Services in Taverna


Taverna can access a large number of services in the fields of bioinformatics, astronomy, chemoinformatics, health informatics and others. Although many examples of using Taverna lie in the bioinformatics domain, Taverna is actually domain independent. This means that Taverna can be applied to a wide range of fields – even music and food sciences.

A full list of service types is in the User Manual.

Please see the BioCatalogue for details of the services we are currently aware of that work with Taverna. If you would like to add your services to this list, please contact the BioCatalogue team.

Domain and shim services

Services accessible from Taverna can be broadly categorised into domain services and shim services.

A rule of thumb for distinguishing a domain service from a shim service is that a workflow, when the shims services are invisible, is equivalent to the methods section of a scientific paper. If a service needs explicitly to be mentioned in the method, then it is not a shim.

Service providers

Most services accessible by Taverna are not owned or provided by us. The majority of services are provided by third-party institutes and research facilities, all of which can be accessed from within Taverna. Taverna only provides commonly used shim services, e.g. to concatenate strings, read content from a file, etc.

Large suppliers

Service suppliers are often large government-funded bodies such as the NCBI (United States), EMBL-EBI (Europe) or DNA Databank of Japan. Each is responsible for providing data to the global scientific community. These major providers generally have dedicated human resources for service development, API documentation, hosting, and maintenance. In addition to programmatic access to their services, these suppliers also maintain Web-form based access.

Smaller suppliers

A large proportion of suppliers of services and workflows are much smaller in scale – this includes individuals or small laboratories that have developed a tool, algorithm, database, or workflow that they wish to share with others. Developers of services from these small establishments may have limited knowledge of Web services and related standards when compared to their knowledge of programming/scripting. Such circumstances required myGrid (pre-Apache Taverna) to develop tools like Soaplab that help alleviate this limitation of small-scale providers by allowing simple deployment of the tool at hand.

Other considerations

All these service providers are independent of, and usually ignorant of, their consumers. Thus, the suppliers and consumers in the open market are loosely coupled and asynchronous. Other services are private and local to the scientist (workflow designer), or developed specifically for a workflow to make it work.

Creating a service accessible from Taverna

If you are planning on creating a service that should be accessible from Taverna, please have a look at the documentation for Web service developers.