We need a basic laboratory electronic logbook function that can be accessed via the internet, possibly even at least viewable on phones.

Currently all we need is user logging of events, attaching of some screenshots, and notes of status of the parts of the experimental system. It should require someone to enter their name or to log in/out so that deliberately (or lazily) anonymous entries are hard to make.

It needs to be easily searchable: "When did the thing happen? Who said so?"

We don't have any resident computer wiz to do anything fancy. We have a Windows based Synology NAS system which could manage it or it could run on one of the other Windows PCs, but if it were hosted somehow then it would be more easily viewable online. I like the idea of hosting on the NAS because we don't lose everything if someone forgets to pay for the web-hosting.

I have read about eLabFTW (also documentation) and this says it can be installed on a NAS, though this says there are noob-unfriendly problems when trying to do that.

Also eLabFTW may be overkill for what we need.

I suppose I could script something in Python and have it running on an internet-connected computer, but I'm not a internet wiz in Python, at least not yet.

Pythonlogbook exists, but I'm not sure it fits.

  • 2
    We use a very simple approach, logging in a text file using a "basic markdown table". This can be shown via a web browser (using a markdown lib or converting it to HTML using e.g. Pandoc) or an editor/Markdown editor, and can be searched using either simple grep or via SQL using a small Python tool called "q". Should that sound interesting to you, I can dig up the details. Except for the web server part, no need to install anything (download and run), which should work on a NAS as well (though I cannot verify that).
    – Izzy
    Feb 5, 2020 at 7:40
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    @Izzy Thanks! Okay that gives me something to think about. In this case I'm afraid we can't rely on everybody to use markdown and noting the time themselves properly, some minimal structure that logs the time and checks or prompts that something's been entered in a name field will be important; people get punchy when they've been running an experiment for 72 hours without sleep. Using just an editor also opens up the possibility of an accidental corruption of the text and therefore our log book.
    – uhoh
    Feb 5, 2020 at 8:37
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    Yes, that sounds reasonable. After all we don't talk about IT guys here :) Good luck then!
    – Izzy
    Feb 5, 2020 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


I think elog ( https://midas.psi.ch/elog ) is the software you are looking for. Its a simple-to-install stand-alone web server that serves fully extensible electronic logbook. It can serve one or several logbooks for several users, optionally with passwords.

It accepts raw text, html or text markup, as well as uploading pictures and files. Entries are fully searchable and can be configured to ask for some fields like author, experiment, kind of entry (calibration, data, setup). It also gives the option of sending mail to a group of persons on each new entry. Entries can be edited after having been posted

We use it for all our experiments (in experimental fundamental physics), from lab notebooks to large experiments in collaboration with 200+ people.

PS: The only drawback you could find is that, being a web-based server, your institution could ban access from outside to the port being used, but this is going to happen to any web-based logbook. This can be solved either by 1) asking it people for free access to that port, 2) setting it to serve in the 8080 or the 80, usually not cut, or 3) configuring an existing apache server to forward the port as a directory.

All in all, I think is a simple-to-install, solid, and standard solution. Take a look on the Wikipedia page ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELOG )

  • Thanks for your answer, I'll look into it, but right now I get this warning when I try to visit the site: i.stack.imgur.com/YoRvr.png The message is "This server could not prove that it is midas.psi.ch; its security certificate expired 114 days ago. This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection"
    – uhoh
    Feb 10, 2020 at 23:36

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