Motivation: The problems caused by the difficulty in visualizing and browsing biological databases have become crucial. Scientists can no longer interact directly with the huge amount of available data. However, future breakthroughs in biology depend on this interaction. We propose a new metaphor for biological data visualization and browsing that allows navigation in very large databases in an intuitive way. The concepts underlying our approach are based on navigation and visualization with zooming, semantic zooming and portals; and on data transformation via magic lenses. We think that these new visualization and navigation techniques should be applied globally to a federation of biological databases.
Results: We have implemented a generic tool, called Zomit, that provides an application programming interface for developing servers for such navigation and visualization, and a generic architecture-independent client (Javatrade mark applet) that queries such servers. As an illustration of the capabilities of our approach, we have developed ZoomMap, a prototype browser for the HuGeMap human genome map database.
Availability: Zomit and ZoomMap are available at the URL http://www.infobiogen.fr/services/zomit.