Introduction to SBOL

What is SBOL?

The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) is an open standard for representing in silico biological designs.  It defines both a data format (SBOL Data) and a vocabulary of schematic glyphs (SBOL Visual).  SBOL is being developed by the SBOL Developers’ Group and our supporting organizations (see below). If you would like to join, please email the SBOL Editors (

What can SBOL do for me?

If you want to design genetic constructs and biological systems, you might want to look at the software tools that support SBOL. By using SBOL-supporting tools, you can be sure that information about your design will not be lost via conversion to other formats when moving between tools. In addition, representing your design as SBOL allows you to describe more complex design information than traditional sequence representation formats, information such as interactions between different parts of a genetic circuit.

If you are a software developer, you should consider adding SBOL support to your software using one of the SBOL libraries. Adding SBOL support to your software allows your tools to interoperate with the growing ecosystem of software tools that support SBOL.

If you work in a wet lab, please consider storing your genetic part and construct designs in the growing number of repositories that support SBOL, including the iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts, the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s Inventory of Composable Elements (ICE), the SynBioHub, and the Standard Virtual Parts Repository. By doing so, you enable other researchers to more easily access and reuse your designs in their projects (and vice versa), thereby contributing to the reproducibility of synthetic biology as a field.