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GCG user support

Reinhard Doelz doelz at comp.bioz.unibas.ch
Tue Jul 16 14:09:42 EST 1996

Francois Jeanmougin (pingouin at crystal.u-strasbg.fr) wrote:
: 	Most of us are writting tutorials in several ways, there is
: also a FAQ. I want to know if you are interested in a centralisation
: of this work. At this time, I have an Indy with 300Mo free that can

the need for customization of such a 'central' core documentation will make 
it difficult to have the material collected. Some of us are on VMS, 
some on UN**X, and a very wide range of add-ons, utilities and 
site-specific scripts are provided which make 'life easier' - but are 
not standardized. I have seen people getting quite confused as they switched 
from one site to the other and recognized that their GCG as they knew it 
is suddenly behaving differently - the core database was embl with genbank
exclusion rather than the other way round, and the setplot was different, 
and the x-server was another product, etc. etc ... all these small oddities 
which make a tutorial handy suddenly didn't behave any longer. 

Having realized this, I developed a language for getting site-specific 
modifications in a C-similar syntax (it's just a set of site-specific files 
that got included) and some simple structures for marking up text for latex, 
html and rtf. The reference is on bioftp.unibas.ch in the survival directory
 (please be patient and look around there, I am no longer working at this 
site but I just checked and all the formats of the 3.11 version are still 
there) or CABIOS 11 (1995), 224-226. 

Despite the desire to get the colleagues of the community involved the 
initiative was only partially a success as I added a "shareware" clausel
which should enable private use for free but have site use charged for 
$300 if approved for exposure in a site-specific fashion. Either 
the money was found to be too expensive for the return or I (or the 
publisher, in turn) got involved in rather nasty discussions and debates
with colleagues who thought that there is a right to get a free lunch in 

I am currently writing on the new version and we'll see how the next 
cycle develops. However, I strongly believe that writing tutorials 
in a fashion which can be used by more than one site is a fairly difficult 
(because expensive, in terms of resources) exercise. Unless there 
is some refunding based on the success of a product there's little chance that 
the product can be maintained unless it is sponsored by public funding. 
Having lived in that world for the past decade, we have to realize that 
funding for infrastructural tools is more than difficult to obtain and 
existing sites have a very hard time to survive. Any effort is appreciated - 
if affordable, and unfortunately it is less and less affordable. 



Reinhard Doelz, Basel, Switzerland

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