define COMMAND_PATTERN {rubyslim}
    !path your/ruby/fixtures
    |<ruby module of fixtures>|
    |input|get output?|
    |1    |2          |

What all these things do is not clearly explained. Click the test button; you get a bunch of cryptic error messages. So what do they mean?

Well, the first line is pretty clear: if you want to use Slim, you need to set the test system. For the rest of it, we pretty much need to go directly to the source code. It turns out that the heart of Slim is in the Java class ProcessBuilder. In the CommandRunner class of Fitnesse we find:

ProcessBuilder processBuilder = new ProcessBuilder(command);

The command argument is no more than the COMMAND_PATTERN variable defined on the page, with a single argument appended, a port number. So if you wanted to use WaferSlim (a Python Slim server), you might say:

!define COMMAND PATTERN {python /home/benfulton/}

(Since we need to understand how Slim works, let's get the WaferSlim source from Github rather than installing it via Pip. The slim-init source is from this gist.)

So, after downloading WaferSlim and the code from the gist, we should be able to get the Simplest Possible Page to work. Here it is:

!define TEST_SYSTEM {slim}
!define COMMAND_PATTERN {python /home/benfulton/ }

!|import |

Click the test button, and you should get a green test.

If you don't, you may have a Slim versioning error. Go to and change the version number from 0.1 to 0.3. Or Python may not be in your path, or the init-script may not be found. Or - here's a tricky one - you put a space before the python command. If you did that, the first command that gets passed to the ProcessBuilder class will be an empty string, and it won't run. Still, this will run green without too much effort.

But wait! What's the use of this import statement that went green before we wrote anything?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Suffix Arrays

In our quest to win a million dollars, we're trying to Index the Human Genome. A typical index, like in the back of a book, is composed of an entry, say "Sheep", and a list of page numbers, say "88,121,265". But when we went to try this idea on the 3,000,000,000 characters in the genome, we found that it took up significantly more space than the genome itself, which was unworkable. Surely we can find a more efficient solution to the problem. (Or, we could throw up our hands, call it "Big Data", and put a supercomputer to work on it. Let's not do that.)

Actually, there's a fair amount of redundancy in an index. If there are three instances of the word "Sheep" in our book, and we add a fourth instance of it to the index, we're increased the number of sheep, so to speak, by 33%. If we do that for every word in the book we'll add a significant chunk to the overall size.

But suppose, rather than just give the user the page numbers where the word "Sheep" is, we provided them with with the line and word numbers as well. "Sheep" is on page 88, line 14, word six. Now, the index is in alphabetical order of course, so what we can do is simply eliminate all those redundant words from the index. So the index entry for "Sheep" would just say "88,14,6". Say readers want to find the word "Streams". They would go and find an entry "88,14,6" and look up the word in the book. Finding that it's "Sheep", they realize the word is later in the index, since "Streams" is alphabetically after "Sheep". They go to the next entry in the index, maybe "81,19,11", and look up that word in the book. It's "Streams", so they've found their word, and the index didn't require any of those annoying, redundant words in it!

Sheep by a Stream
Sheep. By a stream.
OK, not a very simple operation for a human reader. But easy enough for a computer. And since our genome doesn't have pages or lines, we could simply record the location of each individual 20-mer and put the locations in alphabetical order. We can even take it one step further: since 20 is just an arbitrary length that we chose, we'll remove it from the solution and just say that we'll take as many characters as we need to get a unique ordering of all of the strings. Notice that you might need to take all of the remaining characters of the genome to alphabetize it correctly, and if you do, you have a suffix of the genome. If you don't need all the characters, it doesn't matter if you add them or not, so you might as well, and therefore we have an array of the suffixes of the genome. A suffix array.

I won't go into the details of how to create such an index right now, but it can be done in relatively few lines of code. (One easy-to-use library is called SAIS.) Now, the simplest way to write out a suffix array is a text file of the alphabetized suffix indices, in ASCII format, one number per line. This, unfortunately, brings us straight back to the size problem - let's say eight bytes on average, per line, with one line per character in the genome, and we end up with 24 gigabytes worth of index. But at least it's a workable index. If we split the index into several files to keep it manageable, it even suggests a refinement of our attack on the overall problem. We'll see how another time.

(Update: I wrote an article on suffix array algorithms.)

Part I: A Million Dollars Up For Grabs
Part II: Analyzing DNA with BWA
Part III: Analyzing DNA Programmatically
Part IV: Indexing the Human Genome
Part V: Suffix Arrays

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Indexing the human genome

Last time I had decided that to efficiently analyze the reads, we had to make an index of the human genome. So how do we go about that?

Library of Congress Classification - Reading Room
Indexing at the Library of Congress
What we need is an efficient way to access any given substring in the genome. It's not quite the same as indexing a book; rather than determining the locations of "dynamo", "father", and "pseudopodia" in the book, we need to be able to find the location of EVERY substring. It's as if, in our book, we had to find instances of "dynamo", "ynamo", "namo" and so on. Not only that, but if the book had the sentence, "A dynamo has unlimited duration." we have to find instances of "namo h", "namo ha" "namo has" and so on.

So we can't just split the genome by word boundaries like we would for a book. Can we split it into even-sized chunks and index those? For example, could we choose a chunk size of five and split every ten characters into two index entries?

It won't work. For example, if the genome was "AGACTTGCTG", we might choose to index every five characters (called a 5-mer). This would give us two strings, "AGACT" and "TGCTG", which is fine, but if we come along later and try to search for "CTTGC", we're out of luck - that's not in our index. But it is in the string.

So we have to choose an index size and go through the genome character by character. In our ten-character genome, indexing by 5-mer, we get the strings:


(and a few shorter strings at the end, if we so desire.)

To be useful, we'll have to store our index as a dictionary of 5-mers to an array of integers, representing the locations in the genome where that string was found. For our sample, we have 30 characters worth of 5-mers, and just six integers to save, for a total of 54 bytes. What happens when we index the whole genome?

It's a fair assumption that every possible string will be in the genome, so we'll have 4or 1024 entries in our index. The number of values, though...we have to have an index value for every single character in the genome. If our genome was the book Moby Dick, we'd have around a million characters to index. Each index value would have, on average, about 1000 items in it. If we're really hoping to match all of our reads to each item in the index, we're going to go through 1000 entries for each read, which might be a bit slow. Unfortunately, our genome isn't Moby Dick. It's roughly the size of 6,000 Moby Dicks. Each index is going to be in just about six million locations. It can't possibly read all those at the speed we require.

Okay, so if we have too many items per index value, we just have to make our index larger. What if we do 10-mers, or even 20-mers? Well, 10-mers gives us 410 entries - call it a million. That means each index will be found in about 6,000 locations. Kind of a lot, but maybe doable. If we do 20-mers - well, 420 is 1,099,511,627,776. This is more on the lines of what we need in an index - it's well beyond the number of characters in the genome, so each index shouldn't show up in more than one or two locations. There's just one small problem: We now have six billion entries with twenty-character identifiers, and the space our index needs is now up to 120 gigabytes!

Maybe we could tweak and tune and find a sweet spot, but instead we'll try a different approach entirely to indexing. Next time.

Part I: A Million Dollars Up For Grabs
Part II: Analyzing DNA with BWA
Part III: Analyzing DNA Programmatically
Part IV: Indexing the Human Genome

Monday, May 13, 2013

Analyzing DNA programmatically

Last time I discussed using a program called BWA to try to determine if a given sequence was part of the human genome or not. It didn't seem to do a great job. How do we approach it programmatically?

Let's review the problem first. You have a machine that has analyzed some DNA, and it's given you some sequences it's found. Roughly 300,000 of them. Some with maybe only five characters, some with a few hundred. We call them "reads".

Genomes of Canis lupus major ups! familiaris : Assembled chromosomes
Recall that a DNA sequence, from a programming standpoint, consists of any number of any of four characters: A,C,G, and T. A human genome, in the end, is just a DNA sequence. So if the human sequence was "AAGGTTTCC" and your sequence is "AGGT", bing! You've got a match.

Now, here's the catch: a read, instead of being four characters, is reasonably a minimum of fifty characters. The human genome, instead of being nine characters, is roughly six billion characters. 6,000,000,000 characters. If your first thought is to fire up a text editor and do a search, you had better make sure that (a) the editor is capable of handling a six gigabyte file, and (b) that your computer has six gigs available to throw around (In 2013, a high-end laptop will probably have eight gigs, so just barely enough space to hold the genome and run a couple of other programs.)

Another, minor issue is that most genome files are formatted with sixty-character lines. If your sequence is split across two lines, a simple text search won't find it. You can preprocess the file to remove all the carriage returns, but if you do, your text editor had better be able to handle one line with 6 billion characters on it!

Your next idea: grep. Will grep find a 50-character match in a genome? I couldn't find a good way to do it reliably, since, again, genome files tend to be formatted into 60-character lines, and grep isn't really capable of finding a string that breaks across a line. Moreover, grep is a line-based tool, so odds are if you try preprocessing the line, grep will think (rightly) that you have a file with one six-billion character line in it, try to read in the line, and run out of memory.

Here's the other catch: Suppose you could get grep to work, and it managed to search the whole genome in three seconds. But we have 300,000 reads to get through! That's about 250 hours worth of search time and we're under a three-hour deadline. So we can't really afford to search the entire genome for each read.

So we'll write a script. A good processing plan might be this: index the genome, index the reads, then march down the two together to find our list of best prefixes. Sounds great!

But it turns out that even indexing a file the size of the human genome is a pain. I'll think about why next time.

Also see: A Million Dollars Up For Grabs

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Analyzing DNA with BWA

Last time I discussed a million-dollar challenge posted by Innocenture. The challenge is to analyze a series of DNA reads and determine the source. My professor suggested using a program named BWA, a Burrows-Wheeler Aligner. Burrows-Wheeler alignment is an algorithm for matching up two sequences which may not be the same length. Perhaps one sequence has two extra nucleotides in the middle but the entire rest of the sequences match. These kinds of sequences are very difficult to find naively, and which match is better can come down to a judgment call.

So the goal is to align each sequence in the example file to the human genome. BWA, for speed, asks that you index the target genome - the human genome, in this case - which takes a fair amount of time. Then, you pass it each sequence on the command line, with a command something like:

>bwa align AAGCTCTA human_genome

and it does its magic and returns the location in the genome of the best several matches.

So I worked up a Python script to analyze the input file and pass each sequence to BWA in that format, and let it run for a few hours. (I'm never sure how many because I never remember to change the machine's power settings to not switch itself off after a few minutes of no UI activity). But it eventually completed. I went to look at the results, and I found them very intriguiing. Although, according to the challenge, no less than 90% of the DNA was human, the BWA program only managed to match about 50%, about 150,000 reads.

I took a closer look at the BWA manual, and found this option:

-o INTMaximum number of gap opens [1]

If I understand this correctly, it means that if the alignment has more than one gap in it, BWA will discard it as not being a match. You can change the value of this parameter, but when I did, it seemed to slow down the analysis quite a bit. I didn't let it complete, but based on the portions I did run I suspect it would have gone over the three-hour limitation - at least on my workstation, which I'm sure is underpowered compared to the target hardware.

So I started to think about what sort of coding would need to be done to meet this challenge. Next time I'll think about Analyzing DNA Programmatically

Friday, March 22, 2013

A million dollars up for grabs

Of course, you have to do a few things to earn it. Innocenture is running a challenge, with a million dollar prize, for the ability to take a DNA read, analyze it, and determine the precise species of each read. Here's the kicker: it has to be done rapidly.

They have some examples available. The input is in a large XML file that contains the DNA reads and some information on the quality of the reads, and they provide you with the output file they would be looking for. One example has a little more that 300,000 reads of between 50 and 200 nucleotides, putatively taken from a human. According to the output, at least 90% of the reads are from human DNA.

So how do we duplicate this output file? There's a program called BLAST available on the web for bioinformatic analysis - you give it a sequence of DNA and it almost immediately comes back with the closest matches across their entire, huge DNA database.

So, we might be able to slam that database with the reads and get back the results. There's just one problem - notice I said 300,000 reads? Suppose we could get back each one in one tenth of a second. That makes 30,000 seconds, or a total of eight hours and 20 minutes of runtime. Sadly, the million dollars probably won't be given away unless you can get the reads done in under three hours. Oh, and did I mention the application won't actually have internet access?

So the BLAST site is out, which is unfortunate, because it really does an amazing job at matching sequences. What do we do instead?

Due to the nature of science in the United States - "publish or perish" - there are a whole lot of little bioinformatics applications around. Mostly, people will write one, publish a paper about it, and then forget about it. There's no point in maintaining it or going back and improving it since there's no chance of writing another paper about it unless you change the algorithms significantly.

Still, a few of these applications manage to have some shelf life. I'll look at Analyzing DNA with BWA next.

Also see:
Analyzing DNA Programmatically