LabTrove is a blogging platform specifically designed for use in a research environment. It aims to serve as a highly flexible electronic notebook and data management system by integrating with a lab’s data-producing instruments; researchers can describe an experiment and associate it with its data output at the time of capture, rather than annotating after the fact.
University of Southampton
Licensing and cost
The software is distributed under the 3-Clause BSD Licence and is free of charge.
LabTrove Version 2.3 was released in February 2013. The software was part of the larger Smart Research Framework (SRF) project, which developed it to make it suitable for provision as a cloud-based service.
Platform and interoperability
LabTrove is intended for use as a Web service rather than as a desktop application. It was developed for Linux systems; installation instructions are for Debian, but the application has been tested successfully with Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS. The project offers an all-in-one download bundle that includes the required software Apache Web Server and MySQL. Alternately, users may manually install the prerequisites, or obtain a preconfigured Virtual Machine image. LabTrove templates can be shared using myExperiment. The system links with the MIT Simile projects to provide pivoted TimeLine and Exhibit views. Integration with some lab instruments is possible through LabBroker, a middleware component also being developed as part of the SRF project.
LabTrove uses a plug-in based architecture, allowing researchers to adapt the system to their particular lab setup. The system uses a complex metadata framework for classification; however, it does not support existing external vocabularies or data models. LabTrove posts cannot be deleted; the software instead implements a strict versioning system. Lab members can provide input through comments and by linking blog entries together. A template option allows users to create standardised blog posts. LabTrove exports posts in XML or as a PNG image.
Documentation and user support
LabTrove has online documentation in the form of a wiki. (An older version of the wiki can be found on Sourceforge.) Users can request features and report bugs through Sourceforge. The site also lists a general enquiry contact email.
LabTrove uses a simple web interface for its blogging functions.
Installation and configuration requires familiarity with Linux, and general system administration knowledge. Integration with current lab systems and instruments requires knowledge of application design and implementation.
LabTrove posts can be exported as XML. Content can be published to the public domain via standard protocols such as Sitemaps and RSS Feeds.
Influence and take-up
The site advertises a number of pilot instances in disciplines such as Chemistry, Physics and Engineering.