Entrez & Interfaces...

David Lipman lipman at void.nlm.nih.gov
Mon May 17 09:21:42 EST 1993

We've been following the discussion on Entrez and GUI's and would just
like to add our perspective.  Since most of our resources are committed
to working on the infrastructure of the databases, we're really careful
when we decide to commit what remains for projects like Entrez.  Should
we go "network"? or CDROM?  and what platforms?  We decided to go for
CDROM because IRX already existed to handle online queries, the e-mail
server, and could be set up at remote sites for terminal based
centers.  There was therefore an important gap for "stand alone"
molecular biologists and LANS with fileservers.  Thus, Entrez:
Sequences CDROM.  I would like to point out that with all the interest
in multimedia, etc., many companies are beginning to bundle CDROM
readers with their computers, and it looks like many other companies
are soon to follow.  They may soon be standard equipment, like floppy

Another area that appears to be ready to explode is "Information
Highways" : the High Performance Computer and Communications Initiative -
the more extensive, higher performance successor to Internet.  With
all this attention and money focussed on high speed networking, we've
started working on a host/client system running over Internet that will
allow us a much more extensive range of information and queries.  The
first versions are in beta as Network Entrez, but there'll be others
to follow.

Now it's clear from reading the various postings that not everyone
agrees with our strategy ( there were internal disagreements at NCBI as
well).  We have made the source code available without restrictions,
and though not trivial, several groups have modified the code and
developed other applications that better serve their needs (e.g., Alex
Reisner's group in Australia has a character-based version).  A number
of the messages indicate that people would like alternative ways to get
at the sequence & Medline neighbor information which is contained on
the CDROM.  They might be happy to know that we are also developing
servers here which will be updated daily with this information.  One
additional service therefore will be host/client as well as e-mail
based servers which will be able to return lists of new 'neighbors' for
a given record as of a given date.

As developments progress. we'll keep the community informed through the
bulletin boards and the NCBI newsletter.  But in the meantime, we do
appreciate hearing the comments, suggestions, and criticisms through
e-mail and the bulletin boards,

David Lipman

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