Adding a Sarek specific config for a specific system

Maxime U. Garcia 2019-11-21
4 minute read

EDIT: Thanks a lot to @jfy133 for helping clarifying this post.

I was recently working on nf-core/sarek to add Sentieon possibilities. I added Senteion specific processes and channels, but only if a --sentieon param is specified on the command line.

While developing on our server munin, I used our local environment modules to access our installation of Sentieon. Now that my PR#66 is open, I figured that it would be an improvement if the sarek/munin specific configuration was included in the munin profile already shared with nf-core/configs.

However, within nf-core/configs, configuration is at an institutional level across all pipelines. What I wanted was to have institutional configuration at a pipeline level.

For this, we have to modify/create the following files:

Enable loading of the pipeline config file within the pipeline

In nextflow.config @ nf-core/sarek

In a similar way custom profiles from different Institutions are loaded, now an extra loading step loads a new pipeline level.

// Load nf-core/sarek custom profiles from different Institutions
try {
  includeConfig "${params.custom_config_base}/pipeline/sarek.config"
} catch (Exception e) {
  System.err.println("WARNING: Could not load nf-core/config/sarek profiles: ${params.custom_config_base}/pipeline/sarek.config")

That will load (when the try statement is executed) the newly sarek specific configuration file on the nf-core/configs repository which now needs to be created.

Create the main pipeline config file

Create pipeline/sarek.config @ nf-core/configs

We create the new config file pointed to in the previous step: pipeline/sarek.config, this time in nf-core/configs.

This file will then tell sarek where to look for the sarek pipeline-specific institutional profiles within the nf-core/configs repository.

Be sure to use the same profile to load both the institutional configuration file and the institutional pipeline-specific configuration file.

profiles {
  munin { includeConfig "${params.custom_config_base}/conf/pipeline/sarek/munin.config" }

${params.custom_config_base} is taken from the nfcore_custom.config file, which loads the configuration files for all pipelines.

params.custom_config_version = 'master'
params.custom_config_base = "${params.custom_config_version}"
profiles {
// [...]
  munin        { includeConfig "${params.custom_config_base}/conf/munin.config" }
// [...]

Create the pipeline system specific config file

Create conf/pipeline/sarek/munin.config @ nf-core/configs

Finally we create the actual pipeline config file, just as we do for a regular Nextflow configuration file.

Since the same profile is used to load this institutional pipeline-specific configuration file and the institutional configuration file, pipeline-specific params will overwrite the one already existing, ie the ones that could already be specified within the institutional nf-core/configs/conf/munin.config file.

In our case, it’s just two params that we are overwriting: config_profile_contact and config_profile_description that way, when nf-core/sarek is launched on munin, the user will notice there’s an extra level of configuration.

Then, just need to add the additional params that are sarek specific, and loading the Sentieon module.

// Profile config names for nf-core/configs

params {
  // Specific nf-core/configs params
  config_profile_contact = 'Maxime Garcia (@MaxUlysse)'
  config_profile_description = 'nf-core/sarek MUNIN profile provided by nf-core/configs'

  // Specific nf-core/sarek configs params
  max_memory = 752.GB
  max_cpus = 46
  max_time = 72.h

  // Specific nf-core/sarek params
  annotation_cache = true
  pon = '/data1/PON/vcfs/BTB.PON.vcf.gz'
  pon_index = '/data1/PON/vcfs/BTB.PON.vcf.gz.tbi'
  snpEff_cache = '/data1/cache/snpEff/'
  vep_cache = '/data1/cache/VEP/'

// Specific nf-core/sarek process configuration
process {
  withLabel:sentieon {
    if (params.sentieon) {
      module = 'sentieon/201808.05'
      container = ''


Both following commands worked as expected on munin. Since PR#66 is not merged yet, I used MaxUlysse/sarek -r sention to specify my own branch of sarek. Since PR#85 is not merged yet, I used --custom_config_base to specify my own fork of nf-core/configs.

nextflow run MaxUlysse/sarek -r sentieon -profile test,munin --sentieon /
nextflow run MaxUlysse/sarek -r sentieon -profile test,munin /

All new params were used, and the Sentieon specific module was only loaded (and container set to ‘’ ) for all processes with the sentieon label when the params.sentieon was specified.

On any other system, the first command is failing, because Sentieon is not available, but the second worked as before.

nextflow run MaxUlysse/sarek -r sentieon -profile test,docker --sentieon /
nextflow run MaxUlysse/sarek -r sentieon -profile test,docker /

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