What is a Digital Lab Notebook (DLN)?

Excerpt from a Leonardo da Vinci notebook

A Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) serves the same function as a written scientist’s lab notebook before the digital age. A DLN associated with a digital representation provides transparency, enabling people to assess its reliability for their own research purposes. CHI’s DLN methodologies and tools are designed to collect all of the information necessary for a scientific lab notebook. More…


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Related Project: The Democratization of Scientific Imaging through Metadata Management and Archival Submission Support

This CHI project is funded by a Preservation and Access Research and Development grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, beginning January 2018. The project supports the development and enhancement of internationalized open source software tools for the collection, management, archiving, and sharing of cultural heritage imaging data and associated metadata. More…

Related Paper: “A Context Metadata Collection and Management Tool for Computational Photography Projects”

Top level interface for the DLN:CaptureContext tool, version 1

This paper, presented by CHI at the Archiving 2017 conference in Riga, Latvia, describes the first module of an advanced set of metadata and knowledge management tools to record a Digital Lab Notebook. Learn more and download the PDF paper.


Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) Software Tools

Digital Lab Notebook Tools

Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) is a term coined by CHI for a digital record of the means and circumstances used to generate a digital representation of an imaging subject. The downloadable DLN tools listed below simplify the collection of scientific, standards-based metadata.

DLN:CaptureContext Version 1 Beta Software Download

DLN:CaptureContext simplifies user management of a large volume of metadata through a user-friendly interface. This interface expedites user metadata input with a template process. For example, following a one-time entry of the user’s photo equipment and associated metadata, the user creates templates and saves commonly used equipment configurations. The software follows a similar process to help the user record and group metadata related to the locations, institutions, imaging subjects, image rights, and people associated with the photographic data acquisition session. Relevant metadata can be entered to an extent determined by the user, grouped as desired, selected with a mouse click at the time of the capture session, and added to the DLN for a specific set of images. The information is then mapped to the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model and exported as Linked Open Data in XML and RDF formats.

DLN:Inspector Version 1 Beta Software Download

DLN:Inspector automatically ensures that each image set meets the requirements for high-quality computational photography imaging. These requirements can be checked algorithmically. For example, Inspector can check that aperture does not change across a given image set. The tool will check for image-processing errors, such as sharpening, that should not be applied to photogrammetry or RTI data. This validation step will ensure users are alerted to potential issues in their image sets. Anyone else who wants to reuse these images can easily find this information. Support for spectral data sets will be added.

Watch the Introductory Video

This 10-minute video introduces you to the concept of the Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) and its software tools.


See also our entire DLN instructional video series, Simplifying Scientific Imaging, on the Vimeo site.