Friday, May 26, 2006

Browser wars

I'm considering helping out with a genome hacking project and would like a genome browser to facilitate this. It turns out that genome browsers are like C++ string classes: everybody's got one. Consider the following sample, just off the top of my head:

- Apollo: "
a Java-based application for annotating genomic sequences"
- Gbrowse: "
a combination of database and interactive web page for manipulating and displaying annotations on genomes" [from the same distribution as Apollo ....]
- Argo: "a production tool for manually annotating and visualizing whole genomes", from the MIT/Harvard Broad Institute
- The software underlying the UCSC Genome Browser
- A browser explicitly targeted at synthetic biology, with the drawback that the fellow developing it probably won't be spending much more time on it, because he's graduating and going back to a real job.

In other words, forget about Netscape vrs IE vrs Firefox vrs Opera -- now it's all about the browser within the browser. Maybe in a few years we'll have a browser-within a browser-within a browser war ...

In any case, I could just try them all out and see which one works the best. Or I could do what a "real" programmer would do: arrive at the foregone conclusion that all of them suck, that I can do better, and write my own, a thing I am sorely tempted to do, mainly because it's been years and years since I wrote any substantial chunks of code. The flip side is that this would involve having to write user interface code, something I've always avoided like the plague. Then again, learning a bit about all the AJAX hype would probably be a good thing in terms of keeping my technical knowledge reasonably current.


Blogger Son1 said...

Argo is good, I can vouch for that.

But yo, Alex... you should come talk to me :-).

1:16 PM  

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