American Chemical Society
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BioBlocks: Programming Protocols in Biology Made Easier

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-04, 00:00 authored by Vishal Gupta, Jesús Irimia, Iván Pau, Alfonso Rodríguez-Patón
The methods to execute biological experiments are evolving. Affordable fluid handling robots and on-demand biology enterprises are making automating entire experiments a reality. Automation offers the benefit of high-throughput experimentation, rapid prototyping, and improved reproducibility of results. However, learning to automate and codify experiments is a difficult task as it requires programming expertise. Here, we present a web-based visual development environment called BioBlocks for describing experimental protocols in biology. It is based on Google’s Blockly and Scratch, and requires little or no experience in computer programming to automate the execution of experiments. The experiments can be specified, saved, modified, and shared between multiple users in an easy manner. BioBlocks is open-source and can be customized to execute protocols on local robotic platforms or remotely, that is, in the cloud. It aims to serve as a de facto open standard for programming protocols in Biology.