9.1 The Growth of Bioperl

The practice of freely distributing Perl software for bioinformatics over the Internet began around 1992. Gradually, Perl became more and more popular for biology applications.[1] The release of Perl Version 5 and its support for object-oriented programming accelerated the development of reusable modules for biology at many research centers around the world. The large-scale genome sequencing efforts, then underway, provided much of the impetus, as well as the talent and funding, for these efforts. The Bioperl project, officially organized in 1995, coalesced around one of these bioinformatics research groups that was doing a good job of organizing the collective volunteer effort such collaborative projects require. More information, including a short history and list of contributors, can be found at the Bioperl site http://bioperl.org. The Bioperl web site is frequently being updated and improved, and is the primary source of Bioperl code and documentation.

[1] See, for example, the article "How Perl Saved the Human Genome Project" by Lincoln Stein at http://bioperl.org/GetStarted/tpj_ls_bio.html.

Today, the Bioperl project has grown to a point where it is both useful enough, and well enough documented, that it is a must for Perl programming in bioinformatics. The documentation includes a program bptutorial.pl that comes with Bioperl, which explains and demonstrates several areas of the project (more on that later in this chapter).