GreenButtonGo™: The Friendlier Scheduling Software
Software development is not for every programmer. Too many programs have been written that seem simple to the coding savvy minds of a programmer, that leave the rest of us lost in a sea of menus, tabs, hidden features, add-ons, and command prompts. When I was asked to create the documentation for our new scheduling software, Green Button Go™, I was nervous.
My first surprise was that I enjoyed learning Green Button Go™. There are no hidden menus to search through; everything I need is on the home screen. Rather than having to enter commands into a command prompt, there are drag and drop buttons for each command – this includes logic branch commands(if, loop, wait). When each device is added to a program, command buttons specific to that device are also added. The command buttons for the individual instruments can even be changed in color for personalized organization. Adding variables, instruments, and sub-processes is as easy as clicking a button and a list of these can be viewed in an onscreen window. User customizable interfaces for inputting data into the program, adding pictures, and arranging the graphic input fields makes running the program more interactive.
I started out using the program in Simulation Mode. This meant that my methods were not externally accessing any of the instruments I was using in the programs (no moving parts kept things safe at the beginning). To determine the total time for a run to occur I used the advanced properties menu (another on screen window) to set simulation times for each command. I could do anything in Simulation Mode including make as many mistakes as I needed to be able to learn the system.
Finally I was allowed to use live instruments in Developer Mode! Teaching the robotic arm using the Teach Pendent software (again just one onscreen button click away) was exciting, watching the arm move to my every request. There will inevitably be problems when working with live automation devices (one instrument doesn’t like to initialize the first time, a barcode scanner misses the barcode 1 in 10 times), little quirks that make working with live instruments more exciting. The Developer Mode allows you to use simple variable options to programmatically handle errors, step back through the program to return to previous steps, and reset individual instruments. No error is too strange or complicated to go unsolved!
I may only be an intern at BioSero, but I went from a Green Button Go™ novice to a Green Button Go™ enthusiast.