Mac XWindows emulators.....

Dr.Greg Quinn jquinn at nntp.best.com
Mon Mar 11 02:23:58 EST 1996

Chad Price (cprice at molbio.unmc.edu) wrote:
: Andy Law wrote:
: > 
: > In article <4hid6k$rc2 at gazette.bcm.tmc.edu>, pburch at bcm.tmc.edu (Paula
: > Burch) wrote:
: > 
: >  >
: >  >  Instead of just saying that WPI is ghastly, why not say *why* and
: >  >  *for whom* it's ghastly? That would be useful. Just saying it's an
: >  >  abomination, without any explanation of what about the package makes
: >  >  you think this, is less than useful. The program might actually be
: >  >  just the thing for the original poster, even if it doesn't suit you
: >  >  at all.
: >  >
: > 
: > WPI is ghastly because (in its initial incarnation; things may have
: > changed) it is not the slightest bit intuitive. The point of a graphical
: > interface is that it should make things easier to do, not harder. I spent
: > three-quarters of an hour one lunchtime trying to add multiple sequences
: > to a work-list before finally sussing it out and I am not
: > computer-illiterate.
: Andy - I support GCG at a University Medical Center AND at another campus
: which is a 'regular' university campus, so I support somewhere around
: 500 gcg users.  From an Administrator's point of
: view, WPI is exceptionally GOOD.  THe number of questions about the real
: basics of GCG I have to answer has decreased by a very large amount.
: From a computer science point of view, nothing is intuitive until one has
: used it and understands the point of view of the software author. In the case
: you mention above, I would almost bet that you were looking on the .list files
: as a file manager-type of function, which it is not.

I find WPI to be quite usable, with the exception of the totally hopeless 
sequence editing function, inclusion of which seems to imply that GCG were 
not aiming at the 'computer illiterate' market, but rather a better 
interface for the more experienced GCG user (after all, the whole thing 
is simply a command line front-end). That being said, I prefer to use it, 
and when properly set up with a Mac or PC X-server, it's actually
rather nice to use. Coupled with the freeware programs CAP and SAMBA to 
mount the unix file systems on the local Mac or Windows machine 
(respectively), there need be no unix interaction at all. 

: > 
: > The original poster was asking about Macintosh X emulators. His users are
: > therefore conditioned to the Macintosh's comfortable GUI. Putting Mac
: > users into WPI will not be a good experience for the users, and especially
: > for the support staff who will have to field their frustrated questions.
: > 
: I AM the support staff, and putting Mac users on WPI is the best thing  that has
: happened since I started supporting GCG.

Having said that I quite like using the program, I need also to say that so 
far, my experience is that people find interacting with an X prog on a 
Mac is not the same as using a native Mac app. Menus take longer to pull 
down, printing may or may not be local (depending on the network 
arrangement). These are not insurmountable problems by any means, and in 
my opinion, any reasonable graphical interface is preferable to the 
command line for the *vast* majority of people who work in the molecular 
biology field (who are typically not comfortable with a command line 
interface). My question is simply a technical one; why use X at all. When 
the general push is to clients running on PC's and Macs (eg. Network 
Entrez, Netscape, and soon Blast2 clients) why is GCG still pushing an X 
solution? The best we have to look forward to is yet another X interface in 
the Fall (the excellent GDE though). I suspect that GCG has done their 
market research and decided that they are not going to target the mass 
market of young/computer-inexperienced molecular biologists but rather 
the more experienced market that has carried them this far. Can't help 
but feel that's an error. Seems to me that developing GCG native client 
software for a Mac or PC is little more than a final year project for a 
C++ Student.

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