The CWL Project began out of a need for a standard to describe analysis pipelines in a portable and reusable manner. Common Workflow Language (CWL) is a family of standards for the description of command line tools and of workflows made with these standards. CWL is designed to meet the needs of data-intensive science, such as Bioinformatics, Medical Imaging, Astronomy, High Energy Physics, and Machine Learning.

The CWL project focus is on open standards, open-source code and an open community.

Vision of the CWL Project §

Researchers, scientists, and analysts share their batch data analysis workflows without technical barriers using an open standard. Sharing workflows this way is a usual occurrence and seen as a typical way of working. The workflows are complete and run on a variety of environments; and people re-use shared workflow descriptions and build new workflows from them. No vendor dominates the ecosystem

Mission of the CWL Project §

The CWL project supports open consensus-based standards for command line data analysis workflows and tools.

Open Stand badge

Specifically, we support the

  • pre-standards process by providing a neutral place of convening to discuss, propose and test ideas about command-line tool based workflow standards and related topics
  • standardization process by stewarding the development and delivery of standards in accordance with the OpenStand principles
  • post-standards life cycle by (1) promoting the released standards, (2) developing and maintaining related training and tools, and by (3) tracking deficits and other post-standardization feedback

Citation §

To reference the Common Workflow Language and the CWL project in scholarly work, please use the following citation:

To reference the CWL standards in scholary work, please use the following citation inclusive of the DOI:

  • Peter Amstutz, Michael R. Crusoe, Nebojša Tijanić (editors), Brad Chapman, John Chilton, Michael Heuer, Andrey Kartashov, Dan Leehr, Hervé Ménager, Maya Nedeljkovich, Matt Scales, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Luka Stojanovic (2016): Common Workflow Language, v1.0. Specification, Common Workflow Language working group.

A collection of existing references to CWL can be found at