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CWL Viewer

This is a Spring Boot MVC application which fetches Common Workflow Language files from a Github repository and creates a page for it detailing the main workflow and its inputs, outputs and steps.

Build Status Coverage Status Gitter Docker image commonworkflowlanguage/cwlviewer DOI


Distributed under the Apache License, Version 2.0. See the file for details, and for required attribution notices.


Feel free to contribute! You may raise an issue, provide a pull request or join the gitter chat for cwlviewer!

Using CWL Viewer

You are recommended to use the production instance of CWL Viewer at which runs the latest release. Any downtime should be reported on the gitter chat for cwlviewer.

The dev instance at corresponds to the current master branch, and is updated every 6 minutes to run the latest commonworkflowlanguage/cwlviewer docker image. Note that this instance is NOT secured and might break at any time.


If you are a developer, or you want to use the CWL Viewer in a closed environment, then you can run your own instance.

Recommended - Running with Docker

This application can be started with Docker and Docker Compose.

To start CWLViewer exposed on port 8080, run:

docker-compose up

To stop and remove:

docker-compose down

If you change the source code, then use this docker-compose.override.yml and re-build with docker-compose build:

version: '3.2'
    build: .

See the docker-compose.yml file for details.

If you have modified the source code, then you may want to build the docker image locally first:

docker build -t commonworkflowlanguage/cwlviewer .

Running without Docker



You will need to have MongoDB running, by default on localhost:27017

If you are running from the command line, you can override this by supplying system properties like and

Apache Jena Fuseki (or alternative SPARQL server)

You will also need to have a SPARQL server such as Apache Jena Fuseki running, by default on localhost:3030

Compiling and Running

To compile you will need Java 8 or OpenJDK 8 (apt install openjdk-8-jdk), as well as Apache Maven 3 (apt install maven).

Spring Boot uses an embedded HTTP server. The Spring Boot Maven plugin includes a run goal which can be used to quickly compile and run it:

$ mvn spring-boot:run

Alternatively, you can run the application from your IDE as a simple Java application by importing the Maven project.

You need to install Graphviz for all unit tests to pass.

You can create an executable JAR file by using:

mvn clean install

Afterwards, run:

java -jar target/cwlviewer*.jar

(The exact filename will vary per version)

Once CWL Viewer is running, you should see log output somewhat like:

s.b.c.e.t.TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer : Tomcat started on port(s): 8080 (http)
org.researchobject.CwlViewerApplication  : Started CwlViewerApplication in 28.604 seconds

Now check out http://localhost:8080/ to access CWL Viewer.


There are a variety of configuration options detailed in the application configuration file which can be adjusted.

When deploying with docker, these can be overriden externally by creating/modifying docker-compose.override.yml as follows:

version: '3.2'
            applicationName: Common Workflow Language Viewer
            cacheDays: 1

The properties can alternatively be provided as system properties on the command line, e.g. -DcacheDays=1 or via a variety of other methods supported by Spring Boot


While you can perform backup of the Docker volumes, for larger upgrades of CWL Viewer it is recommended instead to do a JSON dump and re-load, which will force CWL Viewer to fetch and parse again.

The script can be used for regular backups, it will store the full output of /workflows as a timestamped gzip-compressed JSON file:

$ ./ /var/backups/cwl

The script (requires Python 3) can be used to restore from such JSON dumps:

./ /var/backups/cwl/2018-06-06T135133+0000.json.gz

The optional parameter --no-commits can be added to skip those entries that look like a commit ID. Note that this might break previous permalinks.


Developers and contributors include:

Thanks to:

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