Networking laboratory software Interfaces: Diplomats of software communication
02.06.2021 author /
Harald Meyer *
/ Christian Lüttmann
If the left hand does not know what the right one is doing, this can not be good. It is similar in the laboratory: the most diverse devices must work together smoothly there. This requires the right interfaces and clear structures.
Companies on the topic
In the laboratory, the various devices must be in contact via compatible interfaces (symbol image).
(Image: ©metamorworks – stock.adobe.com)
Modern laboratories need smart processes and procedures to carry out their daily tasks such as evaluations, reports and documentation. This often requires the cooperation of several departments and software applications. In order for different programs and applications to communicate with each other and process different data, they need standardized interfaces.
Diplomats of the Software
Interfaces can always be found where different systems need a connection. This can be on the hardware side of machines and computers, or on the software level. In English, they are also called Application Programming interface (API), which better characterizes their work: interfaces are, so to speak, diplomats of software communication, which are responsible for a smooth exchange of information between different systems. Interfaces must establish communication for exactly the part where different systems have a point of contact. Basically, software interfaces differ in three types based on the information they provide for exchange:
- Data-oriented: They passively exchange simple information that is necessary for the functioning of the systems involved. This can be data or simple functions.
- Process-oriented: This enables interactive communication, which is necessary for the functionality of the systems involved on different platforms. This includes e.g. the Internet Protocol.
- Program-oriented: They enable the mutual functional exchange of different components in a system. These interfaces are a necessary component of modular software systems, as they are also used in laboratories.
Clean processes save time, prevent redundancies and reduce costs. In laboratories, these factors can be critical to success. Digital solutions can be found on the market for almost all tasks. But no laboratory can work efficiently if the individual systems cannot communicate with each other and exchange data.
The digitization of work processes requires uninterrupted process chains and requires clear interface management. Only in this way is it possible to use the optimal laboratory software for every requirement, to avoid proprietary software and not to rely on “one size fits all” or on only one or a few providers.
Interfaces ensure the connection of the laboratory software and the tools used. Depending on the situation, the systems used must also interface with applications from other areas such as office programs, customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) environments.
REST & amp; SOAP
There is diversity
Automation is one of the success-critical factors of laboratory software. To ensure this, almost all providers rely on more or less open interfaces and try to avoid proprietary applications. Data transfer is usually handled directly via the laboratory software used and then e.g. as XML or CSV format for editing.
However, the variety of APIs used does not always make it easy for lab operators. In addition to the transmission standards and the transmission speed, software has a slight integration capability. For the connection of the laboratory equipment alone, there is an unmanageable number of interfaces that do not always work smoothly with each other and often result in a high degree of adaptation effort. In addition, laboratories are increasingly being connected to external systems via the Internet and have to output data in real time.
The company HM-Software has developed an open-source interface concept for this and for numerous other requirements of laboratory software. With this open system architecture and an open expansion concept, the laboratories are able to make adjustments to the software and its interfaces themselves. Only the components that are needed in the laboratory must be selected. Assistance systems support the implementation of the interfaces.
The laboratory software is equipped with numerous standard functions that can read data from different systems. The special configuration based on the open source code prepares the data for further processing. Translation functions convert the data for smooth communication with the interfaces.
This post is originally from our partner portal LaborPraxis.de.