HeatmapGenerator: High performance RNAseq and microarray visualization software suite to examine differential gene expression levels using an R and C++ hybrid computational pipeline

Bohdan B. Khomtchouk, Derek J. Van Booven, Claes Wahlestedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: The graphical visualization of gene expression data using heatmaps has become an integral component of modern-day medical research. Heatmaps are used extensively to plot quantitative differences in gene expression levels, such as those measured with RNAseq and microarray experiments, to provide qualitative large-scale views of the transcriptonomic landscape. Creating high-quality heatmaps is a computationally intensive task, often requiring considerable programming experience, particularly for customizing features to a specific dataset at hand. Methods: Software to create publication-quality heatmaps is developed with the R programming language, C++ programming language, and OpenGL application programming interface (API) to create industry-grade high performance graphics. Results: We create a graphical user interface (GUI) software package called HeatmapGenerator for Windows OS and Mac OS X as an intuitive, user-friendly alternative to researchers with minimal prior coding experience to allow them to create publication-quality heatmaps using R graphics without sacrificing their desired level of customization. The simplicity of HeatmapGenerator is that it only requires the user to upload a preformatted input file and download the publicly available R software language, among a few other operating system-specific requirements. Advanced features such as color, text labels, scaling, legend construction, and even database storage can be easily customized with no prior programming knowledge. Conclusion: We provide an intuitive and user-friendly software package, HeatmapGenerator, to create high-quality, customizable heatmaps generated using the high-resolution color graphics capabilities of R. The software is available for Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X. HeatmapGenerator is released under the GNU General Public License and publicly available at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/heatmapgenerator/. The Mac OS X direct download is available at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/heatmapgenerator/files/HeatmapGenerator_MAC_OSX.tar.gz/download. The Windows OS direct download is available at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/heatmapgenerator/files/HeatmapGenerator_WINDOWS.zip/download.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalSource Code for Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 24 2014


  • C++ programming language
  • Computational genomics
  • Heatmap
  • Microarray
  • Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)
  • OpenGL API
  • R programming language
  • RNAseq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics
  • Information Systems and Management


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