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BlobDir specification


1. Overview

BlobDir is the BlobToolKit file format, currently written by BlobTools2 and parsed by BlobTools2 and the BlobToolKit Viewer.

More information and tutorials are available at

2. Directory structure

A BlobDir is a standard filesystem directory that may optionally be tared and gziped. It should be named to match the primary identifier for the dataset.

2.1 Minimal example

A minimal BlobDir must contain at least two JSON format files: meta.json containing dataset metadata and identifiers.json containing the primary identifiers for the constituent records.

+- meta.json
+- identifiers.json

2.2 Typical example

Each additional field in the dataset must have a corresponding JSON format file in the BlobDir. In a typical BlobDir these will contain information derived from the constituent sequences of a genome assembly (GC content, contig/scaffold/chromosome lengths and number of Ns), details of read-mapping, taxonomic inference based on sequence-similarity searches and BUSCO results.

+- meta.json
+- identifiers.json
+- gc.json
+- length.json
+- ncount.json
+- {LIBRARYNAME}_cov.json
+- {LIBRARYNAME}_read_cov.json
+- {TAXRULE}_{RANK}.json
+- {TAXRULE}_{RANK}_cindex.json
+- {TAXRULE}_{RANK}_positions.json
+- {TAXRULE}_{RANK}_score.json
+- {LINEAGE}_busco.json

2.3 Summary and descriptive files

A BlobDir may contain additional files to provide a machine-readable summary and/or human-readable description of the dataset in JSON (summary.json) and MARKDOWN ( formats.

+- meta.json
+- identifiers.json
+- summary.json

2.4 Required files

As noted in section 2.1, a valid BlobDir can be created with only two files, meta.json and identifiers.json. This allows a BlobDir to be generated iteratively, with new fields added as the data become available. For specific uses of a BlobDir, additional files may be required, for example the BlobToolKit Viewer requires at least a gc.json, a length.json and a {TAXRULE}_{RANK}.json file to produce meaningful plots.

3. Schema

A formal JSON Schema definition of the BlobDir file structure definition is provided in the schema directory of this repository. This schema is dynamically updated by the by the validator and is divided into the sections described below.

3.1 meta

A meta.json file containing metadata describing the BlobDir and its constituent fields is required. meta.json must conform to the metadata schema (schema/meta.schema.json) and subschemas for each of the main subsections:

  • assembly (schema/subschemas/assembly.schema.json)
  • fields (schema/subschemas/fields.schema.json)
  • plot (schema/subschemas/plot.schema.json)
  • reads (schema/subschemas/reads.schema.json)
  • taxon (schema/subschemas/taxon.schema.json)

3.2 fields

Fields are represented by JSON format files containing one entry per record in the BlobDir. Each field must conform to two additional schemas, one representing the metadata and one constraining the accepted values for the given datatype. Valid datatypes are identifier, variable, category, array, and multiarray. Field schemas are of the form schema/subschemas/<datatype>.meta.schema.json and schema/subschemas/<datatype>.data.schema.json. During validation, all field schemas are manipulated to ensure the number of entries matches the number of records in the BlobDir metadata.

3.2.1 Identifier

Each BlobDir must contain one identifier field containing an array with one entry per record in the BlobDir. Each identifier must be a unique string.

3.2.2 Variable

Variable fields contain one value (integer or float) per record. During validation, all variable schemas are manipulated to ensure the maximum and minimum values match the range defined in the BlobDir metadata.

3.2.3 Category

Category fields provide a compact means of storing repetitive strings. Each record is represented by an index to an entry in an array of keys. All indexes must have a corresponding entry in the array of keys and all keys must be unique.

3.2.4 Array

Array fields contain two or more values (which may be a mix of variable and category) per record. A headers array specifies the field names.

3.2.4 MultiArray

MultiArray fields contain two or more arrays per record. These may be used, for example, to list a set of BLAST hits with associated scores and positions.


Specification and validator for BlobToolKit BlobDir format




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