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Open Access Highly Accessed Software

bioWeb3D: an online webGL 3D data visualisation tool

Jean-Baptiste Pettit and John C Marioni

Author Affiliations

EMBL-EBI, European Molecular Biology Laboratory - European Bioinformatics Institute, CB10 1SD, Cambridge, UK

BMC Bioinformatics 2013, 14:185  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-185

Published: 7 June 2013



Data visualization is critical for interpreting biological data. However, in practice it can prove to be a bottleneck for non trained researchers; this is especially true for three dimensional (3D) data representation. Whilst existing software can provide all necessary functionalities to represent and manipulate biological 3D datasets, very few are easily accessible (browser based), cross platform and accessible to non-expert users.


An online HTML5/WebGL based 3D visualisation tool has been developed to allow biologists to quickly and easily view interactive and customizable three dimensional representations of their data along with multiple layers of information. Using the WebGL library Three.js written in Javascript, bioWeb3D allows the simultaneous visualisation of multiple large datasets inputted via a simple JSON, XML or CSV file, which can be read and analysed locally thanks to HTML5 capabilities.


Using basic 3D representation techniques in a technologically innovative context, we provide a program that is not intended to compete with professional 3D representation software, but that instead enables a quick and intuitive representation of reasonably large 3D datasets.