Make Newbler open source: petition results and the meeting with Roche

A couple of weeks ago, I started a petition to ask Roche/454 Life Sciences to make the Newbler software (gsAssembly, gsMapper and Amplicon Variant Analyzer) open source. See this post for the background to the petition.

The results are in, see the PDF on figshare. 162 people have signed the petition. Many thanks to all of you!

This week, I attended the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) meeting in Florida, and on Thursday I handed over the results of the petition to two Roche representatives, Dan Zabrowski, Head of Roche Sequencing Unit and Paul Schaffer, Vice President of Roche 454 Sequencing Business.

I had a half hour, very open and interesting discussion with Roche. Roche expressed their appreciation of the fact that we as a community voiced our concerns and wishes around Newbler. Roche occasionally picks up signals from researchers, but a petition like this was very useful for them as a much stronger signal of what we think about one of their products.

Dan Zabrowski told me Roche is committed to fully support access to the Newbler software even after the 454 Life Sciences shutdown. They will take the request for open source access to the code seriously, and promised to come with an official response somewhere in the coming weeks. They did not hint at what that response would be, which is understandable.

I want to thank Dan Zabrowski and Paul Schaffer for giving me time to explain the background and hand them the results. I also again want to thank all of you who signed the petition. We may collectively have made a difference. Keep an eye out on my twitter feed and this blog for the official Roche response!

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