SEQIO -- A Package for Sequence File I/O

idxseq - A Database Indexing Program

In order for the SEQIO package to randomly access the entries of a database, it must have an index which maps the database identifiers into the file location of the various entries. This program constructs such an index for any or all of the identifiers that identify particular database entries. So, you can create index files for the GenBank LOCUS names, accession numbers or the new NID and PID numbers, or you can create indexes for all three types of identifiers and access GenBank entries through any of them.

The program gets much of its information from the BIOSEQ file pointed to by the BIOSEQ environment variable. The discussion that follows assumes you know what a BIOSEQ file looks like and how to create one. The specific information used by the program are the "Index" information fields for each database's BIOSEQ entry. That information field gives the name of the file idxseq should use as the index file. Note that the filename given in the "Index" field can either be an absolute pathname, or can be a pathname relative to the root directory of the BIOSEQ entry.

In the basic "loading" and "merging" modes of the program (i.e., creating a new index file or merging new information into an old index file), whenever an identifier is found in one of the database entries, the program will first lookup the identifier prefix to determine what database that prefix corresponds to. Then, it will search the BIOSEQ entries for that database to see if an "Index" information field specifies the location of the index file. Thus, you don't have to specify the index file name on the command line. It will be automatically extracted from the the BIOSEQ file.

If no "Index" information field is found, then the program assumes that no index file should be created for this identifier prefix. So, you can regulate which identifiers are indexed by the addition (or removal) of "Index" information fields from the BIOSEQ entries for the different databases. And, if you want to create a cross-database index (of accession numbers, or NID or PID numbers, say), just create a virtual BIOSEQ entry containing an "Index" information field.

Program Options

The format of the command line is the following:
  index [-l | -m | -r idlist | -d idlist | -f format | -i idprefix | -q] files...
where the options and input are the following (described here assuming only one index file (and identifier type) is being created):

Program Operation

In the load and merge modes, the program first reads each of the entries in the input. For each entry, it extracts all of the identifiers for that entry and checks each identifier prefix to see if an index file has been specified for the database corresponding to the identifier prefix. If the `-r' option is set, it also check to see if the identifier prefix is in that list of idprefixes. If there is an index file (and the idprefix is on the list), then the index for that entry is added to the internal lists of indexes being constructed for each such identifier prefix.

When all of the input has been read, the program will go through the identifier prefixes it has seen in the input, and will perform either the load or the merge of the internal list of indexes with the old index file (if it exists). So, idxseq will only alter the contents of the existing index file after it has read all of the input. Interrupting the program anytime before then will not affect the contents of those existing index files.

In the delete mode, the program first constructs a list of the files specified in the input (i.e., by translating the database specifications into a list of files) and then goes through the list of identifier prefixes. For each identifier prefix, it looks for the index file of the corresponding database and then rewrites that index file, eliminating any index whose file location is one of ones in the list of files. The index file itself is deleted if all of the indexes are eliminated.

(Note: When running the delete mode (or the load or merge mode), you should remember that if the BIOSEQ entry for a database contains files using wildcard characters, such as "daily-nc/nc????.flat" for the GenBank non-cumulative files, only the currently existing files will be retrieved by the program. Thus, if you are installing a new version of the database (and hence removing, without replacing, files like the non-cumulative files), you should run idxseq in delete mode before removing those files. Otherwise, you'll have dangling references to the non-cumulative files in the index file, since the merge operation, which you'd have to use for cross-database identifiers, will not remove the non-cumulative filenames because they are not in the files found in the input.)

Index File Format

The format of the idxseq index files is a very simple (yet compact) format that can be used not only by the SEQIO package, but by any program. The entire file is a printable file (i.e., you can `cat' or `more' it or edit it) that consists of a header followed by the indexes. The header has the following form:
138 4 # SEQIO Index File - Version 1.0
where the first two numbers of the first line give the number of bytes and number of lines of the header (including the first line and all of the newline characters). After those first two numbers, the string "# SEQIO Index File" appears on the first line, along with a version number. This string can be used to check that the file is in fact an index file. After the first line, the next "num_lines-1" lines list the files containing all of the entries indexed by the index file.

The rest of the file consists of indexes, also given one per line. The form of each index is the following:

A19940  1       RBaO
A19942  1       a:Q`
A1HU    0       eDGk
A1HUBR  0       cn?3
A20015  1       3jdkC
A20146  1       3e5]T
where each index begins with the identifier, and then gives the file number (i.e., the position of the file in the header list) and byte offset of that identifier's entry. The three values are separated by tab characters and the index always ends with a newline character. In order to save space, the file number and the byte offset are given in base 64 numbers (that's why the characters look so strange). The base 64 numbering scheme is very simple, it consists of the 64 ASCII characters beginning with the digit '0' (and running through the lower case 'o', I believe). Also, the file number 0 specifies the first file in the header list (so, don't count the "# SEQIO Index File" line when going from file number to filename).

So, if you want to write your own program to map an identifier to a file/byte-offset location, here are the step you should write:

  1. Read the first line of the file, extract the number of bytes and number of lines of the header, and check that "# SEQIO Index File" appears on the line.
  2. If reading the header by line (using Perl for example), then read the next "num_lines-1" lines to get the list of files. If performing a block read, then read the next "num_bytes - first_line_length" bytes to get the list of files.
  3. Perform a binary search on the file between byte offsets "num_bytes" and the size of the file. The binary search should find the beginning an end of the line in the middle of your search range, and then do a string comparison between the beginning of that line and the identifier you're looking up. And, of course, then recurse in the appropriate manner.
  4. For each index line matching the identifier (and, remember, there could be more than one), extract the file number and byte offset which are given after the first and second tab characters on the line (or are the second and third words on the line, if you're using Perl). Convert them from base 64 to base 10 using code like the function below, and then get the filename by getting the "filenum"'th file in the header list.
   int atoi64(char *s)
     int num;
     while (*s && isspace(*s))
     for (num=0; *s >= '0' && *s < '0' + 64; s++) {
       num *= 64;
       num += *s - '0';
     return num;

James R. Knight,
June 28, 1996