BITS and NCBI toolkit

Peter Karp pkarp at AI.SRI.COM
Thu Feb 7 14:52:07 EST 1991

  [ I am reposting this announcement for those who may be interested in
    the BITS mailing list and/or the NCBI software toolkit announcement. ]
         Biotechnology Information Toolkit Software (BITS)
      Are you a developer of molecular biology software or databases?  NCBI has
  an automatic rebroadcast email address on which it will announce releases of
  software and databases.  This is for those actively interested in developing
  software or databases.  It is not aimed at end users.
      To join, send your name, address, and email address to:
                   bits-request at
      An introduction and an announcement of our first major software tools
  release follows.
      The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) was created by
  an act of the U.S. Congress in November 1988 in recognition of the essential
  and growing role of bio-informatics in the development of biotechnology and
  medicine in the United States. The law specifically mandates that NCBI shall:
  1)  Create automated systems for knowledge about molecular biology,
  biochemistry, and genetics.
  2)  Perform research into advanced methods of analyzing and interpreting
  molecular biology data.
  3)  Enable biotechnology researchers and medical care personnel to use the
  systems and methods developed.
  4)  Coordinate efforts to gather biotechnology information worldwide.
      As part of a broad program to meet these goals we are developing new
  databases, publically available software tools for exchanging data or
  accessing public databases, and are encouraging active collaboration and
  contributions from the community.  We welcome the participation of academic,
  commercial, and government developers and encourage the free use of our
  software tools by all interested parties.
                     ASN.1 Tools Announcement
      We are announcing the availability of version 1.0 of the NCBI core tools
  for building portable software, and AsnTool, a collection of routines for
  handling ASN.1 data and developing ASN.1 software applications.  AsnTool is
  built using the coretool routines.  This is a mature Beta release of software
  intended for software developers and database builders.  This is not useful
  for end users.  It is, however, a base on which to build end user
      The NCBI Core Tool routines a set of basic functions for interacting with
  users, handling memory, dates, strings, I/O etc, written in C, which we have
  demonstrated are portable across the following platforms:
  IBM-PC '286 and '386
           Microsoft C
           Borland C
      Microsoft Windows
           Microsoft C
  Macintosh II
      Think C
      MPW C
      Silicon Graphics
      IBM 3090
  This release of the Core Tools does not include the portable windowing system
  being developed at NCBI.
      AsnTool is a collection of functions written using the Core Tool Library,
  and operating on all the above platforms.  The functions are for reading and
  writing ASN.1 encoded data in both ASCII and binary forms.  It incorporates
  extensive error checking.  The functions are meant to be included in user
  applications.  Three demonstration programs are included showing this use.
      The process of building the core tools and AsnTool functions will also
  produce an application, asntool.  This application can read and error check
  ASN.1 specifications, read, write, and error check ASCII and/or binary data
  files in ASN.1, and produce an #include file defining the specification for
  use in applications developed using the AsnTool function library.
      A single tar compressed file containing source for all supported
  platforms in available for anonymous ftp at
           cd toolbox\ncbi_tools
           bin                   (for binary transfer)
           get ncbi.tar.Z
      When uncompressed and untarred, it will produce a directory "ncbi" which
  contains a number of subdirectories and a README explaining installation. 
  There is a \doc directory containing manuals for coretool and asntool, which
  you should read.
      Further ASN.1 specifications for sequence data and additional function
  libraries will be announced on BITS.  
      Jim Ostell
      Chief, Information Engineering Branch
      National Center for Biotechnology Information

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