Introduction to SBOL

SBOL is…

An open standard for the representation of in silico biological designs.
SBOL provides a data format composed of genetic vocabulary terms called SBOL Data.
SBOL also provides schematic glyphs to graphically depict genetic designs called SBOL Visual.
SBOL is intended for users and software developers involved in the biology community and scientist working within a wet lab.


If you want to design genetic constructs and biological systems, you might want to look at the software tools that support SBOL.

SBOL-supporting tools ensures lossless data conversion when moving between tools. SBOL also allows you to describe more complex design information than traditional sequence representation of a genetic circuit.

Wet Lab

If you work in a wet lab, consider storing your genetic part and construct designs in the growing number of repositories that support SBOL to allow other researchers easy access and reuse of your designs in their projects.

Try having a look at the iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts, the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s Inventory of Composable Elements (ICE), the SynBioHub, Benchling, and the Standard Virtual Parts Repository.

Software Development

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.

Feature Request

You can propose your feature request to the SBOL data model or to SBOL visual glyphs by submitting an SEP to our Github repositories. Live discussions amongst the SBOL community is going on now! You can view and comment on the discussions by clicking on the open GitHub issues.

Weekly Update

Weekly Update

Jan. 17th, 2018


Sidney Cox and James McLaughlin will be stepping down from their editor position.
We are in the process of electing two new editors for their replacement.
Today was the last day to suggest nomination for SBOL editors.
Curtis Madsen will be sending out a voting form for the running candidates within the next two days.
Voting will run for five days. All SBOL community members are welcome to vote.
The two new editors will be announced on Wednesday, Jan 24th.

SBOL Data:

If you would like to support the SBOL data model 2.2.0 release within your software tool, stay tune for the SBOL developer’s announcement.
Library implementation for the SBOL data model 2.2.0 will have their official release within the next couple of weeks!
Specification for version 2.2.0 can be found here.
To track the developer’s progress, click on the links below:

C/C++ Library – libSBOL
Java library – libSBOLj
JavaScript library – sboljs
Python library – pySBOL

For further questions regarding the implementation of these features, contact the Developers.

SBOL Visual:

Does your software tool support SBOL Visual 2.0.0 glyphs?
If so, let us know by e-mailing the SBOL Editors.
We would like to update our SBOL Applications webpage to inform our community on the latest tools that support SBOL Visual 2.0.0 glyphs.

If you support SBOL Visual glyphs in your software tool but have not updated to 2.0 glyphs, please consider doing so.
Unlike SBOL Visual 1.0.0, version 2.0 was expanded to include not only nucleic acid components but also molecular species and functional interactions as well.
To view and download SBOL Visual 2.0 glyphs, click here.
We provide sample visual glyphs supported in PDF, SVG, and PNG.
There is also a Quick Introduction to SBOL Visual 2.0 that is provided here.

Google Summer of Code 2018:

The editors are collecting SBOL project ideas for GSoC 2018.
If the community have projects that they would like to propose, please contact the SBOL Editors.
A list of proposed SBOL projects can be found here.

More information about this program can be found here.
News that are posted about this program can be found here.
Projects that are officially accepted into the program will be announced on Feb. 12th.
Student application will begin on Mar. 14th.
A full timeline of this year’s program can be found here.

SBOL 2018 Workshops:

Mark your calendar! Here are a couple of workshops and conferences that we are planning on attending for the upcoming year.

SEED: Scottsdale, AZ on Jun. 3rd – 7th

HARMONY: Oxford, UK on Jun. 18th – 22nd

IWBDA: Berkeley, CA on Jul. 31st – Aug. 3rd

COMBINE: Boston, MA on Oct. 8th – 12th

iGEM: Boston, MA on Oct 24th – 28th

Robert Sidney Cox III
James McLaughlin
Tramy Nguyen
Nic Roehner
Curtis Madsen


We represent over 130+ members from 17 different countries, 42 institutions, and 28 different industries.

Join our diverse growing community to hear about our latest ongoing efforts!