Book ReviewsSoftware Review

Sequence analysis on microcomputers

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Science  02 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4823, pp. 97-103
DOI: 10.1126/science.3659902


Overall, each of the program packages performed their tasks satisfactorily. For analyses where there was a well-defined answer, such as a search for a restriction site, there were few significant differences between the program sets. However, for tasks in which a degree of flexibility is desirable, such as homology or similarity determinations and database searches, DNASTAR consistently afforded the user more options in conducting the required analysis than did the other two packages. However, for laboratories where sequence analysis is not a major effort and the expense of a full sequence analysis workstation cannot be justified, MicroGenie and IBI-Pustell offer a satisfactory alternative. MicroGenie is a polished program system. Many may find that its user interface is more "user friendly" than the standard menu-driven interfaces. Its system of filing sequences under individual passwords facilitates use by more than one person. MicroGenie uses a hardware device for software protection that occupies a card slot in the computer on which it is used. Although I am sympathetic to the problem of software piracy, I feel that a less drastic solution is in order for a program likely to be sharing limited computer space with other software packages. The IBI-Pustell package performs the required analysis functions as accurately and quickly as MicroGenie but it lacks the clearness and ease of use. The menu system seems disjointed, and new or infrequent users often find themselves at apparent "dead-end menus" where the only clear alternative is to restart the entire program package. It is suggested from published accounts that the user interface is going to be upgraded and perhaps when that version is available, use of the system will be improved. The documentation accompanying each package was relatively clear as to how to run the programs, but all three packages assumed that the user was familiar with the computational techniques employed. MicroGenie and IBI-Pustell further complicated their documentation by mixing instructions for the version based on floppy disk operation with that for the hard disk version.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)