LabInform ELN documentation

Welcome! This is the documentation for the LabInform ELN component, the electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) that is part of the LabInform laboratory information and management system (LIMS).

Why yet another open-source ELN? Aren’t there enough already? We are pretty certain that the LabInform ELN comes with some unique features, and we look back at already ten years of successful operation. However, rather than telling you into using the LabInform ELN, we explain the underlying design principles and highlight the decisions necessary to achieve a workflow fitting the local requirements and improving reproducibility and hence overall quality of science, besides helping with getting FAIRer data.


A demo of the LabInform ELN can be accessed online: https://eln.labinform.de/.

The data contained in this demo will be deleted regularly. Nevertheless, don’t enter any sensible data in there, as everybody will be able to access them.

For more information on how to use the LabInform ELN from a user perspective, have a look at the user manual.


A number of good reasons why to choose the LabInform ELN instead of other ELN candidates.


  • Based on DokuWiki, “a simple to use and highly versatile Open Source wiki software”.1

  • Small footprint: minimum system requirements, simple installation, no database backend

  • Flexible, easily adapted to your needs from within the Web UI

  • Fine-grained access control and role model

  • Hierarchical structure, well-suited for knowledge management

  • Easy to backup: just a folder in the file system

  • Complete audit trail of changes


  • Flexible contents including media, thanks to simple yet powerful DokuWiki markup syntax

  • Structured content, machine-actionable with little to no effort

  • Inventory for samples

  • Automatic cross-linking between inventory and labbook entries

  • new entries via web forms and configurable templates

And to make it even more convenient for users and future-proof:


A few things the LabInform ELN does not provide/implement by purpose:

  • Data store, aka repository*

  • Research data catalogue

  • Management of measurement setups in the lab*

  • General project management, including proposals and publications*

  • General inventory for consumables

  • Analysis workflow for data**

The main reason lies in the “separation of concerns” (E. Dijkstra), focussing on one task at a time using one dedicated tool. Some of the “non-features” described above (and marked with an asterisk: *) are, however, part of the wider LabInform LIMS the LabInform ELN is only one part of. If you are interested in a reproducible analysis workflow of spectroscopic data (**), have a look at the ASpecD framework and related packages.

How to cite

The LabInform ELN is free software. However, if you use the LabInform ELN as crucial infrastructure component of your own research, please cite both, the article describing it and the software itself:

  • Mirjam Schröder, Till Biskup. LabInform ELN: A lightweight and flexible electronic laboratory notebook for academic research based on the open-source software DokuWiki. ChemRxiv, 2023. doi:10.26434/chemrxiv-2023-2tvct

  • Mirjam Schröder, Till Biskup. Labinform ELN (2023). doi:10.5281/zenodo.#######

To make things easier, the LabInform ELN has a DOI provided by Zenodo, and you may click on the badge below to directly access the record associated with it. Note that this DOI refers to the software as such and always forwards to the most current version.


Where to start

If you want to know what it is all about or are unsure whether the LabInform ELN is interesting for you, start right at the beginning. If you are a user of the LabInform ELN and look for how to do things, the user manual should be the right place. If you want to install the LabInform ELN or are the person with IT competence in charge of keeping it running, have a look at the administrator manual. Finally, if you are interested in contributing to the LabInform ELN, the developers corner is the right place for you.


Generally, DokuWiki requires a running web server and PHP, but no database. Hence, basic familiarity with setting up a web server and with the command line are necessary. The LabInform ELN builds upon a series of plugins for DokuWiki. Detailed installation instructions can be found in the administrator manual.


This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the BSD License. However, if you use the LabInform ELN as crucial infrastructure component of your own research, please cite it appropriately. See How to cite for details.

Please note that DokuWiki itself is provided under a GNU General Public License (GPL). For details, see their webpage. Most DokuWiki plugins are licensed under the GNU GPL as well, but please check yourself for each plugin you’re using.