Free cloud-based lab notebook: Hivebench

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 3.23.25 PMShazino, is with Zappy lab one of the rare developers of high-quality mobile apps for researchers. Shazino offers a lab timer, bacterial colony counter, a paper reference manager and a plasmid-sharing platform, all available on iphone’s iOS.

But Shazino’s flagship product is now a electronic lab notebook, that has a lot to offer: Hivebench. In direct competition with other cloud-based and user-friendly solutions such as Labguru and Labfolder, Hivebench is a serious contender. It offer all the basics of lab notebooks including advanced text editing, and integration of images and videos. And it comes with an iphone mobile app that allows you to view and edit the notebook entries on the go.

When starting an experiment, you first create the notebook that will gather notes from experiments of a project you are working on. When creating a new entry, a template is automatically suggested for you to help you keep your notebook as standardized as possible. There, you can enter what your objectives are, what samples and procedures you are running, and what were the results of the experiments.

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Hivebench lab notebook interface, with a suggested template.

Of course, there is no obligation to follow the template and a few interesting functionalities help you customize your notebook entries. For example, you can display schematics of well plates with a single click and Hivebench makes it easy to add lists of experimental steps that will be automatically accompanied of a checkbox.

A couple more advanced options are also there to give more dynamic documents: inventory and protocols. A list of reagents can be imported or added manually in the Hivebench database then easily referred-to in the notebook. If done consistently, it becomes easy to track each reagent and see when they were acquired, where they are stored, in what experiment they were used, and when they expire.

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Hivebench lab inventory, where all reagent details are listed.

Protocols can also be entered in a database then automatically included in the notebook, avoiding you to re-write routine protocols every time. In addition, similar to the protocols.io initiative, Hivebench allows users to store their protocols in a public and cloud-based repository. Any Hivebench user can then directly import protocols from the repository.

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Hivebench public repository of protocols.

Hivebench also comes with a task manager and a calendar to plan the experiments so that your entire workflow can be managed from this single platform. Collaborative functions are of course well implemented, allowing you to easily share any of the items created in Hivebench. Mobility is now also a must for an electronic lab notebook, and Hivebench comes with a free mobile app for Iphone and Ipads which allows everything from reading your protocols to editing the notebook, right from the bench.

Hivebench is free for up to 10 team members and provides up to 10 GB of cloud storage for free, which is a significant advantage compared to other platforms such as Labguru. Hivebench can also be installed locally, which can be reassuring and economically more interesting for larger structures.

Labfolder integrates Medeley in its digital notebook app

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 7.39.46 AMLabfolder officially announces the integration of Mendeley to its features. Mendeley is one of the largest international research networks and reference manager solution. With Mendeley’s integration in labfolder, users can now include references from their Mendeley library directly in their digital lab notebook. They can also add links to pdfs. Conversely, pages from Labfolder notebook can be exported to Mendeley as unpublished work.

Labfolder released mobile app

labfolder_logo_02_no_tagline_2083x500Labfolder is a cloud based digital lab notebook where users can write, draw and put together reports of their latest experiments (see blog post). They recently announced the released a mobile version of the service..

Users can now directly access their data on the go. They can also record their experiment in the lab using their mobile device, annotate them and store them in the cloud. The app is available for Android and AppStore.

Labfolder: a digital lab notebook

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.45.41 PMLabfolder is an online digital lab notebook. An online space where users can write, draw and assemble reports of their latest experiments, that they can then safely store in the cloud.

The digital lab notebook revolution has been announced for quite some time now. There are promises of digital notebooks accessible from anywhere that are data rich, searchable, sharable and never lost or damaged by spilled coffee.  But the path toward its full implementation in academic labs is long, partially because no alternatives really beats the old notebook and pencil when it comes to user friendliness. So in that respect, the challenges faced by Labfolder are significant.  But Labfolder proposes interesting functionalities and a nice, clean, fresh interface that may seduces more than one researcher.

The Labfolder experience start by creating a new folder (what a surprise) in your project tab. Under each folder, multiple entries can be added, corresponding to the pages of your traditional lab notebook. Within each entry, the users can create boxes containing text, images, links to files and hand-drawn (or should I say mouse drawn) sketches that can be useful to annotate images. These boxes can be easily resized or moved around and when satisfied with an arrangement, the entries can be saved and reused as templates. After the content is added, the final entries can then be save to the cloud, or downloaded as a pdf for sharing.

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Labfolder is completely free for individual use and for groups up to 3 users. A cloud space of 3 GB is offered to store all files. Forming a groups with other Labfolder users enables sharing entries and templates with collaborators.

Labfolder was started by two german PhD students from the MaxPlank Institute; Simon Bungers and Florian Hauer. They where surprised how digital tools were poorly used in research and decided to add their contribution by founding Labfolder. Labfolder is an ongoing venture, and encourage users to send their comments and ideas to them (contact@labfolder.net).