Just got back from the ISMB conference in Vienna. Turned out to be a quite busy conference–I barely managed to attend any talks :-)
Prior to the main conference I attended BOSC where I gave a “lightning talk” titled beta.uniprot.org – 5 Lessons Learned. (I had submitted an abstract for a full-length talk but that was eaten by the conference organizer’s spam filter, oh well…) There isn’t much you can say in five minutes, so the purpose of this talk was simply to let people know that there is this new site that may be worth a look in case they hadn’t noticed yet. I did get some people interested, but not interested enough to do a proper workshop afterwards, as I had hoped. Other than that there were some moderately interesting talks such as the usual Bio* project updates. I learned about two interesting projects that I had been unaware of: Galaxy (a simple to set up and use workflow system) and E-Cell 3D (don’t know if this is of any use, but it’s cool). There was also a lot of talk about software development practices etc. Yawn.
The biggest event for me at the main conference was doing a demo of the new UniProt web site. I ended up being one of the few people doing an actual demo (versa just showing a bunch of slides). Fortunately everything worked well–though I had to make use of a copy of the web site I had on a USB drive as there was no Internet connection in the demo room… I also presented a poster on the same topic. Despite the large number of posters I had quite a few people stopping by – need to remember to attach some flyers or something next time I present a poster!
Spent a lot of time at the booths of companies that provide access to UniProt data somewhere in one of their products, looking at how they did so and asking and answering some technical questions. This was most productive with vendors such as CLC Bio and Biomax who seemed to have some actual developers on place.
The “Web Services (SOAP, REST) in bioinformatics” “Birds of a Feather” session was sort of a follow-up meeting to a recent EMBRACE meeting in Geneva where we had committed ourselves to producing a paper on said topic. This will be an interesting experiment as the authors of this paper take opposing views on what the most appropriate way to support programmatic access to bioinformatics data and services is… In any case the BoF session didn’t progress the discussion any as we didn’t stray into controversial waters: We agreed that services ought to be documented. Say what!
Finally, I met quite a few people I had been in contact with but had never–or not for a long time–met face to face. Some would say that’s the main purpose of such conferences! Wearing a UniProt t-shirt (printed just prior to the conference) turned out to be a good idea: I was frequently approached with various questions about UniProt. The two boxes of UniProt pens that had brought along also disappeared quite quickly…