rOpenSci at NESCent Open Tree of Life Hackathon

David Winter  


August 15, 2014

The Open Tree of Life project aims to synthesize our combined knowledge of how organisms relate to each other, and make the results available to anyone who wants to use them. At present, the project contains data from more than 4,000 published phylogenies, which combine with other data sources to make a tree that covers 2.5 million species.

In September, the Open Tree of Life team are holding a hackathon to develop tools that use the project’s web services to extract, annotate and add data. We are excited to say that Francois Michonneau and I will be attending the hackathon, where they plan to work with Joseph W. Brown on an R package that allows users to interact with the Open Tree data.

Joseph has already written a good deal of the code for this package, so a key goal for the hackathon will be producing documentation, including tutorial-style examples, that illustrate how the Open Tree data can be used in R workflows. For that reason, we want to hear from would-be users of the Open Tree package.

How would you use Open Tree data in your workflows? What data would you want to extract from web service and why? How would you want to store the data you retrieve? If we get an idea of how users would take advantage of the data we can include those use-cases in the design of the package, and create documentation that covers them. So, let us know, either through comments to this blog, a message on the discussion forum or the the issue tracker that NESCent has set up for the hackathon.


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