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Proteomics. 2015 Apr;15(8):1356-74. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201400377. Epub 2015 Feb 5.

Open source libraries and frameworks for biological data visualisation: a guide for developers.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.


Recent advances in high-throughput experimental techniques have led to an exponential increase in both the size and the complexity of the data sets commonly studied in biology. Data visualisation is increasingly used as the key to unlock this data, going from hypothesis generation to model evaluation and tool implementation. It is becoming more and more the heart of bioinformatics workflows, enabling scientists to reason and communicate more effectively. In parallel, there has been a corresponding trend towards the development of related software, which has triggered the maturation of different visualisation libraries and frameworks. For bioinformaticians, scientific programmers and software developers, the main challenge is to pick out the most fitting one(s) to create clear, meaningful and integrated data visualisation for their particular use cases. In this review, we introduce a collection of open source or free to use libraries and frameworks for creating data visualisation, covering the generation of a wide variety of charts and graphs. We will focus on software written in Java, JavaScript or Python. We truly believe this software offers the potential to turn tedious data into exciting visual stories.


Bioinformatics; Chart; Hierarchy; Network; Software library

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