Dockstore Services is currently in beta mode. Also note that the screenshots below were taken on our staging site.

Tutorial Goals

  • Get familiarized with the concept of services on Dockstore
  • Learn the basics of creating a service using a .dockstore.yml file
  • Learn how to register a service and create versions for it
  • Publish your service to Dockstore

Services are meant to be long running processes, usually web services or interactive applications, that can be launched by a user. The entire process for creating a service that can launch successfully is complex and dependent on the service or application you are trying to describe; so it is beyond the scope of this tutorial. However, this document will outline what is needed to register, update, and publish a service onto Dockstore. Also, please keep in mind that service functionality is currently in beta mode.

Create Your Service

The first step is to create a file named .dockstore.yml. The .dockstore.yml is a configuration file used to describe your service. Technically, having a valid YAML and the right version is all that is required for your service to appear on Dockstore. But, we will briefly cover an example .dockstore.yml written for the Xena Hub to show what will generally be needed to create a working service. You can also view a template .dockstore.yml file here.


Line 1 specifies the .dockstore.yml version. The latest version you should use is 1.2.

Next is a required key named service where your service description will lie.

Within this, you should specify the type which can be DOCKER_COMPOSE, KUBERNETES, HELM, SWARM, NOT_APPLICABLE.

Following lines 4-9, it is good practice to include the name, author, and a description of your service.

Next, is the files key. Here you can specify a list of other files (like scripts, READmes, and test parameter files) for Dockstore to index that are contained in your repository and are needed for your service.

Following that is a scripts section. Here you denote the script files or commands to be used for steps like starting, provisioning, specifying the port, and stopping for your service. Other possible keys not listed above include preprovision, prestart, and healthcheck.

Next is a section where you can list any environment variables a service needs to be passed into its scripts by the launcher. In this example, we provide a default HTTP port.

Finally, if your service needs to have data provisioned locally, you should include a data section in your .dockstore.yml.

Registering Your Service

Registering your service works differently than tools and workflows on Dockstore. For services, you need to install our Dockstore GitHub application into at least one of your organizations. By doing so, Dockstore will automatically register the services you create by keeping track of the releases and pre-releases you make on GitHub. This makes getting your service registered to Dockstore easy! You do not need the service to be fully working, and you can start experimenting on Dockstore while you write it. The following steps walk you through the installation process.

First, create a repo on GitHub which contains a valid .dockstore.yml file in its root. Then, login to Dockstore and go to the my-services tab.


On this page, you will need to click the + icon located on the top left. This is the “Manage on GitHub” button, and will redirect you to the screen pictured below in order to install our Dockstore GitHub app into an organization of your choice.


After choosing an organization to install Dockstore on, you will be taken to the following GitHub page.


Here you can select whether to give access to all repositories or only select ones. If the organization you choose is intended to be just for services, we recommend choosing all repositories. Otherwise, it is probably more intuitive to select only certain repositories. Click save and you will be taken back to the “My Services” page on Dockstore.

Under “My Services”, you should now see the organization and the repositories you chose to keep track of in the unpublished page.


Publishing Your Service

When you select a repository from this panel to view, you will notice that information is missing. Clicking the Versions tab, you will see an info box letting you know that this service does not have any versions. When your service is in this state, the publish button is disabled.

To add a version, get the information to populate, and gain the ability to publish, all you need to do is create a release or prerelease on GitHub on a repository that has a valid .dockstore.yml located in its root directory. Any time this is done, Dockstore will automatically create versions for you.


Now the Files tab will have your .dockstore.yml under the Primary Descriptor. Additionally, the files you choose to list in the in the files section of the .dockstore.yml will also be visible in the Files tab.

Once you have a version, you can now publish your service! Publishing will create a public page that is very similar to the ones we have for tools and workflows.


Now other users can view and star your service. You will also have the option to add published services to a collection.