DELTA & Graphical User Interfaces

Mike Huben mhuben at WORLD.STD.COM
Mon Oct 30 21:43:01 CET 1995

Prof. Cavalcanti correctly points out that portability is a key issue 
for development of a next generation GUI for DELTA. However, I don't 
think libraries and GUI compatibility kits are the way to go.

Instead, I think that the cleanest solution to the portability problem 
is JAVA, the openly licensed language from SUN that runs inside the 
latest version of Netscape.

The latest version of Netscape has HTML extensions that allow almost 
all the graphical needs you could want: controllable windows and panes, 
loading parts of documents separately, downloading programs and data 
from across the net, etc. You might also edit across the internet with 
a JAVA editor.

The concept is that you download JAVA programs the way you download 
documents (they may be included in documents) and the programs can 
dynamically drive your page. They can summon further 
documents/data/programs from other sites as well. So, you may be able 
to download the latest DELTA in JAVA from Australia with the data from 
anywhere for your favorite taxa from Netscape without ever actually 
having to store or configure anything on your machine. No more multiple 
versions for multiple architectures.

My personal vision of the future is that platforms will support 
internet access operating systems (which is what Netscape/JAVA really 
is.) DELTA in JAVA could be one of the first significant application in 
JAVA that would make good use of the geographic dispersion of 
systematics expertise. The relatively impoverished GUI concepts in the 
web are rapidly becoming (yet another) standard, that will soon be 
common knowledge even for first time users of DELTA.

Mike Huben

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