Video Tip of the Week: The New OpenHelix Interface

Generally we like to highlight new features and new tools from bioinformatics software providers. But this week we wanted to introduce some new features of our own OpenHelix site. If you’ve been using the site for a while, you will have noticed that recently we rolled out some changes. All the same tutorial materials and tips are available, but we’ve provided new ways to access them.

The most important thing about the new site is accessing our training suites.

Access the training video, slides, and exercises on the training suite page.

Access the training video, slides, and exercises on the training suite page.

This is now quicker with buttons right from the main page at OpenHelix: full catalog, or list of free tutorials. And when you find a suite you want to watch (like the UCSC Genome Browser one shown here as an example), it loads right on that landing page instead of requiring another click to launch a new window. If you still want the larger original size version in a new window, though, that’s still available from the button below.  Access to our slides, handouts, and exercises is still there–right below the video. And you can still quickly hop over to the site that’s described on the page with the “Visit the Resource” link.

Further down on the page we have the links to related content. This can be other tutorials about this resource (for example, UCSC Genome Browser Advanced Topics), or other genome browsers. We also collect the blog posts related to this resource that may offer new tools or features and link them from this page. And we also text-mine the BiomedCentral open-access publications to seek out those citing this resource–this way you can see what researchers are doing with the tools in their research programs.

Our search feature still provides access to our complete collection of resources that we’ve examined over the years. But the search results are now also refined to let you tab to those with our popular Video Tip of the Week subset if you just want to locate those with short video tips.

With that overview, I’ll also offer this week’s video tip overview of the new site as well.

Our basic philosophy remains the same, as we explained on our paper (linked below).

To accomplish its outreach mandate, bioinformatics education needs to do a minimum of four things:

  1. raise awareness of the available resources
  2. enable researchers to find and evaluate resource functionality
  3. lower the barrier between awareness and use of a resource
  4. support the continuing educational needs of regular resource users

We want to provide introductory training on many of the core resources in bioinformatics, and help educators and trainers elsewhere to provide this to students and staff who will need to access these tools for their research. We hope you like the new look. If you have any issues, let us know.

Quick link:

Main site:


Williams J.M., M.E. Mangan, C. Perreault-Micale, S. Lathe, N. Sirohi & W. C. Lathe (2010). OpenHelix: bioinformatics education outside of a different box, Briefings in Bioinformatics, 11 (6) 598-609. DOI:

There’s a press release associated with this too, with further details: OpenHelix Unveils New Online Training Site, Subscriber Services.