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Here's some good news for anyone who has been using both GATK and the Picard tools in their work -- which means all of you, since you all follow our Best Practices to a tee, right?

As you may know, both toolkits are developed here at the Broad Institute, and are deployed together in the Broad's analysis pipelines. The fact that they have been developed, released and supported separately so far is more an accident of history and internal organization than anything else (and we know it's inconvenient to y'all).

The good news is that we're taking steps to consolidate these efforts, which we believe will benefit everyone. In that spirit, we have been working closely with the Picard tools development team, and we're now ready to take the first step of consolidating support for the tools. From now on, you will be able to ask us questions about the Picard tools, and report bugs, in the GATK forum. And developers will be happy to hear that we are also committed to supporting HTSJDK for developers through the Github repo’s Issues tracker.

In the near future, we will also start hosting downloads and documentation for the Picard tools on the GATK website. And before you ask, yes, the Picard tools will continue to be completely open-source and available to all free of charge.

To recap, we have brought the GATK and Picard teams together, and we are working on bringing together in the same place all the methods and tools to perform genome analysis. Our goal is to make a world where you can run our complete Best Practices pipeline end-to-end with a single Broad toolkit. We think it’ll make your life easier, because it sure is making ours easier.

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I'm very happy to introduce Sheila Chandran, our newest GSA team member, who will be helping me with GATK outreach, support and documentation. You can expect to see Sheila start answering questions on the GATK forum within a week or two!

Thanks to Sheila's help, I'll be able to expand our support model to the Broad Cancer Tools (MuTect and related). Moving forward, we'll produce documentation for MuTect and other tools produced by the Cancer Group in collaboration with the developers, in order to bring you the same level of documentation coverage and support that we currently have for GATK.

Rest assured however that we won't stop working on improving the GATK documentation. In fact, Sheila's first project with us will be to document how the HaplotypeCaller works in detail -- something I know many of you have been hoping to see for a while now!

As a final note, I'd like to mention that this is one of many positive outcomes from our collaboration with our commercial licensing partner, Appistry, so we'd like to express our thanks to them for helping us help you, our user community.

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We're planning to organize online live Q&A sessions in which you will be able to submit questions (within a predefined topic, eg. "base recalibration" or "variant calling") for the developers to answer. To help us choose between several software options, we would like to know which of the following options would be the most valuable to you (please choose one):

  1. Ability to vote for questions, so that the most popular questions get answered (we expect a lot of questions and will probably not have time to answer all of them).

  2. Ability to chat directly with us if your question is picked, so that if our answer doesn't really answer your question you can clarify or ask for more details.

Feel free to tell us in the comments what other features would be useful.

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