BioRails is an Open Source Biological Information Management System (BIMS) based on Ruby on Rails. The BioRails team expects the first release to be available sometime in December 2006. From the BioRails FAQ:
A BIMs is a Biological Information Management System. BIMS are used to support the process of discovery research. The objective of a BIMS is to to persist the biological results in a searchable database that will support both quality control of the data being generated and, when integrated with chemistry systems, support the process of compound progression decision-making.
BioRails has a great deal of potential, and it will be interesting to see the system up close when it is released. Many areas of science, particularly chemistry, have been slow to embrace the Web as the powerful application development platform that it is. BioRails and projects like it have the potential to change not only the way that scientific software is deployed, but the nature of scientific collaboration itself.