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Java Items API

‘Items’ are a data format for the InterMine system, each Item represents a Java data object that will be stored. They are a convenient way to deal with data that is portable to other languages and has a simple XML format.

This API is currently available only within a DataConverter running internally within an InterMine source (i.e. it can’t yet be used entirely separately from InterMine)

Usage in a Converter

Items are most commonly used in a converter which provides some convenience methods.

Items are usually manipulated in a converter as part of a source InterMine source. All converters subclass DataConverter or one of its subclasses. This provides some convenience methods.

Create an item - this uses an ItemFactory (see below) which validates the class name and all fields against the data model:

Item gene = createItem("Gene");

Store an item (or collection of items) to the target items database:


For a simple example of a converter see the wormbase-identifiers converter.

Item methods

Item has methods to set values of attributes, references to other objects and collections of other objects.

To set an attribute (a field of an Item that is a Java type, e.g. String, Integer) use setAttribute). Note that all attribute types are treated as a String, they will be parsed to the appropriate type later.

gene.setAttribute("symbol", "zen");
organism.setAttribute("taxonId", "7227");

All items have an identifier generated for them automatically, these are used to reference other Items. You can set a reference with to an Item identifier or by using the item itself.

String orgIdentifier = organism.getIdentifier();
gene.setReference("organism", orgIdentifier);


gene.setReference("organism", organism);

Set collections of other Items:

List<Item> publications = new ArrayList<Item>();

Or add one at a time:

gene.addToCollection("publications", pub1);
gene.addToCollection("publications", pub2.getIdentifier());

Attribute, Reference and ReferenceList (collections) can all be created independently and added to Items, this is sometimes useful in parsers to avoid holding too many Items in memory.

Creating Items with an ItemFactory

When not used in a Converter you should create Items using an ItemFactory (the Converter does this for you), this validates the class name and all attribute/reference names against the data model. This requires that you get a Model instance (if there isn’t already one).

Model model = Model.getInstance("genomic");
ItemFactory factory = new ItemFactory(model);

Create an item with the class name.

Item gene = itemFactory.makeItemForClass("Gene");
Item organism = itemFactory.makeItemForClass("Organism");

Reading/Writing XML

To write a collection of Items to XML use FullRenderer:

FileWriter fw = new FileWriter(new File(fileName));

To read an XML file into a List of items use FullParser:

List items = FullRenderer.parse(new FileInputStream(file));