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Galaxy InteractiveTools

Galaxy Interactive Tools allows launching a container-backed Galaxy Tool and enabling a Galaxy User to gain access to content inside in real-time.

How Galaxy InteractiveTools work

A InteractiveTool is defined in the same familiar way as standard Galaxy Tools, but are specified with tool_type="interactive", and providing additional entry point information:

    <entry_point name="Display name">

Note that name, port, and url are each able to be templated from the InteractiveTool’s parameter dictionary.

Some important benefits of using Galaxy InteractiveTools

  • You can have and access any number of InteractiveTools at a time (admin configurable)

  • If you accidentally close the InteractiveTool browser window, you can regain access by selecting from a list of active InteractiveTools

  • A single InteractiveTool can grant access to multiple running applications, servers, and interfaces

  • InteractiveTools can be added to Galaxy Workflows

  • InteractiveTools are bonafide Galaxy Tools; just specify tool_type as “interactive” and list the ports you want to expose

  • InteractiveTools can be added to and installed from the ToolShed.

  • R Shiny apps, Javascript-based VNC access to desktop environments, genome-browsers-in-a-box, interactive notebook environments, etc, are all possible with InteractiveTools

Server-side configuration of Galaxy InteractiveTools

For production deployments and additional considerations please see the Galaxy Interactive Tools Tutorial.

The galaxy.yml file will need to be populated as seen in config/galaxy.yml.interactivetools.

Galaxy InteractiveTool routing relies on wildcard subdomain routes and a proxy server that forwards requests to a running container. For users who manage their own DNS, you can set the appropriate A records to redirect *.interactivetool.yourdomain.

gravity will automatically start the needed proxy server.

The following configuration is only recommended for local testing, as users will directly connect to the InteractiveTool Proxy. In a production setup an upstream proxy should route requests to the proxy via the *.interactivetool.yourdomain subdomain, or use path-based proxying for interactive tools that support it (requires_domain=False, see below for more details).

Set these values in galaxy.yml:

  # ...
    enable: true
    port: 4002
  # ...
  interactivetools_enable: true
  interactivetools_map: database/interactivetools_map.sqlite
  galaxy_infrastructure_url: http://localhost:8080
  # Do not set the following 2 options if you are using an upstream proxy server like nginx
  interactivetools_upstream_proxy: false
  interactivetools_proxy_host: localhost:4002
  # ...

If you do want to use nginx as an upstream proxy server you can use the following server section to route requests to the InteractiveTool proxy:

server {
    # Listen on port 443
    listen       *:443 ssl;
    # Match all requests for the interactive tools subdomain
    server_name  *.interactivetool.localhost;

    # Route all domain-based interactive tool requests to the InteractiveTool proxy application
    location / {
        proxy_redirect off;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_pass http://localhost:4002;

Note that this nginx example uses https, so you need to have a wildcard certificate for your domain, and you need to adjust galaxy_infrastructure_url as appropriate.

It is also possible to set up nginx to route path-based interactive tool URLs to the InteractiveTool proxy. Path-based interactive tool URLs will only be created for tools that have defined requires_domain=False in the tool XML file (which signals that the web server running on the container makes use of relative links and can serve content starting from any path). A tool config variable will be added in the next version to simplify this for tools that need to know the path to where it is served.

To support path-based interactive tools through nginx proxy, add the following to the main Galaxy “server” section (serving port 443):

# Route all path-based interactive tool requests to the InteractiveTool proxy application
location ~* ^/(interactivetool/access/.+)$ {
    proxy_redirect off;
    proxy_http_version 1.1;
    proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
    proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
    proxy_pass http://localhost:4002;

This example config works for default values of interactivetools_base_path and interactivetools_prefix as defined in galaxy.yml. For other values, you will need to adjust the location patterns accordingly. This solution also requires interactivetools_shorten_url to be set to false (default).

In both nginx config examples, you might want to replace localhost with your server domain (or possibly, depending on your server setup.

You will also need to enable a docker destination in the job_conf.xml file. An example job_conf.xml file as seen in config/job_conf.xml.interactivetools:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!-- A sample job config for InteractiveTools using local runner. -->
        <plugin id="local" type="runner" load="galaxy.jobs.runners.local:LocalJobRunner" workers="4"/>
    <destinations default="docker_dispatch">
        <destination id="local" runner="local"/>
        <destination id="docker_local" runner="local">
          <param id="docker_enabled">true</param>
          <!-- If you have not set 'outputs_to_working_directory: true' in galaxy.yml you can remove the docker_volumes setting. -->
          <param id="docker_volumes">$galaxy_root:ro,$tool_directory:ro,$job_directory:rw,$working_directory:rw,$default_file_path:ro</param>
          <param id="docker_sudo">false</param>
          <param id="docker_net">bridge</param>
          <param id="docker_auto_rm">true</param>
          <param id="require_container">true</param>
          <param id="container_monitor">true</param>
          <param id="docker_set_user"></param>
          <!-- InteractiveTools need real hostnames or URLs to work - simply specifying IPs will not work.
               If you develop interactive tools on your 'localhost' and don't have a proper domain name
               you need to tell all Docker containers a hostname where Galaxy is running.
               This can be done via the add-host parameter during the `docker run` command.
               'localhost' here is an arbitrary hostname that matches the IP address of your
               Galaxy host. Make sure this hostname ('localhost') is also set in your galaxy.yml file, e.g.
               `galaxy_infrastructure_url: http://localhost:8080`.
          <param id="docker_run_extra_arguments">--add-host localhost:host-gateway</param>
        <destination id="docker_dispatch" runner="dynamic">
            <param id="type">docker_dispatch</param>
            <param id="docker_destination_id">docker_local</param>
            <param id="default_destination_id">local</param>

InteractiveTools have been enabled for the Condor, Slurm, Pulsar and Kuberneters job runner. A destination configuration for Condor may look like this:

<destination id="condor" runner="condor">
    <param id="docker_enabled">true</param>
    <param id="docker_sudo">false</param>

Note on resource consumption: Keep in mind that Distributed Resource Management (DRM) / cluster systems may have a maximum runtime configured for jobs. From the Galaxy point of view, such a container could run as long as the user desires, this may not be advisable and an admin may want to restrict the runtime of InteractiveTools (and jobs in general). However, if the job is killed by the DRM, the user is not informed beforehand and data in the container could be discarded.

Some example test InteractiveTools have been defined, and can be added to the config/tool_conf.xml:

<toolbox monitor="true">
    <tool file="interactive/interactivetool_jupyter_notebook.xml" />
    <tool file="interactive/interactivetool_cellxgene.xml" />