Userscripts for the Life Sciences
1 Cologne University Bioinformatics Center, Cologne University, Cologne, Germany
2 Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, Cambridge, UK
3 School of Informatics, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
4 Wilhelm-Schickard-Institut, Center for Bioinformatics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:487 doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-487Published: 21 December 2007
The web has seen an explosion of chemistry and biology related resources in the last 15 years: thousands of scientific journals, databases, wikis, blogs and resources are available with a wide variety of types of information. There is a huge need to aggregate and organise this information. However, the sheer number of resources makes it unrealistic to link them all in a centralised manner. Instead, search engines to find information in those resources flourish, and formal languages like Resource Description Framework and Web Ontology Language are increasingly used to allow linking of resources. A recent development is the use of userscripts to change the appearance of web pages, by on-the-fly modification of the web content. This opens possibilities to aggregate information and computational results from different web resources into the web page of one of those resources.
This paper discusses a number of userscripts that aggregate information from two or more web resources. Examples are shown that enrich web pages with information from other resources, and show how information from web pages can be used to link to, search, and process information in other resources. Due to the nature of userscripts, scientists are able to select those scripts they find useful on a daily basis, as the scripts run directly in their own web browser rather than on the web server. This flexibility allows the scientists to tune the features of web resources to optimise their productivity.