This week, Microsoft Research launched a beta release of the next version of the Microsoft Biology Foundation toolkit.
Dubbed Microsoft Biology Foundation 2.0 beta 1, the release includes increased capacity for de novo genome assembly of human and other large, complex species; new comparative assembly functions for characteristic genetic diversity within or between species; and core object model improvements for a smaller memory footprint and increased parallel processing.
Microsoft is still actively seeking input for its toolkit and to that end, launched a coding contest along with the beta release encouraging researchers to develop and submit applications based on MBF 2.0 beta by May 20.
Participants are expected to use the MBF object model, parsers, algorithms, and web connectors to build applications that help researchers solve problems in the fields of bioinformatics and genomics.
Potential application ideas include a universal file format translator, tools to predict genes in DNA sequences, a tool to visualize and manipulate a de Bruijn graph to guide sequence assembly, and an application to annotate bacterial genomes, among other ideas.
The winning entry, which will be announced on June 1, will receive an Xbox 360 4GB console with Kinect.
Microsoft launched MBF, which is an open-source Microsoft .NET library and application programming interface for bioinformatics research, last summer during the International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (BI 07/16/2010) and asked for the bioinformatics community's input in the next release of the tool (BI 10/15/2010).
Additional information about the contest is available here.