Long Title: Generalizing B-Fabric towards an Infrastructure for Collaborative Research in Switzerland
Universität Zürich
ETH Zürich
Das Wasserforschungs-Institut des ETH-Bereichs
Domain: VO
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.06.2009
End Date: 31.05.2011
Project Leader: C. Türker

The primary objective of this project was to open and generalize B-Fabric such that a broader research community in Switzerland can profit from it.
B-Fabric is an innovative data management infrastructure - developed by FGCZ - which provides a comprehensive data repository for all data produced in the scientific projects. It supports the integration, annotation, publication, and exchange of experimental data. It offers an open platform for supporting technology-spanning analysis. In cooperation with the ProjectRequest tool, B-Fabric also provides functionality to organize scientific projects, i.e., it supports the project application, reviewing, coaching, and member management.


Component Description
B-Fabric software & documentation The new B-Fabric software extending the previous one by the issues targeted in this project. This web-page also contains the documentation of B-Fabric with all necessary information to run B-Fabric.
Project Website including the Deliverables:
  1. Specification for Ad-hoc Coupling of External Data Stores
  2. Coupling of Some Selected EAWAG Resources with B-Fabric
  3. Specification of a role-based access model for B-Fabric
  4. Specification for Authentication via SwitchAAI Shibboleth
  5. Specification of the Generalized Annotation Management
Demo Material Miscellaneous demo materials (papers, presentations, demo movies)

With the implemented generalization of B-Fabric in different directions, this tool is in principle useful for many life sciences research groups that have to manage and archive life sciences data. The following major additions were implemented:

  1. A new concept for attaching research data sources to B-Fabric was introduced such that external resources (provided by different research groups) can now be attached easily to B-Fabric and thus made available for further data processing within advanced workflows or for data sharing within projects. It could be demonstrated that research groups without own technical and/or human resources for data management can profit from such a B-Fabric solution which is hosted somewhere else.
  2. With the extensions towards annotation management, the quality of the research data can be enhanced such that research results become traceable and reproducible (when the users are willing to provide the full information). External annotation vocabularies can now be imported easily into the system and existing annotations can be linked to public standard vocabularies.
  3. The access control was revised thoroughly based on a newly introduced role-based access model. This model allows now a more fine-grained access control.
  4. The Shibboleth-based login into B-Fabric allows users to reuse their Shibboleth accounts as alternative way to get access to B-Fabric data.

Since April 2011 the new B-Fabric is in productive use at FGCZ with all features developed in this project.
The deployment (and evaluation) of this version at IMSB is scheduled in August 2011.

In principle any research group that wants to manage research projects and data can benefit from B-Fabric since it covers the central functionality for project and data management. Data can be easily uploaded, annotated, downloaded, and shared in a controlled way in collaborative projects.
Professors could use B-Fabric to document and archive the research work of their PhD students in a traceable way.
B-Fabric also comes with a number of features that reduces the administrative work, e.g., using the user's data for odering door key at the university administration or the employee's data for managing absences and tracking vacation days of the employees.


Nearly all research groups need such tools to efficiently administer their research projects and the results they produce in these projects (raw data, analysis data etc.). It is indispensable for inter-project analyses as well as collaboration purposes that the results (data) obtained in different projects can be used transparently. B-Fabric offers the basis for these demands. Moreover, its flexibility allows a deployment in a more general setting wherever data annotation is an essential issue, e.g. for general archiving purposes where files can be archived together with their annotations.

We aim at extending and generalizing B-Fabric in collaboration with representative research groups such that it can serve as a generic data repository and collaboration platform for a broader research community. This extension and generalization concern the following four aspects:

  1. Fine-grained, dynamically adaptable access management
  2. SWITCH AAI Shibboleth-based authorization and authentication
  3. Ad-hoc coupling of data sources
  4. Advanced annotation management

There are two potential scenarios how B-Fabric could be applied:

  1. Research groups with the necessary (technical and human) resources can deploy and administer B-Fabric locally.
  2. Research groups without own (technical and human) resources for the local deployment and maintenance of B-Fabric might use an instance hosted at FGCZ.

In both cases, the research community in Switzerland could benefit from the already six years of work and experience of the FGCZ in managing and sharing scientific data.