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Project Structure

The bycon project contains libraries (/lib), global configuration files (/config), resource files (/rsrc) and data scheams (/schemas). All these are distributed as part of the bycon package.

Highly Experimental

While in principle one can use the current code base to create a complete Beacon v2 setup this requires some customization, e.g. through editing the /local/....yaml configuration files as well as the /install.yaml data.

Additionally to the library and associated files a complete bycon-base Beacon server setup requires the installation of various endpoint apps contained in /beaconServer. Progenetix also makes use of many server apps (e.g. for retrieving supporting data such as collation statistics or genomic parameters) which are now contained in the byconaut project as /services.

bycon library install

In February 2023 bycon has been mad available as a Pypi package with standard installation through pip install bycon. However, this installation will lack the server components and is by itself only suitable for library utilization.

Beacon Server Installation


An installation of a Beacon environment may involve following repositories:

  • bycon
    • the core Beacon code for libraries and server API
  • byconaut
    • additional server functionality
    • utility scripts
    • example data
  • beaconplus-web
    • the web front-end (React based)
    • represents an advanced Beacon query interface

The project's Beacon deployment had been developed with some prerequisites:

MongoDB database instance

The MongoDB host server can be set with the environmental variable BYCON_MONGO_HOST. It otherwise defaults to localhost.

MongoDB installation

We use a Homebrew based installation, as detailed on the MongoDB website. On OS X this boils down to (assuming Homebrew has been installed):

brew tap mongodb/brew
brew install mongodb-community

Then this shoul dbe started as a service & (probably) needs a restart of the computer (in case another or version was running etc.).

brew services start mongodb-community

The update works similarly:

brew tap mongodb/brew
brew upgrade mongodb-community
brew services restart mongodb/brew/mongodb-community

Webserver Setup (Apache)

We use a "classical" webserver setup with Apache but probably other options would be fine...

Some configuration:

  • a directory for executables (e.g. .../cgi-bin/)
    • this has to be set as the default executable (CGI) directory
    • our Mac OS use: /Library/WebServer/cgi-bin/
    • we also use a /bycon wrapper directory inside the CGI dir (for hosting the beaconServer and optionally services directories with their scripts)
    • we use a rewrite directive to the main beacon (& optional services) apps which handle then path deparsing and calling of individual apps:
  • a server-writable temporary directory
    • our use: /Library/WebServer/Documents/tmp/
Example httpd.conf configuration settings

These are some example configuration settings. Please search for the corresponding settings in your server configuration and adjust acordingly.

# Set the document root - here using our example, YMMV

DocumentRoot    /Library/WebServer/Documents

# Enable script execution

LoadModule cgi_module /usr/libexec/apache2/

# Configure the global CGI-BIN

ScriptAlias  /cgi      /Library/WebServer/cgi-bin
ScriptAlias  /cgi-bin  /Library/WebServer/cgi-bin

<Directory "/Library/WebServer/cgi-bin">
    AllowOverride None
    Options +ExecCGI -MultiViews +SymLinksIfOwnerMatch
    SetHandler cgi-script
    Require all granted
# Allow (some) CGI-BIN scripts to be called with a short alias.

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule     "^/?services/(.*)"     /cgi-bin/bycon/services/$1      [PT]
RewriteRule     "^/?beacon/(.*)"     /cgi-bin/bycon/beaconServer/$1      [PT]

# Configure the global tmp

Alias  /tmp      /Library/WebServer/Documents/tmp

<Directory /Library/WebServer/Documents/tmp>
    Options Indexes FollowSymlinks
    AllowOverride All
    Require all granted

Installation Procedure

The project root contains an script to distribute the server scripts into the webserver root. Necessary parameters have to be adjusted in the accompagnying install.yaml.

Configuration adjustments

Many of the parameters in bycon are pre-defined in bycon/config/....yaml files which are installed into the bycon package in your Python site-packages tree. These configurations can be overwritten by providing modified copies in your_script_directory/local/.

Some configurations


Here at minimum the paths for the webserver tmp has to be defined (path elements as list items):

  - /
  - Library
  - WebServer
  - Documents
  - tmp

server_tmp_dir_web: /tmp

Please modify the data here, especially the defaults and the entity_defaults for the info entry type.

Local stack installation

The local developer mode installation removes the system bycon, compiles the current code base (e.g. containing your modifications) and then runs the installer script for the distribution of the server scripts. The following utility code is provided with the script (may change over time...):

pip3 uninstall bycon
rm -rf ./dist
python3 -m build --sdist .
pip install $BY

There is also a --noo-sudo modification option: ./ --no-sudo

The last step in the batch assumes that one has the byconaut project in a local sister directory.

Script dependencies

Many functions in bycon require the existence of local configuration files (e.g. for dataset definitions) in a local directory in the path of your calling scripts or CGIs.

Loading data

We provide some data loading documentation and example data inside the byconaut package. This is evolving...


The following tests are based on the existence of the examplez database.

Command line test

Those tests can be run either from the local bycon/bycon/beaconServer/ directory or from the corresponding one in the web cgi directory, if installed.

./ --output json -d examplez
./ --output json -d examplez --testMode true
./ --output json -d examplez --testMode true --requestEntityPathId biosamples
./ --output json -d examplez --testMode true --requestEntityPathId biosamples --testModeCount 1
./ --output json -d examplez --testMode true --requestEntityPathId g_variants
./ --output json -d examplez --testMode true --requestEntityPathId individuals
./ --output json -d examplez --filters "UBERON:0000310"
./ --output json -d examplez --filters "pgx:TCGA-BRCA"