A Perl toolkit for LIMS development
Translational Research Laboratories, UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health, University College London, UK
Source Code for Biology and Medicine 2008, 3:4 doi:10.1186/1751-0473-3-4Published: 19 March 2008
High throughput laboratory techniques generate huge quantities of scientific data. Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) are a necessary requirement, dealing with sample tracking, data storage and data reporting. Commercial LIMS solutions are available, but these can be both costly and overly complex for the task. The development of bespoke LIMS solutions offers a number of advantages, including the flexibility to fulfil all a laboratory's requirements at a fraction of the price of a commercial system. The programming language Perl is a perfect development solution for LIMS applications because of Perl's powerful but simple to use database and web interaction, it is also well known for enabling rapid application development and deployment, and boasts a very active and helpful developer community. The development of an in house LIMS from scratch however can take considerable time and resources, so programming tools that enable the rapid development of LIMS applications are essential but there are currently no LIMS development tools for Perl.
We have developed ArrayPipeline, a Perl toolkit providing object oriented methods that facilitate the rapid development of bespoke LIMS applications. The toolkit includes Perl objects that encapsulate key components of a LIMS, providing methods for creating interactive web pages, interacting with databases, error tracking and reporting, and user and session management. The MT_Plate object provides methods for manipulation and management of microtitre plates, while a given LIMS can be encapsulated by extension of the core modules, providing system specific methods for database interaction and web page management.
This important addition to the Perl developer's library will make the development of in house LIMS applications quicker and easier encouraging laboratories to create bespoke LIMS applications to meet their specific data management requirements.