FASTdoopC is a general software framework for the efficient acquisition of FASTA/Q genomic files in a MapReduce environment.
It works in two stages. In the first stage, it can be used to automatically split an input file into blocks independently compressed using a chosen compressor and uploaded to HDFS (the distributed file system used by frameworks like Hadoop and Spark). In the second stage, it can be used during a MapReduce computation to read and decompress on-the-fly and in a distributed way a file compressed during the first stage. It runs over Apache Hadoop (>=3.1.1, and Apache Spark (, and requires a Java compliant virtual machine (>= 1.8,
Notice that the framework has been designed to take fully advantage of the HDFS distributed file system, even thanks to the adoption of the FASTdoop library. For this reason, it requires input data to be stored on HDFS.

A copy of FASTdoopC, including source code, can be downloaded from: FASTdoopC


The software package includes a single executable jar file, fastdoopc-1.0.0-all.jar, that can be used both to compress input files (first stage) and to decompress them (second stage).

File compression

In order to compress a file, the provided fastdoopc-1.0.0-all.jar jar must be run from the command-line, together with the Apache Hadoop hadoop jar command, using the following syntax:

hadoop jar fastdoopc-1.0.0-all.jar [conf-file]

If conf-file is not specified, the program will look for a uc.conf file in the working directory. It is used to provide instructions about the codec to use for the compression.

Configuration File

The content of the configuration file is used by our framework to know the settings to use for dealing with either compressed files or files to be compressed. This solution is the recommended one, as it does not require any programming skill. Alternatively, it is possible to define the same settings inside a Java application using the provided programming API (see the src/main/java/ class for an example).

Parameter Description
task The task to perform. The value can be compression (default) or benchmark (see Section Benchmarking).
input The genomic input file. If task=compression, it should be a FASTA/FASTQ file and should be placed locally, instead of HDFS.
output The output file. If task=compression, the name should end with the suffix “.uc”
uc.codec The name of the codec to use in order to compress each input block. The name is case insensitive.

File decompression

In order to execute a MapReduce job using as input an .uc compressed file generated with our framework, the Hadoop developer needs to:

  1. set the Hadoop configuration parameter io.compression.codecs with the value universalcodec.UniversalCodec.
  2. set the Hadoop InputFormat class according to the original file format. If the uncompressed file has the FASTA format, the InputFormat class to use have to be FASTAShortUniversalInputFormat, instead if the file has the FASTQ format it has to be FASTQUniversalInputFormat.

See the src/java/main/benchmark/, developed for the benchmarking (see Section Benchmarking), as an example.

Example 1 - Compressing a FASTQ file using SPRINGQ

In this example, the codec named SPRINGQ is used to compress a 16GB input file of FASTQ reads. The output file will be named as 16GB.fastq.springq.uc. The configuration file provides the necessary parameters needed to use the SPRING compressor for FASTQ files.



uc.SPRINGQ.compress.cmd=spring -c
uc.SPRINGQ.decompress.cmd=spring -d

Example 2 - Processing a FASTQ file compressed using SPRINGQ by means of an Hadoop application

In this example, a benchmark of type mapreduce is performed on the input file data/16GB.fastq.spring.uc (for more information, see Section benchmarking). The input is read and decompressed by the FASTdoop reader and then each input split is passed to the map task, in order to perform the (partial) nucleotides counting. Then, the partial counts are computed by the reduce tasks in order to obtain the global nucleotides counting. The configuration file provides the necessary parameters needed to use the SPRING compressor for FASTQ files.




uc.SPRINGQ.compress.cmd=spring -c
uc.SPRINGQ.decompress.cmd=spring -d

Supporting a new codec through Configuration

Our framework provides the possibility to easily support new compression codecs, assuming they are avaiable through a command-line interface. Let X be the unique name denoting the compressor to be supported and F the file being processed. The configuration file should contain the following parameters:

Parameter Description
uc.X.compress.cmd the command line to be used for compressing F using X.
uc.X.decompress.cmd the command line to be used for decompressing F using X.
uc.X.compress.ext the command line flag used to specify the input filename.
uc.X.decompress.ext the command line flag used to specify the output filename. the extension used by X for saving a compressed copy of F. the extension used by X for saving a decompressed copy of X ( fastq by default). if X requires the output file name to be specified before the input file name, it is set to True. False, otherwise.

Note: we are assuming that a copy of the executable codes required from the above command lines are available on all the slave nodes of the distributed system used for compressing/decompressing input files.

Currently supported codecs

The following codecs have been tested with our frameworks and are included, by default, in the src\main\resources\uc.conf.sample configuration available in fastdoopc-1.0.0-all.jar:


FASTdoopC has been tested by using a collection of FASTA and FASTQ files. The FASTQ files contain collection of reads extracted from the Pinus Taeda genome. The FASTA files contain collection of reads extracted from the Human genome.

The datasets can be downloaded from: datasets

FASTQ datasets:

FASTA datasets:

Running on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

We refer the interested reader to the following link for a quick guide about the installation of Apache Hadoop on a free EC2 AWS instance:

Developing an Hadoop Splittable Codec for FASTA/FASTQ files

Our framework includes a library of classes useful to simplify and accelerate the development of a specialized Hadoop splittable compression codec. This solution can be preferred to the usage of the universal meta-codec when looking for the best performance possible. More information are available in


The framework includes two standard benchmarks that can be used to analyze the performance of currently supported compression codec as well as new ones when used to perform two reference activities. The first benchmark is about counting in a distributed way the number of nucleotides existing in a given input FASTA/Q file. The second benchmark is an extension of the first one, with all the counts returned by the first benchmark being aggregated on a single machine and returned, as output, in a new HDFS file. To run one of these benchmarks, the following parameters must be set in the configuration file.

Parameter Description
bench The benchmark to perform. The value must be map, for running the first benchmark and ‘mapreduce’, for running the second benchmark.
sequence.type The type of the uncompressed input data. The value can be fasta or fastq.