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 - - 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 

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 


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

FAX: 860-486-6364

dss95002 at

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