Lab Notebook

In the most common use-cases, the Lab Notebook part of the openBIS ELN-LIMS contains a personal Space (i.e. folder) for each scientist. Within this Space, scientists can organise their work using the openBIS Projects, Experiments and Objects.

An openBIS Experiment is defined as a specific scientific question. The individual attempts to answer this question, are Objects of type Experimental Step. At this level, the user can create links to materials and methods registered in the Inventory that were used to perform the Experimental Step. These are entered as Parents of the Experimental Step. All data produced in the Experimental Step and further processed and analysed can be added at this level.

It is also possible to organise the Lab Notebook on Projects, rather than on personal Spaces. This should be configured by an Instance admin.

Register Projects

In a personal folder, users can register one or more Projects they currently work on. Projects in openBIS only have a Description field, no additional fields can be added.

  1. Navigate to the relevant Space in the Lab Notebook menu and click the + New Project image info

  2. Should you have an empty page, select Show Identification Info and Show Description from the More… dropdown

  3. Projects do not have a Name field, but only Code. Codes can only take alphanumeric characters and no spaces. Codes are prettified in the Main Menu.

  4. Enter a Description for the project.

  5. Click Save on top of the form.

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In the More… dropdown you have additional options on what you can do in the Project folder, as shown below.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Register Experiments

Inside one Project, a user can register several Experiments, which can in turn be divided into single Experimental Steps.

To register one Experiment:

  1. Navigate to the relevant Project in the Lab Notebook menu

  2. Select Default Experiment from the +New dropdown, as shown below. Please note that your openBIS instance might have different types of Experiments, depending on image info

  3. Fill in the relevant fields in the form.

  4. Select Show in project overview = true if the Experiment is important and should be shown in the Project form.

  5. Click Save on top of the form.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Register Experimental Steps

As mentioned above, the various steps executed when performing an Experiment in the lab can be registered in openBIS as  Experimental Steps or Entries.

The default Experimental Step has pre-defined fields, as shown below:

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An Entry, is a blank page, with no pre-defined fields:

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To register a default Experimental Step or Entry:

  1. Navigate to the relevant Experiment in the Lab Notebook menu and click the + New button, as shown below.

  2. Select Experimental Step or Entry

  3. Fill in the relevant information or select an available template from the list (see below).

  4. If Show in project overview is set to true, this Experimental Step or Entry will be displayed on the Project page.

  5. Click Save on top of the form.

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Comments Log

Several comments can be added by different users who have write-access to a given user Space:

  1. Click the button in the Comments section.

  2. Enter the comment.

  3. Click Save.

Updated on April 25, 2023

Add parents and children to Experimental Steps

In the default Experimental Step and in the Entry, there is a Parents section where it is possible to specify links to materials and methods from the Inventory or to any other Object, e.g. another Experimental Step or Entry.

Parents are all samples/materials used in an experimental procedure, standard protocols from the inventory followed in the experimental procedure, the equipment used. It is also possible to set one Experimental Step/Entry as parent of a second Experimental Step/Entry, to keep the connection between the two.

The name of this section and which parents should be shown in the form, is customisable by the lab manager or group admin as described in Customise Parents and Children Sections in Object Forms

Adding a parent

Adding a parent of a predefined type in the form

In the screenshot above, General protocol is predefined as parent type in the form. We have two options to add a parent of this predefined type:

2. Paste
    1. You may copy the identifier of an entry you want to add as parent from a file, or from an advanced search or from another ELN page. You can paste the identifier(s) in the Paste text field.

    2. Click the +Add button

Adding parent of any available type

If you want to add a parent that is not specified in the Experimental Step form, you can use the Search Any or Paste Any options next to Parents.

1. Search Any
  1. Click Search Any

  2. Select the Object type for which you want to add a parent

  3. Search by code or name as explained above

  4. Click the +Add button

2. Paste Any

There are cases where you may want to add several parents of the same type or also of different types. In this case, we recommend to use the Advanced Search to find the entries you want to add. You can select the desired entries from the table and the Copy Identifiers button will become visible. You can copy the identifiers and paste them in the Paste Any field in the Experimental Step page, as shown below.

Adding parent via barcodes

If you want to add a parent that is registered in openBIS and has a barcode associated with it by scanning the barcode:

1.Click on the barcode icon in the Parents section

  1. A Barcode/QR code reader window opens

  1. Scan the barcode/QR code of the entry you want to add as parent with a scanner or with the camera of a mobile device

  2. Click on the Add Objects button

  3. Close

Removing a parent

To remove a parent, choose Remove from the Operations drop down in the parent table, as shown below.

Adding and Removing Children

Children of Experimental Steps are usually derivative Experimental Steps, or products of the Experimental Step. As for the Parents section, this section can also be customised by a group admin or lab manager in the ELN Settings (Customise Parents and Children Sections in Object Forms).

The procedure for adding and removing children is the same as explained for parents.

Children Generator

The Children Generator creates a matrix of all the parents entered in the Experimental Step, as shown below. Combinations of parents needed to generate children can then be selected by the user. The Object type to assign to the children and the number of replicas need to be specified. The children will then be automatically generated by openBIS upon registration of the Experimental Step.

Parent-child relationships between entries in lab notebook

In the Lab Notebook section, if you create a new Object from an existing Object, independently of the type, this will be automatically set as parent of the new Object. For example, if you create a new Experimental Step (measurement 4) from an existing Experimental Step (measurement 3), this will be automatically set as child of measurement 3, as shown below.

If you do not wish to have this relationship established, you need to create the new Object starting from the Experiment level, as shown below.

Updated on July 5, 2023

How to use protocols in Experimental Steps

When adding protocols to an Experimental Step, two options are available:

  1. Link to a Protocol stored in the Inventory. This can be used if the protocol was followed exactly in all steps as described.

  2. Create a local copy of the Protocol from the Inventory in the current Experiment. This should be done if some steps of the main protocol were modified. These modifications can be edited in the local copy of the protocol, while the template is left untouched.

To create a local copy under the current Experiment of a template protocol stored in the Inventory:

  1. Add a protocol as parent.

  2. From the Operations dropdown in the parents table select Copy to Experiment.

  3. Provide the Object code for the new protocol.

  4. A copy of the protocol is created under the current Experiment, where the user can modify it. This copy has the original protocol set as parent, so that connection between the two is clear.

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Updated on April 26, 2023

Move Experimental Steps

To move an Experimental Step to a different Experiment, choose Move from the More.. drop down, as shown in the picture above.

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It is possible to move Experimental Steps from the Object table which is presented on an Experiment or Collection page.

Select the entries to move and use the Move button on the table. You can move to an existing Experiment/Collection or create a new one.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Copy Experimental Steps

To copy an Experimental Step, select Copy from the More… drop down menu, as shown below.

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When an Experimental Step is copied, the user has the option to link parents, copy children to the current Experiment and copy the comments log. The Experimental Step is copied inside the same Experiment.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Use templates for Experimental Steps

Templates need to be defined by the lab manager in the ELN Settings. If templates have been created for a given Experimental Step, you can choose from the list of available templates by clicking the Template button on the Object form, as shown below.

A template of an Experimental Step is an Experimental Step with pre-filled values. Templates are useful when you need to repeat an Experimental Step with the same parameters several times and you wold like to have default values for those parameters.

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Updated on December 8, 2022

Datasets tables

Since openBIS version 20.10.7, a dataset table has been added to the Experiment/Collection and Object pages.

This table shows the metadata of the datasets. The content of the datasets can be navigated through the main menu.

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Data Access

Datasets are displayed on the left hand-side of the Experiment/Object form, as shown below.

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To navigate and open data registered in openBIS via Finder or Explorer, open the Dataset folder and click on the drive icon next to the Dataset type name (see above). If SFTP has been configured by a system admin, you will be provided with a link to copy/paste in an application such as Cyberduck or other.

Please check our documentation for SFTP server configuration: Installation and Administrators Guide of the openBIS Data Store Server

For native access through Windows Explorer or Mac Finder we recommend the following:

Example of SFTP Net Drive connection:

1. open SFTP Net Drive and click on New:

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2. Edit the drive with the following info, as shown below:

a. Drive name: choose any name you want. Can be the same as your openBIS server, but does not have to be.

b. Remote Host: the name of your openBIS. For example, if the url of your openBIS is https://openbis-, then is the name you want to enter.

c. Remote port: enter 2222.

d. Authentication type: Password (this is selected by default).

e. Username: the username you use to login to openBIS.

f. Password: the password you use to login to openBIS.

g. Root folder on server: you can leave the default, User’s home folder.

h. Press OK after filling in all the information above.

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3. After saving the drive, select it in the drivers’ window and click Connect.

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3. openBIS will now appear as a drive in your Explorer window. Click on the ELN-LIMS folder and navigate to the folder containing the data you want to access.

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Note: if you encounter the error message “SSH connection failed: Could not find a part of the path.” you can fix this by disabling the cache (Drives -> Advanced -> Enable Caching), and disabling log files. The error is caused by an attempt to create files in a folder not available to Windows.

Example of Cyber Duck configuration

Create a new connection in cyberduck:

  1. select SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol)

  2. Nickname: the name you want to use for the server

  3. Server: the name of the server you want to connect to. In the example below Replace this with the name of your own openBIS server.

  4. Port: 2222

  5. Username: this is the username with which you connect to your openBIS

  6. Password: this is the password you use to connect to your openBIS

  7. SSH private Key: none

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Save the specifications and connect to the server.

You will see the folders of your own openBIS in the Cyberduck window and you can navigate to your data from there.

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Example of  Dolphin File Manager configuration

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To access the Dataset form and edit the Dataset metadata, click on the Dataset code or Name (if provided).

SFTP access via session token

To access via session token (for example when using SSO authentication) you need to provide the following credentials:

Username: ?

Password: session token.

The session token can be copied from the User Profile under Utilities in the main menu, as shown below.

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Updated on May 5, 2023

Move Datasets

It is possible to move a Dataset from one Experiment/Object to another Experiment/Object.

  1. Click on the Dataset in the main menu

  2. In the Dataset page select Move from the More.. dropdown

  3. Enter the name or code of the Experiment or Object where you want to move the Dataset to. If you start typing, openBIS will show you a list of possible entries that match what you entered.

  4. Press the Accept button.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Move one Experiment to a different Project

It is possible to move one Experiment and all contained Objects and Datasets from one Project to another.

If Objects contain parent/child relationships these are preserved.

To move one Experiment from one Project to another:

  1. Select the Experiment you want to move from the main menu

  2. Select Move from the More… dropdown

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3. Enter the code of the Project where you want to move your Experiment. If you start typing the code, openBIS will prompt you with a list of available options and you can select the appropriate one from there.

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4. Click Accept

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Project Overview

In the Project page you have the options to see:

  1. Default Experiments and Experimental Steps with the field Show in project overview = true. This is a way to mark the most relevant Experiments and Experimental steps and see them at a glance on the project page (Show Overview).

  2. All experiments belonging to the project (Show Experiments/Collections).

The two options are available from the More.. dropdown on the Project page.

Below you see an example of an overview in a Project page.

Below you see an example of the visualisation of Experiments and Collections in a Project page.

Updated on July 5, 2023

Edit and Delete Projects, Experiments, Experimental Steps

Projects, Experiments and Experimental Steps can be edited at any time, by selecting the Edit icon from the toolbar of the relevant page.

Projects, Experiments and Experimental Steps can be deleted using the Delete option under More tab in the toolbar.

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Experiments and Experimental Steps are moved to the trashcan, from where they need to be removed in order to be permanently deleted from the database. Projects are directly deleted, they are not moved to the trashcan first. Projects can be deleted only after deleting all the Experiments they contain.

Please be aware that, by default, only users with Space Admin and Instance Admin  role have permission to delete. Default permissions can be modified only by a system admin (see Changing the openBIS capability role map)

Updated on April 25, 2023

Share Lab Notebooks and Projects

It is possible to share either a complete lab notebook or single Projects, using the Manage Access option in the More.. dropdown of a Space or Project page, as shown below.

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Available roles are:

  1. Observer: read-only access to Space or Project

  2. User: can create and modify entities in Space or Project

  3. Admin: can create, modify and delete entities in Space or Project

The roles can be granted to:

  1. User: the user needs to be already registered in openBIS. The username of the user needs to be entered.

  2. Group: the name of a user group existing in openBIS needs to be entered.

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Updated on April 25, 2023

Rich Text Editor


To embed an image in the a text field with the Rich Text Editor (RTE) enabled, you can simply drag & drop a .png or .jpg file and resize the image by clicking on and dragging the corners.

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