Blu-Ice and DCS Software Project
This page describes the SMB-MC Blu-Ice GUI & Distributed Control System (DCS) software development project. Beamline users may go to the Blu-Ice User Manual for directions on how to use Blu-Ice to collect data.
Blu-Ice is a graphical Interface to the Distributed Control System (DCS) for crystallographic data collection at synchrotron light sources. Designed for highly heterogeneous networked computing environments, it uses an efficient message passing protocol for communication between underlying, disparate hardware control systems and multiple, fully synchronized instances of the graphical user interface. A server process at each beam line centralizes control over all beam line hardware and provides a central point through which all messages between user interfaces and hardware control systems pass. The server also embeds a scripting engine capable of handling complex operations spanning multiple control systems with a powerful event driven language.
The highly graphical Blu-Ice user interface simplifies sophisticated experimental protocols and complex motor relationships, hides the complexities of the control and computer infrastructure, and allows the user to concentrate on the problem at hand - the collection of diffraction data or the maintenance of a beam line. This high level of abstraction enables the user to cope with sophisticated experimental protocols and complex hardware.
Blu-Ice and DCS are based on modern software development strategies and serve as models for the control of other crystallographic beam lines and home X-ray sources. The design philosophy exemplifies the Collaboratory paradigm, featuring cross-platform portability, remote access capability, and collaboration enabling features. The unification of the graphical interfaces across multiple beam lines and home laboratories also bears significant advantages in training and education.
Blu-Ice and the Distributed Control System: software for data acquisition and instrument control at macromolecular crystallography beamlines.
McPhillips, T.M.; McPhillips, S.E.; Chiu, H.J.; Cohen, A.E.; Deacon, A.M.; Ellis, P.J.; Garman, E.; Gonzalez, A.; Sauter, N.K.; Phizackerley, P.; Soltis, M.; Kuhn, P. J Synchrotron Radiat 9, 401-6 (2002).
View the 2001 Asilomar Presentation for an early description of the project.
The Board of Trustees of the
Leland Stanford Junior University
All rights reserved.
The items furnished herewith were developed under the sponsorship of the U.S. Government. Neither the U.S., nor the U.S. D.O.E., nor the Leland Stanford Junior University, nor their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process disclosed, or represents that its use will not infringe privately-owned rights. Mention of any product, its manufacturer, or suppliers shall not, nor is it intended to, imply approval, disapproval, or fitness for any particular use. The U.S. and the University at all times retain the right to use and disseminate the furnished items for any purpose whatsoever. Notice 91 02 01
Work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC03-76SF00515; and the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources, grant 2P41RR01209.
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
Obtaining the Software
Blu-Ice and DCS have been installed at synchrotrons world wide and are available for download from Gitlab. Developers can obtain copies of Blu-Ice and/or DCS source code for evaluation and installation via Gitlab:
To request a Gitlab account, send a request with a brief statement of interest, institution and affiliated beam lines: