Helping the next generation

Mal, stood by a glider

Hi everybody. This is my first appearance on this blog, so I’d better introduce myself. My name’s Mal and I’m one of the software developers working on Progenesis. I’ve got a particular interest in usability and it’s this that I’d like to be the topic of my first post.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been helping out with a few proteomics lectures at Northumbria University. Working with Prof. Gary Black and 3 of his student groups, we’ve designed and supervised an exercise using Progenesis SameSpots to analyse a simple set of 2D gel images.

I’m delighted to say it’s been a great success. It’s proven to be an excellent way to learn, both for the students and for ourselves. The students gain practical experience of the issues affecting reproducibility in computer-based analysis while having expert support directly on hand. We, meanwhile, gain invaluable feedback on the usability of our software (and documentation) and learn new ways in which we can help support reproducibility for our customers.

Over the course of the 3 sessions, we used 3 different versions of Progenesis SameSpots. First, we used v3.3, then the newly-released v4.0 and finally a prototype trying some new ideas based on the feedback so far. It was gratifying to see that with each successive iteration, the students—all of whom were fresh to the software—needed less and less assistance. It was also pleasing that a large majority accepted an offer to take part in further sessions.

Of course, it would be foolish to design our software entirely on the back of feedback from inexperienced users who are still relatively new to the world of proteomics. And that indicates where we need to take these insights next; we need to see whether the changes we made in the final session will work just as well for people already working in the lab. People like you.

But we’ll leave that for another post. In the meantime, if you’d like to see the latest improvements in Progenesis SameSpots, just head to its page and download yourself a copy. We’d love to hear what you think about it. 🙂