Getting poster data...
Simon Brent (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom)The Ensembl genome browser has grown enormously in the last ten years, from a single species (human) and a handful of data views based on genes and transcripts, to around fifty species and a wide variety of pages showing comparative genomics, functional genomics and sequence variation. Dynamically generated images are used to display a variety of data tracks (including data uploaded by the user) aligned to a reference genome. Other visualisations include gene trees, karyotypes and cross-species sequence alignments; pop-up menus on images enable easy navigation to related content. The principal challenges we face are in making these huge quantities of data (around 1TB in the current release) comprehensible to the ordinary research scientist, which means leveraging the latest in web technologies to create rich user interfaces. The web team has recently focused on the use of AJAX, memcached and nginx in order to make the Ensembl website more responsive and scalable. We use the Perl GD graphics package to render genomic images “on the fly”; this approach allows us to produce highly customised visualisations for each user without the need for massive amounts of storage.