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Annotating Systems Biology Models

Authors: Andreas Dräger, Thomas J. Zajac, Matthias König, Kaustubh Trivedi

Build Status Stable version DOI License (MIT)

ModelPolisher accesses the BiGG Models knowledgebase to annotate and autocomplete SBML models. Thereby, the program mainly relies on BiGG identifiers for model components. Moreover, it fixes some apparent errors in the models and uses mappings from AnnotateDB to further add annotations.

ModelPolisher is primarily a command-line based tool. You can run ModelPolisher locally using Docker or using your installation of BiGG Models database (see

Note: If you run into trouble with larger files, especially _java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: GC overhead limit exceeded_, please use the JVM Xmx flag (e.g., java -Xmx4G -jar ModelPolisher-VERSION.jar ).

Table of Contents

How to cite ModelPolisher?

The online version of ModelPolisher is described in this article:

The article "BiGG Models: A platform for integrating, standardizing and sharing genome-scale models" describes BiGG Models knowledge-base including ModelPolisher.

How to build?

NOTE: You may run ModelPolisher, without building, using Docker (preferred). See here.

ModelPolisher uses gradle to build. Make sure you have gradle (version >= 5.0) installed in your system before following the procedure below.

First clone this github project and go to directory <path>/ModelPolisher/. Then, ModelPolisher can be built using Gradle. Gradle runs task lightJar by default which produces jar file, with dependencies, for ModelPolisher in <path>/ModelPolisher/target/ directory. So, in order to build ModelPolisher run any of following command under ModelPolisher/ directory:

gradle lightJar or gradle
Additionally gradle devel is provided to easily run a non-release version with Docker.

NOTE: lightJar requires postgresql database(s) to be set-up to run ModelPolisher.

How to run ModelPolisher? : Polish Models

We recommend users to run ModelPolisher using docker, though ModelPolisher can be run from ModelPolisher jar, which is preferred for developers.

NOTE: ModelPolisher provides various command line options which can be seen using:

java -jar <path>/ModelPolisher/target/ModelPolisher-2.1-beta.jar -? 

In the example commands below few options are taken by default. See list of mostly used options here.

Using Docker

ModelPolisher can be run in docker containers. This allows user to skip the build process, and database setup required to run ModelPolisher. Please install docker and docker-compose, if not installed already.

Clone ModelPolisher and change directory to ModelPolisher/:

git clone
cd <path>/ModelPolisher

Now, bring up docker containers required for ModelPolisher(NOTE: You must be in ModelPolisher/ directory):

docker-compose up

We recommend using docker-compose in non-detached mode when building containers for first time. If you have previously built ModelPolisher containers use docker-compose up --detach.

NOTE: Once database backend is set-up by docker-compose, the databases are also available at following ports for localhost:

  • AnnotateDB: 1013
  • BiGGDB: 1310

On running these commands, databases will be restored in respective containers. After databases are successfully set up, use the following command (in ModelPolisher/ directory) to run ModelPolisher:

docker-compose run -v <path_directory_having_models>:/models/ polisher java -jar /ModelPolisher-2.1-beta.jar --input=/models/<model_name> --output=/models/output/<output_name> --annotate-with-bigg=true --add-adb-annotations=true --output-combine=true 

Note: You must pass absolute path for host directory. This command will mount volume <path_directory_having_models> to /models/ in container. Thus, outputs will be produced in directory <path_directory_having_models>/output.

User may use -u <username_or_uid> with docker-compose run in above command to generate output with correct ownership. Preferably use uid (obtained by id -u <username>) due to some existing bugs in docker.

To bring down the containers, you can run docker-compose stop. This will only stop the containers but won't delete them. Otherwise, you can use docker-compose down -v to stop and remove all containers and related volumes.

Note: docker-compose down -v will cause all databases to be restored again on running docker-compose up, as restored databases exist in containers not in images.

Using docker might cause system space to be filled up, and docker-compose up may fail due to insufficient space. Use the following commands if there is need to empty space used by ModelPolisher_docker:

docker stop modelpolisher_biggdb modelpolisher_adb modelpolisher_java
docker rm modelpolisher_biggdb modelpolisher_adb modelpolisher_java
docker rmi modelpolisher_java:latest modelpolisher_adb:latest modelpolisher_biggdb:latest postgres:11.4 openjdk:11-slim
docker volume prune

Using a non-release jar with Docker

Building using gradle devel builds a container with the local ModelPolisher jar.
This container can be used analogously to the release version, though either -f docker-compose.devel.yml needs to be passed to each invocation of docker-compose or the COMPOSE_FILE environment variable needs to be set so it points to docker-compose.devel.yml, e.g. using export COMPOSE_FILE=docker-compose.devel.yml for sh or bash.

Using ModelPolisher jar

For polishing models, you essentially need to run ModelPolisher using jar produced from build instructions.

User needs to host the BiGG Database & AnnotateDB on PostgreSQL on your local system.

Now, you can run the following command in general:

java -jar "<path>/ModelPolisher/target/ModelPolisher-2.1-beta.jar" \
  --input=<input> \
  --output=<output> \
  --output-combine=true \
  --annotate-with-bigg=true \
  --bigg-host=<host> \
  --bigg-port=<port> \
  --bigg-dbname=<postgres_dbname> \
  --bigg-user=<postgres_username> \
  --bigg-passwd=<user_password> \
  --add-adb-annotations=true \
  --adb-host=<host> \
  --adb-port=<port> \
  --adb-dbname=<postgres_dbname> \
  --adb-user=<postgres_username> \

We understand problems in setting-up database backend and that a developer would need to build ModelPolisher multiple times and making required changes in java Dockerfile will be a tedious task. We recommend the following practice for developers:

  1. Set up required databases by running docker-compose up.
  2. After making required changes in codebase build jar by gradle lightJar.
  3. Run the newly build jar using:
java -jar ./target/ModelPolisher-2.1-beta.jar --input=<input> --output=<output> --output-combine=true --annotate-with-bigg=true --bigg-host= --bigg-port=1310 --add-adb-annotations=true --adb-host= --adb-port=1013

Note: All above commands must be run in <path>/ModelPolisher/ directory and you must have installed Java version >= 8 and Gradle version >= 5.0.


ModelPolisher is distributed under the MIT License (see LICENSE). An Overview of all dependencies is provided in THIRD-PARTY.txt, their respective licenses can be found in the licenses folder.