[Bioperl-l] genbank/embl format ebnf or other formal description

Dan Kortschak dan.kortschak at adelaide.edu.au
Tue Sep 11 17:39:06 EDT 2012


Thanks Chris. It is related to both really, and more.

Second first, I continue to be amazed at the lack of specification or testing in a significant portion of software in the bioinformatics realm (bioperl is a nice counter example and one that I am grateful for having had as a training ground - and the work that has obviously gone into working through parsing and formatting un- or under-specified formats by the core and other developers is phenomenal).

But to the first point, I am unable to use bioperl to parse/format these formats for my project as it is a new project, not written in Perl - apologies for abusing the list - but rather in Go. I could go through the Perl to reimplement based on that, but I was hoping to use a parser generator from a spec, so that I can guarantee the parser/formatter is correct formally.

I asked here because I believe the developers of bioperl are some of the foremost experts in parsing the collection of "weakly defined, internally redundant, ambiguous, bulky fruit salad[s] of ... data format[s]" [1] that constute the majority of the file formats out there (this is not a pejorative against the bioperl devs, but rather a testament to their fortitude and strength - I have only implemented the bare minimum of formats in my library so far).

thanks
Dan


[1]http://www.biostars.org/post/show/7126/what-are-the-most-common-stupid-mistakes-in-bioinformatics/#7136

On 12/09/2012, at 12:09 AM, "Fields, Christopher J" <cjfields at illinois.edu> wrote:

> Christopher,
> 
> I think Dan's question is orthogonal to actually parsing a file; it relates more to proper formatting for a particular format based on a specification as well as potential downstream validation.  Bio::SeqIO::genbank is geared for flexibility and can handle a lot of mis-formatted data, it can massage some data into the proper format if needed.  One must recognize the primary driver for the parsers is to get data into objects, not as a format converter (that just happens to be a nice useful side effect).
> 
> The problem is, like many formats, a formal specification for Genbank format doesn't exist outside of the NCBI example file (old and incomplete) and the FT definition as far as I know, so calling something 'official' Genbank format isn't possible outside of NCBI.
> 
> chris (f)
> 
> On Sep 11, 2012, at 9:10 AM, Christopher Bottoms <molecules at cpan.org> wrote:
> 
>> Dan,
>> 
>> Why not use BioPerl's Bio::SeqIO, which can parse GenBank files?
>> 
>> --Christopher Bottoms
>> 
>> On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM, Dan Kortschak
>> <dan.kortschak at adelaide.edu.au> wrote:
>>> Thanks Chris. That's remarkable, so many words and not an actual formal
>>> specification. I guess I have some work ahead of me. I found the
>>> example, but examples rarely contain all edges and corners.
>>> 
>>> Dan
>>> 
>>> On Sat, 2012-09-08 at 03:39 +0000, Fields, Christopher J wrote:
>>>> Re: Genbank, the only know specification I know of is for the feature
>>>> table portion of the format as you have below.  They do have a
>>>> (possibly out of date) example file, note it isn't easily found unless
>>>> you search for it:
>>>> 
>>>> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Sitemap/samplerecord
>>>> 
>>>> EMBL is better in this regard:
>>>> 
>>>> http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/Documentation/User_manual/usrman.html
>>>> 
>>>> Note that UniProt Knowledgebase also has a user manual outlining the
>>>> similarities and differences with EMBL:
>>>> 
>>>> http://web.expasy.org/docs/userman.html
>>>> 
>>>> chris
>>> 
>>> 
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> Bioperl-l at lists.open-bio.org
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> 




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