eCAT's building blocks: templates and records

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We saw in the Introducing eCAT topic how you can create Project and Experiment records and that these are two different kinds of records that we call templates. This topic will go into a little more detail on both records and templates and will look at a totally different kind of record - an Antibody.

You can create an Antibody record from the Create New menu on the Dashboard or the Children menu under the Notebook tab. When you create an Antibody record you can see that it has a number of fields inside it. Here is an example of a newly created and saved antibody record.

An antibody record

An antibody record

In the "Field Name" column we have "Name", "Lab", "Validation-date" etc. These are called the fields of the record. Fields have values and those are displayed in the column on the right. Because we have just created a new antibody record and saved it, these values are empty.


When we create an antibody record we are taking a template and creating an empty copy of that template. The template that defines the antibody is also stored in eCAT. You can view the templates (that you have permission to view) by clicking on the "Templates" tab in the top menu.

A list of templates

A list of templates

Clicking on a template takes you to its template definition - click on Antibody.

An antibody template

An antibody template

Here we can see the fields for the template again - Name, Lab, Validation-date etc. Because we are looking at the template definition here here, we also see the type of each field. Name is a "string" field, and Lab is a "radio" field, while Tracking-History is a "text" field. These types define the sort of data that can go into each field. Text allows HTML editing, string is just a short piece of plain text and radio is a list of radio buttons like you would see on a web page. There are a variety of other field types such as Number, Date etc.

That is the basics of how eCAT works! There are a set of templates. When you create a record you are creating a new copy of that template. This gives you the ability to control the form and type of all entered data which is very important when it comes to doing anything useful with your data (like search) at a later date. It also lets you do a lot of powerful (but more complicated) stuff to do with data conversion, casting and file linking but all of that is beyond the scope of this topic.

Now that you understand the theory, lets take a look at creating new records.

Creating records

There are two ways of creating new records, from the Children menu on the Notebook tab and from the Dashboard.

From the Notebook tab

When you are viewing a record, you can click the "Create New" option in the Children section of the main menu on the left hand side. This will create records as children of the record currently being viewed.

From the Dashboard

You can also create new records from the Dashboard.

In this case, the "Create New" option is located at the top of the Dashboard menu on the left hand side of the page.

The location you are creating in is determined by the preference titled "Select the default folder to create new records in". This Dashboard feature is intended to provide a convenient way of quickly creating records.

Creating new records

If you mouse over the create menus, then you can choose to instantly create from a given set of templates. You can customize these templates on the Customise Menus preferences page.

If you select a template, that template is created instantly and you are taken to the editing page. If you click on Create New you are taken to the normal record creation page and can choose from the full list of templates you have available to you.

Creating a new record

Creating a new record

If you expand the advanced create options section, the create screen looks like the following:

Advanced record creation

Advanced record creation

Now as well as specifying a template you can specify a number of records to create and a name for those records. By default records take the same name as the template they are an instance of but you can use the advanced options here to change that name.