October 1, 2008 (Vol. 28, No. 17)
Strong Points: Good search engine
Weak Points: Needs hierarchy and broader content
Microbial genomes lend themselves nicely to coverage in a single site, and this one dedicated to mycobacterium tuberculosis, hosted by the Pasteur Institute, is one of the best. Key to success in a site like TubercuList is tight organization and an excellent search engine. I’m happy to report that it scores well on the latter, but the former is pretty much left up to the use of the search engine. A relatively small circular map on the opening page is clickable, meaning that clicks on a region will bring up the specific genes in it. In practice, this is more of a gimmick than a useful navigation tool, due to the inability to precisely position a mouse. Fortunately, the search engine can make up for these deficiencies. What the site lacks, though, is a hierarchical organization of information—educational, gene groups, disease, etc. As it stands, the focus is too much on researchers and not enough on the organisms and its broad impacts. For such a global health hazard, this is unfortunate.