MOD User Interface Caucus

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The user interface (UI) of a MOD is very important to usability. At the upcoming GMOD meeting (January 18-19 in San Diego at the Town and Country hotel), a day will be devoted to discussing the UIs implemented by various MODs by allowing each MOD to use their UI to answer a variety of user questions. Note that previously we had referred to this as a 'bake-off' but have chosen to 'rebrand' it as a caucus to emphasize the collaborative nature of what we want to happen at the meeting.

The goals of this meeting are for it to be a learning experience, to identify what does and doesn't work well in various situations. Also, we would like to come away with a set of UI 'lessons learned' which hopefully will be useful both for developers of any GMOD-specific UIs as well as the implementers at the various participating MODs.

We aim this as a sharing of experiences on how to best satisfy the needs of scientists seeking genome/organism information. Presentation of methods to arrive at how your MOD[[can best answer scientists questions, more than a tutorial on how to use your MOD, is of interest. We are expecting a varied audience of bioinformaticians and biologists who work with organism/genome databases, or who are learning how to start one. There may well be some drop-ins from the PAG conference.

We've chosen a set of what we hope are common and important questions (below) that scientists asks of MODs: search for name of gene, searching with broader concepts, extracting focused answers, and cross-database facilitation. We hope most presenters can touch on these to give the audience a way to learn the commonalities among MODs, but you may want to focus a presentation on methods used to arrive at these, or talk about your most interesting UI success. This doesn't need to include engineering details, but user-centered design and testing methods are of great interest.

At the end of the day, we hope the experiences you and others share can be distilled by participants into approaches that will work well for many MODs. E.g., a recommendation for all projects to add usability testing, or to have common URLs for genome data, or to have common user interface aspects to aid biologists who surf many MODs.

[*]] MOD in the generic sense of an organism/genome-related database,
defining the M as you would: Model, Many, or My organism.

The common user interface topics for presenters to answer are

  • Search for name of gene, view information (gene page)
  • Search for genes that cause a phenotype or GO association (ie, by some attribute)
  • Generate a customized report on selected aspects of a gene
  • Generate bulk output based on a query
  • Combine the results at your MOD with information from other data sources

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