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    1.0.0 • Public • Published


    Multiple Sequence Alignment Viewer - the MSAViewer - a BioJS component.

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    Build Status NPM version Join the chat at Dependencies Code Climate NPM downloads

    <script src=//></script>

    Yes you can either link to the minified, gzipped CDN version or download the dev version from S3 .

    Min version Dev version


    Use it

    Full screen mode.


    These examples show how you could embed the MSAViewer into your page.

    JSBin clustal JSBin large

    Current sniper with different examples

    display an MSA

    basic MSA


    • runs purely in the Browser
    • import files in format like FASTA, Clustal, ...
    • be interactive and receive Events
    • filter, sort, hide the sequences
    • display sequence features
    • extendable Views for your integration
    • customizable viewport
    • simplicity as design rule
    • export to fASTAb
    • generate the consenus seq
    • more to come ...

    Use the MSAViewer

    The following examples assume that the msa() constructor is available.

    If you have loaded msa as a script in your web page with something like...

    <script src="//"></script>

    ... then congratulations! You are ready to go.

    If you are using npm and are adding msa as a dependency, then you can use the following:

    var msa = require("msa");

    Import seqs

    a) Directly import a url

    var opts = {
      el: rootDiv,
      importURL: "./data/fer1.clustal",
    var m = msa(opts);

    -> JSBin example

    b) Import your own sequences from a string

    // your fasta file (advice: save it in a DOM node)
    var fasta = ">seq1\n\
    // parsed array of the sequences
    var seqs =;
    var m = msa({
         el: rootDiv,
         seqs: seqs

    -> JSBin Example

    c) Asynchronously import seqs

    var m = msa({
        el: rootDiv,
    });"", function(err, seqs){

    -> JSBin example

    d) Import your sequences from the DOM

    var fasta = document.getElementById("fasta-file").innerText;
    var seqs =;
    var m = msa({
        el: rootDiv,
        seqs: seqs

    with the following data stored in your HTML page:

    <pre style="display: none" id="fasta-file">

    -> JSBin Example

    Basic config parameters

    • bootstrapMenu: automagically show a menu
    • el: the root DOM element
    • importURL: when you want to import a file automagically
    • seqs: if you prefer to pass sequences as object

    There also many other option - grouped into these categories. See below for more details.

    • column: hide columns
    • colorscheme: everything about a colorscheme
    • conf: basic configuration
    • vis: visual elements
    • visorder: ordering of the visual elements
    • zoomer: everything that is pixel-based

    Getting help

    Please open an issue or ping us on Gitter

    MSAViewer in Action

    Are you using the MSAViewer? Don't hesistate to make a PR and let us know!

    Change the colorscheme

    Checkout this live example or edit.

    var opts = {
      el: rootDiv,
      importURL: "./data/fer1.clustal",
      colorscheme: {"scheme": "hydro"}
    var m = msa(opts);

    Own colorscheme

    var opts = {
      el: rootDiv,
      importURL: "./data/fer1.clustal",
      colorscheme: {"scheme": "hydro"}
    var m = msa(opts);
    m.g.colorscheme.addStaticScheme("own",{A: "orange", C: "red", G: "green", T: "blue"});
    m.g.colorscheme.set("scheme", "own");

    Have a look at the doc for more info.

    Add features

    Checkout this live example or edit.

    var xhr = require("xhr");
    var gffParser = require("biojs-io-gff");
    var m = msa({el: rootDiv, importURL: "");
    // add features
    xhr("./data/fer1.gff3", function(err, request, body) {
      var features = gffParser.parseSeqs(body);
    // or even more
    xhr("./data/fer1.gff_jalview", function(err, request, body) {
      var features = gffParser.parseSeqs(body);

    Update seqs"hidden", true) // hides the first seq"seq") // get raw seq"seqId") // get seqid"seq", "AAAA") // sets seq
    m.seqs.add({seq: "AAA"});  // we add a new seq at the end
    m.seqs.unshift({seq: "AAA"});  // we add a new seq at the beginning
    m.seqs.pop() // remove and return last seq
    m.seqs.shift() // remove and return first seq
    m.seqs.length // nr
    m.seqs.pluck("seqId") // ["id1", "id2", ..]
    m.seqs.remove( // remove seq2
    m.seqs.getMaxLength() // 200
    m.seqs.setRef( // sets the second seq as reference (default: first)
    m.seqs.comparator = "seqId" // sort after seqId
    m.seqs.sort() // apply our new comparator
    m.seqs.comparator =  function(a,b){ return - a.get("seq").localeCompare(b.get("seq"))} // sort after the seq itself in descending order

    Even more is possible.

    Update selection

    m.g.selcol.add(new msa.selection.rowsel({seqId: "f1"})); // row-based
    m.g.selcol.add(new msa.selection.columnsel({xStart: 10, xEnd: 12})); // column-wise
    m.g.selcol.add(new msa.selection.possel({xStart: 10, xEnd: 12, seqId: "f1"})); // union of row and column
    m.g.selcol.reset([new msa.selection.rowsel({seqId: "f1"})]); // reset
    m.g.selcol.getBlocksForRow() // array of all selected residues for a row
    m.g.selcol.getAllColumnBlocks() // array with all selected columns
    m.g.selcol.invertRow(@model.pluck "id")
    m.g.selcol.reset() // remove the entire selection
    m.g.user.set("searchText", search) // search

    Jump to a column

    m.g.zoomer.setLeftOffset(10) // jumps to column 10

    Export and save

    m.utils.export.saveAsFile(m, "all.fasta") // export seqs
    m.utils.export.saveSelection(m, "selection.fasta")
    m.utils.export.saveAnnots(m, "features.gff3")
    // share the seqs with the public = get a public link
    m.utils.export.shareLink(m, function(link){, '_blank')
    // share via jalview
    var url =  m.g.config.get('url')
    if url.indexOf("localhost") || url === "dragimport"
        m.utils.export.publishWeb(m, function(link){
        	m.utils.export.openInJalview(link, m.g.colorscheme.get("scheme"))
        m.utils.export.openInJalview(url, m.g.colorscheme.get("scheme"))

    Update attributes

    msa.g.vis.set("marker", false); // hides the markers
    msa.g.zoomer.set("alignmentHeight", 500) // modifies the default height

    Listen to attribute events

    All classes

    m.g.selcol.on("change", function(prev, new){

    You can also listen to more specific events

    m.g.vis.on("change:alignmentWidth", function(prev, new){

    Listen to user interactions

    msa.g.on("residue:click", function(data){ ... }):
    msa.g.on("residue:mousein", function(data){ ... }):
    msa.g.on("residue:mouseout", function(data){ ... }):

    If you want to listen to mouse events, you need to set the flag: conf.registerMouseHover. There is a plethora of events that you can listen to

    msa.g.on("row:click", function(data){ ... }):
    msa.g.on("column:click", function(data){ ... }):
    msa.g.on("meta:click", function(data){ ... }):

    Config parameters in g

    conf: {
        registerMouseHover: false,
        registerMouseClicks: true,
        importProxy: "",
        eventBus: true,
        alphabetSize: 20,
        dropImport: false,
        debug: false,
        hasRef: false // hasReference,
        manualRendering: false // manually control the render (not recommened)
    colorscheme: {
        scheme: "taylor", // name of your color scheme
        colorBackground: true, // otherwise only the text will be colored
        showLowerCase: true, // used to hide and show lowercase chars in the overviewbox
        opacity: 0.6 //opacity for the residues
    columns: {
        hidden: [] // hidden columns
    vis: {
        sequences: true,
        markers: true,
        metacell: false,
        conserv: false,
        overviewbox: false,
        seqlogo: false,
        gapHeader: false,
        leftHeader: true,
        // about the labels
        labels: true,
        labelName: true,
        labelId: true,
        labelPartition: false,
        labelCheckbox: false,
        // meta stuff
        metaGaps: true,
        metaIdentity: true,
        metaLinks: true
    zoomer: {
        // general
        alignmentWidth: "auto",
        alignmentHeight: 225,
        columnWidth: 15,
        rowHeight: 15,
        autoResize: true, // only for the width
        // labels
        textVisible: true,
        labelIdLength: 30,
        labelNameLength: 100,
        labelPartLength: 15,
        labelCheckLength: 15,
        labelFontsize: 13,
        labelLineHeight: "13px",
        // marker
        markerFontsize: "10px",
        stepSize: 1,
        markerStepSize: 2,
        markerHeight: 20,
        // canvas
        residueFont: "13", //in px
        canvasEventScale: 1,
        // overview box
        boxRectHeight: 2,
        boxRectWidth: 2,
        overviewboxPaddingTop: 10,
        // meta cell
        metaGapWidth: 35,
        metaIdentWidth: 40,
        metaLinksWidth: 25

    The menu has its own small set of properties that can be modified. It's the menu property for both the defaultmenu as using the menu bootstrapping.

    menu: {
        menuFontsize: "14px",
        menuItemFontsize: "14px",
        menuItemLineHeight: "14px",
        menuMarginLeft: "3px",
        menuPadding: "3px 4px 3px 4px",

    Sequence model

      name: "",
      id: "",
      seq: "",
      height: 1,
      ref: false // reference: the sequence used in BLAST or the consensus seq


    Q: How can I define my own color scheme?

    play in JSBinread the documentation


    • KISS -> avoid komplexity
    • keep it modular
    • avoid boiler-plate code
    • avoid more than two args for public methods -> accepting a dictionary is more flexible
    • max. 200 lines per file (-> better organization)

    Step 1) Setting up

    git clone
    cd msa
    npm install
    • npm: You will need the npm package manager (and node) for this. On most distributions there is a package, look here

    Step 2) Developing

    In the root dir execute:


    You can browse the snippets at localhost:9090/snippets.

    Compiling for the browser

    For most cases using our CDN builds, is the best way to go. If you need to make some changes to the MSA, you can get a minified bundle in the folder dist with:

    gulp build

    Package list

    Package list

    Project structure

    • browser.js main file for browserify - defines the global namespace in the browser
    • css stylesheet folder (previously used for SASS)
    • gulpfile.js task definition file (for gulp
    • package.json npm config
    • examples short coding snippets that are run by sniper
    • src the main source code

    Want to learn more?

    Continue at the wiki.

    Getting involved

    Just pick a open issue on the issue tracker and help to make the MSAViewer better.

    The best way to get your feature request is to send us a pull request. Don't worry about simple implementations, we will help you to make it better.

    For more questions, ping us on the issue tracker or Gitter.


    Without the help of these awesome people the MSAViewer project wouldn't have been possible:

    Sebastian Wilzbach (Technical University of Munich; TUM), Ian Sillitoe (University College London), Benedikt Rauscher (TUM), Robert Sheridan (Harvard Medical School), James Procter (University of Dundee), Suzanna Lewis (Berkeley), Burkhard Rost (TUM), Tatyana Goldberg(TUM) and Guy Yachdav (TUM).

    Do you want to be part of the team? Just grab an issue and send us a PR! Ask us on Gitter if you need help to get started.

    Versioning & CDN

    New MSA versions are released following semantic versioning. Starting from 1.0.3 git tags match the versions deployed on npm and our CDN. On our CDN we offer four different versions: // static, won't change // will be updated until a new minor version is released // will be updated until a new major version is released // will be updated on every commit

    If you use the MSAViewer in production, we recommend to lock the CDN version to an exact release and update from time to time.


    This project is licensed under the Boost Software License 1.0.

    Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization obtaining a copy of the software and accompanying documentation covered by this license (the "Software") to use, reproduce, display, distribute, execute, and transmit the Software, and to prepare derivative works of the Software, and to permit third-parties to whom the Software is furnished to do so, all subject to the following:

    If you use the MSAViewer on your website, it solely requires you to link to us.

    Citing the MSAViewer

    The MSAViewer has been published 🎉

    Please cite this paper, when you use the MSAViewer in your project.

    Guy Yachdav and Sebastian Wilzbach and Benedikt Rauscher and Robert Sheridan and Ian Sillitoe and James Procter and Suzanna Lewis and Burkhard Rost and Tatyana Goldberg. "MSAViewer: interactive JavaScript visualization of multiple sequence alignments." Bioinformatics (2016)

    As Bibtex:

       Author = {Guy Yachdav and Sebastian Wilzbach and Benedikt Rauscher and Robert Sheridan and Ian Sillitoe and James Procter and Suzanna Lewis and Burkhard Rost and Tatyana Goldberg},
       Title="{{M}{S}{A}{V}iewer: interactive {J}ava{S}cript visualization of multiple sequence alignments}",
       Pages=" ",
       Doi = {10.1093/bioinformatics/btw474},
       Url = {}


    npm i @intermine/msa-viewer

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