…because you can do it yourself!

I have been part of the LABVANTAGE family for almost a decade now (4 more months to go), employed to coordinate our marketing communications and multimedia, including all iterations of our websites since 2004. For the purpose of establishing my credibility, I must humbly disclose that I possess the knowledge and capability to develop almost any website. I am proud and grateful that through the years, our web deliverables have been recognized as one of the best in the LIMS industry. Moreover, I appreciate the challenges of building an application from scratch, and there is always something new to learn on a daily basis.

As I explore the vast entity of the web, what better application to probe than one as complex as a web-based LIMS? And by this I obviously mean LABVANTAGE. I discovered that essentially it is a website, albeit a highly sophisticated one, that accesses a database, displays information as queried, processes reports, and automates workflow… all under security and role-based controls.

Now, that can very much be an e-commerce website that doesn’t sell commodity. Of course, these are two totally different animals despite having certain similarities, and let me assure you that a LIMS can be far more intricate. Without going into the gritty details, I will focus on the one critical similarity users of e-commerce builders and high-end LIMS rely on: web page templates.

Unfortunate to my profession, anyone can now develop a website thanks to this blasted innovation called “web page templates.” A designer creates a template, and it can be used over and over again to generate very similar (in layouts) but different (schematically) websites. It’s a very low-cost solution for new entrepreneurs that start off with a modest budget. Had I been a commercial designer, I may have lost a lot of money. Yet, I must say templates are the quickest and easiest way for a business owner to go live.

First, templates are pre-designed, which saves everyone’s time on trying to be creative. Second, no one has to know HTML, CSS, and all the other languages most people don’t speak. Third and most importantly, there is no worry about breaking the source code. The sacrifice? The number of features and functionality can be extremely limited. For e-commerce websites, it’s like a standard cookie cutter; if it is shaped like a dog, you can’t make cookies that look like cats.

Luckily in LIMS, the focus is usually not on “how the cookie looks” but rather on the abundant features and functionality that many e-commerce builders lack. This is why a high-end LIMS needs a powerful back-end configurator (aka designer) to help users create numerous pages that display an infinite number of data. It’s common sense: the simpler you want a complex application to behave, the more complex the template really needs to be… which brings me back to LABVANTAGE: the Cadillac of LIMS.

LABVANTAGE bears all the sophistication of a web application but without requiring its designers to perform any backend work. The reason? LABVANTAGE Web Page Designer (WPD). With hundreds of page types, elements and layouts, the WPD is more robust than any e-commerce builder. For each page in your LABVANTAGE system, you determine whether it displays a list, a form, a grid, a search or a standard HTML page, all without programming a single line of code. You may also customize your own toolbar and search options, or for the more savvy developers, integrate JavaScript and style with CSS for a custom look. LABVANTAGE is a JSP-based application, packaged with libraries, services and APIs, which means to program the aforementioned pages manually, the user will not only have to be a programmer but a highly skilled one (one that needs to at least know Java). Now tell me, which e-commerce site builder out there can let anyone do all that?

The bottom line. If you can build a static website without programming, you can without a doubt configure your own LABVANTAGE system. This was the first thing I learned when I joined LABVANTAGE and to this day, still amazes me. You will have to take a couple of courses, but hey, that’s the cost of getting the most out of the best LIMS in the market. Plus, you won’t need to hire me, which may be something I regret revealing.

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