The implementation of Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) can be a complex process. Each user will have specific criteria that LIMS software must meet and classic out-of-the-box implementation will be modified according to these criteria.
As part of a webinar session on 25 February, Applied Biosystems launched its open source SQL*LIMS community, known as the Innovation Center Exchange (ICE). ICE allows source code and applications to be shared within the customer base of SQL*LIMS users, so that specific reports created by one organisation can be viewed and used by likeminded organisations carrying out similar tasks. 'There are currently 40,000 users of SQL*LIMS, which acts as a large source of information,' noted Peter Boogaard, director of LIMS product management at Applied Biosystems.
A subcommittee of Applied Biosystems' Strategic Advisory Board, comprised of 15 key customers in a range of industries, developed the idea of sharing source code and applications within the user community.
'Procedures are in place to maintain a certain level of quality in the code shared,' said Boogaard. The company helps to maintain the quality and completeness of code and applications uploaded into the system, and the development of the repository was undertaken to ensure code is shared legally.
ICE is a searchable repository allowing users to search for code already submitted within their area of interest. For example, forensic laboratories interested in genetic profiling will be able to search the repository for prior reports developed around that area. The code to operate drivers for barcode printers can also be downloaded from ICE. Any reports stored on the system can be also be updated with additional features as users download them and modify them to suit their needs.
At the opening of ICE, more than 80 applications were already active in the repository. These include an ad hoc query tool that can be used on portable devices, such as an iPhone, as well as utilities to add RSS feeds. 'The goal is to have 200 shared applications available for customers within the next month,' commented Boogaard.
'The open source community allows users to react quickly to the data management needs within their industry,' he continued. Allowing customers to share information and knowledge should help the development of the LIMS product.