by Florian Schneider, 10 October 2014

I was looking for a while for a way to document my progress, build a knowledgebase and structure and manage projects. Most classic Wikis do only part of that job. So I just put together a nice way to keep a personal (or collaborative) lab notebook using the static site generator Jekyll.

One of the problems with wikis was, that I wanted a chronological documentation of progress. That is an important feature of a lab notebook, since it allows to trace the development of an idea much better than a wiki which only shows the current status of thought.

Researchers use a lab notebook to document their hypotheses, experiments and initial analysis or interpretation of these experiments. The notebook serves as an organizational tool, a memory aid, and can also have a role in protecting any intellectual property that comes from the research.

says Wikipedia

English: Pages 40-1 of Alexander Graham Bell's unpublished laboratory notebook (1875-76), describing first successful experiment with the telephone.

Pages 40-1 of Alexander Graham Bell’s unpublished laboratory notebook (1875-76), describing first successful experiment with the telephone. Source: Wikimedia Commons

So I started to build a Jekyll template and released it on GitHub which adds functionality that facilitates

  • writing of daily logs
  • collecting and linking information
  • drafting of articles and essays
  • building a knowledgebase

Basically, you write simple text files that are automatically turned into a very clear website.

Find the demo here. I invite you to download it from GitHub and check it out for your own use and tell me what you think.


  • Todo Lists using the GitHub syntax - [ ].
  • Tags allow you to link posts of a certain topic, project or field of interest. Buttons for the next and previous post and automatic linking to related posts based on common tags facilitates browsing through posts.
  • Post Archive is a chronological list of all posts, which is perfect for the use as a lab diary.
  • Multi-authoring for entire research groups due to an author tag in the front-matter
  • log your geolocation with the place parameter
  • math equations using (renders $ \LaTeX $ syntax).