An attempt to simplify complex discovery software has gone beyond simplification to researcher social networking.
On the theory that interactions among short linear motifs (SLiMs) in proteins may have therapeutic potential, Richard Edwards has been studying such activity among the thousands of proteins within cells. By doing so, the head of the bioinformatics and molecular evolution group at the University of Southampton, U.K., is learning about the signaling pathways in the human body. His chief tool: SLiMFinder, a computer program he wrote that determines whether the properties of a protein are caused by SLiMs.
The program, however, requires scientists to learn complex commands, according to International Science Grid This Week. Those who could (and would) do so were likely to be writing software for their own use. So Edwards approached open-source software developer OMII-UK, which used its Taverna software to help create a workflow for SLiMFinder that automates repetitive tasks. The automation has translated into greater user friendliness--point-and-click action replaces complex commands, increasing SLiMFinder's appeal among researchers.
Use of the Taverna software also allows access to Taverna's myExperiment, a kind of social networking site for Taverna users, encouraging collaboration with other researchers.