Today’s blog post was inspired by a search phrase that brought readers to this blog, which is “labware lims modules”.
The idea with a module is that you begin with the basic system. Then, as you want more features, add-on only those modules that include the features you need. Thus, you purchase your LabWare LIMS and then add-on just what you need.
A benefit to this is that all programming, no matter how good, contains bugs. These bugs will affect other programming you have. So, by minimizing the amount of system that you have, you minimize the chance for bugs. So, when you run the test scripts against your basic LabWare LIMS, or any other system, you’re verifying only that that part of it works properly. Everything you add onto that has the potential to cause issues with what you already have. Then,you have to retest at least some portion. This is where we start talking about risk-based assessments for testing.
Some readers might plan to point out that this should be tested and bug-free. As a software expert, I will just tell you that we have this old saying, “The last bug isn’t fixed until the last user is dead.” Ultimately, there are too many potential choices in these systems to make it possible to test absolutely every case and catch every bug. It’s not possible to find absolutely every combination of keystrokes that a user might press.
I’m an extremely effective bug tester. I will tell you that even I don’t find every one of them. It’s just not possible. Users will always come up with a way to use something that even I would not have thought of.
The downside to the module concept, then, is that you have to go looking for the modules you need. With regard to the LabWare LIMS modules, there are so many of them that it’s not always easy to tell if there’s one that will help your next effort. This is especially true if you’re neither an expert with the system nor familiar with many of the modules.
Are LabWare LIMS Modules Free?
I don’t want to get into the semantics of this but, basically, the LabWare modules are free. The ELN requires a separate license and I don’t want to argue about whether it actually counts as a module. Other than that, though, if you have a LabWare license and are paying an ongoing maintenance and support fee, you can access and download the modules. You might already have read about this in our information about the LabWare LIMS Modules.
Just one caveat, though – there might be other things you need to pay for. For example, you do not have to buy a license for Crystal reports in order for your users to run the templates. However, you do need to buy a copy of Crystal if you want to develop your own Crystal report templates. Note: I have not yet been aware of a project that did not need to makes at least some changes to customize their reports. Plan on buying one Crystal license, to start.
LabWare LIMS Modules Versus Solutions
A module basically offers some functionality and will need someone to configure and customize it. Someone is about to write to me to say that we don’t customize the LabWare LIMS but I’m not talking about writing SmallTalk and changing the actual base system but about writing LIMS Basic. We do enough of that that I call it “customization” so that customers understand the magnitude of the work.
In any case, a LabWare LIMS module still requires quite a lot of work, in some cases. The more complex the module, the more complex the work to get it ready for use.
But a “solution” is meant to be more complete than that. A “solution” might involve more than one module and a huge amount of programming. For example, the QC Pharma(ceutical) “solution” involves the stability “module” and a ton of programming. Even so, it does require some modifications from customers. However, it is not at the same magnitude as if the customers had to pay a consultant to start from scratch. That is what we did before the relevant module’s creation.
So, a “solution” is a combination of modules, configuration, LIMS Basic programming, and probably some Crystal reports. It is meant for a single specific situation. For example, the QC Pharma template meant just for QC Pharma situations. Even then, it’s probably only used for US market testing. I say that because I seem to remember that it includes the USP “module” which has 2-3 methods in it. That is not the same as, say the BP, EP or JP. It’s possible that some of those were eventually included and I’m just not aware of them. I’m merely saying that these solutions tend to be specific to some particular target market.
More on Modules
So, the bottom line, here, is that you have to know the difference between “modules” and “solutions” to know what you want to download from your software vendor. In this case, we’re specifically talking about LabWare LIMS modules and solutions but that is true of other vendors, as well.
You also have to know how to evaluate what you’re downloading to know if it’s going to be useful for your purposes. Do not put modules in if you’re not going to use them because it could introduce unexpected bugs to your system. Even in a development system, it is just much easier to introduce modules as you need them. Then, use them for a bit of time to try them out and see if you suddenly have issues. This is easier than throwing a lot of things in all at one time. By doing them en-masse, if you have problems, you have less of an idea which of the multitudes to being with. If you’ve ever started unbinding modules in the LabWare LIMS to find out which one introduced a bug, you’ll know what I’m talking about, here.
But, seriously, just be methodical about it and don’t get too greedy about downloading. That will be a good start.