Help Topics


The website that you are looking at is an example of how you can build a low-cost WordPress Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) with geo-location capabilities.  This ELN uses both free and paid pro versions of WordPress plugins. 

This ELN combines a simple social network with the ability to store soil sample data and view soil sample data from other researchers. The data in this website is based on an NSF research project for testing soil samples. The study was to see which soil samples contained bacteria that could break down the chemicals paraoxon or methyl parathion. Soil sample data is displayed on a map and in a directory of the soil samples. This ELN also has a learning management system (LMS) with some explanations for how to create an ELN that is similar to this one. These major features are available from the top menu items and are described below.


The Directory displays a short summary of some soil samples that have been collected for this research study. The data on this website is all from soil samples whose data is publicly available. Clicking on  the soil sample description will show additional details about the soil sample, including links to the NCBI articles that provide the additional details.

The directory was built using the Directories Pro plugin. There is not a free version of this plugin. We created a My Soil Sample custom post type for the Directory and the Soil Sensing Map. The Directories Pro plugin has the ability to filter using attributes of the sample data. This can be seen on the Directory page by selecting the icon near the top of the page. Clicking on the icon will display some of the attributes of the samples. Selecting an attribute will then cause the samples to be filtered in real-time according to your selection.  

One of the most useful features of the Directories Pro plugin is the ability to display the samples within a profile tab of the given user who is responsible for the sample. This works when a user has different custom post types as well. This can be seen for the user Hemen who has both Soil Sample and Places custom post types that he is responsible for. 


Soil Sensing Map

The Soil Sensing Map shows a map with pins for all of the soil samples with a specified location. The filter displayed on the map allows you to filter by category. In this Directories Pro version  you can also filter the locations on the map in real time using the filter at the top of the page. 

The Soil Sensing Map was built using the Directories Pro plugin. Using the same plugin allows the directory data and map data to be fully integrated. 

Data Import and Export

The Directories Pro plugin has the ability to export and import data using CSV files. 


The Groups area is part of the social network features of the site. The faculty, lab admins, and students can be part of the group that corresponds to their institution. 

The Groups features is part of the free BuddyPress plugin. 


The members section lists all active members of this ELN. 

The members feature is also part of the free BuddyPress plugin. 


The help section contains an overview page (this page) and an example of a learning management system (LMS) course. The course briefly covers considerations concerning how to build a WordPress ELN. 

Learning Management System

The free version of the Lifter LMS is also included in this free ELN. We use it to explain the basics for Building Your Own Free ELN. This course is accessible as the child sub-menu of the Help menu. 


The Profile menu item is represented by the avatar of the logged in user on the top right of the top menu. Clicking the avatar will display the profile area for the logged in user.