Getting Real With Electronic Laboratory Notebooks - mylims.org

April 07, 2009

Getting Real is an approach to designing software that emphasizes minimalism, simplicity, and agility. Many in the business view software development as something akin to an arms race in which the product with the most features wins. Getting Real takes the heretical perspective that less software, fewer features, and embracing constraints can work better for everyone.

Over on Zusammen, a review of mylims.org has been posted. The service enables individual chemists to create and mantain collections of spectra and chromatograms that can be shared globally or with a group of collaborators, or kept private.

Rather than attempt to offer an all-in-one "Electronic Laboratory Notebook" (ELN), mylims.org apparently is attempting to solve a smaller, more specific problem.

Over on elnblog, Simon Coles compares the push toward implementing large-scale ELN systems to the push toward implementing large-scale Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems:

Replace "ERP" with "ELN" in this article: Angst in Oak Park over failed PeopleSoft project and you see the story of many “Big” ELN projects in smaller Biotechs (and indeed larger companies!).

ELN systems, like ERPs, can require not just large scale technical adjustments, but large scale cultural adjustments within organizations that adopt them. The larger the organization, the less room for error there is.

A different approach might be more incremental: tackle each specific information management problem separately (for example, spectral data management), while looking for systems that play well together.

mylims.org shows that picking off a single item in the chemistry ELN/LIMS problem space can lead to an interesting and potentially useful product.