New Entity Type Registration

Entity types, i.e. Experiment/Collection, Object and Dataset types, as well as Property types and Controlled Vocabularies constitute the openBIS masterdata. They can be created by someone with Instance admin role in the new Admin openBIS UI.

Note: Material types are also part of the openBIS masterdata. However, they are no longer supported and will be decommissioned soon. They should NOT be used.

The new Admin openBIS UI can be accessed via a URL of this type: https://openbis-xxx/openbis/webapp/openbis-ng-ui/

where openbis-xxx is the name of the server specified in the openBIS configuration file, during the installation by a system admin.

Register a new Object Type

  1. Select Types -> Object Types from the menu.

  2. Click Add at the bottom of the page.

  1. Enter a Code. E.g. INSTRUMENT. This is the name of the Object to create and is unique. Please note that Codes should be in capital letters, and they can only contain A-Z, a-z, 0-9 and _, -, .

  2. Provide a description (not mandatory).

  3. Entity validation plugin is used when we want to have validation on some data entries. This is done via a custom script (see Entity Validation Scripts)

  4. Enter the Generated Code Prefix. As a convention, we recommended to use the first 3 letters of the Object type code (e.g. INS, in this case). This field is used by openBIS to automatically generate Object codes: the codes will be for example INS1, INS2, INS3, etc.

  5. Leave Generate Codes selected if you want to have codes automatically generated by openBIS.

  6. Unique Subcodes is used for contained objects, which are not used in the ELN. Ignore this option.

  7. Click Add Section at the bottom of the page. Sections are ways of grouping together similar properties. Examples of sections used in the ELN are General infoStorage info, Experimental Details, etc.

  1. Add properties inside the Section, by clicking the Add Property button at the bottom of the page. To remove a property, use the Remove button at the bottom of the page.

  1. Click Save at the bottom of the page.

Please note that new Object types created in the admin UI, do not automatically appear in ELN drop downs, but they have to be manually enabled, as described here: Enable Objects in dropdowns

Registration of Properties

When registering new properties, the fields below need to be filled in.

  1. Code. Unique identifier of the property. Codes can only contain A-Z, a-z, 0-9 and _, -, .

  2. Data Type. See below for data types definitions.

  3. Label. This is the property/column header that the user can see in the ELN.

  4. Description: The description is shown inside a field, to give hints about the field itself. In most cases, label and description can be the same.

  5. Dynamic Property Plugin: Script for calculated properties. See Dynamic properties

  6. Editable: Editable in the ELN interface. In some cases, metadata is automatically imported by scripts and this should not be changed by users in the interface.

  7. Mandatory: Field can be set as mandatory.

Property Data Types

  1. BOOLEAN: yes or no

  2. CONTROLLEDVOCABULARY: list of predefined values

  3. DATE. Date field


  5. INTEGER: integer number

  6. MATERIAL. Not used in ELN. It will be dismissed.

  7. MULTILINE_VARCHAR: long text. It is possible to enable a Rich Text Editor for this type of property. This is described here: Enable Rich Text Editor or Spreadsheet Widgets

  8. REAL: decimal number

  9. OBJECT. 1-1 connection to a specific object type.

  10. TIMESTAMP: date with timestamp

  11. VARCHAR: one-line text

  12. XML: to be used by Managed Properties (see openBIS Managed Properties and for Spreadsheet components, as described here:Enable Rich Text Editor or Spreadsheet Widgets

Considerations on properties registration

  1. If you create a property with code “PROJECT”, you should not use the label “Project”. This will give an error if you use XLS Batch registration/update, because openBIS considers this to be an openBIS Project.

  2. You should not assign more than 1 property with same label to the same Object type. If two or more properties with the same label are present in the same Object type, this will result in an error in the XLS Batch registration/update.

Controlled Vocabularies

Controlled vocabularies are pre-defined lists of values for a given field.

Existing Vocabularies can be visualised from the Types -> Vocabularies Tab. Vocabularies staring with the “$” symbol are internal: they cannot be deleted and their terms cannot be deleted. However, it is possible to add new terms to these vocabularies and these can also be deleted.

New Vocabularies can be added, by clicking the Add button at the bottom of the page.

When registering a new vocabulary, a Code for the vocabulary needs to be entered. This corresponds to the name of the vocabulary, and it is a unique identifier. Codes can only contain A-Z, a-z, 0-9 and _, -, .

To add terms to the list click Add Term at the bottom of the page. Vocabulary terms always have a code and a label: the code is unique and contain only alpha-numeric characters; labels are not necessarily unique and allow also special characters. If the label is not defined, codes are shown.

After creating the vocabulary and registering the terms, remember to Save.

Register a new Experiment/Collection type

The registration of a new Collection type is very similar to the registration of Object types. For Collection Types, you only need to provide a Code (which is a unique identifier), Description and add a validation plugin if you want to have metadata validation (see Entity Validation Scripts).

Register a new Dataset type

The registration of a new Dataset types is similar to the registration of object types.

It is possible to disallow deletion for a given dataset type.

Enable Rich Text Editor or Spreadsheet Widgets

For certain fields, it is possible to enable the use of a Rich Text Editor (RTE) or a spreadsheet component. Instance admin rights are necessary for this.

The RTE can be enabled for properties of type MULTILINE_VARCHAR. The spreadsheet component can be enabled for properties of type XML.


  1. Properties are defined when creating new entity types (Datasets, Objects, Experiments/Collections)

  2. To set a property as RTE or spreadsheet go to the Settings, under Utilities


  4. Enable editing and scroll down to the Custom Widgets section

  5. Click the + button on the same line as Property Type and Widget, as shown below

  6. A new field will appear where you can select the property type and the widget. Choices are: Word Processor (=RTE) or Spreadsheet.

image info

Updated on October 19, 2022

Enable Objects in dropdowns

By default, no Object shows in dropdown menus. Which object types should show in dropdown menus can be customised from the Settings.

  1. Navigate to the Object Type definitions Extension

  2. Open one Object Type (e.g. Antibody)

  3. Select show in drop downs

  4. Save the Settings

image info

Updated on October 19, 2022

Register masterdata via Excel

It is possible to register openBIS masterdata using an Excel template from the admin UI.

This can be done from the Import menu under the Tools sections, as shown below. Three options can be chosen for the import:

  1. fail if exists: if a type or a property already exists in the database, the upload will fail.

  2. ignore if exists: if a type or a property already exists in the database, the upload will ignore this.

  3. update is exists: if a type or a property already exists in the database, the upload will update existing values.

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An example template of an Excel masterdata file can be found here: masterdata-template

Please note that in the template we used separate spreadsheets for each type (Sample, Experiment, Dataset), but it is also possible to have everything in one single spreadsheet.

Modifying existing types

If you wish to add a new property to an existing Collection/Object/Dataset type, you need to:

1. add the property in the file

2. increase the version number of the Collection/Object/Dataset type

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3. use Ignore if exists as upload method. In this case, only the new property is added to the type.

The import on the admin UI allows to register entities in addition to masterdata. An example template file for this can be found here: masterdata-metadata

More extensive documentation on the XLS format for masterdata and metadata registration can be found here.

Updated on January 13, 2023

Properties overview

The overview of all properties registered in openBIS and their assignments to types is available under the Types section in the admin UI, as shown below.

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Updated on March 1, 2022

Internal properties and vocabularies

Some properties and vocabularies are internally defined in openBIS.

These can be identified by the $ sign.

Internal properties (e.g. $NAME, $BARCODE, etc) cannot be deleted nor modified, not even by an instance admin.

Internal vocabularies (e.g. $DEFAULT_COLLECTION_VIEWS, etc), cannot be deleted and their existing terms cannot be deleted nor modified, however an instance admin can add new terms to an internal vocabulary.

Updated on January 5, 2023