Flextilesource: An openseadragon extension for efficient whole-slide image visualization

Peter Schüffler, Gamze Ozcan, Hikmat Al-Ahmadie, Thomas Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Web-based digital slide viewers for pathology commonly use OpenSlide and OpenSeadragon (OSD) to access, visualize, and navigate whole-slide images (WSI). Their standard settings represent WSI as deep zoom images (DZI), a generic image pyramid structure that differs from the proprietary pyramid structure in the WSI files. The transformation from WSI to DZI is an additional, time-consuming step when rendering digital slides in the viewer, and inefficiency of digital slide viewers is a major criticism for digital pathology. Aims: To increase efficiency of digital slide visualization by serving tiles directly from the native WSI pyramid, making the transformation from WSI to DZI obsolete. Methods: We implemented a new flexible tile source for OSD that accepts arbitrary native pyramid structures instead of DZI levels. We measured its performance on a data set of 8104 WSI reviewed by 207 pathologists over 40 days in a web-based digital slide viewer used for routine diagnostics. Results: The new FlexTileSource accelerates the display of a field of view in general by 67 ms and even by 117 ms if the block size of the WSI and the tile size of the viewer is increased to 1024 px. We provide the code of our open-source library freely on https://github.com/schuefflerlab/openseadragon. Conclusions:This is the first study to quantify visualization performance on a web-based slide viewer at scale, taking block size and tile size of digital slides into account. Quantifying performance will enable to compare and improve web-based viewers and therewith facilitate the adoption of digital pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number325659
JournalJournal of Pathology Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital pathology
  • OpenSeadragon
  • viewer optimization
  • whole-slide imaging


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