Open Access Software

DAS Writeback: A Collaborative Annotation System

Gustavo A Salazar123*, Rafael C Jimenez3, Alexander Garcia4, Henning Hermjakob3, Nicola Mulder2 and Edwin Blake1

Author Affiliations

1 Computer Sciences Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa

2 Computational Biology Group, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

3 European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridgehire, UK

4 Faculty of Languages and Literary Studies, Bremen University, Germany

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BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12:143  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-143

Published: 10 May 2011



Centralised resources such as GenBank and UniProt are perfect examples of the major international efforts that have been made to integrate and share biological information. However, additional data that adds value to these resources needs a simple and rapid route to public access. The Distributed Annotation System (DAS) provides an adequate environment to integrate genomic and proteomic information from multiple sources, making this information accessible to the community. DAS offers a way to distribute and access information but it does not provide domain experts with the mechanisms to participate in the curation process of the available biological entities and their annotations.


We designed and developed a Collaborative Annotation System for proteins called DAS Writeback. DAS writeback is a protocol extension of DAS to provide the functionalities of adding, editing and deleting annotations. We implemented this new specification as extensions of both a DAS server and a DAS client. The architecture was designed with the involvement of the DAS community and it was improved after performing usability experiments emulating a real annotation task.


We demonstrate that DAS Writeback is effective, usable and will provide the appropriate environment for the creation and evolution of community protein annotation.