Get With the Program: DIY tips for adding coding to your analysis arsenal

A new article in The Scientist magazine by Jeffrey M. Perkel shares some coding advice from Cole Trapnell, C. Titus Brown, and Vince Buffalo (I interviewed Vince in my last blog post). It is a great article, and worth a look. I particularly enjoyed this piece of advice (something that is not mentioned enough):

Treat data as "read-only"
Use an abundance of caution when working with your hard-won data, Buffalo says. For instance, “treat data as read-only.” In other words, don’t work with original copies of the data, make working copies instead. “If you have the data in an Excel spreadsheet and you make a change, that original data is gone forever,” he says.

I have seen too many students double click on FASTA, GFF, and other large bioinformatics text files and end up 'viewing' them in some inappropriate program (including Microsoft Word). If you want to view text data, use a text viewer (such as less).