Labii electronic lab notebook (ELN) and laboratory information management system (LIMS)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Extend the usability of your Labii ELN via widgets

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Oftentimes, when doing demos for prospective customers of our Labii ELN we get the question,”What is a widget?” This scenario is common when computer scientists meet research scientists in the lab.  This article will demonstrate the basics of widgets and why Labii implements widgets to Electronic Lab Notebooks.

So What the heck is a widget?

Widgets: They’re those little doo-dads you see on websites, often in the sidebar, that perform one simple function and don’t take up much room while they’re doing it.

A more textbook definition: “A widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship (e.g. a webpage, blog, or profile on a social media site).”

Some common examples of widgets:

Twitter widget: A Twitter widget displays usually 3-5 of your most recent tweets, and also provides a link to your Twitter profile so people can easily follow you. The widget pulls information from your Twitter account and updates the feed to the widget in real time.

Music Player: You’ve probably seen a lot of these on musicians’ pages. Music-playing widgets come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve at least one function: letting people listen to songs.

Calendar: There are a wide variety of calendar widgets out there, but the idea is the same: let people know about your upcoming shows and events.

Why Labii ELN & LIMS uses widgets?

Widgets are widely applied to the platform when 1) in need of extending the functionality, and 2) to meet the specific requirement of each user. The Apple Store is a great example. With these apps, the gamers can play their favorite games, and the artists can create their own music. Believe it or not, the platform of ELN & LIMS meets the above two conditions and applies the concept of widgets.

However, all the existing ELN and LIMS solutions are fixed. The vendors describe the set of features of their product and present it to their customers. When canvassing for ELNs, most researchers go through a series of demos from multiple vendors before arriving to an ELN that meets their current needs.  Once a commitment has been made, customers are oftentimes left in the dark when it comes to asking for special features. Customers can’t seem to do anything about getting a special feature when it’s absolutely required.  The sheer diversity of interests, workflows and preferences within the research community calls out the need for widgets in Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). Labii is the first ELN vendor that has identified such a problem and has come up with the solution using widgets to make it the first REAL cross-disciplinary ELN. Users can select and install widgets to meet their requirements.

What are the widgets in Labii ELN & LIMS?

The widgets at Labii provide infinite extensibility of a single record. A record at Labii can be an experiment note (known as ELN), a reagent, a tube, a sample, a protocol, a location or a file. A Signature widget can be added to an experiment note or a cell line record. A file widget can insert the instructions into an equipment record, et.al.

Labii widgets also meet the requirement of the different research areas. For example, scientists specializing in chemistry can insert a molecular structure into their experiment notes, while scientists specializing in biology can insert a PCR reaction into their experiment notes.

Labii will include widgets to do bioinformatics data analysis and statistical data analysis. With the concept of widgets, we hope to optimize the way scientists document and manage research data, and revolutionize the approach to data analysis.

Draft by Yonggan Wu
Proofread by Matthew Manalac


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