New tools for morphological data management

Derek Sikes dss95002 at UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU
Thu Sep 20 15:33:46 CEST 2001


I also would like to add to the comments on cross-platform software:

- From: Roderic D. M. Page

> Since 1996 I've been monitoring the frequency of different operating 
> system used to access the software list at the Taxonomy at Glasgow web 
> site - http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/software.html - and 21% of 
> the 8000 plus hits are from Macs, with 65% from Windows (the rest are 
> various types of Unix). So, you've potentially exclude a large chunk 
> of users.

There are 2 things jump to my mind [esp. in light of there being 
potentially 35% of systematists not restricted to using windows OS]:

1. despite the interest in adding these new tools to Biolink, which is 
already stuck in a single platform development mode, the new Mac OS X is 
really just UNIX with a pretty GUI, so a product written for that OS 
would be easily made available to any flavor of unix- we've seen at 
least 2 very simple, elegant and useful OS X systematics tools appear 
recently: iMap and Carnoy. Plus, OS X can run all the old Mac apps, like 
PAUP and MacClade.

2. and I understand that most of the effort in making a well loved tool 
cross-platform is the time spent on the GUI: There are at least 2 
additional solutions that Tony Garnock-Jones did not mention that bridge 
the platform gap: 4D and FileMaker. Both of these products' design teams 
consider being cross-platform and allowing simple GUI design to be high 
priorities.(THUS SAVING YOU MONTHS OF WORK) AND both of these products 
do not require programmers! they enable point & click creation of very 
complex and powerful databases. Whatever criticisms I have heard about 
the 'weaker power' of these products relative to pure SQL programming 
always fail to justify the time spent (wasted) on GUI/cross platform 
design- or in the case of some, time that is considered too important to 
spend! (thereby creating a product weak in the GUI arena and not cross 
platform).

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but based on my experience with Biolink, and 
knowing these new tools will be add-ons to Biolink, I'll be surprised if 
I ever use them. I suppose it depends on whether these tools will be 
available separately from Biolink. or does one have to use them in 
conjunction?

Yours,
Derek

Derek Sikes
Dept. of Ecology and Evol. Biology U-43
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269  USA

FAX: 860-486-6364

dss95002 at uconnvm.uconn.edu
http://viceroy.eeb.uconn.edu/sikes



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