Most bioinformatics programs churn out raw text files bursting with data, but devoid of interpretation. Programmers spend much of their time slogging through these files-computationally speaking – to extract useful information. For nearly 10 years, the bioperl project http://www.bioperl.org has labored to relieve bioinformaticians of this burden, building an object-oriented toolkit that handles the nitty gritty of data format and access so that developers can concentrate on their bioinformatics problems instead.

With modules to parse data files, communicate with databases, and call external programs, data pipelining is an obvious application. But a graphics engine also allows developers to render data visually. In fact, that engine powers the genome browser embedded in both the FlyBase and WormBase databases.

Bioperl version 1.4 adds support for new file formats, scalable vector graphics, restriction enzyme analyses, ontologies, population genetics, and RNAi, among others. It also features greatly improved documentation and "how to" files, says...

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