Misc scribbles

Behind the release - the story of the bugs and features in JBrowse 1.16.0


Every once in awhile, you might see that your favorite program, JBrowse, has a new release. There are a ton of little snippets in the release notes, you might as well just go ahead and upgrade, but what went into all those little fixes? Going to the blog post has links to the github issues, http://jbrowse.org/blog/2018/12/13/jbrowse-1-16-0.html but I felt like maybe I'd add a little more context for some of them:

PS This is sort of motivated by @zcbenz blog on Electron (https://twitter.com/zcbenz http://cheng.guru/) which tells the software in terms of actual commit messages and such.

  • The webpack build doing a production build by default. This seems pretty straightforward, but was also difficult because I use WSL and the UglifyJs plugin had trouble on WSL using the parallel: 4 option to use multiple processors. This was really annoying and resulted in the webpack build just hanging for no reason and only careful google-fu really uncovered other people having this issue. I removed the parallelism as the speed gain wasn't even really justifiable https://github.com/gmod/jbrowse/pull/1223

  • The incorporation of the @gmod/bam module. This was an almost 2 months process after my first module, @gmod/indexedfasta. It required really getting down to the binary level for BAM and was pretty tough. The module has already itself had 12 releases here

  • Added support for indexing arbitrary fields from GFF3Tabix files. This was fairly straightforward but required making design decisions about this. Previously flatfile-to-json.pl files would have a command line flag to index arbitrary fields. Since gff3tabix files are specified via config, I allowed specifying arbitrary fields via config.

  • Added ability to render non-coding transcript types to the default Gene glyph. This one was a nice feature and enables you to see non-coding types, but required some weird design decisions because I could not override the box->style->color from a higher level type simply using the _defaultConfig function, so I needed to override the getStyle callback that was passed down to the lower levels, so that it was able to use the default lower level style and also our non-coding transcript style. See this part of the code for details https://github.com/GMOD/jbrowse/commit/ec638ea1cc62c8727#diff-a14e88322d8f4e8e940f995417277878R22

  • Added hideImproperPairs filter. This was fairly straightforward but it is one of these bugs that went unnoticed for years...the hideMissingMatepairs flag would hide things didn't have the sam 0x02 flag for "read mapped in proper pair", but reads with this flag could still be paired. Doing the 1.16 release that focused on paired reads helped focus on this issue and now hideMissingMatepairs filters on "mate unmapped" and hideImproperPairs is the "read mapped in proper pair"

  • Added useTS flag. This one is fairly straightforward, it is similar to useXS which colors reads based on their alignment in canonical splice site orientations. I figured I could just copy the useXS to the useTS since I figured they are the same, but I went ahead and manually generated RNA-seq alignments with minimap2 and found that the useTS is actually flipped the opposite of useXS, so it was valuable to get actual test data here.

  • Fixed issue where some generate-names setups would fail to index features. This was a bad bug that was brought to light by a user. I was kind of mind boggled when I saw it. In JBrowse 1.13-JBrowse 1.15 a change was introduced to name indexing with a memory leak. In JBrowse 1.15 that was removed. But, there was another change where refseqs could return empty name records, because they were handled separately. But if the initial fill up of the name buffer of 50000 was exceeded by the reference sequence, then there would be empty name records after this point and cause the name indexing to stop. Therefore this bug would only happen when the reference sequence indexing buffer exceeded 50000 items which could happen even when there are less than 50000 refseqs due to autocompletions

  • Fixed issue with getting feature density from BAM files via the index stats estimation. This involved parsing the "dummy bin" from index files, and I found it was failing on certain 1000 genomes files. I actually don't really know what the story behind this was, but our tabix code was better at parsing the dummy bins than my bam code, and it was the same concept, so I took a note from their codebase to use it in bam-js code. Commit here https://github.com/GMOD/bam-js/commit/d5796dfc8750378ac8b875615ae0a7e81371af76

  • Fixed issue with some GFF3Tabix tracks having some inconsistent layout of features. This is a persistently annoying fact in tabix files where we cannot really get a unique ID of a feature based on it's file offset. Therefore this takes the full crc32 of a line as it's unique ID.

  • Fixed CRAM store not renaming reference sequences in the same way as other stores. This one was interesting because rbuels made a fix but it caused features from one chromosome to show up on the wrong ones, so chr1 reads where showing up on chrMT. This happened because it was falling back to the refseq index if it chrMT wasn't in the embedded "sam header" in the CRAM file, but it should only fallback to refseq index if there is not any embedded "sam header" in the CRAM file.

  • Fixed bug where older browsers e.g. IE11 were not being properly supported via babel. This was a absolutely terrible bug that I found over thanksgiving break. It was a regression from 1.15 branch of JBrowse. Previous versions from 1.13 when webpack was up until 1.15 used @babel/env. It was changed to babel-preset-2015 but it was not being run correctly. Then I found that even if I did get it running correctly, it was unable to properly babel-ify the lru-cache module because it used something called Object.defineProperty('length', ...) to change how the length property was interpreted which was illegal in IE11. The 'util.promisify' NPM module also did this in some contexts. I found that I could use the quick-lru module and the es6-promisify module instead of lru-cache and util.promisify as a workaround. Then I had to update all @gmod/tabix, @gmod/vcf, @gmod/bgzf-filehandle, @gmod/indexedfasta, @gmod/tribble-index, @gmod/bam, and JBrowse proper to use these modules instead, and make the babel chain, which typically does not parse node_modules, to build these modules specifically (I didn't want to setup babel toolchains for every single one of these modules, just one in the jbrowse main codebase...). This was really a lot of work to support IE11 but now that works so ...ya

  • Fixed bug where some files were not being fetched properly when changing refseqs. This was actually fixed when I changed out lru-cache for quick-lru and fixed a bug where the cache size was set to 0 due to a erroneous comment that said 50*1024 // 50MB...of course it should have said 50*1024*1024 // 50MB https://github.com/GMOD/jbrowse/commit/2025dc0aa0091b70

  • Fixed issue where JBrowse would load the wrong area of the refseq on startup resulting in bad layouts and excessive data fetches. This was actually a heinous bug where jbrowse upon loading would just navigateTo the start of the reference sequence automatically and then to wherever was specified by the user. This resulted in track data to start downloading immediately from the start of the chromosome and resulted in for example 350 kilobases of reference sequence from all tracks to start downloading, which when I was implementing view as pairs, was causing me to download over 100MB routinely. This was terrible, and after fixing I only download about 10MB over even large regions for most BAM files. Additionally, this bug was causing the track heights to be calculated incorrectly because the track heights would actually be calculated based on distorted canvas bitmaps. https://github.com/gmod/jbrowse/issues/1187

  • JBrowse Desktop was not fetching remote files. This was a weird issue where remote file requests were considered a CORS requests to any external remote. This was solved by changing the usage of the fetch API in JBrowse for node-fetch which does not obey CORS. Note that electron-fetch was also considered, which uses Chromiums network stack instead of node's, but that had specific assumptions about the context in which it was called.

  • Fixed issue where some parts of a CRAM file would not be displayed in JBrowse due to a CRAM index parsing issue. This was based on a sort of binary search that was implemented in JBrowse where the elements of the lists were non-overlapping regions, and the query was a region, and the output should be a list of the non-overlapping regions that overlap the query. Most algorithms for binary search don't really tell you how to do searches on ranges so needed to roll up my sleeves and write a little custom code. An interval tree could have been used but this is too heavy-weight for non-overlapping regions from the index https://github.com/GMOD/cram-js/pull/10

  • Fixed an issue where BAM features were not lazily evaluating their tags. When a function feature.get('blahblah') is called on a BAM feature, it checks to see if it's part of a default list of things that are parsed like feature start, end, id, but if not, it has to parse all the BAM tags to see if it is a tag. Since they are called "lazy features" the tag processing is deferred until it is absolutely needed. As it turned out, the incorporation of CRAM in 1.15 was calling a function to try to get the CRAM's version of CIGAR/MD on the BAM features unnecessarily invoking the tag parsing on every feature up front and therefore making the feature not really lazy anymore. This restored the "laziness" aspect of BAM.

  • Fixed issue where CRAM layout and mouseover would be glitchy due to ID collisions on features. In the 1.15 releases, CRAM was introduced, and we thought that the concept of taking CRC32 of the entire feature data days were over because there is the concept of a "unique ID" on the features. However, this ID was only unique within the slices, so around the slice boundaries there were a lot of bad feature layouts and mouseovers would fail because they would map to multiple features, etc. I found a way to unique-ify this by giving it the sliceHeader file offset. https://github.com/GMOD/cram-js/pull/10

  • We also had behind the scenes work by igv.js team member jrobinso who helped on the CRAM codebase to incorporate a feature where for lossy read names, so that a read and it's mate pair would consistently be assigned the same read name based on the unique ID mentioned above. There was also a rare issue where sometimes the mate pair's orientation was incorrectly reported based on the CRAM flags, but the embedded BAM flags correctly reported it.

  • Finally the paired reads feature. This was a feature that I really wanted to get right. It started when garrett and rbuels were going to san diego for the CIVIC hackathon, and we talked about doing something that matched a "variant review system" that they had done for the IGV codebase, which involved detailed inspection of reads. I thought it would probably be feasible for jbrowse to do this, but I thought essentially at some point that enhancing jbrowse's read visualizations with paired reads would be a big win. I had thought about this at the JBrowse hackathon also and my discussions then were that this was very hard. Overall, I invented a compromise that I thought was reasonable which was that there can be a "maxInsertSize" for the pileup view beyond which the pairing wouldn't be resolved. This allowed (a) a significant reduction in data fetches because I implemented a "read redispatcher" that would actually literally resolve the read pairs in the separate chunks and (b) a cleaner view because the layout wouldn't be polluted by very long read inserts all the time and also, for example, if you scrolled to the right, and suddenly a read was paired to the left side of your view, it would result in a bad layout (but with max insert size, the window of all reads within maxinsertsize are always resolved so this does not happen) and finally ( c) the paired arc view was incorporated which does not use read redispatching and which can do very long reads. All of these things took time to think through and resolve, but it is now I think a pretty solid system and I look forward to user feedback!