Where sample management meets electronic lab notebook

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Flexible sample management: an electronic lab notebook that handles inventory management

Posted by Rory on March 28th, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

In my New Year’s Eve post  I announced the imminent arrival of eCAT version 4.0, which includes sample management. The final pre-release build is now  complete, so I can start a series of posts, with screenshots, covering various aspects of eCAT with inventory, leading up to the April release. Very exciting!  I am going to begin with containers, and next week I’ll talk about samples.

Flexibility — the guiding principle of sample management with eCAT

I can’t think of a better focus to begin with than flexibility.  In version 4.0 we have worked hard to produce a sample management system which gives you lots of templates — so you can just start using eCAT to manage your samples without the need for any configuration — but at the same time is very easy to configure, and hence can be set up to meet the demands of a wide variety of sample management situations and needs.

Container templates

As you’d expect, sample management in eCAT is organized around containers and samples.  It comes preloaded with a range of container templates.

Containers that hold other containers

First, there are containers that can hold other containers, including various sizes and configurations of freezers, racks, and well plates. Here are examples of each of these container types.


Vertical 4x4 Box Rack

7x1 vertical well plate rack

Containers that hold samples

There are also containers that hold samples.  Examples include:

Freezerbox 9x9

Pie Shaped Wedge

12x8 Well Plate

Configure your own container templates!

You can also configure your own containers, with eCAT’s easy to use sample template builder that lets everyone in the lab — those with no special computer skills included — easily and quickly build their own sample templates in just two simple steps.

The first step is to select what kind of container you want to create, give it a name and a description.  Here’s an example — creating a new kind of freezer box.

Creating new container type step 1

The second step is to modify the box’s dimensions to reflect the shape you need.

And that’s it; you’ve created a new freezer box!

So there’s an initial taster of sample management in eCAT.  It’s ready for use out of the box, it’s intuitive and easy to learn, and it’s incredibly flexible.  Next week I’ll cover samples.  Dealing with samples in eCAT is just as flexible as dealing with containers — you can use eCAT’s extensive list of pre-existing sample templates, or create your own!