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Openalea In The Browser

  • Author : Daniel BARBEAU
  • Date : 10/10/2011

Motivations

Openalea is a open source component-based platform allowing to aggregate state-of-the art algorithms in a visual manner using dataflows. The computational biology ecosystem has grown fond of this approach [examples] as they allow reuse of components and lets the biologist program visually, without any other requirement than understanding the dataflow, blablabla…

However, there is an emerging trend : Cloud computing. With the development of the internet, the capacity to store more and more data online, the increasing amount of connected computer power, the quick adoption of new open standards (WebGL, HTML5) and the growing will to share experiments [ref] make that web technologies become interesting as a support for scientists.

For many years Openalea has been released as a desktop application. While Openalea by itself is a rather small Python library, it relies on binary Python extensions that often need to be carefully packaged by the development team (for binary compatibility purposes). It also finds its full interest when third-party packages (VPlants, Alinea) are installed. These packages add components that can be used in the visual language and can be either binary or Python.

The Openalea team strives to deliver releases for the three main platforms (Linux, Windows and MacOs) and several flavours of each (Ubuntu, Fedora, Xp, Vista, Seven, Os X 10.6, Os X 10.7, 32 bits, 64 bits, etc…).

In the end it has become clear that the effort to make releases of all the packages for all the platforms is a huge task and the team currently doesn't have enough manpower to do this. End users also have issues installing the platform as the installation environment often has unexpected behaviours (obscure conflicts, extension lib conflicts).

The Goal

There are a few points that this project wants to acheive:

  • Have Visualea GUI run in a web browser (removes Qt dependency). Leverage HTML5 and WebGL for graphics.
  • Have the Openalea Platform (PackageManager and Dataflow evaluators) run as a server (removes installation step).
  • Distribute node execution (the dataflow evaluator executes independent nodes on seperate machines).
  • Reduce deployement effort (compile once, run everywhere).

Design Proposals

 
documentation/core/propositions/200_oa_in_the_browser.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/11 10:49 by admin   Back to top
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