Different interface needed for V8.0

Reinhard Doelz doelz at comp.bioz.unibas.ch
Mon Jan 23 13:32:41 EST 1995

Ruediger Fritsch (rfritsc at gwdg.de) wrote:
: gquinn <gquinn at com1.med.usf.edu> writes:
: > but rather developing TCP/IP clients that would run on local Macs
: > and PC's, and would connect to a GCG daemon running on the server
: > that would handle program requests, submit them, and send them back 
: Exactly my thinking! Personally I find the GCG X interface
: dissapointing. A clean Mac interface is what the people want (at least
: here at our site). The best of all worlds would be to integrate
: functions like sequence editing into the Mac client and use Mac Apple
: events to talk between the GCG client and, say, Sequencher or other
: nice Mac programs for special functions.

Pardon me to voice my concern on how the demand is expressed here. WPI
is great for the casual user who can afford to run it. People keep telling
us that they can do so, and therefore they get what they deserve. Surely it 
is not _the_ finite word in interface technology, surely it might disapoint
clickety-click Mac fans, and is to be criticized as possibly immature. 
Chances are that GCG will listen to the users and optimize WPI upon comments.
Question being, don't you think that feedback should be considering more 
constructive suggestions? 

(1) The local feedback on the application is a problem which is impossible
to solve without some 'intelligence'. Conditionalities like setting a 
WordSize for a protein sequence, and not a DNA sequence, if a protein sequence
is chosen requires that the sequence is read and analyzed by the client 
_before_ submitting the job, and not coming back with an error message 
after submission. This rules out interfaces like WWW and Gopher (even 
if the question on stateless servers and authentication were solved). 
The suggested VIBRANT interface toolkit is certainly an option, and we 
do appreciate it and use it ourselves for creating intrefeaces to programs. 
However, this affects only the way how you cerate a window. It does NOT 
solve communication (how does the sequence find its way to the host) and 
it does NOT solve authentication and batch submission.  We do development on 
this area and it is a very time-consuming and expensive task to create 
an interface which takes a real dialog client/server rather than just a 
FORMS-like implementation in VIBRANT. Don't forget the graphics - what 
would you suggest as a graphics routine? Quickdraw? GDI? GIF :-) ???

(2) PC and Mac applications talk _very_ different tongues. Apple events 
are easy to program for a Mac programmer, but certainly don 't agree well 
in source code with the corresponding Windows code. Did I hear the word OS/2
or some other operating system? What do you think will it cost to develop
all and everything in parallel on all operating systems for the best of 
the particular operating system's proprietary mechanism? You need to be afraid
that you will not necessarily generate the revenue to pay for such a 
development. Therefore, I would consider TCP/IP to be the most generic 
protocol as understood by most reasonable operating systems. The more 
fancy you want to become the more off-mainstream your development will 

(3) We (and 300 users at our site) appreciate GCG's homogenous (text) inter-
face. Once you understood it in generic terms, many programs will operate 
very similarly. WPI maps this appearance into X-Windows. If you want to 
create a PC/Mac based application doing all this, how would you 
want to modify the programs mentioned above that will allow to feel 
comfortable in a environment where most buttons are at a similar place? 
Surely you might want to use all the public domain tools out there but 
I can tell from experience that tyraining effort and reformatting headache
might become considerable if the use of mixed environment is adopted as 
'campus policy'. Suddenly the 'user-friendliness' is turning opposite.  

Concluding, I think that keeping a text interface which allows commandline
input (like Don Gilbert pointed out) is the most versatile API GCG can 
provide for client/server environments. If the submitters of criticism 
don't like WPI, we as user community may suggest that we would like to 
see a Mac or PC _generic_ window which uses the same terminology and 
command files as WPI in order to lift the burden of generating windows 
on the host. We must be prepared, however, that suggesting this implies 
considerable changes, additions, modifications to the well-known 
environment, and there's a lot of training cost for all researchers there
who have used GCG's command line or WPI already as supplied now. 

My personal opinion - sorry for the length. Sorry for my English, too; I 
did not want to insult anyone or be humorous at some passages. 

Reinhard Doelz

 R.Doelz         Klingelbergstr.70| Tel. x41 61 267 2247  Fax x41 61 267 2078|
 Biocomputing        CH 4056 Basel| electronic Mail    doelz at ubaclu.unibas.ch|
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