Mapping Workflows: Data Deluge, Service Deluge

Meandering around Microsoft Research’s amazing AIDS Quilt app (subject of a future entry), I found “Project Trident: A Scientific Workflow Workbench,” which intrigued me as I thought it was for the study of workflows in general. Not quite that, but still interesting. It’s a tool for scientists to manage and visualize the workflows that inform their research. From their site:

With Project Trident, you can author workflows visually by using a catalog of existing activities and complete workflows. The workflow workbench provides a tiered library that hides the complexity of different workflow activities and services for ease of use.

An increasing number of tools and databases in the sciences are available as Web services. As a result, researchers face not only a data deluge, but also a service deluge, and need a tool to organize, curate, and search for services of value to their research. Project Trident provides a registry that enables the scientist to include services from his or her particular domain. The registry enables a researcher to search on tags, keywords, and annotations to determine which services and workflows­—and even which data sets—are available. Other features of the registry include:

  • Semantic tagging to enable a researcher to find a service based on what it does, or is meant to do, and what it consumes as inputs and produces as outputs.
  • Annotations that allow a researcher to understand how to operate the registry and configure it correctly; the registry records when and by whom a service was created, records its version history, and tracks its version.

Would have to see it in action to understand it, but an intriguing idea. Arts and humanities researchers would probably balk–starting with the word workflow–but they have a similar deluge of data/services problem.

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