In case you haven't met us yet, Beri and I (Sushma) are part of the Frontline Support Team here, aka the real humans behind the FireCloud and Terra forums and helpdesk. We're on deck every day answering questions and helping troubleshoot problems, so we have plenty of opportunity to get real friendly with both platforms - it comes with the territory. What you may not know is that we actually use FireCloud and Terra to create and maintain many of the Featured Workspaces, which on any given day might involve managing data, writing WDL workflows or hammering out some R or Python code in a Jupyter notebook. That's why we'll always be super sympathetic if you reach out to us; we've literally felt the same sink-back-into-your-chair frustrations as you at some point. On the flipside, we figure that when we feel joy or relief at some newly released feature that makes our work easier, that means you probably will too!
So we were talking about the upcoming transition from FireCloud to Terra, and we figured that we should share our unanimously favorite features, mighty or small, that didn’t exist in FireCloud but have really revolutionized our ability to get things done in Terra.
We're planning to upgrade one of the main servers at the heart of FireCloud in order to unlock some performance enhancements ahead of a training event that is taking place later this week. We plan to perform this operation between 6:30-7am EST on March 20, 2019 and expect it should take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.
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Heads up if you use the TARGET and/or TCGA data workspaces: we're planning an update that will change the paths to the data files. This will disable access to the original files in any clones of the original workspaces that retain the old paths, and it will affect call caching in any new clones of the original workspaces that you create after the update rolls out in a few weeks.
Read on to understand what this change entails and why it's an important improvement that is worth making.
Last month we were excited to announce that FireCloud is getting a big upgrade, including a new and improved user interface called Terra. As a reminder, going forward we'll use the name “Terra” to refer to the overall platform that you use to get your work done, while “FireCloud” will refer to the NCI-sponsored project page that features TCGA and TARGET data. You can already access Terra here if you have a FireCloud account, and you may have received an email invitation to check it out.
Today we're following up on that announcement with some important news: the "classic" FireCloud portal will be turned off on May 1st. At that point, all traffic to FireCloud will be automatically redirected to Terra.
We are excited to announce that we’re rolling out a new and improved user interface that addresses much of the feedback you’ve shared with us over the past three years. Using the new interface will not require you to change anything and should make doing research easier than before.
We have updated some of the libraries and packages that are pre-loaded upon creation of a notebook cluster on FireCloud. These changes will affect creation of NEW clusters ONLY; existing, paused clusters will not be affected.
The aforementioned updates, listed below, are expected to be compatible with existing libraries and packages with the exception of the Hail 0.1 to 0.2 upgrade; this change will be a breaking change*.
Version changes for libraries and packages:
*Hail 0.2 has a new file format and cannot read Hail 0. You can learn more about the Hail 0.1 --> 0.2 changes here. If you need to create a new cluster with the Hail 0.1 version, please reach out to FireCloud support and we can help you to do so!
In the future, we plan to make it possible to enable access to prior versions of the notebook kernels when we roll out new upgrades to ensure long-term reproducibility.
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In the near future, we will update a number of the libraries and packages that are preloaded on notebook clusters on both FireCloud and Terra (beta). The updates are listed below. We expect all of these updates to be backwards compatible, with the exception of the upgrade from Hail 0.1 to 0.2 which is a breaking change. However it is possible that even the minor version updates could break dependencies in some of your notebooks, so we have developed a rollout plan to minimize disruption as follows.
The updates Version changes for libraries and packages:
Hail 0.2 has a new file format and cannot read Hail 0.1. You can learn more about Hail 0.1 -> 0.2 changes here.
If you have any concerns, please comment below as soon as possible. Our goal is to equip you with the tools you need to get your work done, so the more we know, the better we can serve you.
Thank you for your patience as we work to improve the platform!