Webservice::InterMine::Cookbook::Recipe4 - Other Query Features


  # Get all genes involved in biosynthetic processes, and any
  # publications on them

  use Webservice::InterMine ('');

  my $query = Webservice::InterMine->new_query;

  # Specifying a name and a description is purely optional
  $query->name('Tutorial 4 Query');
  $query->description('All genes involved in biosynthetic processes');


     path  => '',
     op    => 'CONTAINS',
     value => 'biosynthetic process',

     path => '',
     description => 'The ontology term for the gene',

     path  => 'Gene.publications',
     style => 'OUTER',

  my $results = $query->results(as => 'string');
  print $results;


Inner and Outer Joins

Merely including a path in a query, even in the view, by default exerts a constraining force - ie. it demands that the record you are searching for have information in the field the path describes. Sometimes, that is not what you want.

In the example above, the purpose of the query is to get a list of all genes with a particular GO annotation - whether or not they have publications is by the by: we still want to know about them. If they do have publications, then by all means let us know, but we want the full list of genes.

To specify this behaviour we describe the link from Gene -> Publication as being an 'Outer' join. Normally joins between two objects are 'Inner' joins, which requires records to have both objects, which here would mean missing genes that meet out criteria with no publications.

Because 'Inner' joins are the default, you do not need to declare them as such (although you can, just to remind yourself that you have chosen to throw away partially matching records), but 'Outer' joins always need to be declared. As we only ever need to declare outer joins, there is a more concise way to do this:

  $query->add_join('Gene.publications' => 'OUTER');



While you don't need to indicate the 'Outer'-ness of each join you declare, it is recommended, if only for your own sake when reading back over the queries you have created - they form a kind of self-commenting code, which can help you understand the complex queries you wrote last week you now have no recollection of.

Path Descriptions

Another helpful commenting tool (apart from comments, which are whole-heartedly recommended) is the path_description method, which simply adds a human readable description of what a path references to the query. As seen in the query above, these can sometimes be shorter, and more informative than the actual path.

      path => 'Gene.downstreamIntergenicRegion.overlappingFeatures',
      description => 'Such as a Gene, or an Exon, or an ESTCluster',

While nice in your code, they can be very useful if your query gets saved, or perhaps made into a template (TODO: link to these recipes). When serialised to xml, these 'comments' will remain to explain the query, even if nothing else does.


Joins and path descriptions are two features which help you tell the server, and remind yourself, what you meant by the query you composed, and help document what kind of results you expect to get back from it, and why they will be useful. In the next recipe we look at how to deal with these results.


Note that there are two list separation operators in Perl: , and =>

In several places I have used => because it is visually more distinct and can helpfully convey the appropriate linking semantics, such as associating a path with its join style or description. However, while often interchangible, they are not always so, as =>, or the fat comma enforces scalar context on the term to its left, meaning that while (one => 'two') and ('one', 'two') are interchangible, (cwd => 'current directory') and (cwd, 'current directory') are not, with the first one unhelpfully giving us not the current working directory, but just the string "cwd".


Alex Kalderimis <>


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    perldoc Webservice::InterMine

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