Search Mailing List Archives

Limit search to: Subject & Body Subject Author
Sort by: Reverse Sort
Limit to: All This Week Last Week This Month Last Month
Select Date Range     through    

[bioontology-support] Queries on REST API call limit and licensing

John Graybeal jgraybeal at
Wed Jul 15 18:53:38 PDT 2020

Hello Junaid, thank you for your questions.

There is only one enforced limit on access to BioPortal right now, and that is that API requests are limited to 15 per second (rarely reduced to 5 per second in we have too heavy a load. When this happens you would get an error message as your reply message.

There are practical limits that are enforced if certain calls are overused. Any Recommender query that is long will heavily load the system, as will requests for all terms and their properties from very large ontologies (even though this request is paged). There are some other requests that might be problematic—if you have questions about specific queries you can email them to the support list. Too many heavily loaded queries in a row will cause the system to become non-responsive, and sometimes to fail, forcing us to restart it.

If we find a single entity is making so many calls that causes problems for the system, we will attempt to contact that user to request a modification. If we can not reach the user, or if we determine the user is not complying with our terms, we will blacklist the user's API key, or their IP address if they are querying anonymously.

There are permission restrictions on certain BioPortal ontologies, and as our Terms ( indicate, it is up to the users of BioPortal to ensure they are following the license requirements of each ontology contained in BioPortal. (These license requirements are specified in the summary metadata, displayed on the summary page of each ontology.)

We do not restrict usage of BioPortal by private companies. However, we find that many companies—typically ones that ask about usage limits :-) —need to use BioPortal more heavily than the above constraints allow. Also private companies often don't want to risk their queries becoming known publicly.

For that reason, we make available the OntoPortal (, which private companies can install locally and populate with whatever ontologies they want to use. (Alternatively, they can make arrangements with our team to provide this service, assuming available resources on our side.)  The instructions for obtaining and installing OntoPortal are at, and a registration is required. Registration terms for commercial companies may require discussion with the OntoPortal providers (see the documentation).

I hope this helps with your questions. You can reply with questions to the support list, or contact me directly (jgraybeal at<mailto:jgraybeal at>) if you want further information about registration costs for OntoPortal.


On Jul 14, 2020, at 8:48 AM, Junaid Bhatti <Junaid_Bhatti at<mailto:Junaid_Bhatti at>> wrote:

I am a Senior Data Scientist at an life insurance company in North America. I have reviewed the website ( and it is unclear to me whether there is a limit in usage if you are part of a private company. Specifically, is there a limit on REST API calls? Secondly, is there a requirement to obtain any license or permission restrictions in the use of NCBO portal by private companies?
Thanking you in anticipation for your responses to my queries.
Best regards,
 Junaid A. Bhatti, PhD, MSc, MBBS.
Sr. Data Scientist | Underwriting COE | Advanced Analytics

John Graybeal
Technical Program Manager
Center for Expanded Data Annotation and Retrieval /+/ NCBO BioPortal
Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research
650-736-1632  | ORCID  0000-0001-6875-5360

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the bioontology-support mailing list