Novel Techniques for Visualizing Biological Information

Alan J. Robinson and Tomas P. Flores

The major challenge facing the bioinformatics community is the continuing increase in the number, size and complexity of biological databases with which it must contend. The goal of the research discussed herein is the development and utilisation of techniques that allow researchers to extract new and useful information from these burgeoning information resources using advanced visualisation methods and paradigms, coupled with distributed object technologies that allow communications between applications and remote databases. Visualisation has roles not only in analysis, but also in building more user-friendly interfaces, implementing methods to navigate large information spaces intuitively and powerful techniques to browse and query data. By using platform-independent object-oriented programming languages, these resources may be developed as reusable pieces of software componentry with their methods and interfaces defined fully, and then distributed through organisations such as the bioWidget Consortium. The widget and object-oriemed approach is a powerful paradigm in developing new applications from existing components. Development time is reduced and greater time is spent on analysing these data, rather than in the writing of monolithic applications. More powerful applications can be constructed from components interacting in concert and offers the opportunity of a new generation of bioinformatics tools.

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