Success Stories

Do you have a success story? Please share it!

Send a pull-request on github describing your project, how doit is used, and why doit was chosen.


Software Carpentry

The Software Carpentry Foundation is a non-profit membership organization devoted to improving basic computing skills among researchers in science, engineering, medicine, and other disciplines.

doit is introduced in the Software Carpentry workshop lesson: Automating an analysis pipeline using doit.

Biomechanics Lab / Stanford University, USA

by Christopher Dembia (2014-04-03)

I am a graduate student in a biomechanics lab that studies how humans coordinate their muscles in movements like walking or running. We record someone’s motion using reflective motion capture markers and by recording the force their feet exert on the ground. We put this data into our software, which gives back an estimate of the force each muscle (92 muscles) was generating throughout the observed motion. In a typical study, we record about 100 walking motions. To analyze a single walking motion, we need to run 4 different executables in sequence. Each executable requires a handful of input files, and generates a handful of output files that a subsequent executable uses as input.

So, a study entails about 1000 files, some of which contain raw data, but most of which are intermediate files (output of one executable and input to another executable). Typically, a researcher manages this workflow manually. However, that is prone to error, as a researcher may forget to properly modify all relevant files if an error is noticed in, for example, a raw data file.

With doit, I am automating this workflow for my current study. This allows me to avoid errors and avoid unnecessary duplication of files. Most importantly, if I learn that I must modify something in a file that is an input toward the beginning of this workflow, doit will allow me to automatically update all my results without missing a step.

I tried to do this with Make first. Make just wasn’t made to do what I want. Also, my lab’s software has python bindings, so my entire workflow can be in python. Also, the ability to script anything directly into the workflow is important, and Make can’t do that. CMake was another option, but that’s not general enough. doit is just completely generic, and the interface is simple yet very flexible.

Computational Metagenomics Lab / University of Trento, Italy

by Nicola Segata (2015-01-20)

My laboratory of Computational Metagenomics at University of Trento studies the human microbiome, i.e. the huge microbial diversity populating our body.

Our analyses involve processing several thousands of microbial genomes (long sequences of DNA) with a series of computational steps (mostly written in python) on subset of those genomes. Genomes are organized in a hierarchical structure (the taxonomy) and many steps of our pipelines need to take into account these dependencies.

doit is just the right way to do this. We actually even tried to implement something like this on our own, but we are now switching to doit because it has all the features we need and it is intuitive to use. We particularly love the possibility of specifying dependencies “on the fly”.

We are now thinking to convert all our pipelines to the doit format. Given the importance of doit for our research and its potential for bioinformatic pipelines we are happy to support this project scientifically (by citing it in our papers, mentioning it in our funding requests, etc).

Thanks for developing doit, it’s just wonderful for computational biology (and for many other tasks, of course, but this is our research field:)!

Content Generation


by the Nikola team

Nikola is a Static Site and Blog Generator. doit is used to process all the tasks required for building the website (HTML files, indexes, RSS, copying files…). Use of doit makes Nikola unique: unlike other static site generators, Nikola regenerates only the files that were changed since last build (and not all files in the site!). nikola build, the centerpiece of Nikola, is basically the usual doit run command.

doit is what makes Nikola extremely fast, even for large sites. Only a handful of files actually change on a rebuild. Using the dependency architecture of doit (for files and configuration), we are able to rebuild only what is needed.

Nikola is an open-source project with many users and contributors.