random thoughts on science and tech... yeah, it used to be about electronic lab notebooks but that was a decade ago

Onenote, Skydrive, Web App, & Gladinet … Wow!

I’ve been running my current lab research project for about 4 years. I started off with a small group and was sharing Onenote 2007 from one computer to two others on our network. I tried a couple times to synch to different cloud services (tried Groove a LONG time ago), but it always seemed easier (and better) to run from a shared computer. I have a lot of links to files I want to open in other apps like (Prism (statistical software), Photoshop, excel,…) Making sure those links work on a shared computer was sometimes tricky, but making sure they work from the cloud was even more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult to the point that training people to do it was not worth the time.

Things have come along somewhat since I started. The linking is still not great (it would need to be embedded to really be ‘easy’, which I would love – they did that a little with the newer PowerPoint), but wow, after playing with it awhile I LOVE the new abilities and were I not graduating and moving on in a month, I would move everything to SkyDrive.


Linking is just as easy (if not easier… actually, now that I think about it, it IS easier) using Gladinet. Every shared computer can just map the SkyDrive folder containing the LabNotebook to a local drive and now when a link calls the the folder it is the same call on every computer, it works GREAT!

A couple huge drawbacks

Migrating my current 1000+ pages notebook would be VERY difficult – fixing links, etc.. One reason it would be difficult is that to just copy the OneNote notebook to the SkyDrive doesn’t give you access to it via the Web app!? Strange, but I think this may be a side effect of the – we’re phasing out users ability to see/know file extensions. For once a file is in the cloud you can’t change its extension in the cloud (you can change it from your Gladinet mapped drive and synch it though). But still, it recognizes your copied OneNote section as a OneNote section, you just cannot open it in the webapp. To migrate you can make a new OneNote book, open it into your local OneNote application, and then copy sections over to your SkyDrive OneNote notebook.

SEARCH!..in the web app. For the love of… This is the whole reason I have an electronic lab notebook! To be able to find stuff quick (also to make collaborations easier,..blah, blah). Anyway, I know the idea is probably to give people some reason to actually buy Office, since the web apps are pretty functional. But come on, I own it and search is huge. Granted, I can always press the little ‘open in OneNote’ button on the webpage and then search in OneNote.

Anyway – there are positives as well – even above and beyond the normal ELN positives I’ve always listed.

THE WEB APP!! It could be better, but give me a break, this is huge. I can show ANYONE my ELN, from anywhere with this. It’s not some nebulous idea that people say to ‘hey, that does sound like a good idea’. I can show them, they can edit, some collaborators in France recently saw it and replied ‘you mean, I can just look up what you did, how much drug you delivered on each experiment, whenever I want?’ I said ‘NO, I mean you can look that up and do your experiment, record it in here as well, and we can (almost) real time see how these experiments are working’! J **much easier to convert the technophobe or reluctant user

…the web app’s ‘Show Author’ The show author option showed up (in a useful manner) in the upgrade from OneNote 2007 to 2010. But still it would require a logout/login for each individual user so it turned into more of a ‘which computer was used to input this info’ (which is still useful). But more useful is the fact that, a student or lab tech can just log on to their individual account, access the web app and any input has their actual name (see leading picture). Still the way I would use it (for the most simplicity) I would probably use Gladinet and the local OneNote program so it will still be recording just the computer (since there’s no way we’re getting people to login and logout all the time). Show’s some potential though!

…I’m tempted to migrate everything anyway J, just so I can show off our work direct from the webapp, then open a PowerPoint presentation direct from the actual notebook, then go into our normal presentation of the work. But then some people get offended by my over the top geekery. I try to keep them focused on the actual research work when I’m presenting L


1 Comment

  1. Biokot's Gravatar Biokot
    January 3, 2012    


    Recently, I’ve spent some time looking for a ELN. Then I’ve found this one called SparkLix. It is web based application, which makes it universal in sense of platforms and OS, and it is very easy to share. Just take a look at it, you will love it. Sparklix.com

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