OpenWetWare:Feature list/Lab notebook/2007 Oct Brainstorming/Barry

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  • 5th year grad student in synthetic biology
  • Currently using a private wiki as a lab notebook

How I use my lab notebook

  • I try to record lots of information about my experiments and occasionally succeed.
  • Very often, my lab notebook is a place to think and to plan "on paper".
  • Because of the context I work in, having time stamping and a perfect record of everything I've done is not essential.
    • My advisor doesn't want to see my lab notebook and I doubt anyone else will anytime soon.
  • I don't expect to be able to do much data-processing on-line, I expect that will have to live in client-side applications like MATLAB.


  • I don't want the lab notebook to enforce a new system on me, flexibility is crucial! I just want new tools to make what I already do easier.
  • If those tools are well-chosen, they should be useful to people who do things differently to me as well.

Features I'd like to see

What could we do on a six-month timescale that would make it much easier to keep a lab notebook on the wiki?"

  • Ability to browse by project and date (through my own muddling and Austin's help I can do this already.
  • While browsing by project is the most important thing to me, some tailored search would be useful.
    • In particular, search for particular objects would be very useful. For example, searching for all instances of a particular BioBrick or reagent.
  • Automated cross-referencing, I'd like the notebook to automatically generate links for some items such as -
    • Dates: xx/xx/xx ->[[Lab Notebook/xx/xx/xx|xx/xx/xx]]
    • BioBricks: BBa_XXXXX -> [ BBa_XXXXX]
    • Strains, maybe reagents and protocols. These objects could be based on an ontology gathered from the materials/protocols pages of OWW.
  • Streamlining of the process of uploading and linking to gel images. The vast majority of files I upload are gel images.
  • Because I use my notebook for planning, I'd like it to have some to-do list capabilities and the ability to always show me the next action for all the projects I'm working on (nod to the GTD nerds).
  • When I'm doing experiments, I want to return to my notebook multiple times to add short notes during the day rather than for one long session. For that reason, it's imperative that I not have to log in every time, that I have "one-click" access to I've edited recently (special recent changes on the main notebook page?) and that I can leave pages open for editing for hours at a time (should we have autosaving?).