NCBI Vibrant Toolkit

Reinhard Doelz doelz at comp.bioz.unibas.ch
Fri Dec 2 13:20:29 EST 1994

Edie Paul (epaul at NIGHTSHADE.CIT.CORNELL.EDU) wrote:
: I will soon be undertaking the development of a graphical user interface
: that I would like to run on multiple platforms, particularly UNIX and MS
: Windows.  I am considering the Vibrant toolkit for this, but I'd be
: interested in hearing any pros/cons/comments anyone has, 

We use VIBRANT as platform on OSF/1, IRIX, Mac, Windows, and AXP/VMS. 
It is a quite convenient toolkit and certainly worth looking at as an 
alternative to commercial products. Depending on the sophisticatedness 
you might need to invest some time as the callbacks require a lot of 
programming but this is an effect of a GUI and inherent to the method. 

Before you start on Windows, make sure you select a proper compiler - 
we got it running on both Visual C++ from Microsoft (16 bit) and Borland
C++ on the Win32s, but did not look in detail into other products. 
The 'make' utility should be supported as we had problems with Turbo C
from Borland. On the Macintosh we use Think C and successfully solved the small 
problems with the MacTCP package which you must have purchased separately.

We have investigated SUIT as an alternative (University of Virginia), 
but the SUIT routines are much lower-level and require even more 
programming work. Tk/tcl is also an alternative but not necessarily 
a brilliant option if you want to distribute your code as the client 
or remote user must have this installed if he/she wants to run your code.
Check out the Portable GUI Development Kit FAQ from news.answers (Author
Wade Guthrie) for a comprehensive overview including commercial packages.
(SUIT does not currently on Macintosh, which renders it useless for us).

A remark on developing with UNIX/Windows source code compatible systems; 
32 bit programming makes things a lot easier as memory models play a 
significantly smaller role, so if you can afford to force your users 
to go for the extensions then it might be worth to do so. 

There are quite a few demo examples coming with the NCBI distribution. 
VIBRANT non-NCBI examples are available from Don Gilbert's kit in C++. 

Our code is in ftp://bioftp.unibas.ch/archive_data/survival/csource, 
to see how the binaries look on different platforms check out Entrez
or use our code example we developed as part of the Survival Guide, on
ftp://bioftp.unibas.ch/archive_data/survival/binaries. We published 
another piece of code which is a very simple application of VIBRANT, see
ftp://bioftp.unibas.ch/programs/bioftp-sw/Dbcomp/bin for the various 
platforms and ftp://bioftp.unibas.ch/programs/bioftp-sw/Dbcomp/src for
source. Dbcomp was developed by F.Eggenberger in our lab. The sources
are in C as we are programming on today's zoo of all operating systems -
let us know if the code does not run on any of the VIBRANT-supported 
platforms. Without heating the C++ vs Smalltalk vs C war, yes we tried
all of them but C seems to be the only (affordable) language currently.
(In terms of ease of use, API's to other software, licensing fees, 
availability of CASE tools in public domain etc.)

Closing, we appreciate that NCBI makes VIBRANT available and thank the 
developers there, in particular Jonathan Kahns,  for their support.

Reinhard Doelz
EMBnet Switzerland

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