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Monday, January 23, 2017

CERF ELN Version 5.0 is here!

Well folks, CERF ELN 5.0 is finally ready for release. 

Read the press release here.

CERF 5.0 is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by many people and is the culmination of almost 2 years of work. This is the first version of CERF created by its new producer, Lab-Ally.

Job one was locating and moving the source code to an all-new, modern, agile and fully integrated development, build and support platform. This new platform will allow us to move forward more quickly after this initial release (or more accurately "re-boot"). Our next engineering task involved updating the core components that make the whole shebang work. JAVA, Tomcat , Open Office, MySQL and modern SSL certificates, plus dozens of other components and libraries that all needed to be updated.

Next came the hard part, refactoring all the code to get the updated components and build environment to work together and spit out a functioning product. This part took us months, but when the newest version was finally birthed, we liked what we saw.

Then we went on a graphics spree, refreshing and redesigning almost all of the icons and buttons, and adding support for GUI features (like Mac's full screen mode) that didn't exist when CERF was first created.

As we worked on the product and started using it for data management within our own organization, obvious priorities for new features, improvements and refinements started to emerge, as did the need to "comment out" certain older, buggy or deprecated features that we plan to circle back to later. The rate at which the team started to brainstorm new ideas began to accelerate. New feature requests poured into our request system (JIRA) and before long, an ambitious roadmap that stretches years into the future started to emerge.

CERF 5 focusses on shoring up the product's most powerful features: semantic metadata and semantic search, round trip editing, flexible import and export of data and the use of notes, tags and configurable ontologies to add meaning to your files. Several new search parameters were added and the default search parameter list was re-designed to make it easier to use. A new export tool was created and a new version of the Automaton (formerly the "Automation Client" was built. Lab-Ally has also redoubled efforts to prioritize product quality, speed and and stability and is also putting much more emphasis on clear and complete documentation as well as compliance with industry-standard security tools like MS and Apple code signing, (which previously had been largely ignored). looking into the future, CERF will become increasingly focussed on the needs of GLP or "spirit of GLP" labs, with full support for things like ALCOA and related documentation principles.

The last piece in the puzzle was tracking down the code for the iPad App and redesigning it to work with modern iPads and to comply with Apple's more stringent code and security standards.  Honestly The iPad app was never much more than a prototype when it was first released in 2010 or 2011, so it took quite a lot of effort to finally get the new version to the point where we were comfortable releasing it. We called it iCERF and it's available on the itunes store now.

We are happy with the results and we think CERF is well positioned to take advantage of a growing demand for a full-featured Electronic Lab Notebook and 21CFR11 compliant document management system that can be installed on-site. The cloud may be popular for many sorts of data storage, but when it comes to mission critical, irreplaceable intellectual property, the smart organizations are getting tired of huge corporations holding their data hostage on the cloud where we all know that the US and Chinese governments will probably rummage through it any time they like.

If you want a free demo of this newest version, please contact lab-ally.

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