Creating a new tutorial - Writing content in Markdown

Overview

question Questions
  • How to write a tutorial with hands-on?

  • What are the different boxes?

  • How can I add a caption to an image?

objectives Objectives
  • Create hands-on

  • Use the different boxes

time Time estimation: 15 minutes

Supporting Materials

last_modification Last modification: Jul 23, 2019

Introduction

Once we have set up the infrastructure, we are ready to write the tutorial.

Agenda

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  1. Metadata
  2. Content
    1. Adding images with captions
    2. Writing mathematical expressions
    3. Tables and Matrices
  3. Improving the learning experience
    1. Overview box
    2. Agenda box
    3. Hands-on box
    4. Questions and solution boxes
    5. Tips box
    6. Comments boxes
    7. Details box
    8. Key points box
    9. Warning box
    10. Nested boxes
  4. Citations

The tutorial’s content should be placed in the file tutorial.md. Its syntax and structure are simple, and will have the following structure:

---
layout: tutorial_hands_on

title: Title of the tutorial
zenodo_link: ''
questions:
- Which biological questions are addressed by the tutorial?
- Which bioinformatics techniques are important to know for this type of data?
objectives:
- The learning objectives are the goals of the tutorial
- They will be informed by your audience and will communicate to them and to yourself
  what you should focus on during the course
- They are single sentences describing what a learner should be able to do once they
  have done completed tutorial
- You can use Bloom's Taxonomy to write effective learning objectives
time_estimation: ''
key_points:
- The take-home messages
- They will appear at the end of the tutorial
contributors:
- contributor1
- contributor2
---
# Introduction
{:.no_toc}

blabla

# Section 1

blabla

## Subsection 1

blabla

# Section 2

blabla

## Subsection 2

blabla

# Conclusion
{:.no_toc}

blabla

Metadata

The tutorial.md needs to start with some metadata at the top:

  • layout: tutorial_hands_on: keep the default
  • title: title of the tutorial (it will appear on the tutorial page and the topic page)
  • level: Introductory, Intermediate or Advanced
  • enable: false to hide your tutorial from the topic page (optional)
  • zenodo_link: link on Zenodo to the input data for the tutorial

hands_on Hands-on: Fill the basic metadata

  1. Update the tutorial information in the header section of your tutorial:

     title: "Similarity search with BLAST"
    
  2. (Optional) Add the Zenodo link (if created)

This information is used to display the data from the topic and tutorial page. They are also used to check which information are missing for the tutorials.

We also define metadata related to the pedagogical content of the tutorial, which will appear in the top (“Overview” box) and bottom of the online tutorial:

  • requirements: list of resources that the reader of the material should be familiar with before starting this training:
    • type: the type of link (internal or external)

    For internal, i.e. inside the Galaxy Training Material:

    • topic_name: name of the topic
    • tutorials: list of required tutorials inside of the topic

    For external:

    • title: title of the external resource
    • link: URL to the external resource
  • time_estimation: an estimation of the time needed to complete the hands-on
  • questions: list of questions that will be addressed in the tutorial
  • objectives: list of learning objectives for the tutorial

    A learning objective is a single sentence describing what a learner will be able to do once they have done the tutorial

  • key_points: list of take-home messages

    This information will appear at the end of the tutorial

  • follow_up_training: list of resources that the reader of the material could follow at the end of the tutorial

    • type: the type of link (internal or external)

    For internal, i.e. inside the Galaxy Training Material:

    • topic_name: name of the topic
    • tutorials: list of required tutorials inside of the topic

    For external:

    • title: title of the external resource
    • link: URL to the external resource

    They will be displayed at the end of a tutorial.

  • subtopic: if the topic has multiple subtopics defined, you can assign your tutorial to one of those subtopics here. Without this, the tutorial will appear in the “Other tutorials” section on the topic page.

For this category of metadata, we have taken inspiration from what Software Carpentry has done and particularly what they described in their Instructor training.

hands_on Hands-on: Fill out the pedagogical metadata

  1. Define 2 questions that will be addressed during the tutorial and add them to the metadata
  2. Define 2 learning objectives for the tutorial and add them to the metadata

comment When filling the pedagogical metadata

We recommend that you fill out the questions and the learning objectives before starting writing the tutorial content. You can still refine them afterwards, but it will help to guide you in developing your tutorial, and gives you some time to think beforehand on what topics are worth being covered.

For the take-home messages, it is easier to define them once the tutorial is written and you identified the issues.

Content

The tutorial’s content is written directly after the section of metadata. This is written in Markdown, a simple markup language.

comment Markdown

Check this cheatsheet to learn more how to use Markdown.

The Markdown content is then transformed into a user friendly webpage through a templating system. With this approach, there is no need to add the name of every tutorial each time, since they are automatically added based on the tutorial’s metadata.

To help developing the tutorial, we recommend to create a workflow of the different steps of the tutorial inside Galaxy first, and then you can create the structure of the tutorial automatically from that:

hands_on Hands-on: Create the structure of the tutorial from a workflow

  1. Create a small workflow with one or two steps on a running Galaxy instance
  2. Get the workflow id
    1. Go the “Share” page of the workflow
    2. Copy the information after id= in the URL of the page
  3. Get your API key for this Galaxy instance
    1. Click on User –> Preferences
    2. Click on Manage API key
    3. Click on Create a new key (if none is available)
    4. Copy the API key
  4. Generate the skeleton of the tutorial locally

    $ planemo training_generate_from_wf \
             --topic_name "my-topic" \
             --tutorial_name "my-new-tutorial" \
             --galaxy_url "URL to Galaxy instance in which you created the workflow" \
             --galaxy_api_key "Your API key on the Galaxy instance" \
             --workflow_id "ID of the workflow on the Galaxy instance" \
             --zenodo_link "URL to the Zenodo record (Optional)"
    

    comment Using a local worklfow

    It is also possible to download the workflow locally (with the .ga extension), and then run a slightly different command:

    $ planemo training_generate_from_wf \
             --topic_name "my-topic" \
             --tutorial_name "my-new-tutorial" \
             -- workflow PATH/to/the/file.ga \
             --zenodo_link "URL to the Zenodo record (Optional)"
    
  5. Inspect the generated tutorial.md

The generated tutorial is structured with:

  • An introduction, to give an overview of the tutorial with its use cases, data, and methods
  • Multiple sections representing the steps of the analysis, complete with automatically generated hands-on blocks, as practicing is a vital part of the learning process
  • A conclusion to summarize what has been done in the tutorial (with a graphic)

hands_on Hands-on: Filling out the structure of the tutorial

  1. Fill out the “Introduction” with a general introduction of the tutorial and a small description of the dataset (goals)
  2. Rename/restructure the sections with several levels and more explication
  3. Add some theory about the tool used to introduce each section
  4. Add a small conclusion and relate the results to the original question

Adding images with captions

To add an image in Markdown file, we need to use the markdown syntax for this: ![](../../images/image.png).

We have also added a small plugin to handle captions for each image:

A textual description of the image
Figure 1: Example of an image with a caption

The prefix “Figure 1.” is automatically added before its caption. This is done with the following Markdown syntax:

![A textual description of the image](../images/image.png "Example of an image with a caption")

We can also cross-reference images inside our Markdown with an anchor. For example, we can link to the previous figure using [the display text](#figure-nb) (changing nb with the image’s number).

Writing mathematical expressions

Mathematical expressions can be written in LaTeX, and are automatically rendered with MathJax.

Surround your math expression with two $ signs on each side (like in LaTeX math blocks):

  • inline expressions, e.g. $$ 5 + 5 $$ will be rendered as
  • block expressions, e.g. $$ 5 + 5 $$ will be rendered in its own line block as

Dollar signs are therefore reserved characters for instructing the templating system to open/close LaTeX math blocks. If you want to use a $ within your expression, you will need to escape it: $$ a + 3\$ = 5\$ $$ will be rendered as:

LaTeX code that uses the pipe symbol | in inline math statements may lead to a line being recognized as a table line by the templating system. This can be avoided by using the \vert command instead of |

Tables and Matrices

Tables can be generated using markdown by using the | symbol to indicate column dividers, and -- for table headers:

|       | Obs1 | Obs2 | Obs3 |
|------ |--------------------|
| Feat1 | 0    | 1    | 2    |
| Feat2 | 1    | 2    | 3    |
| Feat3 | 2    | 3    | 4    |

When rendered, they will take the full width of the page:

  Obs1 Obs2 Obs3
Feat1 0 1 2
Feat2 1 2 3
Feat3 2 3 4

This does not appear to be visually appealing when representing matrices, which is why a matrix box can be used instead:

> |       | Obs1 | Obs2 | Obs3 |
> | ----- |--------------------|
> | Feat1 | 0    | 1    | 2    |
> | Feat2 | 1    | 2    | 3    |
> | Feat3 | 2    | 3    | 4    |
{: .matrix}

The rendered table is then given as a minimum-width and centred matrix:

  Obs1 Obs2 Obs3
Feat1 0 1 2
Feat2 1 2 3
Feat3 2 3 4

Improving the learning experience

To improve the learning experience in our tutorial, we define some boxes to highlight content.

These boxes are defined always with the same structure:

> ### {% icon an_icon %} Type of box: Name of the box
> list
{: .type_of_box}

You must follow this structure exactly for it to be rendered correctly.

Overview box

This box at the top of each tutorial is automatically generated using the metadata we defined in the topic’s metadata file:

Overview

question Questions

  • Which biological questions are addressed by the tutorial?
  • Which bioinformatics techniques are important to know for this type of data?

objectives Objectives

  • The learning objectives are the goals of the tutorial
  • They will be informed by your audience and will communicate to them and to yourself what you should focus on during the course
  • They are single sentences describing what a learner should be able to do once they have done completed tutorial
  • You can use Bloom’s Taxonomy to write effective learning objectives

requirements Requirements

time Time estimation: ‘1H’

hands_on Hands-on: Checking the metadata

  1. Check that the metadata added previously are correctly filling the overview box

    question Questions

    What metadata hasn’t been added to this box?

    solution Solution

    The take-home messages are not added to this box but into the last box of the tutorial

Agenda box

In most tutorials, the second box is the agenda box, placed at the end of the introduction. It shows the table of contents for the tutorial

> ### Agenda
>
> In this tutorial we will deal with:
>
> 1. TOC
> {:toc}
>
{: .agenda}

There is no need to fill out the list; this will be done automatically based off of your tutorial’s section title.

To avoid adding the “Introduction” and “Conclusion” sections in the agenda, you can add {:.no_toc} below the section name. This will be rendered as follows:

Agenda

In this tutorial we will deal with:

  1. TOC

Hands-on box

We find that having users walk through the tutorial, doing all of the steps is important for learning the concepts taught. We therefore emphasize this by regularly adding hands-on sections, where trainees are encouraged to do the analysis by themselves. We have designed some special boxes to make these sections easier to find.

> ### {% icon hands_on %} Hands-on: Spliced mapping
>
> 1. **RNA STAR** {% icon tool %}: Map your reads on the reference genome with
>    - *"Single-end or paired-end reads"*:  `Paired-end (as individual datasets)`
>    - *"RNA-Seq FASTQ/FASTA file, forward reads"*: the generated `trimmed reads pair 1` files (multiple datasets)
>    - *"RNA-Seq FASTQ/FASTA file, reverse reads"*: the generated `trimmed reads pair 2` files (multiple datasets)
>    - *"Custom or built-in reference genome"*: `Use a built-in index`
>    - *"Reference genome with or without an annotation"*: `use genome reference without builtin gene-model`
>    - *"Select reference genome"*: `Drosophila Melanogaster (dm6)`
>    - *"Gene model (gff3,gtf) file for splice junctions"*: the imported `Drosophila_melanogaster.BDGP6.87.gtf`
>    - *"Length of the genomic sequence around annotated junctions"*: `36`
>
>        This parameter should be length of reads - 1
>
> 2. **MultiQC** {% icon tool %}: Aggregate the STAR logs with
>      - *"Which tool was used generate logs?"*: `STAR`
>      - *"Type of FastQC output?"*: `Log`
>      - *"STAR log output"*: the generated `log` files (multiple datasets)
{: .hands_on}

For consistency please use:

  • {% icon hands_on %} icon to define that is an hands-on
  • Short imperative sentences to make it easy to identify the tasks
  • Name of the tool in bold followed by {% icon tool %} icon to make it easy to identify a Galaxy tool
  • Parameters for the tool as a sublist

This will be rendered like:

hands_on Hands-on: Spliced mapping

  1. RNA STAR tool: Map your reads on the reference genome with
    • “Single-end or paired-end reads: Paired-end (as individual datasets)
    • RNA-Seq FASTQ/FASTA file, forward reads: the generated trimmed reads pair 1 files (multiple datasets)
    • RNA-Seq FASTQ/FASTA file, reverse reads: the generated trimmed reads pair 2 files (multiple datasets)
    • “Custom or built-in reference genome”: Use a built-in index
    • “Reference genome with or without an annotation”: use genome reference without builtin gene-model
    • “Select reference genome”: Drosophila Melanogaster (dm6)
    • “Gene model (gff3,gtf) file for splice junctions”: the imported Drosophila_melanogaster.BDGP6.87.gtf
    • “Length of the genomic sequence around annotated junctions”: 36

      This parameter should be length of reads - 1

  2. MultiQC tool: Aggregate the STAR logs with
    • “Which tool was used generate logs?”: STAR
    • “Type of FastQC output?”: Log
    • “STAR log output”: the generated log files (multiple datasets)

There are also some predefined parameter icons available which can be used to indicate the type of parameter. These are optional, but may be helpful in some cases (for example to distinguish between single file inputs and collection inputs).

The available icons are:

> ### {% icon hands_on %} Hands-on: My Step
>
> 1. **My Tool** {% icon tool %} with the following parameters
>    - {% icon param-text %} *"My text parameter"*: `my value`
>    - {% icon param-file %} *"My input file"*: `my file`
>    - {% icon param-files %} *"My multiple file input or collection"*: `my collection`
>    - {% icon param-select %} *"My select menu"*: `my choice`
>    - {% icon param-check %} *"My check box"*: `yes`
>    - {% icon param-repeat %} **My repeat parameter**
>      - *"param1"*: `42`
{: .hands_on}

which, when rendered, look like:

hands_on Hands-on: My Step

  1. My Tool tool with the following parameters
    • param-text “My text parameter”: my value
    • param-file “My input file”: my file
    • param-files “My multiple file input or collection”: my collection
    • param-select “My select menu”: my choice
    • param-check “My check box”: yes
    • param-repeat My repeat parameter
      • “param1”: 42

Questions and solution boxes

Questions can be added to force trainees to think about what they are currently doing, and to put things in perspective. They can also help the instructors by exposing and clarifying common scenarios, errors, or applications.

> ### {% icon question %} Questions
>
> 1. Why are some tests filtered?
> 2. Does it improve the *p*-value distribution?
>
> > ### {% icon solution %} Solution
> >
> > 1. Sol for the first question
> > 2. Sol for the second question
> >
> {: .solution}
{: .question}

Which will be rendered as:

question Questions

  1. Why are some tests filtered?
  2. Does it improve the p-value distribution?

solution Solution

  1. Sol for the first question
  2. Sol for the second question

Questions should be quick to answer. You can directly ask a question and expect an answer, or you can provide some answers and create multiple choices questions (MCQs). With well chosen wrong answers, MCQs can do much more than just measure how much someone knows, such as exposing common misconceptions and mistakes.

In the box below, initially hidden, we add the correct answer and possibly any additional explanation. Self-trainees can then check the solution and its explanation.

Tips box

Tips boxes are really just for ‘tips’, usually hints regarding Galaxy operations that users may or may not be familiar with. If you want to provide extended discussion or links to external materials then consider the comment and detail boxes instead.

> ### {% icon tip %} Tip: Importing data via links
>
> * Copy the link location
> * Open the Galaxy Upload Manager
> * Select **Paste/Fetch Data**
> * Paste the link into the text field
> * Press **Start**
{: .tip}

Rendered:

  • Copy the link location
  • Open the Galaxy Upload Manager
  • Select Paste/Fetch Data
  • Paste the link into the text field
  • Press Start

Comments boxes

> ### {% icon comment %} Comments
> - Edit the "Database/Build" to select "dm3"
> - Rename the datasets according to the samples
{: .comment}

Rendered:

comment Comments

  • Edit the “Database/Build” to select “dm3”
  • Rename the datasets according to the samples

Details box

The detail box is used to give more background explanation on the subject. By default the box is collapsed, trainees can expand it if they wish to know extra information about a topic.

> ### {% icon details %} More details on the ....
>
> Add more details in Markdown...
>
{: .details}

Rendered:

details More details on the ….

Add more details in Markdown…

Key points box

This last box of the tutorial is automatically created with the take-home messages defined in the topic’s metadata

To render the boxes correctly, the syntax needs to be correct. If it doesn’t work, have a look at similar tutorials and get inspiration.

Warning box

> ### {% icon warning %} Danger: You can lose data!
> Something really bad can happen here!
{: .warning}

Rendered:

warning Danger: You can lose data!

Something really bad can happen here!

Nested boxes

Boxes can be nested, e.g. for having tips inside a hands-on:

> ### {% icon hands_on %} Hands-on: Defining the topic for the tutorial
>
> 1. Search for NCBI Blast+ on the [ToolShed](https://toolshed.g2.bx.psu.edu/)
> 2. Check in which category it is
>
>    > ### {% icon question %} Questions
>    >
>    > In which topic will you put the tutorial?
>    >
>    > > ### {% icon solution %} Solution
>    > >
>    > > If we search for [NCBI Blast+ in the ToolShed](https://toolshed.g2.bx.psu.edu/view/devteam/ncbi_blast_plus/7538e2bfcd41), it is attributed to 2 categories (bottom): "Next Gen Mappers" and "Sequence Analysis".
>    > > We decided to put it in "Sequence analysis" because this is the most general one for this tutorial.
>    > {: .solution}
>    {: .question}
{: .hands_on}

Citations

If you would like to cite any articles, books or websites in your tutorial, you can do so by adding a file called tutorial.bib next to your tutorial.md file. In this file you may enter bibtex formatted citations. An example is given below:

@article{batut2018community,
  title={Community-driven data analysis training for biology},
  author={Batut, B{\'e}r{\'e}nice and Hiltemann, Saskia and Bagnacani, Andrea and Baker, Dannon and Bhardwaj, Vivek and Blank, Clemens and Bretaudeau, Anthony and Brillet-Gu{\'e}guen, Loraine and {\v{C}}ech, Martin and Chilton, John and others},
  journal={Cell systems},
  volume={6},
  number={6},
  pages={752--758},
  year={2018},
  publisher={Elsevier},
  doi={10.1016/j.cels.2018.05.012}
}

@misc{galaxy-training-materials,
  url = {https://training.galaxyproject.org},
  note = {Accessed 2019-04-08},
  title = {Galaxy Training materials website}
}

You can use this in your tutorial as follows:

For more information please look at this great article {% cite bebatut2018community %},
and the corresponding website {% cite galaxy-training-materials %}

Rendered:

For more information please look at this great article Batut et al. 2018, and the corresponding website Galaxy Training materials website

A bibliography will automatically be appended to the end of your tutorial (scroll down to the end of this tutorial to see how it looks! or jump there directly)

tip Tip: Getting a bibtex citation from a doi

If you have a DOI for a paper, you can easily obtain the bibtex citation using doi2bib.org.

Conclusion

keypoints Key points

  • You can highlight questions, tools and hints with a special syntax

  • Self-learning can be done by questions and hidden answers

References

  1. Galaxy Training materials website. Accessed 2019-04-08. https://training.galaxyproject.org
  2. Batut, B., S. Hiltemann, A. Bagnacani, D. Baker, V. Bhardwaj et al., 2018 Community-driven data analysis training for biology. Cell systems 6: 752–758. 10.1016/j.cels.2018.05.012

congratulations Congratulations on successfully completing this tutorial!

Developing GTN training material

This tutorial is part of a series to develop GTN training material, feel free to also look at:
  1. Overview of the Galaxy Training Material
  2. Contributing with GitHub via command-line
  3. Contributing with GitHub via its interface
  4. Creating a new tutorial
  5. Creating a new tutorial - Creating Interactive Galaxy Tours
  6. Creating a new tutorial - Defining the technical infrastructure
  7. Creating a new tutorial - Slides
  8. Creating a new tutorial - Writing content in Markdown
  9. Generating PDF artefacts of the website
  10. Including a new topic
  11. Running the Galaxy Training material website locally


Did you use this material as an instructor? Feel free to give us feedback on how it went.