We use the S.A.F.E. acronym for a WordPress Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) because it has the features of being Sustainable, Affordable, Flexible, and Easy. We find this to be a fairly unique combination for an ELN and so we want to make researchers aware of this relatively unique combination. More details are provided in the following list.
S is for Sustainable – We use the word “sustainable” in this context in the sense that it will be sustained in the marketplace for many years to come. The stable WordPress Content Management System (CMS) currently runs over 40% of all websites, a market share that has steadily grown since its introduction in 2003. WordPress is open source with a relatively simple and stable core code base, which should continue to contribute to its success. With this market share and its history of growth, you can have a high level of confidence that WordPress will be supported for many years to come. It is also likely that WordPress will continue to improve with additional capabilities over time.
A is for Affordable – The core WordPress CMS will always be free and open source. In addition, there are also over 50,000 free and open source plugins that extend the core capabilities. Sophisticated premium plugins provide additional advanced and well-supported capabilities, most of them for a very reasonable price. The reasonable prices are sustainable because of the economies of scale for such a popular platform.
F is for Flexible – Concerning the flexibility of adapting WordPress for your needs, you can begin with the core WordPress CMS and then customize WordPress using plugins that you determine to be useful for your particular situation. The purpose of this website is to help you in making some decisions concerning appropriate plugins for your ELN. There is a plethora of other resources on the web concerning plugin capabilities as well. You also have flexibility in hosting options by using one of the hundreds of hosting providers with a range of price points. You also have flexibility in choosing to develop the WordPress ELN yourself or to hire one of the many WordPress developers or agencies to build a WordPress ELN for you.
E is for Easy – WordPress has many positive attributes that can be described as “Easy”, which is a major reason for its success. WordPress is well-known for its easy installation process. The LAMP stack that it runs on is also one of the easiest to set up. Installing plugins requires only a few clicks. Custom plugins are relatively easy to develop. The administration interface has been fine tuned for over 2 decades to provide a consistent and relatively easy and pleasant experience. The vast ecosystem of documentation and support also makes solving most problems relatively easy.
Of course, it is important to first determine whether or not WordPress with appropriate plugins can provide the capabilities that you need for your ELN. But if you determine that a WordPress ELN is adequate for your research needs, then it will provide a S.A.F.E. alternative that you will probably find to be fairly unique in its advantages for your research.