Data Source

Data Source is a special type of Galaxy tool which allows for the download of data that is stored within external resources.

Example Implementations

Explore example implementations and communication protocols in Python-based server flavors available on GitHub: galaxy-data_source-examples.

Data Source Configuration

Follow this checklist to configure a new data source using the data_source tool:

  1. The tool tag set must have the attribute “tool_type” with the value “data_source” or “data_source_async”.

  2. The command tag set, inside the tool tag set, contains either “” for the built-in synchronous/asynchronous single file downloader or a custom command for advanced downloading.

  • If using “,” the first parameter passed should be the name of the data tag in the outputs tag set (likely “$output”).

  • If using “,” the second parameter passed is the maximum file size allowed by this Galaxy instance (use “$__app__.config.output_size_limit”).

  1. The inputs tag set, inside the tool tag set, has attributes defined for “action,” “check_values,” and “method.”

  • The “action” attribute contains the URL to redirect the Galaxy user to.

  • The “method” attribute specifies the HTTP method (e.g., GET or POST).

  • The “check_values” attribute provides additional validation if needed.

  1. Optionally, use the request_param_translation tag set inside the tool tag set for translating URL parameters between the remote web server and Galaxy.

  2. The outputs tag set, inside the tool tag set, contains a single data tag if using the built-in “” script.

  • The “format” attribute can be used to set the data format if fixed.

  • If using “,” the “name” attribute value must match the first parameter passed to “” in the command tag set.

  1. Finally, the tag should be inside the tag set.

Example Data Source Tools

Explore some example data source tools from repositories:

Data Connection Protocols

This section describes the protocols for depositing data in a Galaxy user account from an independent web site. The protocols operate via HTTP calls, with support for remote procedural calls via XML-RPC in development.

Data Generation Modes

Two data generation modes are distinguished:

  • Synchronous Data Generation: Services that stream data, generating data “on the fly” in response to parameters.

  • Asynchronous Data Generation: Services that collect parameters and run a background process to generate results, notifying Galaxy when the data is ready for download.

Synchronous Data Depositing

The process proceeds as follows:

  1. Upon choosing the datasource, Galaxy performs an HTTP POST request to the external datasource’s URL, passing the parameter GALAXY_URL.

  2. As the user navigates the external datasource, it behaves as if the request did not originate from Galaxy.

  3. At the point where the parameter submission would return data, the external datasource posts these parameters to the URL specified in the GALAXY_URL parameter.

  4. Galaxy receives the parameters and runs a background process to resubmit them to the datasource, depositing the returned data in the user’s account.

Asynchronous Data Depositing

This process is similar to synchronous data depositing, with the difference that the datasource later notifies Galaxy of the data location.

  1. Follow steps 1-4 of synchronous data depositing. For step 4, Galaxy creates another parameter GALAXY_URL that uniquely characterizes the data returned.

  2. When the data created by the datasource is ready, the datasource reconnects to the URL specified in GALAXY_URL and submits via HTTP GET the STATUS and URL parameters.

  3. Galaxy makes a background request to fetch the data stored at the location specified in URL.

Inter-process communication is performed via simple text outputs. Commands that execute correctly end with OK. Messages not ending with OK are treated as errors, serving primarily for informational/debugging purposes.

Example Usage

Upon returning to the datasource, Galaxy submits the following:

The datasource may then write the following as response:

received parameters:
running query in the background
closing connection

Then, upon a finished data generation this same datasource would make the following request:

to which Galaxy could answer:

Data will be retrieved

in which case it will also go and fetch the data from But the output could also be:

This data has already been deleted.

Providing an error message for unsuccessful submissions.

Notes: Both parameters STATUS and URL must be present. If STATUS is different than OK, the data will be treated as failed. For errors, include detailed values for both STATUS and URL, which will be copied into the metadata and displayed as the reason for the failure.


If you add a new data source to Galaxy in your published work, please cite:

Blankenberg D, Coraor N, Von Kuster G, Taylor J, Nekrutenko A; Galaxy Team. Integrating diverse databases into a unified analysis framework: a Galaxy approach. Database (Oxford). 2011 Apr 29;2011:bar011. Print 2011.