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Customizing feature details with callbacks and plugins

Every track has a configuration slot called formatDetails.

Here is an example track with a formatter:

{
"type": "FeatureTrack",
"trackId": "genes",
"assemblyNames": ["hg19"],
"name": "Genes",
"formatDetails": {
"feature": "jexl:{name:'<a href=https://google.com/?q='+feature.name+'>'+feature.name+'</a>',newfield:'Custom contents here: '+feature.name,type:undefined }"
},
"adapter": {
"type": "Gff3TabixAdapter",
"gffGzLocation": {
"uri": "volvox.sort.gff3.gz"
},
"index": {
"location": {
"uri": "volvox.sort.gff3.gz.tbi"
}
}
}
}
Example screenshot showing customized feature detail panel with links
Figure: Example screenshot showing customized feature detail panel with links

This feature formatter changes the "name" field in the feature detail panel to have a link to a google search for that feature's name. This can be used to link to gene pages for example as well.

In addition, this example also adds a custom field called "newfield" and removes e.g. "type" from being displayed.

The schema for formatDetails is:

  • feature - customizes the top-level feature
  • subfeatures - customizes the subfeatures, recursively up to depth
  • depth - depth to customize the subfeatures to, default 1

The general way this is done is by making a jexl callback either or both of feature and subfeatures (if you want both feature and subfeatures, you can copy the same thing to both config slots).

The callback returns an object where the keys of the object are what you want to replace.

In the example above we return an object with:

  • name - customizes the name field with a link in the feature details
  • type - we make this undefined, which removes it from the feature details
  • newfield - this generates a new field in the feature details

Making sophisticated customizations to feature detail panels

If your feature detail panel customization is complex, you can create a custom javascript function in a plugin that is registered with the jexl system.

You can make a small plugin file "myplugin.js"

// myplugin.js
;(function () {
class MyPlugin {
install() {}
configure(pluginManager) {
pluginManager.jexl.addFunction('formatName', feature => {
return `<a href="${feature.name}">${feature.name}</a>`
})
}
}

// the plugin will be included in both the main thread and web worker, so
// install plugin to either window or self (webworker global scope)
;(typeof self !== 'undefined' ? self : window).JBrowsePluginMyPlugin = {
default: Plugin,
}
})()

Then you can put myplugin.js in the same directory as your config file, and can use the custom jexl function in your config callbacks as follows:

{
"plugins": [
{
"name": "MyPlugin",
"umdLoc": { "uri": "myplugin.js" }
}
],
"tracks": [
{
"type": "FeatureTrack",
"trackId": "genes",
"assemblyNames": ["hg19"],
"name": "Genes",
"formatDetails": {
"feature": "jexl:{name:formatName(feature)}"
}
}
]
}

See our no-build plugin tutorial for more info on setting up a simple plugin for doing these customizations.

Footnote 1

Note that the feature for feature detail panels is different from that in the color callback: it is a plain JS object. So instead of feature.get('start'), you can say just feature.start. The reason it is different for the feature details callbacks (compared with e.g. the color callbacks) is that the feature is serialized into the session.

You might also ask why aren't all features serialized or plain JSON objects normally? Well, some feature types like alignments features benefit from only being partially serialized e.g. getting only a couple attributes via feature.get('attribute') (completely converting them to a raw JSON expression is expensive). It is a little confusing, but that is why in the feature details, you can access the plain JS object e.g. feature.start while in color callbacks you use e.g. feature.get('start').