We present a friendly comparison here between truly open source electronic lab notebooks (ELNs), from what we understand currently. We call this a "friendly comparison" because the intent here is to help you find the ELN that is most suited to your needs, not necessarily to lead you to believe that the Drupal based ELN approach is the one for you. Each ELN has their own target audience with a different emphasis on certain features and a different approach to building the software. Without going into a lot of detail, in the chart below we just provide some basic facts about the approaches taken and then present our own opinion about when a given ELN might best suit your needs. Because we are not familiar with all of the details for each ELN, then please take this opinion with a grain of salt and use the links to each ELN to make a more in-depth analysis for your needs.
We do believe that in the long term that open source will prove to be the most viable for mature and vital products that continue to need improvements (the most obvious example is Microsoft and Linux). So, if you can find a trustworthy open source ELN for your needs, then there is a good chance that you will be able to use it for a long time to come.
|ELN||Language / Framework||Runtime||Audience||Our Opinion|
|MyLabBook||PHP / Drupal||Web||General||Relatively easy to set up, but does require keeping up with Drupal security updates if this is on a public web server. Has the advantage that there are thousands of Drupal modules to use to customize the ELN with desired features. Requires some basic knowledge of Drupal to customize the setup, however.|
|eLabFTW||PHP / Custom||Web||General||One of the easiest to set up since it is PHP based. Extensive documentation.|
|SciNote||Ruby / Ruby on Rails||Web||No doubt the most polished and sophisticated of the ELNs for the general audience. Can import directly from protocols.io, so this makes it amenable to a general audience, but the roots seem to be in biotech and related fields. Free version available.|
|Indigo ELN||Java||Web||Organic Chemistry and Life Sciences||One of many products from the large EPAM conglomerate. Need to request access to source code. Looks very sophisticated, but difficult to fully assess without open access. Would need Java expertise to set up.|
|Chemotion||Ruby||Web||Chemists||From Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Includes chemistry web repostiroy. Sponsoring faculty are from the Institute of Organic Chemistry.|