Operators

Nextflow operators are methods that allow you to connect channels to each other or to transform values emitted by a channel applying some user provided rules.

Operators can be separated in to five groups:

Filtering operators

Given a channel, filtering operators allow you to select only the items that comply with a given rule.

The available filter operators are:

filter

The filter operator allows you to get only the items emitted by a channel that satisfy a condition and discarding all the others. The filtering condition can be specified by using either a regular expression, a literal value, a type qualifier (i.e. a Java class) or any boolean predicate.

The following example shows how to filter a channel by using a regular expression that returns only string that begins with a:

Channel
    .from( 'a', 'b', 'aa', 'bc', 3, 4.5 )
    .filter( ~/^a.*/ )
    .subscribe { println it }
a
aa

The following example shows how to filter a channel by specifying the type qualifier Number so that only numbers are returned:

Channel
    .from( 'a', 'b', 'aa', 'bc', 3, 4.5 )
    .filter( Number )
    .subscribe { println it }
3
4.5

Finally, a filtering condition can be defined by using any a boolean predicate. A predicate is expressed by a closure retuning a boolean value. For example the following fragment shows how filter a channel emitting numbers so that the odd values are returned:

Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
    .filter { it % 2 == 1 }
    .subscribe { println it }
1
3
5

Tip

In the above example the filter condition is wrapped in curly brackets, instead of round brackets, since it specifies a closure as the operator's argument. This just is a language syntax-sugar for filter({ it.toString().size() == 1 })

unique

The unique operator allows you to remove duplicate items from a channel and only emit single items with no repetition.

For example:

Channel
    .from( 1,1,1,5,7,7,7,3,3 )
    .unique()
    .subscribe { println it }
1
5
7
3

You can also specify an optional closure that customizes the way it distinguishes between unique items. For example:

Channel
    .from(1,3,4,5)
    .unique { it % 2 }
    .subscribe { println it }
1
4

distinct

The distinct operator allows you to remove consecutive duplicated items from a channel, so that each emitted item is different from the preceding one. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1,1,2,2,2,3,1,1,2,2,3 )
    .distinct()
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
1
2
3
1
2
3
Done

You can also specify an optional closure that customizes the way it distinguishes between distinct items. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1,1,2,2,2,3,1,1,2,4,6 )
    .distinct { it % 2 }
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
1
2
3
2
Done

first

The first operator creates a channel that returns the first item emitted by the source channel, or eventually the first item that matches an optional condition. The condition can be specified by using a regular expression, a Java class type or any boolean predicate. For example:

// no condition is specified, emits the very first item: 1
Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3 )
    .first()
    .subscribe { println it }


// emits the first String value: 'a'
Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 'a', 'b', 3 )
    .first( String )
    .subscribe { println it }

// emits the first item matching the regular expression: 'aa'
Channel
    .from( 'a', 'aa', 'aaa' )
    .first( ~/aa.*/ )
    .subscribe { println it }

// emits the first item for which the predicate evaluates to true: 4
Channel
    .from( 1,2,3,4,5 )
    .first { it > 3 }
    .subscribe { println it }

randomSample

The randomSample operator allows you to create a channel emitting the specified number of items randomly taken from the channel to which is applied. For example:

Channel
      .from( 1..100 )
      .randomSample( 10 )
      .println()

The above snippet will print 10 numbers in the range from 1 to 100.

take

The take operator allows you to filter only the first n items emitted by a channel. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1,2,3,4,5,6 )
    .take( 3 )
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
1
2
3
Done

Note

By specifying the value -1 the operator takes all values.

last

The last operator creates a channel that only returns the last item emitted by the source channel. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1,2,3,4,5,6 )
    .last()
    .subscribe { println it }
6

Transforming operators

Transforming operators are used to transform the items emitted by a channel to new values.

These operators are:

map

The map operator applies a function of your choosing to every item emitted by a channel, and returns the items so obtained as a new channel. The function applied is called the mapping function and is expressed with a closure as shown in the example below:

Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
    .map { it * it  }
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
1
4
9
16
25
Done

flatMap

The flatMap operator applies a function of your choosing to every item emitted by a channel, and returns the items so obtained as a new channel. Whenever the mapping function returns a list of items, this list is flattened so that each single item is emitted on its own.

For example:

// create a channel of numbers
numbers = Channel.from( 1, 2, 3 )

// map each number to a tuple (array), which items are emitted separately
results = numbers.flatMap { n -> [ n*2, n*3 ] }

// print the final results
results.subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
2
3
4
6
6
9
Done

Associative arrays are handled in the same way, so that each array entry is emitted as a single key-value item. For example:

Channel.from ( 1, 2, 3 )
       .flatMap { it -> [ number: it, square: it*it ] }
       .subscribe { println it.key + ': ' + it.value }
number: 1
square: 1
number: 2
square: 4
number: 3
square: 9

reduce

The reduce operator applies a function of your choosing to every item emitted by a channel. Each time this function is invoked it takes two parameters: firstly the i-th emitted item and secondly the result of the previous invocation of the function itself. The result is passed on to the next function call, along with the i+1 th item, until all the items are processed.

Finally, the reduce operator emits the result of the last invocation of your function as the sole output.

For example:

Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
    .reduce { a, b -> println "a: $a b: $b"; return a+b }
    .subscribe { println "result = $it" }

It prints the following output:

a: 1    b: 2
a: 3    b: 3
a: 6    b: 4
a: 10   b: 5
result = 15

Note

In a common usage scenario the first function parameter is used as an accumulator and the second parameter represents the i-th item to be processed.

Optionally you can specify a seed value in order to initialise the accumulator parameter as shown below:

myChannel.reduce( seedValue ) {  a, b -> ... }

groupBy

The groupBy operator collects the values emitted by the source channel grouping them together using a mapping function that associates each item with a key. When finished, it emits an associative array that maps each key to the set of items identified by that key.

For example:

Channel
    .from('hello','ciao','hola', 'hi', 'bonjour')
    .groupBy { String str -> str[0] }
    .subscribe { println it }
[ b:['bonjour'], c:['ciao'], h:['hello','hola','hi'] ]

The mapping function is an optional parameter. When omitted the values are grouped following these rules:

  • Any value of type Map is associated with the value of its first entry, or null when the map itself is empty.
  • Any value of type Map.Entry is associated with the value of its key attribute.
  • Any value of type Collection or Array is associated with its first entry.
  • For any other value, the value itself is used as a key.

groupTuple

The groupTuple operator collects tuples (or lists) of values emitted by the source channel grouping together the elements that share the same key. Finally it emits a new tuple object for each distinct key collected.

In other words transform a sequence of tuple like (K, V, W, ..) into a new channel emitting a sequence of (K, list(V), list(W), ..)

For example:

Channel
     .from( [1,'A'], [1,'B'], [2,'C'], [3, 'B'], [1,'C'], [2, 'A'], [3, 'D'] )
     .groupTuple()
     .subscribe { println it }

It prints:

[1, [A, B, C]]
[2, [C, A]]
[3, [B, D]]

By default the first entry in the tuple is used a the grouping key. A different key can be chosen by using the by parameter and specifing the index of entry to be used as key (the index is zero-based). For example:

Channel
     .from( [1,'A'], [1,'B'], [2,'C'], [3, 'B'], [1,'C'], [2, 'A'], [3, 'D'] )
     .groupTuple(by: 1)
     .subscribe { println it }

Grouping by the second value in each tuple the result is:

[[1, 2], A]
[[1, 3], B]
[[2, 1], C]
[[3], D]

Available parameters:

Field Description
by The index (zero based) of the element to be used as grouping key. A key composed by multiple elements can be defined specifying a list of indices e.g. by: [0,2]
sort Defines the sorting criteria for the grouped items. See below for available sorting options.
size The number of items the grouped list(s) has to contain. When the specified size is reached, the tuple is emitted.
remainder When false incomplete tuples (i.e. with less than size grouped items) are discarded (default). When true incomplete tuples are emitted as the ending emission. Only valid when a size parameter is specified.

Sorting options:

Sort Description
false No sorting is applied (default).
true Order the grouped items by the item natural ordering i.e. numerical for number, lexicographic for string, etc. See http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/collections/interfaces/order.html
hash Order the grouped items by the hash number associated to each entry.
deep Similar to the previous, but the hash number is created on actual entries content e.g. when the item is a file the hash is created on the actual file content.
custom A custom sorting criteria can be specified by using either a Closure or a Comparator object.

buffer

The buffer operator gathers the items emitted by the source channel into subsets and emits these subsets separately.

There are a number of ways you can regulate how buffer gathers the items from the source channel into subsets:

  • buffer( closingCondition ): starts to collect the items emitted by the channel into a subset until the closing condition is verified. After that the subset is emitted to the resulting channel and new items are gathered into a new subset. The process is repeated until the last value in the source channel is sent. The closingCondition can be specified either as a regular expression, a Java class, a literal value, or a boolean predicate that has to be satisfied. For example:

    Channel
        .from( 1,2,3,1,2,3 )
        .buffer { it == 2 }
        .subscribe {  println it }
    
    // emitted values
    [1,2]
    [3,1,2]
    
  • buffer( openingCondition, closingCondition ): starts to gather the items emitted by the channel as soon as one of the them verify the opening condition and it continues until there is one item which verify the closing condition. After that the subset is emitted and it continues applying the described logic until the last channel item is emitted. Both conditions can be defined either as a regular expression, a literal value, a Java class, or a boolean predicate that need to be satisfied. For example:

    Channel
        .from( 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2 )
        .buffer( 2, 4 )
        .subscribe {  println it }
    
    // emits bundles starting with '2' and ending with'4'
    [2,3,4]
    [2,3,4]
    
  • buffer( size: n ): transform the source channel in such a way that it emits tuples made up of n elements. An incomplete tuple is discarded. For example:

    Channel
        .from( 1,2,3,1,2,3,1 )
        .buffer( size: 2 )
        .subscribe {  println it }
    
    // emitted values
    [1, 2]
    [3, 1]
    [2, 3]
    

If you want to emit the last items in a tuple containing less than n elements, simply add the parameter remainder specifying true, for example:

Channel
    .from( 1,2,3,1,2,3,1 )
    .buffer( size: 2, remainder: true )
    .subscribe {  println it }

// emitted values
[1, 2]
[3, 1]
[2, 3]
[1]
  • buffer( size: n, skip: m ): as in the previous example, it emits tuples containing n elements, but skips m values before starting to collect the values for the next tuple (including the first emission). For example:

    Channel
        .from( 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2 )
        .buffer( size:3, skip:2 )
        .subscribe {  println it }
    
    // emitted values
    [3, 4, 5]
    [3, 4, 5]
    

If you want to emit the remaining items in a tuple containing less than n elements, simply add the parameter remainder specifying true, as shown in the previous example.

See also: collate operator.

collate

The collate operator transforms a channel in such a way that the emitted values are grouped in tuples containing n items. For example:

Channel
    .from(1,2,3,1,2,3,1)
    .collate( 3 )
    .subscribe { println it }
[1, 2, 3]
[1, 2, 3]
[1]

As shown in the above example the last tuple may be incomplete e.g. contain less elements than the specified size. If you want to avoid this, specify false as the second parameter. For example:

Channel
    .from(1,2,3,1,2,3,1)
    .collate( 3, false )
    .subscribe { println it }
[1, 2, 3]
[1, 2, 3]

A second version of the collate operator allows you to specify, after the size, the step by which elements are collected in tuples. For example:

Channel
  .from(1,2,3,4)
  .collate( 3, 1 )
  .subscribe { println it }
[1, 2, 3]
[2, 3, 4]
[3, 4]
[4]

As before, if you don't want to emit the last items which do not complete a tuple, specify false as the third parameter.

See also: buffer operator.

collect

The collect operator collects all the items emitted by a channel to a List and return the resulting object as a sole emission. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3, 4 )
    .collect()
    .println()

# outputs
[1,2,3,4]

An optional closure can be specified to transform each item before adding it to the resulting list. For example:

Channel
    .from( 'hello', 'ciao', 'bonjour' )
    .collect { it.length() }
    .println()

# outputs
[5,4,7]

See also: toList and toSortedList operator.

flatten

The flatten operator transforms a channel in such a way that every item of type Collection or Array is flattened so that each single entry is emitted separately by the resulting channel. For example:

Channel
    .from( [1,[2,3]], 4, [5,[6]] )
    .flatten()
    .subscribe { println it }
1
2
3
4
5
6

See also: flatMap operator.

toList

The toList operator collects all the items emitted by a channel to a List object and emits the resulting collection as a single item. For example:

Channel
    .from( 1, 2, 3, 4 )
    .toList()
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: 'Done'
[1,2,3,4]
Done

See also: collect operator.

toSortedList

The toSortedList operator collects all the items emitted by a channel to a List object where they are sorted and emits the resulting collection as a single item. For example:

Channel
    .from( 3, 2, 1, 4 )
    .toSortedList()
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: 'Done'
[1,2,3,4]
Done

You may also pass a comparator closure as an argument to the toSortedList operator to customize the sorting criteria. For example, to sort by the second element of a tuple in descending order:

Channel
    .from( ["homer", 5], ["bart", 2], ["lisa", 10], ["marge", 3], ["maggie", 7])
    .toSortedList( { a, b -> b[1] <=> a[1] } )
    .view()
[[lisa, 10], [maggie, 7], [homer, 5], [marge, 3], [bart, 2]]

See also: collect operator.

Splitting operators

These operators are used to split items emitted by channels into chunks that can be processed by downstream operators or processes.

The available splitting operators are:

splitCsv

The splitCsv operator allows you to parse text items emitted by a channel, that are formatted using the CSV format, and split them into records or group them into list of records with a specified length.

In the simplest case just apply the splitCsv operator to a channel emitting a CSV formatted text files or text entries. For example:

Channel
    .from( 'alpha,beta,gamma\n10,20,30\n70,80,90' )
    .splitCsv()
    .subscribe { row ->
       println "${row[0]} - ${row[1]} - ${row[2]}"
    }

The above example shows hows CSV text is parsed and is split into single rows. Values can be accessed by its column index in the row object.

When the CVS begins with a header line defining the columns names, you can specify the parameter header: true which allows you to reference each value by its name, as shown in the following example:

Channel
    .from( 'alpha,beta,gamma\n10,20,30\n70,80,90' )
    .splitCsv(header: true)
    .subscribe { row ->
       println "${row.alpha} - ${row.beta} - ${row.gamma}"
    }

It will print

10 - 20 - 30
70 - 80 - 90

Alternatively you can provide custom header names by specifying a the list of strings in the header parameter as shown below:

Channel
    .from( 'alpha,beta,gamma\n10,20,30\n70,80,90' )
    .splitCsv(header: ['col1', 'col2', 'col3'], skip: 1 )
    .subscribe { row ->
       println "${row.col1} - ${row.col2} - ${row.col3}"
    }

Available parameters:

Field Description
by The number of rows in each chunk
sep The character used to separate the values (default: ,)
quote Values may be quoted by single or double quote characters.
header When true the first line is used as columns names. Alternatively it can be used to provide the list of columns names.
charset Parse the content by using the specified charset e.g. UTF-8
strip Removes leading and trailing blanks from values (default: false)
skip Number of lines since the file beginning to ignore when parsing the CSV content.
limit Limits the number of retrieved records to the specified value.
decompress When true decompress the content using the GZIP format before processing it (note: files whose name ends with .gz extension are decompressed automatically)
elem The index of the element to split when the operator is applied to a channel emitting list/tuple objects (default: first file object or first element)

splitFasta

The splitFasta operator allows you to split the entries emitted by a channel, that are formatted using the FASTA format. It returns a channel which emits text item for each sequence in the received FASTA content.

The number of sequences in each text chunk produced by the splitFasta operator can be set by using the by parameter. The following example shows how to read a FASTA file and split it into chunks containing 10 sequences each:

Channel
     .fromPath('misc/sample.fa')
     .splitFasta( by: 10 )
     .subscribe { print it }

Warning

By default chunks are kept in memory. When splitting big files specify the parameter file: true to save the chunks into files in order to not incur in a OutOfMemoryException. See the available parameter table below for details.

A second version of the splitFasta operator allows you to split a FASTA content into record objects, instead of text chunks. A record object contains a set of fields that let you access and manipulate the FASTA sequence information with ease.

In order to split a FASTA content into record objects, simply use the record parameter specifying the map of required the fields, as shown in the example below:

Channel
     .fromPath('misc/sample.fa')
     .splitFasta( record: [id: true, seqString: true ])
     .filter { record -> record.id =~ /^ENST0.*/ }
     .subscribe { record -> println record.seqString }

Note

In this example, the file misc/sample.fa is split into records containing the id and the seqString fields (i.e. the sequence id and the sequence data). The following filter operator only keeps the sequences which ID starts with the ENST0 prefix, finally the sequence content is printed by using the subscribe operator.

Available parameters:

Field Description
by Defines the number of sequences in each chunk (default: 1)
limit Limits the number of retrieved sequences to the specified value.
record Parse each entry in the FASTA file as record objects (see following table for accepted values)
charset Parse the content by using the specified charset e.g. UTF-8
decompress When true, decompress the content using the GZIP format before processing it (note: files whose name ends with .gz extension are decompressed automatically)
file When true saves each split to a file. Use a string instead of true value to create split files with a specific name (split index number is automatically added). Finally, set this attribute to an existing directory, in oder to save the split files into the specified folder.
elem The index of the element to split when the operator is applied to a channel emitting list/tuple objects (default: first file object or first element)

The following fields are available when using the record parameter:

Field Description
id The FASTA sequence identifier i.e. the word following the > symbol up to the first blank or newline character
header The first line in a FASTA sequence without the > character
desc The text in the FASTA header following the ID value
text The complete FASTA sequence including the header
seqString The sequence data as a single line string i.e. containing no newline characters
sequence The sequence data as a multi-line string (always ending with a newline character)
width Define the length of a single line when the sequence field is used, after that the sequence data continues on a new line.

splitFastq

The splitFastq operator allows you to split the entries emitted by a channel, that are formatted using the FASTQ format. It returns a channel which emits a text chunk for each sequence in the received item.

The number of sequences in each text chunk produced by the splitFastq operator is defined by the parameter by. The following example shows you how to read a FASTQ file and split it into chunks containing 10 sequences each:

Channel
     .fromPath('misc/sample.fastq')
     .splitFastq( by: 10 )
     .subscribe { print it }

Warning

By default chunks are kept in memory. When splitting big files specify the parameter file: true to save the chunks into files in order to not incur in a OutOfMemoryException. See the available parameter table below for details.

A second version of the splitFastq operator allows you to split a FASTQ formatted content into record objects, instead of text chunks. A record object contains a set of fields that let you access and manipulate the FASTQ sequence data with ease.

In order to split FASTQ sequences into record objects simply use the record parameter specifying the map of the required fields, or just specify record: true as in the example shown below:

Channel
     .fromPath('misc/sample.fastq')
     .splitFastq( record: true )
     .subscribe { record -> println record.readHeader }

Available parameters:

Field Description
by Defines the number of reads in each chunk (default: 1)
limit Limits the number of retrieved reads to the specified value.
record Parse each entry in the FASTQ file as record objects (see following table for accepted values)
charset Parse the content by using the specified charset e.g. UTF-8
decompress When true, decompress the content using the GZIP format before processing it (note: files whose name ends with .gz extension are decompressed automatically)
file When true saves each split to a file. Use a string instead of true value to create split files with a specific name (split index number is automatically added). Finally, set this attribute to an existing directory, in oder to save the split files into the specified folder.
elem The index of the element to split when the operator is applied to a channel emitting list/tuple objects (default: first file object or first element)

The following fields are available when using the record parameter:

Field Description
readHeader Sequence header (without the @ prefix)
readString The raw sequence data
qualityHeader Base quality header (it may be empty)
qualityString Quality values for the sequence

splitText

The splitText operator allows you to split multi-line strings or text file items, emitted by a source channel into chunks containing n lines, which will be emitted by the resulting channel.

For example:

Channel
     .fromPath('/some/path/*.txt')
     .splitText()
     .subscribe { print it }

It splits the content of the files with suffix .txt, and prints it line by line.

By default the splitText operator splits each item into chunks of one line. You can define the number of lines in each chunk by using the parameter by, as shown in the following example:

Channel
     .fromPath('/some/path/*.txt')
     .splitText( by: 10 )
     .subscribe {
         print it;
         print "--- end of the chunk ---\n"
     }

An optional closure can be specified in order to transform the text chunks produced by the operator. The following example shows how to split text files into chunks of 10 lines and transform them to capital letters:

Channel
   .fromPath('/some/path/*.txt')
   .splitText( by: 10 ) { it.toUpperCase() }
   .subscribe { print it }

Note

Text chunks returned by the operator splitText are always terminated by a newline character.

Available parameters:

Field Description
by Defines the number of lines in each chunk (default: 1)
limit Limits the number of retrieved lines to the specified value.
charset Parse the content by using the specified charset e.g. UTF-8
decompress When true, decompress the content using the GZIP format before processing it (note: files whose name ends with .gz extension are decompressed automatically)
file When true saves each split to a file. Use a string instead of true value to create split files with a specific name (split index number is automatically added). Finally, set this attribute to an existing directory, in oder to save the split files into the specified folder.
elem The index of the element to split when the operator is applied to a channel emitting list/tuple objects (default: first file object or first element)

Combining operators

The combining operators are:

into

The into operator connects a source channel to one or more target channels in such a way the values emitted by the source channel are copied to the target channel(s). For example:

target = Channel.create()
target.subscribe { println it }

Channel
    .from( 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd' )
    .into( target )
a
b
c
d

Note

The target channel specified as a parameter to the into operator must have been declared previously.

A second version of the into operator takes a closure as a parameter which declares one or more target channels to which the source one is connected. For example:

Channel
    .from( 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd' )
    .into { foo; bar }

The advantage of using this syntax is that the into operator implicitly creates the target channel(s) as needed and you won't need to create it/them as in the previous example.

Finally, a third version of the into operator takes an integer n as an argument and returns a list of n channels, each of which emits a copy of the items that were emitted by the source channel. For example:

(foo, bar) = Channel.from( 'a','b','c').into(2)
foo.subscribe { println "Channel 1 emit: " + it }
bar.subscribe { println "Channel 2 emit: " + it }
Foo emit: a
Foo emit: b
Foo emit: c

Bar emit: a
Bar emit: b
Bar emit: c

Note

The above example takes advantage of the multiple assignment syntax in order to assign two variables at once using the list of channels returned by the into operator.

See also tap, separate and route operators.

tap

The tap operator combines the functions of into and separate operators in such a way that it connects two channels, copying the values from the source into the tapped channel. At the same time it splits the source channel into a newly created channel that is returned by the operator itself.

The tap can be useful in certain scenarios where you may be required to concatenate multiple operations, as in the following example:

log1 = Channel.create().subscribe { println "Log 1: $it" }
log2 = Channel.create().subscribe { println "Log 2: $it" }

Channel
    .from ( 'a', 'b', 'c' )
        .tap( log1 )
        .map { it * 2 }
        .tap( log2 )
        .subscribe { println "Result: $it" }
Log 1: a
Log 1: b
Log 1: c

Log 2: aa
Log 2: bb
Log 2: cc

Result: aa
Result: bb
Result: cc

The tap operator also allows the target channel to be specified by using a closure. The advantage of this syntax is that you won't need to previously create the target channel, because it is created implicitly by the operator itself.

Using the closure syntax the above example can be rewritten as shown below:

Channel
    .from ( 'a', 'b', 'c' )
        .tap { log1 }
        .map { it * 2 }
        .tap { log2 }
        .subscribe { println "Result: $it" }


log1.subscribe { println "Log 1: $it" }
log2.subscribe { println "Log 2: $it" }

See also into and separate operators.

merge

The merge operator lets you join items emitted by two (or more) channels into a new channel.

For example the following code merges two channels together, one which emits a series of odd integers and the other which emits a series of even integers:

odds  = Channel.from([1, 3, 5, 7, 9]);
evens = Channel.from([2, 4, 6]);

odds
    .merge( evens ) { o, e -> [o, e] }
    .subscribe { println it }
[1, 2]
[3, 4]
[5, 6]

mix

The mix operator combines the items emitted by two (or more) channels into a single channel.

For example:

c1 = Channel.from( 1,2,3 )
c2 = Channel.from( 'a','b' )
c3 = Channel.from( 'z' )

c1 .mix(c2,c3)
   .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
1
2
3
'a'
'b'
'z'

Note

The items emitted by the resulting mixed channel may appear in any order, regardless of which source channel they came from. Thus, the following example it could be a possible result of the above example as well.

'z'
1
'a'
2
'b'
3

phase

The phase operator creates a channel that synchronizes the values emitted by two other channels, in such a way that it emits pairs of items that have a matching key.

The key is defined, by default, as the first entry in an array, a list or map object, or the value itself for any other data type.

For example:

ch1 = Channel.from( 1,2,3 )
ch2 = Channel.from( 1,0,0,2,7,8,9,3 )
ch1 .phase(ch2) .subscribe { println it }

It prints:

[1,1]
[2,2]
[3,3]

Optionally, a mapping function can be specified in order to provide a custom rule to associate an item to a key, as shown in the following example:

ch1 = Channel.from( [sequence: 'aaaaaa', id: 1], [sequence: 'bbbbbb', id: 2] )
ch2 = Channel.from( [val: 'zzzz', id: 3], [val: 'xxxxx', id: 1], [val: 'yyyyy', id: 2])
ch1 .phase(ch2) { it -> it.id } .subscribe { println it }

It prints:

[[sequence:aaaaaa, id:1], [val:xxxxx, id:1]]
[[sequence:bbbbbb, id:2], [val:yyyyy, id:2]]

Finally, the phase operator can emit all the pairs that are incomplete, i.e. the items for which a matching element is missing, by specifying the optional parameter remainder as shown below:

ch1 = Channel.from( 1,0,0,2,5,3 )
ch2 = Channel.from( 1,2,3,4 )
ch1 .phase(ch2, remainder: true) .subscribe { println it }

It prints:

[1, 1]
[2, 2]
[3, 3]
[0, null]
[0, null]
[5, null]
[null, 4]

cross

The cross operators allows you to combine the items of two channels in such a way that the items of the source channel are emitted along with the items emitted by the target channel for which they have a matching key.

The key is defined, by default, as the first entry in an array, a list or map object, or the value itself for any other data type. For example:

source = Channel.from( [1, 'alpha'], [2, 'beta'] )
target = Channel.from( [1, 'x'], [1, 'y'], [1, 'z'], [2,'p'], [2,'q'], [2,'t'] )

source.cross(target).subscribe { println it }

It will output:

[ [1, alpha], [1, x] ]
[ [1, alpha], [1, y] ]
[ [1, alpha], [1, z] ]
[ [2, beta],  [2, p] ]
[ [2, beta],  [2, q] ]
[ [2, beta],  [2, t] ]

The above example shows how the items emitted by the source channels are associated to the ones emitted by the target channel (on the right) having the same key.

There are two important caveats when using the cross operator:

  1. The operator is not reflexive, i.e. the result of a.cross(b) is different from b.cross(a)
  2. The source channel should emits items for which there's no key repetition i.e. the emitted items have an unique key identifier.

Optionally, a mapping function can be specified in order to provide a custom rule to associate an item to a key, in a similar manner as shown for the phase operator.

collectFile

The collectFile operator allows you to gather the items emitted by a channel and save them to one or more files. The operator returns a new channel that emits the collected file(s).

In the simplest case, just specify the name of a file where the entries have to be stored. For example:

Channel
    .from('alpha', 'beta', 'gamma')
    .collectFile(name: 'sample.txt', newLine: true)
    .subscribe {
        println "Entries are saved to file: $it"
        println "File content is: ${it.text}"
    }

A second version of the collectFile operator allows you to gather the items emitted by a channel and group them together into files whose name can be defined by a dynamic criteria. The grouping criteria is specified by a closure that must return a pair in which the first element defines the file name for the group and the second element the actual value to be appended to that file. For example:

Channel
   .from('Hola', 'Ciao', 'Hello', 'Bonjour', 'Halo')
   .collectFile() { item ->
       [ "${item[0]}.txt", item + '\n' ]
   }
   .subscribe {
       println "File ${it.name} contains:"
       println it.text
   }

It will print:

File 'B.txt' contains:
Bonjour

File 'C.txt' contains:
Ciao

File 'H.txt' contains:
Halo
Hola
Hello

Tip

When the items emitted by the source channel are files, the grouping criteria can be omitted. In this case the items content will be grouped in file(s) having the same name as the source items.

The following parameters can be used with the collectFile operator:

Name Description
name Name of the file where all received values are stored.
newLine Appends a newline character automatically after each entry (default: false).
seed A value or a map of values used to initialise the files content.
skip Skip the first n lines eg. skip: 1.
sort Defines sorting criteria of content in resulting file(s). See below for sorting options.
storeDir Folder where the resulting file(s) are be stored.
tempDir Folder where temporary files, used by the collecting process, are stored.

Note

The file content is sorted in such a way that it does not depend on the order on which entries have been added to it, this guarantees that it is consistent (i.e. do not change) across different executions with the same data.

The ordering of file's content can be defined by using the sort parameter. The following criteria can be specified:

Sort Description
false Disable content sorting. Entries are appended as they are produced.
true Order the content by the entries natural ordering i.e. numerical for number, lexicographic for string, etc. See http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/collections/interfaces/order.html
index Order the content by the incremental index number assigned to each entry while they are collected.
hash Order the content by the hash number associated to each entry (default)
deep Similar to the previous, but the hash number is created on actual entries content e.g. when the entry is a file the hash is created on the actual file content.
custom A custom sorting criteria can be specified by using either a Closure or a Comparator object.

For example the following snippet shows how sort the content of the result file alphabetically:

Channel
   .from('Z'..'A')
   .collectFile(name:'result', sort: true, newLine: true)
   .subscribe {
       println it.text
   }

It will print:

A
B
C
:
Z

The following example shows how use a closure to collect and sort all sequences in a FASTA file from shortest to longest:

Channel
     .fromPath('/data/sequences.fa')
     .splitFasta( record: [id: true, sequence: true] )
     .collectFile( name:'result.fa', sort: { it.size() } )  {
        it.sequence
      }
     .subscribe { println it.text }

Warning

The collectFile operator to carry out its function need to store in a temporary folder that is automatically deleted on job completion. For performance reason this folder is allocated in the machine local storage, and it will require as much free space as are the data you are collecting. Optionally, an alternative temporary data folder can be specified by using the tempDir parameter.

combine

The combine operator combines (cartesian product) the items emitted by two channels or by a channel and a Collection object (as right operand). For example:

numbers = Channel.from(1,2,3)
words = Channel.from('hello', 'ciao')
numbers
    .combine(words)
    .println()

# outputs
[1, hello]
[2, hello]
[3, hello]
[1, ciao]
[2, ciao]
[3, ciao]

A second version of the combine operator allows you to combine between them those items that share a common matching key. The index of the key element is specified by using the by parameter (the index is zero-based, multiple indexes can be specified with list a integers). For example:

left = Channel.from(['A',1], ['B',2], ['A',3])
right = Channel.from(['B','x'], ['B','y'], ['A','z'], ['A', 'w'])

left
    .combine(right, by: 0)
    .println()

# outputs
[A, 1, z]
[A, 3, z]
[A, 1, w]
[A, 3, w]
[B, 2, x]
[B, 2, y]

See also cross, spread and phase.

concat

The concat operator allows you to concatenate the items emitted by two or more channels to a new channel, in such a way that the items emitted by the resulting channel are in same order as they were when specified as operator arguments.

In other words it guarantees that given any n channels, the concatenation channel emits the items proceeding from the channel i+1 th only after all the items proceeding from the channel i th were emitted.

For example:

a = Channel.from('a','b','c')
b = Channel.from(1,2,3)
c = Channel.from('p','q')

c.concat( b, a ).subscribe { println it }

It will output:

p
q
1
2
3
a
b
c

spread

Warning

This operator is deprecated. See combine instead.

The spread operator combines the items emitted by the source channel with all the values in an array or a Collection object specified as the operator argument. For example:

Channel
    .from(1,2,3)
    .spread(['a','b'])
    .subscribe onNext: { println it }, onComplete: { println 'Done' }
[1, 'a']
[1, 'b']
[2, 'a']
[2, 'b']
[3, 'a']
[3, 'b']
Done

Forking operators

The forking operators are:

choice

The choice operator allows you to forward the items emitted by a source channel to two (or more) output channels, choosing one out of them at a time.

The destination channel is selected by using a closure that must return the index number of the channel where the item has to be sent. The first channel is identified by the index 0, the second as 1 and so on.

The following example sends all string items beginning with Hello into queue1, the others into queue2

source = Channel.from 'Hello world', 'Hola', 'Hello John'
queue1 = Channel.create()
queue2 = Channel.create()

source.choice( queue1, queue2 ) { a -> a =~ /^Hello.*/ ? 0 : 1 }

queue1.subscribe { println it }

separate

The separate operator lets you copy the items emitted by the source channel into multiple channels, which each of these can receive a separate version of the same item.

The operator applies a mapping function of your choosing to every item emitted by the source channel. This function must return a list of as many values as there are output channels. Each entry in the result list will be assigned to the output channel with the corresponding position index. For example:

queue1 = Channel.create()
queue2 = Channel.create()

Channel
    .from ( 2,4,8 )
    .separate( queue1, queue2 ) { a -> [a+1, a*a] }

queue1.subscribe { println "Channel 1: $it" }
queue2.subscribe { println "Channel 2: $it" }
Channel 1: 3
Channel 2: 4
Channel 1: 5
Channel 2: 16
Channel 2: 64
Channel 1: 9

When the mapping function is omitted, the source channel must emit tuples of values. In this case the operator separate splits the tuple in such a way that the value i-th in a tuple is assigned to the target channel with the corresponding position index. For example:

alpha = Channel.create()
delta = Channel.create()

Channel
   .from([1,2], ['a','b'], ['p','q'])
   .separate( alpha, delta )

alpha.subscribe { println "first : $it" }
delta.subscribe { println "second: $it" }

It will output:

first : 1
first : a
first : p
second: 2
second: b
second: q

A second version of the separate operator takes an integer n as an argument and returns a list of n channels, each of which gets a value from the corresponding element in the list returned by the closure as explained above. For example:

source = Channel.from(1,2,3)
(queue1, queue2, queue3) = source.separate(3) { a -> [a, a+1, a*a] }

queue1.subscribe { println "Queue 1 > $it" }
queue2.subscribe { println "Queue 2 > $it" }
queue3.subscribe { println "Queue 3 > $it" }

The output will look like the following fragment:

Queue 1 > 1
Queue 1 > 2
Queue 1 > 3
Queue 2 > 2
Queue 2 > 3
Queue 2 > 4
Queue 3 > 1
Queue 3 > 4
Queue 3 > 9

Warning

In the above example, please note that since the subscribe operator is asynchronous, the output of channel2 and channel3 can be printed before the content of channel1.

Note

The above example takes advantage of the multiple assignment syntax in order to assign two variables at once using the list of channels returned by the separate operator.

See also: into, choice and map operators.

route

The route operator allows you to forward the items emitted by the source channel to a channel which is associated with the item's key.

The channel's keys are specified by using a map parameter as the operator argument, that associates each channel with a key identifier.

The item's key is defined, by default, as the first entry in an array, a list or map object, or the value itself for any other data type.

Optionally, a mapping function can be specified as a parameter in order to provide a custom rule to associate an item with a key, as shown in the example below:

r1 = Channel.create()
r2 = Channel.create()
r3 = Channel.create()

Channel
    .from('hello','ciao','hola', 'hi', 'x', 'bonjour')
    .route ( b: r1, c: r2, h: r3 ) { it[0] }

    r3.subscribe { println it }
hello
hola
hi

In the above example all the string items starting with the letter b are copied to the channel r1, the items that begin with c to the channel r2 and the ones beginning with h are copied to the channel r3. Other items eventually existing are discarded.

See also: into, choice and separate operators.

Maths operators

This section talks about operators that performs maths operations on channels.

The maths operators are:

count

The count operator creates a channel that emits a single item: a number that represents the total number of items emitted by the source channel. For example:

Channel
    .from(9,1,7,5)
    .count()
    .subscribe { println it }
// -> 4

An optional parameter can be provided in order to select which items are to be counted. The selection criteria can be specified either as a regular expression, a literal value, a Java class, or a boolean predicate that needs to be satisfied. For example:

Channel
    .from(4,1,7,1,1)
    .count(1)
    .subscribe { println it }
 // -> 3

Channel
    .from('a','c','c','q','b')
    .count ( ~/c/ )
    .subscribe { println it }
// -> 2

Channel
    .from('a','c','c','q','b')
    .count { it <= 'c' }
    .subscribe { println it }
// -> 4

countBy

The countBy operator creates a channel which emits an associative array (i.e. Map object) that counts the occurrences of the emitted items in the source channel having the same key. For example:

Channel
    .from( 'x', 'y', 'x', 'x', 'z', 'y' )
    .countBy()
    .subscribe { println it }
[x:3, y:2, z:1]

An optional grouping criteria can be specified by using a closure that associates each item with the grouping key. For example:

Channel
    .from( 'hola', 'hello', 'ciao', 'bonjour', 'halo' )
    .countBy { it[0] }
    .subscribe { println it }
[h:3, c:1, b:1]

min

The min operator waits until the source channel completes, and then emits the item that has the lowest value. For example:

Channel
    .from( 8, 6, 2, 5 )
    .min()
    .subscribe { println "Min value is $it" }
Min value is 2

An optional closure parameter can be specified in order to provide a function that returns the value to be compared. The example below shows how to find the string item that has the minimum length:

Channel
    .from("hello","hi","hey")
    .min { it.size() }
    .subscribe {  println it }
"hi"

Alternatively it is possible to specify a comparator function i.e. a closure taking two parameters that represent two emitted items to be compared. For example:

Channel
    .from("hello","hi","hey")
    .min { a,b -> a.size() <=> b.size() }
    .subscribe {  println it }

max

The max operator waits until the source channel completes, and then emits the item that has the greatest value. For example:

Channel
    .from( 8, 6, 2, 5 )
    .min()
    .subscribe { println "Max value is $it" }
Max value is 8

An optional closure parameter can be specified in order to provide a function that returns the value to be compared. The example below shows how to find the string item that has the maximum length:

Channel
    .from("hello","hi","hey")
    .max { it.size() }
    .subscribe {  println it }
"hello"

Alternatively it is possible to specify a comparator function i.e. a closure taking two parameters that represent two emitted items to be compared. For example:

Channel
    .from("hello","hi","hey")
    .max { a,b -> a.size() <=> b.size() }
    .subscribe {  println it }

sum

The sum operator creates a channel that emits the sum of all the items emitted by the channel itself. For example:

Channel
    .from( 8, 6, 2, 5 )
    .sum()
    .subscribe { println "The sum is $it" }
The sum is 21

An optional closure parameter can be specified in order to provide a function that, given an item, returns the value to be summed. For example:

Channel
        .from( 4, 1, 7, 5 )
        .sum { it * it }
        .subscribe {  println "Square: $it" }
Square: 91

toInteger

The toInteger operator allows you to convert the string values emitted by a channel to Integer values. For example:

Channel
    .from( '1', '7', '12' )
    .toInteger()
    .sum()
    .println()

Other operators

set

The set operator assigns the channel to a variable whose name is specified as a closure parameter. For example:

Channel.from(10,20,30).set { my_channel }

This is semantically equivalent to the following assignment:

my_channel = Channel.from(10,20,30)

However the set operator is more idiomatic in Nextflow scripting, since it can be used at the end of a chain of operator transformations, thus resulting in a more fluent and readable operation.

ifEmpty

The ifEmpty operator creates a channel which emits a default value, specified as the operator parameter, when the channel to which is applied is empty i.e. doesn't emit any value. Otherwise the it will empty the same sequence of entries as the original channel.

Thus, the following example prints:

Channel .from(1,2,3) .ifEmpty('Hello') .println()

1
2
3

Instead, this one prints:

Channel.empty().ifEmpty('Hello') .println()

Hello

The ifEmpty value parameter can be defined with a closure. In this case the result value of the closure evaluation will be emitted when the empty condition is satisfied.

See also: empty method.

print

The print operator prints the items emitted by a channel to the console standard. An optional closure parameter can be specified to customise how items are printed. For example:

Channel
      .from('foo', 'bar', 'baz', 'qux')
      .print { it.toUpperCase() + ' ' }

It prints:

FOO BAR BAZ QUX

See also: println and view.

println

The println operator prints the items emitted by a channel to the console standard output appending a new line character to each of them. For example:

Channel
      .from('foo', 'bar', 'baz', 'qux')
      .println()

It prints:

foo
bar
baz
qux

An optional closure parameter can be specified to customise how items are printed. For example:

Channel
      .from('foo', 'bar', 'baz', 'qux')
      .println { "~ $it" }

It prints:

~ foo
~ bar
~ baz
~ qux

See also: print and view.

view

The view operator prints the items emitted by a channel to the console standard output. For example:

Channel.from(1,2,3).view()

1
2
3

Each item is printed on a separate line unless otherwise specified by using the newLine: false optional parameter.

How the channel items are printed can be controlled by using an optional closure parameter. The closure it must return the actual value of the item being to be printed:

Channel.from(1,2,3)
        .map { it -> [it, it*it] }
        .view { num, sqr -> "Square of: $num is $sqr" }

It prints:

Square of: 1 is 1
Square of: 2 is 4
Square of: 3 is 9

Note

Both the view and print (or println) operators consume them items emitted by the source channel to which they are applied. However, the main difference between them is that the former returns a newly create channel whose content is identical to the source one. This allows the view operator to be chained like other operators.

close

The close operator sends a termination signal over the channel, causing downstream processes or operators to stop. In a common usage scenario channels are closed automatically by Nextflow, so you won't need to use this operator explicitly.

See also: empty factory method.