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Extend Your Signals Notebook Capabilities with REST API

Extend Your Signals Notebook Capabilities with REST API

Guest speaker, software developer and consultant Frank Pohl teamed with PerkinElmer Informatics Sr. Field Application Scientist Linda Kewitsch to discuss how he leveraged the extensibility of Signals Notebook’s Rest API to build a mobile digital inventory solution supporting multiple workflows and information provisioning.

Sophisticated informatics platforms cannot succeed in silos. They must integrate with a complex ecosystem of systems and devices. Customizable workflows are a must to meet the specific needs of an organization and ensure real-world usability. Because of this, extensibility – the ability and work required to extend a system – is mission critical in today’s data-driven labs. Best-in-class software provides organizations with flexible options allowing workflow modifications.

The flexibility and extensibility of Signals Notebook (SNB) rely on an open REST API framework. REST APIs allow near-infinite opportunities for customers to boost productivity, simplify workflows and extend usability. It provides an exceptionally high degree of flexibility and freedom for developers – a key reason why REST APIs are a popular method for connecting different instruments and platforms.

Lab Inventory Control by Post-It Note
One example of the extensibility of Signals Notebook is inventory management.

Even in 2022, many companies still manage lab inventory with Excel spreadsheets and email - or even Post-It Notes stuck everywhere on cubicle walls, monitors, keyboards, and desks listing sample storage locations or the supplies that need to be ordered.

But here’s the reality: even those companies leveraging the latest technologies struggle with inventory management.

Why?

A big reason is cumbersome check-in or check-out processes which lead to inaccurate inventory.

Inventory management tasks can be seamlessly integrated into Signals Notebook using the REST API framework. Frank Pohl, an independent software developer and consultant, recently developed a mobile app to do exactly what the REST API was intended for: extension of the out of the box functionalities by bringing daily inventory tasks such as moving containers to your mobile device. The app demonstrates that the REST API can provide queried inventory information.

The outcome of this use of extensibility? Say goodbye to cumbersome ad-hoc tools! You’ll also gain control and insight into lab inventory and orders with custom apps

Building on Signals Notebook Inventory
Signals Notebook SaaS solution simplifies and streamlines installation and maintenance for customers and users. It deploys with a flexible and configurable-out-of-the-box Inventory, in which companies define their locations and sublocations.

Signals Notebook can maintain storage locations of all materials and samples in containers with their unique barcodes and integrates seamlessly with Signals Notebook experiments. It is also searchable and auditable, provides ordering workflows and – best of all – is extensible with REST APIs.

It was straightforward to leverage these APIs in building a mobile app (available for download – see below). While Signals Notebook can be accessed on mobile devices via browser apps, having a fit-for-purpose app for dedicated workflows can have a dramatic positive impact for end-users.

Integrating Signals Notebook Inventory with a Mobile App
Inventory check-in and check-out are tasks that should be quick and effortless on a mobile device, enabling easy use each time an item is picked or stocked from a given location. The same should also hold true when obtaining information about the contents of containers lying on the lab bench or samples a colleague may have dropped off on your desk.

Signals Notebook as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution doesn’t allow modifications to the source code, Signals Notebook customers can further develop apps  to address specific needs either in-house or with support from PerkinElmer Informatics. Two modification examples might be a mobile app or dashboards on a website.

The inventory app was developed for Android devices and Windows. (Changes or modifications to the REST API could impact the functionality of the app.)

What are some of the benefits of this customized solution?

  • Fast and easy access to check-in and check-out functions on a mobile device.
  • Instant availability of information about containers – or anything that has a barcode.
  • Cost-effective - less expensive than equipping everything with RFID tags (which are an excellent option but require expensive equipment and additional software).
  • Adaptable to the workflows in your lab.
  • Built with a familiar technology stack.

This app is just one example of an individual solution for lab inventory. Some workflows may require more complex solutions – not only with inventory management but also data from experiments, in which special data input is required.

Wondering how it works in practice? Watch the app in action on an Android phone.

Where can you get the Signals Notebook Inventory Mobile App? Download it at Google Play or the Microsoft Store.

Future-Proof Your Lab
Extensibility is essential – not only to future-proof your informatics platform, but also to enable enhancements and workflow productivity improvements. Signals Notebook leverages the REST API to extend its capabilities, providing your organization with the ability to ensure cross-platform and instrument connectivity, seamless data sharing, robust process automation and complete scalability.

Frank Pohl
Consultant

Frank Pohl is a consultant, business analyst, and passionate software developer based in Bonn, Germany. He has more than 30 years of experience in the life science industry with software development and application lifecycle management. His passion is implementing solutions for lab staff, lab automation and logistics. He can be reached on LinkedIn or check out his website.

Linda Kewitsch 
Sr. Field Application Scientist 

Linda Kewitsch gained her Master of Science in Plant Biotechnology from the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. Linda joined PerkinElmer Informatics in 2011 as Service Engineer, deploying and configuring Electronic Notebook and Analytical Solutions. In 2015, Linda joined the FAS team, helping customers to understand and evaluate PerkinElmers biologics related product portfolio.