Future software directions

Peter Rice rice at embl-heidelberg.de
Fri Feb 19 04:25:31 EST 1993

In article <9302180457.AA20119 at net.bio.net>, KNECHT at UCONNVM.bitnet writes:
> Greetings to the mol bio software experts out there-  My department is trying
> to make some computer buying decisions with insight into future trends.  We 
> are currently running MacVector on Macs and have GCG running on a VAX.  The 
> question has come up as to the future directions.  I see lots of development 
> going on in the PC world and from my experience with GCG, I expect it to die 
> a slow death that I will shed no tears over.  I hate having to work with a 
> manual open on my lap.  

First, let me join the list of GCG supporters. I have used it for more than 5
years, and found it to be excellent. I also find it very hard to work with any
package without a manual. Best of all, it includes full source code and
documentation (yes, a large manual) which has made it very easy to modify
the existing programs and to write completely new ones. Several of my efforts
are now distributed with the VMS version of GCG (in the unsupported saveset),
and will soon be fully supported under Unix and on the Alpha (OpenVMS) too.
Note please that I have no commercial interest - these programs are free.

However, you also raise the question of future trends. Yes, I do expect that
in future the user interfaces will be friendly menus as in your favourite
Macintosh package(s), but in sequence analysis I would always stress
the importance of knowing what you are doing and of having a choice of
methods available. If the package is too simple, it becomes useless for
all but the most basic tasks.

Biologists have to learn to use computing as a tool, not just for sequence
analysis but also for the growing variety of network services. Avoiding these
possibilities because they are initially a little difficult is like reading
a tabloid newspaper instead of a broadsheet. It may be easier, but you
miss a lot of important information.

 Peter Rice, EMBL                             | Post: Computer Group
                                              |       European Molecular
 Internet:    Peter.Rice at EMBL-Heidelberg.DE   |            Biology Laboratory
                                              |       Postfach 10-2209
 Phone:   +49-6221-387247                     |       W-6900 Heidelberg
 Fax:     +49-6221-387306                     |       Germany

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