An equipment advanced analytical techniques was being developed by a US based startup company. They needed to develop a Windows based analysis tool to connect to the equipment, perform supervisory control, collect the data, run a series of algorithms, generate reports and archive the data of the experiment.
For this tool, the C# / .NET platform was chosen. The design was structured to allow for many changes to the equipment in terms of its functionality, the way it carried out the experiment, as well as the communication mechanism and the data structures. All these aspects were abstracted out to allow easy refactoring. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) and database were designed to let the chemist access the full power of the equipment.
Both tabular and graphical views of data helped end users to analyze their experiment effectively. The data was exported using XML standards to move the data to other tools or enterprise LIMS packages. Electronic records and signatures were implemented in a standard form to make sure that the data was secure and traceable. This facilitated compliance with FDA 21 CFR Part 11 at a later stage. A web based installer and update service was setup for end users to receive regular updates of the software tool.
The tool was built using the proven iterative development model. Each release packed a set of incremental features, enabling the client to track the progress. The GUI design was developed using a rapid prototyping model to quickly converge to a design. The final release was exhaustively tested with the prototype hardware before it was released to the market. Standard Wiki tools were used to communicate the progress, exchange documents and create a trail of releases. This enabled an easy interaction between both the engineering teams.
The iterative model helped the startup company to develop their instrument concurrently with the software. The rapid prototyping model used for GUI design was well received by their marketing team.