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Belgian LifeWatch e-Lab

Within the envisaged e-infrastructure of LifeWatch, data exchange and data analysis are largely based on the use of web services. Web services are systems that allow communication between two computers over the web, and allow the user to access the most recent and up-to-date information directly from within other applications.



In the framework of LifeWatch Belgium, several web services are being developed to standardize, analyze and visualize your data, and to extract additional data from several internal and external data systems. An online, ready-to-use tool was developed where users can select several web services at once in an easy, user friendly way. In this ONLINE INTERFACE the majority of the web services built by the Belgian LifeWatch partners are available.


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More advanced users can run the Belgian LifeWatch (and other) web services within several platforms or software, and can run the web services consecutively, constituting so-called workflows. On the right you can find an overview of existing web service catalogues, how to access the web services, how to connect the web services into workflows and some additional useful tools.

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What are web services?

Web services can roughly be divided into two categories: SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (Representational State Transfer). SOAP has the ability to discover and describe web services via the WSDL (Web Services Description Language) standard, but usually needs a platform dependent library to work. REST uses standard HTTP (and JSON) and is much simpler to use, but lacks a standard way of description (as is the case with SOAP WDSL).

Where to find web services?

How to access web services?

Web services can be accessed from within several platforms or software. Web services can for example be built into PHP web pages, services management tool, R scripts, and even spreadsheets software like MS Excel. Secondary application servers can use the web services to access data from the provider and combine this output with other local processes. Some example implementations (specific for the WoRMS web services) can be found here.

How to connect web services into workflows?

Useful tools


The web services can be used in a concatenated way, i.e. the output of one web service is the input for the next web service. Establishing such workflows helps solving (complicated) biological questions. The use of the LifeWatch web services is demonstrated in a few use cases:

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