The Workflow Description Language (WDL) is a way to specify data processing workflows with a human-readable and writeable syntax. WDL makes it straightforward to define complex analysis tasks, chain them together in workflows, and parallelize their execution. The language makes common patterns simple to express, while also admitting uncommon or complicated behavior; and strives to achieve portability not only across execution platforms, but also different types of users. Whether one is an analyst, a programmer, an operator of a production system, or any other sort of user, WDL should be accessible and understandable.
The current version of the WDL language is 1.0. The 1.0 specification contains all relevant information for users, developers, and engine developers. Upcoming features which have previously been accepted can be viewed as part of the development spec.
There are a number of draft versions (draft 1 - 3) which correspond to our initial efforts at creating WDL. While these are functional specifications, they should not be considered feature complete and contain many bugs and irregularities. Unless absolutely necessary, we would recommend that users should start with the current version of the language.
There are a number of places to ask questions and get involved within the WDL community. Our community thrives the more you get involved and we encourage you to ask questions, provide answers, and make contributions.
There are many WDL's that have previously been published which provide a good starting point to extend or use as is to fit your workflow needs. While many of these workflows are scattered across the web and in many different repositories, you can find a great selection of high quality, published WDL's available at Dockstore as well as a large number of workflows and tasks at BioWDL.
Additionally, you can view and test out a number of different workflow's using Terra. Please note, that you have to register with Terra in order to view the workflows.
WDL is not executable in and of itself, but requires an execution engine to run. Compliant executions engines should support the features of a specific version of the WDL specification. Please see the corresponding engine documentation for information on available execution options and support.
WDL only advances through community contributions. While submitting an issue is a great way to report a bug in the spec, or create disscussion around current or new features, it will ultimately not translate into an actual change in the spec. The best way to make changes is by submitting a PR. For more information on how you can contribute, please see the Contributing readme.
Additionally, once a PR has been submitted, it will be subjected to our RFC Process.
The WDL specification is entirely community driven, however it is overseen by a governance committee. For more information please see the Governance documentation.
Any changes submitted to the WDL Specification are subject to the RFC Process. Please review and familiarize yourself with the process if you would like to see changes submitted to the specification.
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