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Professional Open Source LIMS · Bika Mail 6

POS. The Beekeeper model. Bika LIMS 2, Interlab, Calendar, Health and more

Dear Reader,

Our best festive wishes for a prosperous and fulfilling new year! It feels like yesterday. Our previous newsletter was distributed in March. We started writing this one soon after... should have done better but must've been too busy, the evidence:

In this copy

Why LIMS? The benefits of professional open source LIMS

Development news: Interlab · LIMS 2 Inkosi · Bika Calendar · Bika Health

Bika Health discussion group

On the podium The Foundation

Bika CMS · Plone hosting and content management systems


News published earlier · A Summary

Why LIMS? A Business Case

Lab managers and analysts love Bika and easily see how web based LIMS automation improve productivity and customer satisfaction while reducing turnaround time, human error, admin tasks and the paper chase. It's more difficult reaching decision makers with the cost benefits

From experience and on-line research, we set out to present them with a business case. The proprietary nature of LIMS texts made quantitative measurement impossible, but a thorough guide for lab use surfaced. It is dynamic and will be updated here

On the laboratory side, alarmingly, 3 percent is the smallest error predicted for manual data transcription, and bigger errors were measured

More information is available in the transparent Open Source movement and an indisputable case made. We discovered an excellent article on POS, the Professional Open Source business model, The Beekeeper by James Dixon of Pentaho. Paraphrased:

There is much media coverage and water-cooler talk about open source software and professional open source companies but these are so new that many people have misconceptions about how they work. In almost all cases I think people underestimate the potential of the POS business model but also how it differs from that for proprietary software.

POS combines traditional OSS projects run by a community of software enthusiasts and users with a professional company. The community adds strong support and world wide adoption of the software, while the company backs the project with full-time engineering staff and formal contracts sponsored by fee-paying customers

Customers benefit from the increased quality of the software and design, and increased traction enabled by the product's community. It is powerful because the customers, partners, engineers, and open source communities are all self-motivated in ways that are beneficial to themselves and, as a side effect, to all

For the avid reader there's the seminal and widely referenced Why OSS? Look at the numbers! by David Wheeler, providing quantitative data by various measures to prove that open source software presents a reasonable or superior approach

Development news

We had more than our share of delays in 2007. In the end it turned out for the better. We have stronger in-house development skills and partners, we are on our own server cluster with capacity to spare. We are releasing more frequently and with Bika LIMS 2 nearing completion, we are catching up fast

Our proficiency testing LIMS, Bika Interlab, has been released as version 1.2 after an upgrade and v 1.0 coming thorough a period in production at sponsors SAWLA. More information, downloads, at the Interlab project page. Try the on-line demo. Mavericks go ahead and install yourself!

To accommodate Bika Interlab and improve performance, there was a minor but very popular release of Bika LIMS 1.2.5

An alpha version of upcoming feature rich Bika LIMS 2 'Inkosi' - The Chief - was made available for evaluation in August and has been updated since. It is currently being readied for a parallel run at sponsors Quantum Analytical Services. We burned fingers with release dates before,-) Stay tuned

Inkosi includes Bika Calendar, a true working hours calendar for accurate late analysis alerts and turn-around reporting. It will be released as stand-alone, hopefully finding homes and further enhancement in other Plone projects. Watch that space, at the Software Centre

Advanta Labs sponsored the design of the Patient demographics module for our LIMS project for medical laboratories, Bika Health, being started up. It inherits full Inkosi functionality and we will be integrating more instruments

Bika Health discussion group

We are drawing much interest and offers of help for getting Bika Health developed and we would like to co-ordinate the project better. We are setting up a Google group to discuss requirements and plans. We would really appreciate your input. Please sign up at Bika-Health via the Apply for group membership link. Since mail is distributed from members only, there is little potential for spam

On the podium

Yes we do get from behind our monitors sometimes! April, in Cape Town, we introduced Bika Health at an OpenMRS Implementers group meeting. OpenMRS is a leading open source medical record management system with big footprint in Africa. We since adopted the OpenMRS patient demographics data model

In May we presented a case study based on Bika Interlab, 'From paper to web - Proficiency testing at the SA Wine Laboratory Association', at the 3rd Annual Laboratory Management Conference in Johannesburg

More recently, in September, we did 'Your laboratory, Open Source Software and the Internet' at a workshop by the SA Spectroscopic Society in Saldanha. This was particularly well received and introduced many labs to open source alternatives The Bika Foundation

From time to time companies get exposed for not releasing their software to the general public while posing as 'open source' for marketing benefits. That was never the case with Bika. Quite the opposite, till this day we do not know where most of the near 10 000 downloads have gone, and we speculate that the .com moniker inhibits participation by some OSS enthusiasts. There are currently 87 subscribers to the Bika user list and 20 to the developers list

Thus far we used the Sourceforge infrastructure to administer the project but need to separate Bika commercial from community activities more clearly along the model offered by and .org

  •, becomes home to the Bika community, a distributed software laboratory with the objective to develop LIMS software and co-ordinate the Bika open source project. In due time, this is being evolved into the fully fledged Bika foundation

  • remains the domain of Bika Lab Systems, the registered company providing LIMS implementations and support to analytical labs

To better facilitate the 'brand', we'll create a new site with more functionality for participation. If you are interested, please email us your suggestions. Apart from software development and design inputs, contributions to the Help Center, like Movies, Manuals, How-tos and FAQ's will be great

Bika CMS · Plone hosting and content management systems

With expertise, server capacity to spare and demand increasing, Bika now offers stand-alone Plone hosting, web content management services and add-ons such as Plone Gazette, integrated at and used to aggregate this newsletter. More here

Bika Blog

We like the direct, less formal communication that is sweeping the net and Joris started a Bika blog at The main discussions flow around Bika and open source software and there should be regular posts, but for fear of being completely uninteresting, we try keeping posts to worthwhile topics (ahum)

Best regards
The Bika team

Bika lab systems Tell it as it is

Articles since Bika Mail 5

Bika Interlab released · Web-based proficiency testing software. more...

SAWLA Interlab upgraded · Bika Interlab 1.2 successfully rolled out at upgrade sponsors SAWLA. more...

Bika CMS · Plone hosting and web content management systems · With growing expertise, servers to spare and responding to increasing demand, Bika now brings stand-alone Plone hosting and CMS services actively to market. more...

Alpha testing Bika LIMS 2 under way · Bika LIMS 2 Inkosi available as alpha test version for early evaluation and feedback. It came through initial in-house testing with flying colours. more...

Bika Health project starts · Customising our open source LIMS for health laboratory implementation has started. more...

Plone the best overall Web CMS? · Reinout van Rees blogged the exponential rise and diversity in the number of Plone sites and providers and Plone came out tops in a study of 40 CMS products at more...

Bika 3rd Lab Management Conference presentation · more...

Mining Weekly on Bika Fire Assay · An article on Bika Fire Assay published on 23 March 2007 in Mining Weekly announces Bika's entry to the geology and mining sector. more... - Home of Bika Lab Systems, implementers of web based open source LIMS, Plone hosting and content management systems   Powered by Plone, the open source content management system. Customised and maintained by Bika Lab Systems