Is There Interest In An Ios Bioinformatics "Toolkit"?
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13.1 years ago

I'm currently creating a small "toolkit" application for iPad/iPhone that can perform functions like BLAST web-service searches and the like for my department, it's very crude right now. My question is: Is there demand in the Bioinformatics community for mobile applications like this? Would they be useful in your day to day work and what kind of "tools" would you like to be able to use in this way?

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It would be very useful! I often wonder what is the best alignment of a sequence just before going to bed, or on the bus to the resturant and being able to check it on the iPhone would be invaluable. If I could also tweet the results to my friends and post it on Facebook, it would be the killer app!

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@Stefano I just can't tell whether you are being sarcastic or not. :P

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@Stefano I also can't tell! This is a serious question. I'm not trying to create some sort of pointless social application. I want to know if anybody could seriously use something like an iPad to visualise data sets in a convenient way.

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13.1 years ago

I must admit, I can't see the point. I do my work from my desk, which has 3 computers on it. I do own an iPhone and an iPad (I'm typing this on the latter), but they are leisure devices, not work tools. They both have perfectly good ssh clients, for if I absolutely have to do something right now, but that is not a situation that arises very often.

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Would visualisation of data be a valid use? I was surprised that my lecturers spend most of their time buried in reams of text that they themselves barely understand even though they produced it.

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I use my iPad for work purposes and for leisure too, but primarily the former!

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Agreed. I don't think such a tool would be particularly useful.

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I agree too, most bioinformatics problems such as sequence alignment do use a lot of cpu, and hence in these devices they would just eat up the battery power in the blink of an eye, even if it's a visualization tool, i doubt it would be more useful than bringing your laptop.

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13.1 years ago
Burke ▴ 290

There already exists an Objective-C / iOS bioinformatics toolkit called BioCocoa. It is described as "an open source OpenStep (GNUstep/Cocoa) framework for bioinformatics written in Objective-C."

The library maybe found here: http://www.bioinformatics.org/biococoa

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Yeah I'm aware of BioCocoa, but what I'm making isn't a general library, It's for more specific purposes.

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13.1 years ago

I think your toolkit would need to fill a need that cannot be easily addressed with a web service.

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Well, this seems not to be the idea of an app. Apps are made for paying people which are too lazy to open a free website in their Browser.

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13.1 years ago

I think perhaps a sort of portal app would be useful, that brings access to several of these sort of web based utilities together in one convenient location? It would need to link with DropBox or some cloud storage API to access data files, as the file system on (non-jailbroken) iPad/iPhone's etc is inaccessible!

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This is essentially what I'm going for, yes, along with visualisation of any data processed/generated by these web services. You can, in recent firmware versions at least, have local storage of data on a per-app basis on iPhone/iPad now. Files can be added through iTunes or even over WiFi/Dropbox/WebDAV.

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Interesting that I found this by accident today. I'm kicking around something very similar. Maybe we can collaborate. My interests lie largely in molecular evolution (trees!) and metagenomics. Interested in collaborating on some development?

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13.1 years ago
Hägar ▴ 10

Well, I don't see the need for such an app. Most work can be done by using the established Web Services by using the Browser. A self-implementation of many algorithms will be limited by the poor computational power of mobile devices in comparison to desktop PCs.

I usually have all my data on my working PC and I neither like to store it on twenty different places nor do I like to send it to untrusted services.

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I must stress that NO computation would be performed locally by the device. Although the iPad 2's processor is really quite powerful for a mobile device, the app would use currently existing web-services to process data and then consume the results.

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12.6 years ago
Sean • 0

This would defintely be useful for me to be able to contiue on the go. I do not wish to sit at a computer and do long hours of work so often I use my ipad as an alternative. This would be one more thing i can take out of the office and into the field with me.

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