logo Sequencescape

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Sequencescape is a cloud based and highly extensible LIMS system for use in labs with large numbers of samples.

  • Work order tracking
  • Sample and study management
  • Capacity management for pipelines
  • Accounting
  • Accessioning for samples and studies at the EBI ENA/EGA
  • Dynamically defined workflows for labs with support for custom processes
  • Labware and freezer tracking
  • API support for 3rd party applications

Current installation supports over 5 million samples and 1.8 million pieces of labware and is used in a organisation of 900 people.



In addition to the externally hosted YARD docs, you can also run a local server:

yard server -r --gems -m sequencescape .

You can then access the Sequencescape documentation through: http://localhost:8808/docs/sequencescape Yard will also try and document the installed gems: http://localhost:8808/docs


The following tools are required for development:

  • ruby (version defined in the .ruby-version)
  • yarn
  • node (version defined in the .nvmrc)
  • mysql client libraries - if you do not want to install mysql server on your machine, consider using mysql-client: brew install mysql-client. Alternatively, to install the MySQL required by Sequencescape (currently 5.7) use this helpful link.

Getting started

Installing ruby

It is strongly recommended that you use a ruby version manager such as RVM or rbenv to manage the Ruby version you are using. The ruby version required should be found in .ruby-version.


If you have the rbenv ruby-build plugin it is as simple as:

rbenv install

It will pick up the version from the .ruby-version file automatically

Automatic Sequencescape setup

To automatically install the required gems, set-up default configuration files, and set up your database run:


Manual Sequencescape setup

In the event you have trouble with the automatic process, you may wish to step through the various steps manually.

Installing gems

Bundler is used to install the required gems:

gem install bundler
bundle install

Adjusting config

Copy the config/aker.example.yml file to config/aker.example.yml.

The config/database.yml file saves the list of databases.

Default setup

  1. Create the database tables

    bundle exec rake db:setup
  2. Install webpacker and the required JS libraries

    bundle exec rails webpacker:install

Stating rails

bundle exec rails s

Once setup, the default user/password is admin/admin.

Delayed job

For background processing Sequencescape uses delayed_job to ensure that the server is running. It is strongly recommended to start one for Sequencescape to behave as expected.

bundle exec rake jobs:work


bundle exec ./script/delayed_job start

Message broker

Sequencescape has its own message broker and consumer. To develop this or run it locally, you must have RabbitMQ installed. It may be easiest to use the docker image (https://hub.docker.com/_/rabbitmq).

docker run -d --hostname my-rabbit --name some-rabbit -p 8080:15672 -p 5672:5672 rabbitmq:3-management

It can be useful to follow the rabbitmq logs, to look for broken connections or other problems. To do this using the docker image, get the container id using docker ps, and then:

docker logs -f <container id>

To start the consumer off listening for messages:

bundle exec ./bin/amqp_client start

where start instructs it to start. You can also stop a worker by calling stop or restart it with restart.

Logs can be found in tmp/pids.

You will also have to change the config in config/warren.yml from type: log to type: broadcast to get it to actually send messages in development mode.


Testing is done in three ways; using rspec, rails test and feature tests.

  1. To run the rspec tests (found in rspec/ dir.):

    bundle exec rspec --fail-fast [<path_to_spec>]
  2. To run the rails tests (found in tests/ dir.):

    bundle exec rake test -f

Rake tasks

Rake tasks are available for specialised tasks as well as support tasks. Support tasks allow ease of running standalone scripts multiple times.

A breakdown of the the available tasks and how to run them can be found here

Supporting applications

There are a number of services that are needed in certain parts of Sequencescape these are listed below.

Barcode printing

Barcode printing is carried out by a separate REST service, PrintMyBarcode. The source for this is also available on GitHub sanger/print_my_barcode

Plate barcode service

Due to DNA plate barcode series being stored in a legacy system in Sanger you are required to use a webservice for supplying numbers for plates with a simple service.

Data warehousing

There is a client application for building a data warehouse based on the information in Sequencescape. This is driven asynchronously via RabbitMQ.

See our various clients on GitHub:





Lefthook is a git-hook manager that will ensure staged files are linted before committing.

You can install it either via homebrew brew install Arkweid/lefthook/lefthook or rubygems gem install lefthook

You'll then need to initialize it for each repository you wish to track lefthook install

Hooks will run automatically on commit, but you can test them with: lefthook run pre-commit

In addition you can also run lefthook run fix to run the auto-fixers on staged files only. Note that after doing this you will still need to stage the fixes before committing. I'd love to be able to automate this, but haven't discovered a solution that maintains the ability to partially stage a file, and doesn't involve running the linters directly on files in the .git folder.

Ruby warnings and rake 11

Rake 11 enables ruby warnings by default when running the test suite. These can be disabled with RUBYOPT='-W0', (eg. RUBYOPT='-W0' bundle exec rake test).

Currently these warnings are excessive, covering both our own code and external dependencies. As it stands it makes the output of the test suite unusable in travis, as it fills the buffer. These warnings will need to be fixed, especially in our own code.

NPG - Illumina tracking software

For tracking illumina instruments you need the NPG systems. NPG is linked to Sequencescape via a cluster formation batch which represents a flowcell.

NPG Software


MySQL errors when installing

If you are using homebrew with rbenv and run into errors relating to SSL, have a look here

Updating the table of contents

To update the table of contents after adding things to this README you can use the markdown-toc node module. To install it, make sure you have install the dev dependencies from yarn. To update the table of contents, run:

yarn markdown-toc -i README.md --bullets "*"


The GH actions builds use the Knapsack-pro gem to reduce build time by parallelizing the RSpec and Cucumber tests. There is no need to regenerate the knapsack_rspec_report.json file, Knapsack Pro will dynamically allocate tests to ensure tests finish as close together as possible.

Copyright (c) 2007, 2010-2021 Genome Research Ltd.