Announcements Announcement

Latest updates - service responsibility, monitoring status changes, service activity, service update checker and many more

By: Jiten BhagatGbAdmin

Created: 2010-06-25 13:42:21 UTC

We have updated the BioCatalogue with a number of new features and improvements in recent weeks. Below we highlight and describe the main ones:

  • Service responsibility request mechanism
  • Monitoring test changes feed
  • New activity feeds for individual services
  • Service update checker (WSDL updates for now)
  • Archiving services
  • REST endpoints in search
  • Service provider curation
  • Various service monitoring updates
  • New API features
  • Harvesting details from Soaplab services

Service responsibility request mechanism

Previously, the submitter of a service was the only one (together with site curators and admins) who had finer control on a service entry in the catalogue. They could delete the service or delete individual annotations on the service, and so on. But now, other members can request responsibility for a service in the catalogue. Thereby allowing more than one person to maintain a service entry. Requests can then be approved or denied by the submitter.*

To request responsibility for a service:

  • You need to log in first

  • Browse to the service’s profile page

  • Select the ‘Take Responsibility’ option from the ‘Actions’ drop down menu (the blue button on the left hand side next to the title of the service)

  • Follow the instructions on the subsequent page(s)

  • Note: in cases where no action has been taken on these requests, a site curator or admin can step in and take action.

Monitoring test changes feed

Service monitoring is a key feature offered by the BioCatalogue. Now you have the ability to see the latest monitoring status changes that have been logged for the individual service tests we carry out. This allows providers and consumers to easily keep track of monitoring changes across the catalogue.

A short list can be seen on the homepage, towards the bottom list. With a more detailed list here:

You can also subscribe to the ATOM feed for this:

New activity feeds for individual services

The ‘Latest Activity’ lists are a nice way of seeing what is happening in the catalogue. And now, as part of a new “News” tab on each service’s profile page, we have introduced an activity list for each individual service. Here you can see the latest annotations, monitoring status changes, favourites, updates and so on. You can also subscribe to the ATOM feed, allowing you get instant notifications of new activity on any services that you are interested in.

For example, for the EBI DBFetch service: (ATOM feed is:

Service update checker (WSDL updates for now)

The interface for SOAP services - WSDL files - may often be updated by service providers. These updates can range from metadata changes/additions to substantial structural changes in the service and it’s operations. The BioCatalogue now has the ability to pick up these changes and update service entries automatically. Any removed operations, inputs or outputs are still kept, but are marked as “archived”.

All changes are logged and shown under the new “News” tab on a service’s profile page. See for example: This allows service consumers to see a changelog of a service over time.

Archiving services

Services can now be marked as archived/deprecated by anyone who has responsibility for it in the catalogue. Archived services will still show up in search and other listings but will be greyed out and with a warning notice.

You can archive/unarchive services via the ‘Actions’ menu on a service’s profile page.

In the future, we will allow you to filter out archived services from search and other listings. As well as links to alternative services that users should use when they come across archived/deprecated services.

REST endpoints in search

We now show matching REST endpoints in keyword searches. This complements the SOAP operations results and allows users to directly find matching REST endpoints that an be used in their scripts/tools.

Service provider curation

We have carried out a major curation exercise of the service provider entries in the catalogue. The majority of service providers should now have friendly display names, which makes it easier to browse and filter.

As part of this work, we introduced the notion of service provider hostnames. These map on to the service providers, allowing us to easily configure and control what services belong to what service provider. If you are a service provider and would like us to fix any issues with this then please let us know.

Various service monitoring updates

We are continually tweaking and improving our service monitoring. We now show the exact the URLs that are monitored for availability checks together with the date since the monitoring began for that particular check.

For REST services monitoring we now monitor some example endpoints automatically. So please do provide add example endpoints on REST services (this can be done by adding endpoints to a REST service entry and then adding example annotations).

New API features

We have added viewings and favourites counts to the REST API, as well as a new endpoint - /soap_services/wsdl_locations that allows you to get a list of all the WSDL locations of all the SOAP based services in the catalogue.

We also have an alpha version bulk annotations submission API which we are trialling out with a new curation app we are developing. Let us know if you would like more information on using this right now.

Harvesting details from Soaplab services

Previously, the entries for Soaplab services registered in the BioCatalogue often did not contain enough metadata. In many cases there were no descriptions at all in the WSDL and consequently none in the catalogue either. However, Soaplab services implement a ‘describe’ operation which can provide a detailed description of the analysis. We now harvest these descriptions where possible, thereby enriching the catalogue with reliable descriptions from the providers. For example, you can see this here: (scroll down to the “Details (from Soaplab server)” section).

In some cases we were unable to obtain descriptions for some Soaplab services and will be contacting the providers of these services so that we can investigate together.

Please do not hesitate to provide us with any feedback.


  • The BioCatalogue Team