Background: Automated bioinformatics workflows are more robust, easier to maintain, and results more reproducible when built with command-line utilities than with custom-coded scripts. Command-line utilities further benefit by relieving bioinformatics developers to learn the use of, or to interact directly with, biological software libraries. There is however a lack of command-line utilities that leverage popular Open Source biological software toolkits such as BioPerl (http://bioperl.org) to make many of the well-designed, robust, and routinely used biological classes available for a wider base of end users.
Results: Designed as standard utilities for UNIX-family operating systems, BpWrapper makes functionality of some of the most popular BioPerl modules readily accessible on the command line to novice as well as to experienced bioinformatics practitioners. The initial release of BpWrapper includes four utilities with concise command-line user interfaces, bioseq, bioaln, biotree, and biopop, specialized for manipulation of molecular sequences, sequence alignments, phylogenetic trees, and DNA polymorphisms, respectively. Over a hundred methods are currently available as command-line options and new methods are easily incorporated. Performance of BpWrapper utilities lags that of precompiled utilities while equivalent to that of other utilities based on BioPerl. BpWrapper has been tested on BioPerl Release 1.6, Perl versions 5.10.1 to 5.25.10, and operating systems including Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, and GNU/Linux. Release code is available from the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) at https://metacpan.org/ pod/Bio::BPWrapper. Source code is available on GitHub at https://github.com/bioperl/p5-bpwrapper.
Conclusions: BpWrapper improves on existing sequence utilities by following the design principles of Unix text utilities such including a concise user interface, extensive command-line options, and standard input/output for serialized operations. Further, dozens of novel methods for manipulation of sequences, alignments, and phylogenetic trees, unavailable in existing utilities (e.g., EMBOSS, Newick Utilities, and FAST), are provided. Bioinformaticians should find BpWrapper useful for rapid prototyping of workflows on the command-line without creating custom scripts for comparative genomics and other bioinformatics applications.