Convergence or Divergence on Software Tools At the first NoBugs, Grenoble 1996, attendees completed questionnaires summarising their current electronics, systems and software, with modest predictions on the potential changes envisaged over the following two years. Today the variety of electronics and systems has been reduced by market forces. Intelligent data acquisition and data treatment are still far from being integrated. Sophisticated ab initio modelling computation is performed most easily by acquiring systems matching that of the developers; network access and client-server tools make these generally available. There remains today the major problem of dealing with elderly but well-tested legacy programs, typically running under Unix (now including Linux and Macintosh OS-X), whilst the current generation of scientists, especially occasional users, would prefer a PC-Windows solution. Newer applications have taken to the path of using commercial packages, which offer system independence at a price; this contraint alone is sufficient to limit community activities due to the costs involved. The NoBugs meeting is a fine forum to review this problem and discuss guidelines for directing software development towards a selection of recommended tools.
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