Collaborative tools are of great help in conducting projects involving distant workers. Recent web technologies have helped to build such tools for jointly editing office documents and scientific data, yet none exists for handling phylogenies. Though a large number of studies and projects in evolutionary biology and systematics involve a collaboration between scientists of different institutes, current tree comparison visualization software and websites are directed toward single-user access. Moreover, functionalities to compare trees are spread out in different software that mainly focus on single tree visualization, up to a high level, but to the detriment of basic tree comparison features.
The web platform presented here, named CompPhy, intends to fill this gap by allowing collaborative work on phylogenies and by gathering simple and advanced tools dedicated to tree comparison. It offers functionalities covering tree edition, tree comparison, supertree inference and data management in a collaborative environment. The latter aspect is a specificity of the platform allowing distant people to work together at the same time on a common project. In this respect, CompPhy proposes shared tree visualization, both synchronous and asynchronous tree manipulation, data exchange/storage, as well as facilities to keep track of the analysis’ progress achieved in working sessions. Specific advanced comparing tools are also available such as consensus and supertree inference, or automated branch swaps of compared trees. As projects can be readily created and shared, CompPhy also is a tool that can be used easily to interact with students in a pedagogical context, either in the classroom or for assignments.Give it a try at this address: http://www.atgc-montpellier.fr/compphy/.