A prototype molecular interactive collaborative environment (MICE).Pac Symp Biocomput. 1998PS
Illustrations of macromolecular structure in the scientific literature contain a high level of semantic content through which the authors convey, among other features, the biological function of that macromolecule. We refer to these illustrations as molecular scenes. Such scenes, if available electronically, are not readily accessible for further interactive interrogation. The basic PDB format does not retain features of the scene; formats like PostScript retain the scene but are not interactive; and the many formats used by individual graphics programs, while capable of reproducing the scene, are neither interchangeable nor can they be stored in a database and queried for features of the scene. MICE defines a Molecular Scene Description Language (MSDL) which allows scenes to be stored in a relational database (a molecular scene gallery) and queried. Scenes retrieved from the gallery are rendered in Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) and currently displayed in WebView, a VRML browser modified to support the Virtual Reality Behavior System (VRBS) protocol. VRBS provides communication between multiple client browsers, each capable of manipulating the scene. This level of collaboration works well over standard Internet connections and holds promise for collaborative research at a distance and distance learning. Further, via VRBS, the VRML world can be used as a visual cue to trigger an application such as a remote MEME search. MICE is very much work in progress. Current work seeks to replace WebView with Netscape, Cosmoplayer, a standard VRML plug-in, and a Java-based console. The console consists of a generic kernel suitable for multiple collaborative applications and additional application-specific controls. Further details of the MICE project are available at http:/(/)mice.sdsc.edu.