At first glance, Colabra and Benchling have a lot in common. Both help you manage your scientific data with an electronic lab notebook.
But, the similarities end there.
Benchling started as a plasmid editor in 2012, and their focus has always been on biologics — large molecule biology-based research. The company is now also focused entirely on serving the requirements of large enterprises, ignoring the needs of small and medium-size labs.
If you’re working on medicine and pharmaceutical research at a large company, Benchling is great for you.
If you do any other kind of research — small-molecule chemistry-based research, synthetic biology, biofuels, longevity, materials science — or if you’re working at an exciting startup, Colabra will be a better fit, and feel like modern software designed with your unique needs and usability in mind.
Ease of use
Colabra’s intuitive user interface makes groundbreaking science feel effortless. Its extensible ELN was designed to be used every day, for research that starts in the lab (wet lab, dry room, clean room, fume hood, glove box, etc.).
We believe the more usable the software is for the individual scientist, the higher the likelihood that they will document everything properly and not cut corners. This will then allow scientific teams to utilize that clean and complete data for powerful analyses in the future.
Benchling customers comment that it can take months to train a lab team to use it. This is because Benchling’s core product was the plasmid editor, and the electronic lab notebook was only added as an afterthought later. Their ELN was never built with an extensible design and infrastructure to accommodate new features, and over time, has begun to feel clunky, slow, and confusing.
If you’re someone who works on large-molecule biologics and only occasionally does lab work, Benchling may serve your needs. If you’re someone who opens up a lab notebook every morning and your day-to-day involves putting on a lab coat to do science, Colabra is your tool of the trade.
Colabra is not just for the individual scientist. It was designed to be used by everyone on your team — researchers, managers, and executives — to help everyone gain visibility into experimental context, program performance, and resource utilization.
With Colabra, scientists can work closely with management, product, finance, and engineering, and leverage the organization’s collective knowledge.
Colabra brings your team closer together with features such as mentions, real-time collaborative editing, task assignment, and progress tracking. It also allows you to actively connect and engage with other organizations, such as contract research organizations and cloud labs for outsourcing experiments, or academic and government labs for research partnerships.
Benchling has limited collaborative experiment tracking and data capture functionality, and the data isn’t structured enough to make sharing and aggregating information across several experiments straightforward.
If you don’t interface with the data from other teams, Benchling may serve your needs. But if you want access to all of the data scientists at your organization have collected, including the processes that went into every experiment, the discussions that took place, and the outputs tied to specific inputs, and if you want to see how this data is used downstream across an organization, Colabra is the only truly collaborative scientific software on the market.
As the pace of scientific advancement accelerates, so does the amount of data being generated. We need to ensure our scientific software can scale and support increasingly complex data.
Colabra’s cloud-based electronic lab notebook integrates with digital, paper, and mobile data, and supports an ever-growing list of data types and file formats. Colabra is also building a robust API and developer ecosystem, so that the newest data types and integrations are always available.
With every other ELN, including Benchling, metadata is lost when data inputs need to be converted into file formats that can be embedded into their note-taking software (for example, when SPA, CZI or FASTA files are converted to JPG). Regardless of field, almost every scientist has data formats they currently can’t include in their software.
By supporting these metadata-rich integrations, Colabra is building a tool that will be able to leverage all of the data on the platform, and apply machine learning and natural language processing to automatically identify bottlenecks in a scientific process, generate scientific analyses, and more.
If you work mostly with large molecule data, Benching's integrations may be enough to support your needs.
If you need your software to support any other kind of data format (whether it’s for flow cytometry, microscope images, molecular visualization, chemical structures, DNA sequences, CAD files or software like GraphPad Prism, Tableau, Github, Deepnote, Flux.ai, Asana, Airtable, etc.) you should be using Colabra.
iPhone and Android mobile apps
Colabra has a mobile app available on the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. Take your research wherever you go, and edit your experiments from your phone.
Multiple devices, multiple people
Colabra’s text editor allows your to collaborate in real-time, from multiple devices, and with unlimited people.
Unlike Benchling, where you run out of storage and have to do many things to get complimentary space, in Colabra, storage is unlimited.
Image editing resizing
Colabra supports image editing (including shapes, text, resizing), right in the text editor.