Chapter 2. Setting Up and Managing a Bioinformatics Project
Just as a well-organized laboratory makes a scientist’s life easier, a well-organized and well-documented project makes a bioinformatician’s life easier. Regardless of the particular project you’re working on, your project directory should be laid out in a consistent and understandable fashion. Clear project organization makes it easier for both you and collaborators to figure out exactly where and what everything is. Additionally, it’s much easier to automate tasks when files are organized and clearly named. For example, processing 300 gene sequences stored in separate FASTA files with a script is trivial if these files are organized in a single directory and are consistently named.
Every bioinformatics project begins with an empty project directory, so it’s fitting that this book begin with a chapter on project organization. In this chapter, we’ll look at some best practices in organizing your bioinformatics project directories and how to digitally document your work using plain-text Markdown files. We’ll also see why project directory organization isn’t just about being tidy, but is essential to the way by which tasks are automated across large numbers of files (which we routinely do in bioinformatics).
Project Directories and Directory Structures
Creating a well-organized directory structure is the foundation of a reproducible bioinformatics project. The actual process is quite simple: laying out a project only entails ...