Pipeline file structure

When you create a new pipeline from the nf-core template, you are presented with a directory full of many files and folders. Some are boilerplate code that you’ll probably never need to touch. Some are important to understand whilst developing a pipeline. Here we list the outputs of a pipeline from the template with all of the options ticked, describing what each file is and what it does.


You will find the following files in each nf-core pipeline. They are automatically generated, when running nf-core create.

main.nfThis is the main nextflow file which will get executed if the pipeline is run. Typically, parameters are initialized and validated in this script before a workflow from the workflows/ directory is called for execution.
nextflow.configThe main nextflow configuration file. It contains the default pipeline parameters, nextflow configuration options and information like pipeline and minimum nextflow version, among others. The nextflow.config also defines different configuration profiles that can be used to run the pipeline. See the Configuration docs for more information.
README.mdBasic information about the pipeline and usage
nextflow_schema.jsonThe JSON schema file is used for pipeline parameter specification. This is automatically created using the nf-core schema build command. It is used for printing command-line help, validating input parameters, building the website docs and for building pipeline launch interfaces (web and cli).
CHANGELOG.mdInformation about the changes made to the pipeline for each release.
LICENSEThe license - should be MIT
CODE_OF_CONDUCT.mdThe nf-core code of conduct.
CITATIONS.mdAll citations needed when using the pipeline
.gitattributesGit settings, primarily getting the .config files to render with Nextflow syntax highlighting on <github.com>
.gitignoreFiles that should be ignored by git.
.editorconfigEditorconfig file that helps assuring consistent coding style
.prettierrc.ymlPrettier lint configuration file to assure consistent markdown files
.prettierignoreFiles that should be ignored by prettier
modules.jsonThis file holds information (e.g. version) about all the modules in the pipeline that have been installed from nf-core/modules
.nf-core.ymlIndicates the type of repository (pipeline or modules repo)
.gitpod.ymlConfig file to define online working environment with https://www.gitpod.io
pyproject.tomlConfig file for Python. Mostly used to configure linting of bin/check_samplesheet.py with Black


Directory nameDescription 
.devcontainerConfiguration to work with the GitHub Codespaces online editing environments.
.github/Other GitHub specific files, e.g. for specifying templates and GitHub actions
assets/Any additional files needed for the pipeline
bin/Directory for scripts that must be directly accessible within a pipeline process. Anything in this directory can be directly called from within Nextflow processes.
conf/Configuration files, including a base.config file which is always loaded into nextflow.config and describes basic pipeline configurations, like CPU and memory usage for processes with low, medium and high requirements. Additionally, most pipelines also have a igenomes.config file which describes the locations of popular genomes that can be automatically downloaded for a pipeline run. Finally, the test.config and test_full.config files are test configurations that are loaded during test runs. Since DSL2, it also contains a modules.config file, which defines module-specific configurations and is explained further down in the “DSL2 and modules” section.
docs/Markdown files for documenting the pipeline
modules/Contains pipeline-specific and common nf-core modules
workflows/Contains the main pipeline workflows to be executed in the main.nf file
subworkflows/Contains smaller subworkflows that typically consist out of a few modules chained together