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Open Access Software

Technical development of PubMed Interact: an improved interface for MEDLINE/PubMed searches

Michael Muin* and Paul Fontelo

Author affiliations

Office of High Performance Computing and Communications, National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2006, 6:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-6-36

Published: 3 November 2006

Abstract

Background

The project aims to create an alternative search interface for MEDLINE/PubMed that may provide assistance to the novice user and added convenience to the advanced user. An earlier version of the project was the 'Slider Interface for MEDLINE/PubMed searches' (SLIM) which provided JavaScript slider bars to control search parameters. In this new version, recent developments in Web-based technologies were implemented. These changes may prove to be even more valuable in enhancing user interactivity through client-side manipulation and management of results.

Results

PubMed Interact is a Web-based MEDLINE/PubMed search application built with HTML, JavaScript and PHP. It is implemented on a Windows Server 2003 with Apache 2.0.52, PHP 4.4.1 and MySQL 4.1.18. PHP scripts provide the backend engine that connects with E-Utilities and parses XML files. JavaScript manages client-side functionalities and converts Web pages into interactive platforms using dynamic HTML (DHTML), Document Object Model (DOM) tree manipulation and Ajax methods. With PubMed Interact, users can limit searches with JavaScript slider bars, preview result counts, delete citations from the list, display and add related articles and create relevance lists. Many interactive features occur at client-side, which allow instant feedback without reloading or refreshing the page resulting in a more efficient user experience.

Conclusion

PubMed Interact is a highly interactive Web-based search application for MEDLINE/PubMed that explores recent trends in Web technologies like DOM tree manipulation and Ajax. It may become a valuable technical development for online medical search applications.