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Working paper Open Access

10 Simple Rules for making a software tool workflow-ready

Paul Brack; Peter Crowther; Stian Soiland-Reyes; Stuart Owen; Douglas Lowe; Alan R Williams; Quentin Groom; Mathias Dillen; Frederik Coppens; Björn Grüning; Ignacio Eguinoa; Philip Ewels; Carole Goble

Workflows have become a core part of computational scientific analysis in recent years. Automated computational workflows multiply the power of researchers, potentially turning “hand-cranked” data processing by informaticians into robust factories for complex research output.

However, in order for a piece of software to be usable as a workflow-ready tool, it may require alteration from its likely origin as a standalone tool. Research software is often created in response to the need to answer a research question with the minimum expenditure of time and money in resource-constrained projects. The level of quality might range from “it works on my computer” to mature and robust projects with support across multiple operating systems.

Despite significant increase in uptake of workflow tools, there is little specific guidance for writing software intended to slot in as a tool within a workflow; or on converting an existing standalone research-quality software tool into a reusable, composable, well-behaved citizen within a larger workflow.

In this paper we present 10 simple rules for how a software tool can be prepared for workflow use.

Accepted at PLOS Computational Biology (PCOMPBIOL-D-21-01704)
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