Have a Question?
Table of Contents
< All Topics

LIMS Release Notes v5

Release Notes

Version 5.0.0

December 8, 2018


What’s New in Version 5.0.0. 1

What’s Fixed in Version 5.0.0. 3

Known Problem with Hot Keys. 3

System Requirements. 3

SQL Server Requirements. 4

Installing SQL Server Express. 4

Installing MSC-LIMS. 9

Installing MSC-LIMS Messaging. 15

MSC-LIMS Setup Folder Contents. 16

Upgrading from MSC-LIMS 4.x. 16

Migrating an MSC-LIMS 4.x Database to SQL Server 17

What You Will Need. 18

Migrate LimsData. 18

Updating Version 4.x Excel Export Templates. 24

Contact Us. 25

What’s New in Version 5.0.0

Below is a summary of the new features added in MSC‑LIMS Version 5.0.0.

What’s NewIdentifier
MSC-LIMS 5.x now uses a SQL Server back end database for improved reliability, scalability, and security.  See SQL Server Requirements for more information. 
There is no longer a LIMS login dialog.  Starting MSC-LIMS uses the current Windows user’s credentials to access SQL Server.  When multiple technicians share a LIMS workstation, be sure to exit the LIMS and switch Windows user before starting the LIMS for another user. 
The currently attached database now appears on the main menu in the form “database on server\instance”. 
Wildcard pattern matching characters in sample queries now require SQL Server syntax.  Use ‘%’ to match zero or more characters and ‘_’ to match any single character instead of the version 4.x ‘*’ and ‘?’ Access SQL characters. 
All example Excel import and export templates have been updated from Excel 97-2003 xlt format to the newer macro-enabled xltm format.  Find the example templates in folder C:\MSC-LIMS\Examples. 
The System Error Log screen on the Admin menu now includes options to view MSC-LIMS errors, MSC-LIMS Messaging errors, or all errors. 
Database error handling will now display a first message with a likely description of the problem (e.g. attempting to add a duplicate record or attempting to delete a record with related records in another table) with an option to display the more cryptic but detailed ODBC error message. 
Added a new ‘DB Info’ tab to the System Configuration screen with SQL Server database and ODBC information for troubleshooting. 
The Database tab of the System Permissions screen on the Admin menu displays the database table permissions by security role.  Permissions are managed via SQL Server scripts and utilities. 
Increased the maximum length of label expressions on the System Configuration screen from 80 to 255 characters.L-000955
The Analytical Batch QC Data Entry screen now supports entering and importing the sample ID for a related sample.  Use the new ‘Related Sample’ field to record the sample ID for specific QC data types such as Duplicates, Matrix Spikes, etc.  Enable the new ‘Requires SampleID’ option on the QC Data Types setup screen to require a related sample for specific QC data types during QC data entry.  Use the new ‘Related Sample ID’ start cell on the Analyses setup screen to specify the starting cell for related sample IDs when importing QC data from Excel.L-000961
Enabled date and time entry in the result value field on the Analytical Batch QC Data Entry form.L-000963
Added a new Inactives check box to the Sample Criteria tab of the query controls to enable/disable inactive items for project, location, sample type, sampler, and customer pick lists.L-000964
Added a new single-character Database ID field to the Miscellaneous tab of the System Configuration screen.  When your organization uses multiple LIMS databases, use the Database ID character to distinguish sample IDs by database.L-000965
MSC-LIMS Messaging’s styles and message queue are now accessible from the Messaging tab of the System Configuration screen.L-000966
For Full System licensees, the LimsCode5.mdb source code file is no longer secured.  To edit LimsCode, start Microsoft Access 2010 then hold down the Shift key while opening the MDB file to bypass the normal startup sequence.  Double-click frmMainMenu in the list of forms to open the main menu for testing. 
Holding down the SHIFT key while clicking the OK button in the Excel Data Transfer popup will now bypass running the selected Excel export template’s macros.  Use this feature during template development to debug and single-step through the AfterTransferFromLIMS macro.L-000970

What’s Fixed in Version 5.0.0

Following is a list of the problems fixed in MSC‑LIMS Version 5.0.0.  Note that some of the fixes may have already been added to version 4.1 during Annual Subscription updates.

What’s FixedIdentifier
Importing results from Excel does not work properly when the LIMS is directed to look in merged cells.L-000957
During batch login, Report Specs from requirement analyses are correctly copied to the sample but Report Specs from project analyses are not copied.L-000960
The Small label style incorrectly prints one label for every sample in the database instead of one label for each sample queried.L-000968

Known Problem with Hot Keys

Hot keys are the underlined character on a form control that provide quick access to the control using the keyboard combination of Alt+character.  There is a know serious bug in Microsoft Access 2010 (including service pack 2) where form hot keys do not work on any form that includes a tab control.  A tab control is the form element that provides tabs to organize other form controls.  Many MSC-LIMS forms incorporate a tab control including the main menu, analysis and project setup, and any form with the standard sample query controls.

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and logged it as an Access 2010 bug.  Unfortunately, they have provided no solution, hotfix, or any suggestion that the problem may be fixed in a future Office 2010 service pack.  See Problem with access keys and tab controls in Access 2010 for more information.

We have devised an imperfect but workable solution to the problem.  Use an Alt+Z keystroke combination prior to the regular hot key to enable hot keys on any MSC-LIMS form with a tab control.  For example, the hot key Alt+A would normally select the Admin tab on the main menu.  In MSC-LIMS 5.x use either Alt+Z then Alt+A or Alt+Z+A to use the hot key.  For the latter combination, hold down the Alt key, press and release the “Z” key then press the “A” key. 

System Requirements

MSC-LIMS version 5.x for SQL Server uses an Access 2010 front end with the Access 2010 Runtime along with a SQL Server back end database.  MSC-LIMS for SQL Server uses SQL Server’s Windows Authentication mode and DSN-less connections between the front end software and back end database.  Following are the system requirements for MSC‑LIMS 5.x.

Operating System:      Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7/8/10

Processor:                    500 MHz or faster

Memory:                      Minimum 512 MB

Hard-disk space:         3.0 GB free

Monitor:                      1024 x 768 or higher resolution

Database:                    An existing Microsoft SQL Server instance (2008 R2 or newer version) using Windows Authentication mode.  See SQL Server Requirements below.

ODBC Driver:             Either ‘ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server’ or ‘SQL Server Native Client 10.0’ or newer ODBC driver.  Note that it is recommended that all LIMS workstations use the same ODBC driver.

Miscellaneous:             32-bit Microsoft Office (for Excel interface)

                                    Outlook 2003 or newer (for Messaging or emailing system reports)

                                    PDF viewing software (for User’s Guide)

                                    PDFCreator version 3.x or newer (for Messaging-created PDF files)

See the link below for a complete list of Office 2010 system requirements.

Microsoft Office 2010 system requirements

SQL Server Requirements

MSC-LIMS 5.x requires an existing Microsoft SQL Server instance (2008 R2 or newer version) using Windows Authentication mode.  The MSC-LIMS database can be added to any existing SQL Server instance. 

If your organization does not already have a SQL Server instance, you can download and install the free SQL Server Express version.  See Installing SQL Server Express below.  SQL Server Express can be installed on any LIMS or non-LIMS workstation in a peer-to-peer network or on a dedicated Windows server.  If you have a single-user MSC-LIMS license and no network, install SQL Server Express on the LIMS workstation.

Installing SQL Server Express

If your organization does not already have a SQL Server instance, you can download and install the free SQL Server Express.  Note that you will need to install a SQL Server Express version with tools that includes SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).  While any version from 2008 R2 or newer will work with MSC-LIMS, the most recent 2016 and 2017 versions of SQL Server Express do not include a single download that includes SSMS.  For that reason, we recommend installing SQL Server Express 2014 for simplicity.  Follow the steps below to install.

  1. Close any other applications that are running.  Log on to Windows as a user with administrative privileges.
  2. Visit the Microsoft SQL Server Express 2014 download page and click the Download button:
  • Select either the 32- or 64-bit version ExpressAndTools file depending on your Windows system’s version then click Next and save the file to your hard drive:
  • After the download completes, double-click the download file to launch the SQL Server Installation Center and select the New SQL Server installation option.
  • Review and accept the license terms and click Next.
  • Select features or accept the default features and click Next.
  • Accept the default SQLExpress instance name and click Next.
  • Set the SQL Server Browser startup type to Automatic if you have a multi-user MSC-LIMS license or other workstations will be accessing the SQL Server instance then click Next.
  • Ensure that Windows authentication mode is selected and click Next.
  1. Click Close after the installation completes.
  1. IMPORTANT: If you have installed SQL Server Express on a workstation in a peer-to-peer network, you must add the identical Windows login names and passwords to the SQL Server Express workstation for all LIMS workstation logins that will be accessing SQL Server.

Installing MSC-LIMS

This section provides installation instructions for a new MSC-LIMS installation.  If you are upgrading from MSC-LIMS version 4.x see Upgrading from MSC-LIMS 4.x below.

To install MSC-LIMS version 5.0:

  1. If you do not have an existing SQL Server instance, install SQL Server Express.  See Installing SQL Server Express above for instructions.
  • If you have a multi-user MSC-LIMS license, create shared folder d:\MSC-LIMS on your file server, where d: is the server drive letter.
  • Close any other applications that are running.  Log on to Windows as a user with administrative privileges.
  • Download file MSC-LIMS5-Access2010Runtime.exe (260 MB) from the msc-lims.com web site and save the file to your hard drive then double-click the file to extract its contents.  For a single-user license, extract the contents to folder C:\MSC-LIMS\Setup.  For a multi-user license extract the contents to folder d:\MSC-LIMS\Setup on your file server, where d: is the drive letter from step #2.
  • Download the electronic distribution file from the msc-lims.com web site using the link in your MSC-LIMS Order email provided by MSC.  Save the file to your hard drive then double-click the file and follow the instructions to extract the file’s contents.  For a single-user license, extract the contents to folder C:\MSC-LIMS\Setup.  For a multi-user license, extract the contents to folder d:\MSC-LIMS\Setup on your file server, where d: is the drive letter from step #2.  The MSC-LIMS setup program launches automatically after extracting the file’s contents. 
  • If the MSC-LIMS setup program is not already running start the program by double-clicking the Application file Setup.exe in the Setup folder created in step #4.  Click the Next button.
  • Accept the default C:\MSC-LIMS location to install the MSC-LIMS software or use the [Browse] button to select the destination folder.  Click the Next button.  
  • The Ready to Install dialog box appears, which provides a last chance to go back and change the information you have entered so far.  Click the Install button to install MSC-LIMS.
  • During installation, dialog boxes show you the progress as files are copied and the Microsoft Access 2010 Runtime and its service pack are installed.  When the process is complete, another dialog box tells you that MSC‑LIMS has been installed successfully.  Click the Finish button to complete the installation.
  1. For a multi-user license, repeat steps 6 though 9 at each MSC-LIMS workstation.
  1. Install the MSC-LIMS SQL Server database.
  1. Start SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and connect to your existing server or the server you installed in step #1.
  • Right-click Databases in the SSMS Object Explorer and select Restore Database.
  • Select ‘Device’ as the restore source, click the browse button, click Add, select database backup file C:\MSC-LIMS\EmptyMSClimsDatabase.bak then click OK.
  • Enter database name ‘MSClims’ then click OK to restore the database.
  • The restored database is now ready for use.
  1. Start MSC-LIMS 5.0 for the first time while logged onto the workstation as a Windows user with sysadmin or db_owner permission in SQL Server.  The “Open MSC‑LIMS Database” dialog will appear.  Select the ODBC driver from the pick list.  If no drivers appear in the pick list, install the ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server.  Enter the Server in the form “server\instance” then enter the name of the database installed in step #11 and click Connect. 

After successfully connecting to the SQL Server database, the MSC-LIMS main menu will appear.  Next, open the Users screen on the Admin menu and add user logins in the appropriate security role.  

Enter login names in the form “domain\username” and select the appropriate security role.  Note that the new “Owner” security role uses SQL Server’s fixed db_owner role.  Any SQL Server sysadmin members mapped to dbo will automatically have Owner permission in the LIMS.  It is likely that only IT staff need to be an Owner and existing LIMS users can be recreated with their current role.  Members of the Admin and Owner security roles have permissions to use this screen.

Installing MSC-LIMS Messaging

Follow the steps below to install MSC-LIMS Messaging.

  1. Close any other applications that are running.  Log on to Windows as a user with administrative privileges.

  2. Use WinKey+E to open Windows Explorer.  Navigate to the Setup folder containing the MSC-LIMS electronic distribution files (normally C:\MSC-LIMS\Setup for a single-user license or \MSC-LIMS\Setup on your server for a multi-user license).  In the Setup folder, double-click the messaging folder then double-click the Application file Setup.exe.  Click the Next button. 

  3. Accept the default C:\MSC-LIMS location for the MSC-LIMS Messaging software or use the Browse button to select the destination folder.  Click the Next button.

  4. Click the Install button to install MSC-LIMS Messaging.

  5. When installation begins, the Installing dialog box opens and shows you the progress as files are copied.  When the process is complete, another dialog box tells you that MSC-LIMS Messaging has been installed successfully.

  6. Click the Finish button to complete the installation.

MSC-LIMS Setup Folder Contents

Exctracting the contents of file MSC-LIMS5-Access2010Runtime.exe and the MSC-LIMS 5.x electronic distribution file creates the following folders:

Folder                                                       Contents

Setup                                                         MSC-LIMS installation software.  Run Setup.exe to install.

Setup\messaging                                        MSC-LIMS Messaging installation software.  Run Setup.exe to install.

Setup\runtime                                              Microsoft Access 2010 Runtime installation files.  The MSC‑LIMS and MSC-LIMS Messaging installation software automatically installs this component.

Setup\MDB                                                 MDB files for MSC-LIMS and MSC‑LIMS Messaging and the MSC-LIMS Programmer’s Guide (Full System licenses only).

Upgrading from MSC-LIMS 4.x

MSC-LIMS versions 4.x and 5.x use the same Microsoft Access 2010 Runtime so they can coexist on a workstation.  Use the following recommended strategy to plan your upgrade.

  1. You will need to re-enter the Workstation Configuration screen’s settings in MSC‑LIMS 5.0.  Open the Workstation Configuration screen on the Admin menu in MSC-LIMS 4.x and use Alt+PrntScrn to save an image of each screen tab.  Open Word and use Edit | Paste to paste the screen image into a blank Word document then print the screen images for reference.  NOTE: In a multi-user installation after entering the workstation configuration settings in MSC-LIMS 5.0 for the first workstation, exit the LIMS then copy file LimsCode5.xml in the folder where MSC-LIMS 5.0 is installed (normally C:\MSC-LIMS) to each LIMS workstation to use the same workstation configuration settings.
  • Install SQL Server Express if you do not already have a SQL Server instance (see SQL Server Requirements above).
  • Migrate your existing LimsData database to SQL Server (see Migrating an MSC-LIMS 4.x Database to SQL Server below).  Note that MSC can migrate your existing database for a fee.  If you opt for this service, simply restore the SQL Server database backup file provided by MSC instead of the empty database backup file in step #11 under Installing MSC-LIMS above.
  • If you plan to install MSC-LIMS 5.0 to test while you continue to run MSC-LIMS 4.x on the same workstation, follow these steps:
  1. Rename your existing MSC-LIMS shortcut on your Windows desktop ‘MSC-LIMS4’.
  • Rename the existing MSC-LIMS, MSC-LIMS User’s Guide, and Release Notes options on the MSC-LIMS menu on the Start Menu ‘MSC-LIMS4’ and ‘MSC-LIMS4 User’s Guide’ and Release Notes4, respectively.  Hint: In Windows 10, expand the MSC-LIMS menu on the Start Menu, right-click the first option to rename, click More then ‘Open file location’ to open the Start menu then right-click each option to rename and select Rename.  If you are using MSC-LIMS Messaging, also rename its option on the Start Menu’s MSC-LIMS menu.
  • Follow the Installing MSC-LIMS instructions above to install MSC-LIMS 5.0 and change the installation folders for the MSC-LIMS and Access 2010 Runtime files from C:\MSC-LIMS to C:\MSC-LIMS5.
  • If you do not need to keep MSC-LIMS 4.x on the workstation, uninstall version 4.x then rename folder C:\MSC-LIMS to C:\MSC-LIMS4.  There is no need to uninstall the Microsoft Access 2010 Runtime.  Install MSC-LIMS 5.0 (see Installing MSC-LIMS above).
  • Update any existing Excel export templates to work properly with SQL Server.  See Updating Version 4.x Excel Export Templates below.
  • To conform with SQL Server syntax, replace the ‘*’ and ‘?’ wildcard pattern matching characters with ‘%’ and ‘_’ respectively, in any saved expressions on the SQL Expressions setup screen.

Migrating an MSC-LIMS 4.x Database to SQL Server

This section provides detailed instructions to migrate data from an MSC LIMS 4.x Access back end database to SQL Server.  The required steps are as follows:

  1. Remove workgroup security from a copy of LimsData4.mdb
  2. Prepare the copy of LimsData4.mdb for migration
  3. Create a new MSClims database in SQL Server
  4. Migrate the data in LimsData4.mdb to the new SQL Server database
  5. Run a script to complete the setup of the new SQL Server database

If you prefer, MSC can perform your database migration for a fee.  If you choose this service, contact MSC to coordinate a date and time for the migration.

What You Will Need

Migrate LimsData

Follow the steps below to migrate the data from an existing MSC-LIMS version 4.x LimsData database to a new SQL Server database.  Note that these steps can be performed at any workstation that has a full copy of Microsoft Access and access to the SQL Server instance.

  1. If you are migrating a version 4.0 LimsData database, download and extract the contents of file LimsData to SQL Server migration files.zip to folder C:\MSC-LIMS on an existing LIMS workstation overwriting existing file Update.mdb.  If you are migrating a version 4.1 LimsData database, download the same zip file and extract its contents to any folder then go to step #3.
  • Only version 4.1 LimsData databases can be migrated to SQL Server.  To update a version 4.0 LimsData to version 4.1, first make a copy of the LimsData4.mdb file then use Start | All Programs | MSC-LIMS | Version Update to start the database version update utility and log on as user LimsAdmin.  Click the [Update LimsData] button then use the Browse button and select the version 4.0 LimsData database to update.  Click the Update button to update the database to version 4.1.0.
  • If you do not already have a SQL Server instance, install SQL Server with Windows Authentication security mode (see SQL Server Requirements above.

  • Install SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) for Access.  Note that SSMA version 7.8 or newer offers both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  Choose the SSMA download file that matches your version of Microsoft Office.  For example, if you use 32-bit Office, download and install the 32-bit version of SSMA.

  • Create a new desktop shortcut to start a full copy of Microsoft Access with workgroup security file LimsUser4Upsize.mdw extracted in step #1.  Example shortcut Target property:

    “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\MSACCESS.EXE” /wrkgrp “C:\MSC-LIMS\LimsUser4upsize.mdw”

  • Copy LimsData4.mdb to LimsData4Upsize.mdb.

  • Remove LimsData4Upsize.mdb user-level security:
    • Start Access with LimsUser4Upsize.mdw using the shortcut created in step #3.
    • Open LimsData4Upsize.mdb.
    • Use File | Users and Permissions | User and Group Permissions and give the Admin user full permissions to all tables in the database:
    • Give the Admin user Open/Run, Open Exclusive, and Administer permissions on the database:

    • Exit Access.
    • In Windows Explorer, double-click LimsData4Upsize.mdb to ensure Access can open the file without LimsUser4.mdw (i.e. the file is no longer secured).

  • If you have not been using MSC-LIMS Messaging, copy the supplied LimsMsgs4Upsize.mdb extracted in step #1 to the same folder as LimsData4Upsize.mdb then go to step #10.

  • If you have been using MSC-LIMS Messaging, copy LimsMsgs4.mdb to LimsMsgs4Upsize.mdb in the same folder as LimsData4Upsize.mdb then repeat step #7 with file LimsMsgs4Upsize.mdb to remove its user-level security.

  • Prepare LimsData4Upsize for migration:
    • Open LimsData4Upsize.mdb
    • Use Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor
    • Use Tools | References and enable “Microsoft DAO 3.6 Object Library” if not already enabled
    • Use File | Import File and select file Upsizing Functions.bas extracted in step #1. 
    • Use View | Immediate Window
    • Type ”PrepareDatabaseForUpsizing” (no spaces and without the quotes) in the Immediate window and hit Enter. 
    • After “[ok]” appears, close the VBA editor then exit Access without saving the Upsizing Functions module.

  • Start SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and create a new “MSClims” database.

  • Start SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) then use File | Migration Wizard to start the Migration Wizard.
    • Create a new SSMA project and select the SQL Server version:
    • Add LimsData4Upsize.mdb:
    • Migrate all tables:
    • Connect to SQL Server selecting the database created in step #11:
    • Do not link tables:
    • View migration status and verify there are no errors (warnings and informational messages are expected):

  • Start SSMS, connect to the server, open file MSC-LIMS 500 Setup.sql extracted in step #1, enter the name of the database created in step #11 in the “USE database” statement near the top of the script.  Use F5 to execute the script:

The new SQL Server database is now ready for use with MSC-LIMS version 5.0.  If you have an existing ArcvData database you can repeat steps 6 through 13 to migrate that data to a separate SQL Server database.

Updating Version 4.x Excel Export Templates

Any existing Excel export templates used with MSC-LIMS that have a ‘LIMS Access Version’ option on a Settings worksheet will require either a simple or more complex update to their VBA macro to work properly with MSC-LIMS version 5.0 and SQL Server.  Alternatively, if you created the template by modifying one of the example templates, consider creating a new template by modifying an example template installed with MSC-LIMS 5.0.

To determine if a complex update is required, open the Excel template, use Alt+F11 to open the VBA Editor, double-click the LIMSData object in the project explorer pane then use Ctrl+F to search for ‘sysSample’ (without the quotes).  If ‘sysSample’ is found send the template to MSC for updating (hourly fee applies).

If ‘sysSample’ is not found in the template’s macro then a simple update can be performed.  Without the simple update, the following error will occur when using an unmodified template with MSC-LIMS 5.0:

To update an export template’s macro, open the template in Excel (or right-click and choose Open in Windows Explorer) then use Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor.  In the left pane double-click the LIMSData object then use Ctrl+F and search for ‘dbOpenDynaset’ in the right pane.  Following is an example line found:

Set rs = db.OpenRecordset(sSQL, dbOpenDynaset, dbReadOnly)

Insert “+ dbSeeChanges” before the closing parenthesis:

Set rs = db.OpenRecordset(sSQL, dbOpenDynaset, dbReadOnly + dbSeeChanges)

Note that you can type ‘dbseechanges’ in all lower case and the VBA editor will convert to mixed case if the keyword is recognized.  Use F3 to find the next occurrence of ‘dbOpenDynaset’ and repeat the update for all occurrences.  When you are finished making the changes use Debug | Compile VBA Project to check for errors.  A message will only appear if there are errors.  It is good practice to document your template change.  Use Ctrl+Home to jump to the top of the macro code and add a new line in the revision history comments with the date, your initials, and a description of the update:

Close the VBA editor then close the Excel template saving your changes.

Contact Us

For help or more information contact:

J Street Technology

All rights reserved.

16625 Redmond Way Ste M

Redmond, WA  98052 U.S.A.




Table of Contents