Pattern FAQ

Last Updated: 2014/05/18

Q: What is the purpose of this website?

A: This website aims to help organizations and individuals build, maintain, deploy, and/or acquire freely available, open sourced laboratory information management systems software.

Q: What do you get for discussing these systems?

A: Zero, nada, zilch, nothing (other than knowledge).

Q: Is this [the use of patterns in LIMS] some kind of secret plot to destroy smaller vendors?

A: No. Everybody benefits from patterns, private commercial vendors included. Patterns made available at will be for everyone's perusal. They can choose to incorporate it into their software or simply ignore it. The role of is to publish patterns and keep out 'pattern trolls' -- individuals and organizations that want to throw a proverbial monkey wrench into the DIY LIMS process.

Q: Will vendors be allowed to submit patterns?

A: No, unless they are a DIY LIMS component vendor. The central DIY concept is that a LIMS should be constructable from independent, interoperable parts. Traditional LIMS vendors should be using their own means to communicate to existing and prospective customers regarding features and enhancements to their products like newsletters, conferences, etc. However, like anything that produces significant financial benefits, DIY LIMS will inevitably attract commercial component and related tool producers. If a vendor demonstrates good business practices, actively supports the DIY concept, and produces a pretty good pattern it may be published.

Q: Other than formatting problems and insufficient information, what would cause a rejection of a pattern?

A: The idea behind patterns is to be as inclusive as possible. Patterns that meet submission guidelines should all be accepted with certain exceptions. For instance, it is a well-known practice of private, for-profit companies to commission third parties to promote their products and solutions. If a pattern appears skewed to support a private interest it will be rejected.

Q: We have a few patterns that are good for my company but I'm pretty sure that they are not right for everybody in the industry. What about patterns like these?

A: Patterns at will come in two forms -- NOPs and NGPs. NOP stands for Normalized Organizational Patterns. An NGP is a Normalized General Pattern. The difference is that a NOP comes from an entity and is stated to work for them. It has passed several quality checks that will be explained in a different document. An NGP has undergone significant scrutiny by other individuals interested in the category. Pattern documents will clearly differentiate between NOPs and NGPs so no one should ever be confused.

Q: My committee (name omitted) has been dedicated to LIMS education since (date omitted). We would like to be in the position of certifying patterns...

A: A committee, regardless of stated purpose or length of time in operation, can submit patterns but approval committees, when needed, will be chosen from the DIY community at large. The default activity of the pattern publication system is to be inclusive, so for the most part there is no need for a sitting body for certification. Anyone in the DIY community can publish a NOP refuting the findings of any other NOP. A flag will be placed on that published pattern indicating there are related NOPs and both parties will be sent a copy of the conflict resolution pattern.

Q: Did you just make all this pattern stuff up?

A: No, patterns are in use at major computing companies like Yahoo, Google, and many others. This particular framework for submissions, conflict resolution, and publication is unique to but everyone must come up with their own way of handling these issues.

Q: Why can't we just use standards?

A: Standards are patterns but patterns are not standards. A pattern can easily utilize a set of standards and purposefully ignore the parts that do not apply to them. A standard normally must be adhered to in order to prove compliance. Patterns are flexible and purposefully avoid strictures. Where standards say, 'this is the right way' patterns say, 'and here is another way...' As NOPs become popular they can be revised into NGPs.

Q: If that is all true how do I know which pattern to use?

A: Patterns will break down into industry segments, cross-industry patterns, and more. Like anything, after a while patterns themselves will settle into important patterns, semi-important patterns, nominal patterns, etc.

Q: I was talking to (name omitted) and he's pretty angry that you didn't consult him about this pattern thing ... he says that patterns might compete with his products and services...

A: Ultimately DIY solutions may make organizations more independent and knowledgeable about the benefits and/or drawbacks of certain approaches. That simply cannot be avoided. Marketing teams working for vendors might consider regularly visiting as new patterns emerge so that they can address questions that may arise. The sales cycle is as difficult as it is without this new added thing -- everyone gets that -- but it no longer can be ignored.

Q: I don't want my employees submitting trade secret information to your site in the form of patterns...

A: Patterns accepted for publication will have to be sanitized for trade secret information, export information, etc. Submitters will be asked to sign an agreement that they have performed these checks and that the pattern is devoid of any known problems.

Q: Will I be responsible if somebody uses a pattern authored by me and it causes them some kind of problem?

A: This is why publishing patterns must be done in an organized fashion. Published patterns will include disclaimers that shift responsibility to the user of the pattern. That way if you made a mistake or the user simply misapplied the pattern the authors are not responsible for any losses.

Q: I'll give you a pattern if you give me $10,000...I want you to collect $50 from every user of my pattern...

A: Patterns must be supplied free of charge and no charge may be solicited from users for any part of it. If some user of the pattern requires additional information or consulting services they may find your contact information in the pattern and you can make those types of arrangements. However, the pattern itself must be sufficiently complete so that implementation does not require this type of interaction.

Q: What if a consultant publishes a pattern after an engagement with my company that I didn't approve of?

A: You can issue a takedown request. View the contact page of for contact details.

Q: What if I find a pattern that has been published that I completely disagree with and ask that you take down for the sake of accuracy?

A: Submitted NOPs have to demonstrate, at a minimum, three testing phases in order to be classified as ready to reuse: a basic (or 'smoke' test), an integrated test, and a field test. There will be a published pattern for conflict resolution on the website. It will depict a 5S style methodology for moving from disagreement to agreement. An NGP will be a lot tougher to challenge. NGPs cannot be scaled back but can be superseded. If a pattern supersedes an NGP this information will be added to the NGP's header and prominently displayed in the document along with information about the new pattern.