SoftMax® Pro 6 or 7 Software enables the entry of some sample information via the template editor. The sample name and two descriptors can be added to customize a protocol (Figure 1). In addition, the import and export functionality of the SoftMax Pro Software allows for importing plate templates as .xls or .txt files. This is particularly useful for high throughput or if the sample information is already available in another software (i.e. Excel). This technical note provides a step-by-step procedure to import a template file from Excel.
Creating a compatible template file
On the Home tab of SoftMax Pro Software, the template tools enable the import of template information into a plate section from a tab-delimited ASCII text file in Unicode (UTF-8) format. Template files can be prepared outside the SoftMax Pro Software and then imported when samples are ready to be run.
The best way to obtain the correct format for template import is to export a template from SoftMax Pro Software and modify the contents of the resulting file.
To export a template, follow the next few steps:
- In the Navigation Tree, select the source plate section.
- On the Home tab, click Export ( ) to display the Save As dialog.
- Navigate to the location where you want to save the template file.
- In the File Name field, enter a name for the file.
- Click the Save As Type drop-down and select text files (*.txt) or Excel files (*.xls). Text files are saved in a tab-delimited format.
- Click Save. This file can now be open and updated in Excel.
Updating and modifying the template file in Excel
When template data are saved as a tab delimited ASCII text file in Unicode (UTF-8) format, the template file consists of ten columns of data separated by tabs (Figure 2). Each line of the file provides information for a single well in the plate.
When you export template information, the first line of data contains template information for well A1, the second line of data contains template information for well A2, and so on, such that a line is created in the export file for each well in the plate. If no template information exists for a well in a plate, the corresponding line in the file is left blank.
The order of the import template information must match the export order, and each column should have the correct format: text, number, or alphanumeric (Table 1). Column C represents the group section format and therefore the analysis carried out in the tables in SoftMax Pro Software. It can be either Standards, Unknowns, or Custom. If you have added additional columns in a group section in SoftMax Pro, “Custom” will be displayed in this column. Column D is the sample name and can be entered with a barcode. In the group table in SoftMax Pro, Samples will be listed according to their name in alphanumerical order, therefore you should put a “0” before a single digit number to keep the correct order. Blank lines in the file are assigned to wells, with no template assignment.
|Column name||Column entry||Description|
|A||Well Location||In this column, the wells do not need to be in order.|
|B||Group Name||If this field is missing, the rest of the line is ignored.|
|C||Group Type||Three text strings are supported: Standards, Unknowns, Custom. Blank groups have an Empty column format.|
|D||Sample Name||If this field is blank, no sample name is assigned to the well, although the well is included in the group.|
|E||Descriptor1 Name||Generally used for a concentration, a dilution, a volume, a percentage, or a sample number/ID.|
|F||Descriptor1 Value||You can enter a numeric value in this field, or it can be blank.|
|G||Descriptor1 Units||Supported strings are unit/mL, mg/mL, µg/mL, ng/mL, mg, ng, and mL. If this column is blank, unit/mL is assigned.|
|H||Descriptor2 Name||Generally used for a concentration, a dilution, a volume, a percentage, or a sample number/ID.|
|I||Descriptor2 Value||You can enter a numeric value in this field, or it can be blank.|
|J||Descriptor2 Units||Supported strings are unit/mL, mg/mL, µg/mL, ng/mL, mg, ng, and mL. If this column is blank, unit/mL is assigned.|
Once you have adjusted the template file, save the document as a text file in tab-delimited format (Figure 3) and close Excel. If Excel is still open, you will see an error message in SoftMax Pro Software while importing the template (Figure 5).
Importing a template
If you have followed the guidelines listed in Table 1, importing the updated template can be done in just a few steps in SoftMax Pro Software:
- In the Navigation Tree, select the destination plate section.
- On the Home tab, click Import ( ) to display the Open dialog.
- Navigate to and select the <template>.txt file you want to import.
- Click Open. The template will be added to the plate section and additional tables will be generated according to the imported template file (Figure 4).
This technical note shows how to import a template file into SoftMax Pro Software from Excel. When the template is available in an Excel-compatible format, an Excel macro can be designed to update the template file automatically for a more secure and rapid method.