VisTrails is an open-source scientific workflow and provenance management system that provides support for simulations, data exploration, and visualization. Whereas workflows have been traditionally used to automate repetitive tasks, for applications that are exploratory in nature, such as simulations, data analysis and visualization, very little is repeated---change is the norm. As an engineer or scientist generates and evaluates hypotheses about data under study, a series of different, albeit related, workflows are created while a workflow is adjusted in an interactive process. VisTrails was designed to manage these rapidly-evolving workflows.
A key distinguishing feature of VisTrails is a comprehensive provenance infrastructure that maintains detailed history information about the steps followed and data derived in the course of an exploratory task: VisTrails maintains provenance of data products, of the workflows that derive these products and their executions. This information is persisted as XML files or in a relational database, and it allows users to navigate workflow versions in an intuitive way, to undo changes but not lose any results, to visually compare different workflows and their results, and to examine the actions that led to a result. It also enables a series operations and user interfaces that simplify workflow design and use, including the ability to create and refine workflows by analogy and to query workflows by example.
VisTrails supports the creation and execution of workflows. It allows the combination of loosely-coupled resources, specialized libraries, grid, and Web services. The released version comes with support for several packages including, VTK, Image Magick, Web Services, and pylab. You can also download packages contributed by our users, as well as create your own packages/modules. There are also a number of projects extending or building on top of VisTrails. Workflows can be run interactively, through the VisTrails GUI, or in batch using a VisTrails server.
For more detailed information, please refer to the following links:
Infrastructure to Create Provenance-Rich Papers
The first prototype of our infrastructure is described on this page. We have also written a paper that was published in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Computational Science, 2011. Find that paper here. To see our infrastructure in action, check out the videos and tutorial below.
VisTrails allows the inclusion of reproducible results in LaTeX/PDF documents. We provide a LaTeX package that allows users to add links to their results in the LaTeX source. Once the LaTeX document is compiled, the figure in the PDF becomes active, and when clicked, it will invoke VisTrails and reproduce the result. You can also upload your results to CrowdLabs and export them to Web sites or Wikis, where users can interact with them through a Web browser. See here.
Videos and tutorials of such infrastructure are available here: