Choosing the right software for use in a research software project can be challenging. How do we know which software is both fit for purpose and provides a sound basis for our project for the foreseeable future? And, how do we make such a choice given that the time and effort to explore what could be myriad alternatives may be limited?
We then evaluated each candidate by quickly prototyping a subset of the RiboViz workflow, and assessed our experiences against both objective (functional) criteria and subjective (usability) criteria. From this evaluation, we decided to choose Nextflow. Our selection process took 10 person-days, a small cost for the assurance that Nextflow both satisfied our requirements and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
In our view, the use of prototyping can offer a low-cost way of making a more informed selection of software to use within projects, rather than relying solely upon reviews and recommendations by others
A comprehensive article describing our approach to shortlisting and prototyping has now been published in PLoS Computational Biology as Jackson M, Kavoussanakis K, Wallace EWJ (2021) Using prototyping to choose a bioinformatics workflow management system. PLoS Comput Biol 17(2): e1008622, doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008622.