Workbench provides browser-based tools for Arvados users. Today it is relatively thin in terms of functionality, but we envision it providing a range of visual tools that make it easier to use Arvados. It is also the jumping off point for other browser-based applications that are installed on an Arvados cloud.
Everything Workbench does can also be done with the command line tools or any other SDK, and it does not have any special privileges1. The application is built with Ruby on Rails using the Arvados Rails SDK. It exists for two reasons:
- Convenience -- Sometimes it's quicker to click than to type, and sometimes it's nice to see progress bars instead of ASCII art.
- Example -- The source code is an example of how to use Arvados and the Rails SDK.
(In a sense, it is the web browser SDK -- but we don't call it that because we don't expect anyone to write an application by scripting a web browser.)
1 There is one exception: Each site has an official Workbench installation with the privileges required to retrieve a user's API authentication tokens. This is necessary to give users access to API clients that aren't well suited to the OpenID authentication process, like the CLI tools.