Fast access to biological databases from your web browser

By Grant Jacobs 24/09/2012

By adding Biobar to Firefox, you can get quick access to searching more than 45 biological data collections via a drop-down menus on your web browser. Click on the Biobar link, you’ll be taken to the Mozilla Add-ons page for Biobar, click on the big green ‘+ Add to FireFox’ button. Wait for the download (it won’t take long), then press ‘Install Now’. You’ll need to restart the browser for the new add-on to be taken up.

Once you’re done you’ll see a new bar added to the browser (boxed):

The search menu on the left gives you access to a wide range of databases,

Have fun! It looks a nifty little tool.

According to the add-on page, Biobar was developed by Jawahar Swaminathan, based in Cambridge (UK), of the PDBe development team. He writes that he “developed biobar out of my own frustration in having to bookmark a 100 different sites for searching data from various sources.” PDBe are on Facebook and Twitter.

PDBe also tell us we can also add quick access to PDBe and EBI services to IE7/8, Google Chrome or Firefox:

It’s a pity these things aren’t available for Opera, or Safari or whatever, but then I did advocate that people use a range of browsers for their different strengths…*


H/T: @PDBEurope

* One day I ought to update coverage of that. I still find to many bugs or ‘gotachas’ to be happy with any one of the browsers.

Other articles on Code for life:

Research project coding v. end-user application coding

External (bioinformatics) specialists: best on the grant from the onset

Choosing an algorithm – benchmarking bioinformatics

Developing bioinformatics methods: by who and how

C’s founder is no more

Safari v. Opera

0 Responses to “Fast access to biological databases from your web browser”

  • It looks useful. I’m not going to use it sufficiently often though, for it to be taking up screen real estate (picky I know but I get annoyed by extraneous clutter). If it we’re activated by a button on one of the current bars like zotero or scribefire, then it’d be a shoo’in to add to my browser.

  • Hi Ben,

    I personally prefer things to be added to the sides, e.g. as slide-out ‘drawers’ (or whatever Apple, etc., has decided to call them now!)

    Horizontal space isn’t such as issue as vertical, particular given the current wide screen formats.

    You can toggle the Biobar on and off, though. Look at View > Toolbars in the Firefox application menu. This might get you somewhere near what you’re after – ?

  • Yes, beggars shouldn’t be choosers. It’s free after all.

    Is there a way to script a key press to toggle on/off a toolbar – ? (I’m being lazy and not looking!)

  • My impression is that the Biobar extension is triggering a known issue in Firefox whereby a grey square takes over a portion of the top-left of the screen while Firefox is the front-most application.

    If others are experiencing this, let me know and I’ll contact the developer. (You can test this by bringing up the list of extensions you have in Firefox [use: Tools > Add-ons], then disabling just Biobar and restarting Firefox.)