Installing hgvs

Supported Platforms

hgvs is developed primarily on Ubuntu systems and has been reported to work on Mac. Other platforms and dependency versions are expected to work but have not been tested. Reports of successful operation on other platforms (and patches to enable this) are appreciated. Python 2 is required. (Python 3 support is in progress.)

Install Prerequisites

hgvs currently requires PostgreSQL client libraries. (We are planning to switch to a REST interface and eliminate this dependency in the 0.5.0 release.) On Ubuntu, try:

apt-get install libpq-dev

On a Mac with homebrew:

brew install postgresql

Use a virtual environment

Users are encouraged to use virtualenv. If you don’t have virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper installed already:

$ sudo apt-get install virtualenvwrapper

Then (using virtualenvwrapper):

$ mkvirtualenv hgvs-test

mkvirtualenv will automatically activate your virtualenv and usually change the prompt to indicate this.

(Alternatively, type virtualenv hgvs-test, then source hgvs-test/bin/activate.)

Installing from PyPI

Ensure you have a current setuptools package:

$ pip install setuptools --upgrade

You’re now ready to install hgvs via pip:

$ pip install hgvs

hgvs will install dependencies automatically.

Installing from source


Users (non-developers) should prefer the PyPI installation. There is no advantage to installing from source.

Fetch the source code:

$ git clone


$ cd hgvs
$ make install

Installing SeqRepo (optional)

seqrepo provides an easy and efficient mechanism to maintain a local sequence database.

Install seqrepo:

$ pip install biocommons.seqrepo

Then, choose a file path that has at least 10GB of space available. By default, seqrepo will use /usr/local/share/serepo/. Make that directory:

$ mkdir /usr/local/share/seqrepo

Download an instance of the human sequence set:

$ seqrepo -r /usr/local/share/seqrepo pull

You can skip the -r if you use the default /usr/local/share/seqrepo/. This step will take 10-30 minutes, or more for slow connections.

As with UTA, you tell hgvs to use this feature via an environment variable:

$ export HGVS_SEQREPO_DIR=/usr/local/share/seqrepo/20160906

Local Installation of UTA

The easiest way to install UTA locally is to use the docker image:

$ docker run -d –name uta_20170117 -p 15032:5432 biocommons/uta:uta_20170117

If you do this, then set:

$ export UTA_DB_URL=postgresql://anonymous@localhost:15032/uta/uta_20170117

If you don’t set this variable, hgvs will use the remote uta database.

Test your installation

hgvs installs hgvs-shell, a command line tool based on IPython. It’s a convenience utility that imports and initializes frequently-used components. Try this:

(default-2.7) snafu$ hgvs-shell
INFO:root:Starting hgvs-shell 1.0.0a1
INFO:biocommons.seqrepo:biocommons.seqrepo 0.3.1
INFO:hgvs.dataproviders.seqfetcher:Using SeqRepo(/usr/local/share/seqrepo/master) sequence fetching
INFO:hgvs.dataproviders.uta:connected to postgresql://anonymous:anonymous@localhost/uta_dev/uta_20170117...

In [1]: v = hp.parse_hgvs_variant("NM_033089.6:c.571C>G")

In [2]: am37.c_to_g(v)
INFO:biocommons.seqrepo.fastadir.fastadir:Opening for reading: /usr/.../1472015601.985206.fa.bgz
Out[2]: SequenceVariant(ac=NC_000020.10, type=g, posedit=278801C>G)

In [3]: am38.c_to_g(v)
INFO:biocommons.seqrepo.fastadir.fastadir:Opening for reading: /usr/.../1472026864.4364622.fa.bgz
Out[3]: SequenceVariant(ac=NC_000020.11, type=g, posedit=298157C>G)

Package Versioning

hgvs uses semantic versioning. For a version x.y.z, incrementing x, y, or z denotes backward-incompatible changes, feature additions, and bug fixes respectively.

Version numbers for released code come directly from the repository tag. Therefore, PyPI version 0.1.2 corresponds exactly to the repository commit tagged as 0.1.2.

Users (i.e., non-developers) are encouraged to use the PyPI releases and to specify versions to stay within minor releases for API stability. For example, a line like:


in or requirements.txt indicates that version 1.0 (any patch level) is required, and that future 1.x-series releases are acceptable.