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The Analyses Database

What is this?

Overview

The Analyses Database is a comprehensive "toolbox" of several programs to archive and to track files. It it is particularly suitable for backup and archival of so-called "raw data" obtained from analytical instruments.

The software was first described in a paper by J. Hau and L. Fay, "Practical Approach to Archival and Retrieval of Analytical Data in the Laboratory", published 2001 [1].

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Principle

The backup and retrieval strategy presented here consists of four elements:

  1. a straightforward and unambiguous scheme for naming of electronic files,
  2. a simple but efficient backup strategy,
  3. a database that holds "metadata" about the analyses and their backup,
  4. and a web-based interface to this database that can be accessed from any workplace.

The database used here is set up using freely accessible tools such as the MySQL database engine, the apache web server in connection with the PHP scripting language and the Linux operating system.

To ensure appropriate user-friendliness, the application is accessible from any workplace via Intranet while still ensuring safe, restricted access (login and password). The code generated is conform to publicly available standards and does not use any browser-specific code, so the application is accessible with any browser and on any platform.

In addition, this solution does not rely on a proprietary code but employs publicly recognised standard formats and protocols. It is freely available under the terms and conditions of the GNU Public License (GPL), thus being open for extensions and custom modifications.

Features

At a glance

Technical Details

System Requirements

The system uses a database and Intranet server that centrally holds data about all analyses performed and their backup location. This server can be a standard, off-the shelf computer (even a rather slow machine) and uses standard Linux tools: A web server (preferably Apache), the MySQL database engine and PHP scripting. The installation is described in detail in the documenation.

Metadata?

A few parsers to extract metadata from several proprietary data formats are provided, notably:

Documentation

The software comes with full documentation: The User's Manual (pdf), the Technical Reference (pdf) and a few README files. Detailed instructions for installation, operational qualification testing and maintenance are provided.

Status: Mature!

The software has been used in the author's (former) laboratory for almost a decade now and has performed flawlessly - thus I have good reasons to believe that it is in a stable state. Since the software is fully operational and has quite a lot of features, there are currrently no plans for further development.

How to get it

License

The Analyses Database and all related software are Free Software and are published under Version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPL). You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms, which ensures that its source code is free and that any derivatization, or implementation of it in other software, will also remain free.

The difference between "free software" and "freeware" is of legal importance. If you do not understand any portion of this license, please seek appropriate professional legal advice. If you do not or if - for any reason - you can not accept all of the conditions of the GPL, then you must not use nor distribute this software.

Support This Project

Download

Since early 2009, this project is hosted at sourceforge.net. To download, you have several possibilities:

Authors

The principal author is Jörg Hau.

Contributions - be it with suggestions, testing, discussions or code - came from many people, notably Sylviane Metairon, Yves Krebs and Laurent Fay. Thank you!

References

[1] J. Hau and L. Fay. Practical Approach to Archival and Retrieval of Analytical Data in the Laboratory. Analyst 126 (2001), 1194-1199. (the article is now freely available).