To keep all the nf-core pipelines up-to-date with the latest version of the community standards, we have implemented a synchronisation tool. This ensures that updates to the community standards are propagated to all the nf-core pipelines.

If a pipeline is created using the nf-core create command, everything is automagically set up for the synchronisation to work. However, if a pipeline was not created using this command, this documentation will tell you how to set it up properly.

How it works

In brief, when the synchronisation tool is triggered it compares every pipeline against the new standards and opens pull requests when mismatches are found. These pull requests needs to be manually dealt with by the pipeline maintainers.

Behind the scenes, the synchronisation tool fetches the variables needed for a pipeline and uses this to trigger a nf-core create --no-git command. The result from this command is then compared against what is stored in a special branch of the pipeline called the TEMPLATE branch. If any changes are detected, a pull request is created.

For this to work in practice, the TEMPLATE branch needs to have a shared git history with the master branch of the pipeline. The nf-core create command arranges this by enforcing a first commit to the master branch before any development has taken place. The next section deals with the case when the pipeline was not created by the nf-core create command.

Set up your pipeline for automatic syncing

This section describes how to set up a correct TEMPLATE branch in the case your pipeline was not created with a TEMPLATE branch from the beginning. If you created a pipeline with the nf-core create command, you should be all ready to go and can skip this step. Otherwise proceed with caution. It is probably a good idea to make sure you have all your local changes pushed to github and you could even make a local backup clone of your repository before proceeding.

You should also consider the option to restart your pipeline project by running the nf-core create command and simply copy in the modifications you need into the newly created pipeline.

Step-by-step procedure

First clone your pipeline into a new directory (in case we mess things up):

mkdir TMPDIR
git clone

Then create the new TEMPLATE branch and delete all your files in order to have a completely empty branch:

cd pipeline_root_dir
git checkout --orphan TEMPLATE && git rm -rf '*'

Make sure your branch is completely empty by checking the status of git status:

$ git status
On branch TEMPLATE

No commits yet

nothing to commit (create/copy files and use "git add" to track)

Regenerate your pipeline from scratch using the most recent template: Make sure you are within your pipeline root directory before running these commands.


This creates a new directory YOURPIPELINENAME with the template pipeline files in it. Now move these files into your root git directory:

mv nf-core-YOURPIPELINENAME/.[!.]* .

Now make sure the newly created files are in the correct place. It should look similar to this:

$ git status
On branch TEMPLATE

No commits yet

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)


nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)

If it all looks good, then commit these files:

git add .
git commit -m "Initial template commit"

For the nf-core bot to be able to access your TEMPLATE branch, you need to push it to the upstream repository (

git push origin TEMPLATE

Merge TEMPLATE into master

The only remaining step is unfortunately a rather tedious one. You have to merge the TEMPLATE branch into your master (or development) branch and manually resolve all merge conflicts.

git checkout master
git merge TEMPLATE --allow-unrelated-histories
git status

Make sure to go through all the conflicts and resolve them so that your pipeline is properly up to date with the latest template. Finally, commit and upload your changes to your github repo.

git add .
git commit -m "Merged vanilla TEMPLATE branch into master"
git push origin master

The final task is to create a pull request with your changes so that they are included in the upstream repository.

Well done!