From: David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**DEPAUW.EDU>
Subject: [DCHAS-L] chemical inventory thoughts
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:31:35 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 9D35F08F-DA62-42C3-8164-91037D271186**At_Symbol_Here**

Hi all,

Please skim if you don?t want to read - there are cookies at the end :)

So - our University has been involved in chemical inventory management for a long time. We do not have a large budget for such endeavors, and as such we have had to come up with clever solutions in order to effectively manage our inventory. About 13 years ago we purchased a stand alone CHIM module from Vertere (now something else, I forget), for one user. That was great for me, as it helped me to put our inventory in to a barcode system with some help on hazard information. Being at a University I was able to get a student to help write an online interface, which really just gave us a way to let other people at the University query a static version of our database. It wasn?t the best solution - but it was economical. Just FYI - our inventory has about 6000 unique bottles (not 6000 different things - probably about 4000 unique chemicals).

I recently explored purchasing a new system or upgrade, as 14 year old software just does not work anymore on new systems. The new systems are nice, and if any of you can afford such things, I would obviously recommend going that way. But, with recent budget cuts we just can?t take that leap.

So, with another student we went looking for an alternative. I?m happy to say that there is the PARSE database system - which is totally free, and allows one to write different types of apps to enter/query/change data. I went with the javascript mode - though frankly the IOS apps are appealing to me (I just didn?t have time to go that way).

Why am I telling you this? Well - I have javascript pages and am willing to help for those who are interested in taking charge of their own chemical inventory. It?s a very simple system, but amazingly robust and in the end very good. It gives you full control of inventory management - allowing you to enter chemicals, move chemicals, ?delete chemicals?, and various query functions. I have a MSDS function, though I do have to go download all the MSDS?s and store them in a local folder (which is what you should do anyway).

With this system - I have unlimited users, a ?good enough? security system (my security system involves not sharing the web site with anybody - but beyond that I did build in some javascript code for kicking people out if they don?t have proper authority).

I recently downloaded a barcode scanner for my phone that allows me to scan barcodes in to a comma delimited file that I can then send to myself via email. That allows me to re-inventory a whole room/shelf/location using my phone. Very cool - and very simple. I just updated over 2000 chemicals in a very short period of time (less than 2 days). Not bad really - especially given that I?m using my phone and not a scanner.

This is a ?take charge? system - meaning you have to be willing to work with it and do some of the design yourself - but if you can do that - it?s amazingly good. In fact - I feel it?s much better than my old system for what I used the system for (that?s the key). It allows me to track every bottle - track disposals - and as I ?fix? my old inventory - I?ll be able to do a lot of tracking for TierII reporting, P-listed material gathering, toxic substance analysis, etc? I can manage MSDS?s, and really get a good feel for what/where our inventory is at any moment.

You probably need to be a bit savvy in terms of web page writing to do it this way (my pages will help you get started - but really you will want to change things), but this system combines the power of a web based database with the simplicity of using javascript to manage the data. We have over 8000 chemicals in our system, and it seems to work just fine. I think this would be an awesome way to go for most for many smaller colleges and any/all high schools. If I were at a place like IU I?d be tempted to try it - though it would take some work to get there.

I have set up a test server for any of you to try out. I don?t know how it will respond with all of you possibly doing it simultaneously. I don?t think it?s set up exactly for that (it can have multiple users - I have over 50 here at my place - but never are they all doing things simultaneously, just doesn?t happen). I think it?s set up easily to handle smaller universities, and frankly if I were at a place like Wisconsin or IU, I?d try to make it work - but I don?t know if it would.

The web address is here:

To log in as a general user, use the following information: username: dchasu (case sensitive) password: dchas_user (again, case sensitive) - click on the search inventory button

To log in as an administrative user (so that you can add/delete chemicals), use the following info: username: dchasa (case sensitive) password: dchas_admin (again, case sensitive) - click on the add chem button

I would suggest logging in as admin first - adding a chemical or two - and then logging in as a general user and searching for what you just did. It?s that simple

Please do not criticize my javascript. I actually used this project to teach myself javascript - so I knew none going in. I?m learning more daily - so I?m certain I could go back and fix trivial mistakes. It works - and I feel it works well. Add some chemicals first as administrator - then log in as a general user and search for them. Right now the rooms are fixed - only 3 possible (as a pull down menu) - they are J349, J350, and Olin101. The buildings too are fixed to Julian and Olin (our two science buildings here)

At DePauw I have over 7000 chemicals in this database - with 5 buildings and 50 users. Works fine. Totally free - handles our inventory great. I would gladly discuss it with people if you have questions. If I become a javascript programmer for your university, I would consider charging, but I will gladly give as much free advice as I can. I just don?t want to do it on an hourly basis ;).

Chemicals are never deleted from my inventory. I simply added a column (boolean) as true or false for each chemical. True means it?s in the active inventory. False means it?s inactive. There is a column that states when it was last updated. Once it?s inactive - it never gets updated. But - when you do a reinventory - any chemical that was ?inactive? becomes true - so it?s possible to ?find? lost chemicals - and they are automatically updated and back in the active list.

All searches are performed as ?And? searches against the active inventory. I could set up a search that will be against inactive inventory (very simple), I just haven?t needed it yet.

This is new - and a work in progress. Please feel free to try it out - and let me know what you think (all comments welcome - but please, don?t bash me on my poor programming skills - that?s not my forte).

A student programmed all the CSS for me - I did none - so the format on forms and output are due to CSS issues. I haven?t worried about it - for us it works.

Last thing - it obviously could be hacked - but I think for most it is secure. I don?t do security at a high level for this - just what I feel is high enough to keep most people out. One has to know the web page in order to be able to log in. I think the security is OK. Javascript is harder to secure than the iOS things are. I didn?t do the iOS for a few reasons - but if that?s your thing - parse is totally set up for that.

Let me know if you are interested.

Thank you very much. Enjoy


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