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Common workflow Language (CWL) is an open and free standard developed by multi-vendor working groups of organizations and individuals/contributors with open and transparent governance, which describes how to run command line tools and connect them to create workflows. It enables scientists to reuse and reproduce data analysis workflows and is easy to upscale for parallelization to other high-performance computing environments. It is one of the most suitable for FDA HTS regulatory initiatives and research projects that assist scientific evaluation of regulated medical products. CWL provides portable workflows that are of interest to the FDA but are currently being validated by other communities.


CWL is one of the leverage BCO’s report-centric formats that promotes a step towards evaluation and validation of bio-medical scientific computations. To distinguish CWL from BioCompute Objects, BioCompute Objects are physical instantiations of a workflow with results stored in a database, but CWL does not explicitly support the concept of computational instances.