Run using example data

This first tutorial introduces our SARS-CoV-2 workflow. You will run the workflow using a small set of reference data that we provide. Subsequent tutorials present more complex scenarios that build on this approach.


  1. Setup and installation. These instructions will install all of the software you need to complete this tutorial and others.


  1. Change directory to the ncov directory:

    cd ncov
  2. Download the example tutorial repository into a new subdirectory of ncov/ called ncov-tutorial/:

    git clone

Run the workflow

From within the ncov/ directory, run the workflow using a configuration file provided in the tutorial directory:

nextstrain build . --configfile ncov-tutorial/example-data.yaml

Break down the command

The workflow can take several minutes to run. While it is running, you can learn about the parts of this command:

  • nextstrain build .
    • This tells the Nextstrain CLI to build the workflow from ., the current directory. All subsequent command-line arguments are passed to the workflow manager, Snakemake.

  • --configfile ncov-tutorial/example-data.yaml
    • --configfile is a Snakemake option used to configure the ncov workflow. It takes a file path as the value.

    • ncov-tutorial/example-data.yaml is the value given to --configfile. It is a config file that provides custom workflow configuration including inputs and outputs. The contents of this file with comments excluded are:

        - name: reference_data
        root: "Wuhan-Hu-1/2019"

      The inputs entry provides the workflow with one input named reference_data. The metadata and sequence files refer to a sample of approximately 300 sequences maintained by the Nextstrain team that represent all Nextstrain clades annotated for SARS-CoV-2. The workflow downloads these files directly from the associated URLs. See the complete list of SARS-CoV-2 datasets we provide through

      The refine entry specifies the root sequence for the example GenBank data.

      For more information, see the workflow configuration file reference.

Running the workflow produces two new directories:

  • auspice/ contains a few files that represent a Nextstrain dataset to be visualized in the following section.

  • results/ contains intermediate files generated during workflow execution.

Visualize the results

Run this command to start the Auspice server, providing auspice/ as the directory containing output dataset files:

nextstrain view auspice/

Navigate to The resulting dataset should show a phylogeny of ~200 sequences:

Phylogenetic tree from the "example data" tutorial as visualized in Auspice

To stop the server, press Control-C on your keyboard.


You can also view the results by dragging the dataset files all at once onto

  • auspice/ncov_default-build.json

  • auspice/ncov_default-build_root-sequence.json

  • auspice/ncov_default-build_tip-frequencies.json