[Pipet Devel] Re: Quest for Understanding.

J.W. Bizzaro jeff at bioinformatics.org
Tue Sep 26 21:52:14 EDT 2000

Hi Josh.  Thanks for the quest.  I'm probably the most appropriate person to
answer your questions, since I am the sub-project leader for Piper's user
interfaces.  But, I'd like Nile Geisinger (BlueBox developer) to comment as

Josh Prismon wrote:
> 1) The idea of distributed componets and routing are all very well and good
> (and needed) but it still does not address one of the biggest problems with
> the OS world. Inconsistant Metaphor. The user interface is not very well
> defined at all (Bluebox?)

This question may be best for Nile, but I'll add my $0.02.  I believe there
are certain user interface components and events that are common to the major
UI toolkits on various platforms.  If a UI for Piper is to be cross-platform,
it is that minimal set of components and events that will be defined and
used.  I believe this applies to BlueBox.

But, I'm not sure if that's the concern you're trying to express.  When you
say that the user interface is not well defined, do you object to there being
custom widgets that work on only one platform?  Are you arguing for a

> 2) If one is going to write a user interface that runs off of this, why
> re-invent the wheel w/ bluebox? Mozilla's XUL is designed for problems like
> this, and Mozilla can easily be extended because of the quality of it's
> object model and plug in structures. Plus it would also give us something
> that I really did not see harped on. COMPATABILITY WITH WINDOWS. Ignore 90%
> of the Computer market at your own peril.

Right, I agree with you in general.  The problem, however, is not that we are
trying to ignore Windows but that we don't have anyone to develop for it :-) 
My personal project is the Pied/Piper UI, which is GNOME/GTK-based and allows
the run-time configuration of networks by the user.  It could be written to
work on Windows as well.

BlueBox actually does plan on supporting Windows, but without the network
configuration abilities of Pied.  However, I don't believe they have anyone
working on that at the moment.

Then there's Mozilla.  It wasn't my first choice for a UI, or Nile's, because
of its size.  But, we were hoping for WWW integration with Piper, and a
Mozilla client may be the way to do it.

> 3) Backend is all well and good. Can we hook up a Object Database (Zope's
> Zobj for example?). I would really like a way to connect to a server and
> ask:

Oh yeah, database connectivity is ABSOLUTELY a feature of Piper, and it's one
of the first things Brad Chapman has worked on.  Check these links out for
ideas on how the Pied/Piper UI might be used for database querying/mining:


> If this is possible, count me in on this project. I would love to focus on
> client interface and windows compatibility.

It sure is possible :-)

It seems you have a pretty good understanding of what we want to accomplish,
and you're welcome to working on anything you want: Windows, Mozilla,
databases, etc.  There's LOTS to do, and that's an understatement :-)  But,
we're committed.  I've been with the Loci end of the project since 1998 and
have written 1,362+ e-mails (I just did a search, and yes that is amazing)
about the system.

Let me know if and how you want to proceed, and I can set you up.

J.W. Bizzaro                                           jeff at bioinformatics.org
Director, Bioinformatics.org: The Open Lab     http://bioinformatics.org/~jeff
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
               -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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