Few biological fields have benefited from technological advances as much as genomics. The field could not be where it is today without progress in automated sequencing methods and in software to interpret, annotate, and manage the voluminous data that these automated sequencers churn out. Without this latter development, researchers would be hard pressed to read and understand these gigabytes of data--the equivalent of having an encrypted encyclopedia without a deciphering key. (See related story, Chromosome 22 Provides Human Genome Preview )

Like sequencing technologies themselves, sequence analysis software has evolved substantially from its original incarnation. In the 1980s, before graphical operating systems became standard, these packages primarily consisted of small, command line-based applications. The "GCG® Wisconsin Package™," developed by Genetics Computer Group (GCG) at the University of Wisconsin, was a popular suite of such utilities. Unfortunately, using a variety of separate applications to perform various tasks is tedious, and...

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