PROSA II - PROtein Structure Analysis available

Lynn F. Ten Eyck teneyckl at
Tue Feb 15 15:42:24 EST 1994

In article <2jkegs$cbd at> Shaw Mr. G, 
shaw at writes:

>The problem is that students get scared off by unfriendly software
>and decide crystallography is not for them. 

True, and unfriendly software also has two very high hidden costs.

    1.  It takes a lot of effort to learn how to use a new program;

    2.  This substantially inhibits the spread of better methods.
        People have too much invested in the old programs, and
        fear the effort required to learn new ones.

>Given the tools and programming skills around, I see no excuse for
>punched card inspired user interfaces on 1990's software. 

Unfortunately, it is still difficult to write *PORTABLE* code
with good user interfaces.  Most of the tools are tied to a 
particularoperating system and/or hardware vendor.  Portable 
software often has to run on a dumb terminal (or a vt100 emulation 
on somebody's PC).  The situation is improving, though, and if you 
are willing to write for a particular area (e.g. Unix boxes with 
Motif) you can do a very good job.

Duncan McRee based XtalView on the XView toolkit, which is 
available for a number of Unix platforms (but not all; we cover 
Sun, SGI, and DECstations at present, and are working on others).  
This has been pretty successful for a very rich user interface.

User interfaces have to consider a) the problem; b) the user; and 
c) the system.  Whenever you write a good piece of software, you 
will be amazed at the systems some people have to run it on.

Lynn Ten Eyck
teneyck at

More information about the Xtal-log mailing list