I took a brief hiatus to complete my relocation and start a new job. While doing that I stopped development work on my electronic lab notebook wiki, called LaRSS (Laboratory Research Support System). However, I got back to development and testing this weekend, and am pleased to announce that LaRSS v1.0 will be released shortly!
One the biggest setbacks I suffered was getting PHP running on a Windows Vista (and a Windows XP) system. It took some tweaking (the tutorials out there are rather outdated), but it's not bad. I'll post my instructions on getting Apache and PHP to play nice on Windows shortly.
On two separate trips this past spring/summer, I met with a few groups that have been working on laboratory enotebook (electronic laboratory notebook) projects. Both projects were wiki-based, and both projects had significant financial and time costs associated with their development.
Since my formal training is in molecular toxicology, I'm used to the idea of keeping a laboratory notebook. Over the years, I have kept various notebooks for my software development projects, and these have largely been in the spirit of laboratory notebooks. Once I took the job directing the bioinformatics and computational biology program at the Gene Expression in Development and Disease Initiative at Michigan State University, I found myself keeping an even more detailed notebook than before, just to keep all of my meetings, notes, and consulting activities straight. It became even more important that I kept copious notes on who I met with, what their needs were, and what I had done to address their needs, and where I was leaving off on a particular project as I moved to another.
Most of that information was being kept in a paper notebook (as I was accustomed to) and it just wasn't working. So I thought, "I'm a bioinformatician, I should be using an enotebook for this!"
That's when I remember what some of my colleagues at the US EPA were designing. So I downloaded and installed dokuwiki, and got to work. About a couple of days later, I had the Laboratory Research Support System (LaRSS).
Here are the key features of LaRSS:
- Project management and listing
- Managing your reading list
- Automatic downloading of abstract and full text paper link from PubMed for papers
- Ability to summarize papers
- Manage meeting notes
- The entire enotebook is searchable
- Ability to run off a flash drive (thumb drive) or a hard drive
- Ability to serve any sized laboratory
I've distributed LaRSS to two laboratories within the GEDD at MSU. I'm currently in the midst of finalizing the first official release (hopefully before the end of August). The version I run for myself uses XAMPP to operate off of my 4GB thumb drive. I also have run it off a hard drive, but I like the flexibility of runnig it off my thumb drive. The releases that I make will have versions embedded in XAMPP, as well as a standalone version for those who know how to install and administer web servers.
Release announcements will be made here and at the main Biocodenv site.