[BiO BB] Advanced web query interfaces for biological databases

Keith Callenberg kcallenb at email.sjsu.edu
Wed Apr 9 03:07:47 EDT 2008

I am working on the web interface for a fairly complex database that
integrates several different types of data (gene expression, sequence,
annotation). A basic interface for accessing individual records in the
database has already been written, but my lab's biologists would like
to see a more powerful form interface. They would like to be able to
add thresholds on arbitrary fields and set other parameters for
several fields at a time.

I have been pointed to the Query Builder on NCBI's Trace Archive
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Traces/trace.cgi) as the basic concept,
and I can see how that could be implemented with its helpful
auto-complete text, but it seems like it still has quite a learning
curve and is not really very intuitive. I have also found BioCyc.org's
Advanced Query page (http://biocyc.org/query.html) and several others
that are similar or harder to use. AJAX can help, and we plan to
integrate auto-completion of some text, but I would like to build
something powerful and yet intuitive that does not require someone to
read a manual before using. Any suggestions? I suppose innovation in
UI design often starts in other places first so I'd appreciate any
non-biological examples as well.


Keith Callenberg

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