Exp-WF: Workflow Support for Laboratory Information Systems

B. Gabor, B. Kemme

As scientific experiments and their analysis become increasingly automated, the need for workflow management support rises. Many workflow management systems tailored to scientific workflows have been developed. However, they are mainly stand-alone systems and ignore that many scientific research groups already store and manage experimental data in laboratory information systems, called LIMS. LIMS are typically web-based and allow researchers to insert and view experiment related data. In this paper we describe Exp-WF, a workflow management module that is designed to be incorporated into a typical LIMS such that workflow management and the traditional functionality of a LIMS co-exist. Scientists describe the execution order of experiments as a workflow model. Exp-WF then automatically selects experiments for execution and dispatches them to the people or machines responsible for performing them. ExpWF extends existing workflow models to be able to handle the particularities of scientific experiment workflows. ExpWF can be incorporated into an existing web-based LIMS in a nonintrusive way by using servlet filter technology to observe user actions and act upon them. Exp-WF uses agentbased technology with asynchronous communication to dispatch tasks to remote machines.

IEEE Workshop on Workflow and Data Flow for Scientific Applications (SciFlow'06), co-located with Int. Conf. on Data Engineering, Atlanta, Georgia, April 2006.

Click to for  the pdf version.