Basic Experimenter

Eric J. Fimbel - Software - home page 

basic experimenter at Source Forge     basic experimenter at Softpedia     more software at basic lab book

Copyright (C) 2009, 2011 Eric Fimbel. Contact : See license terms at bottom 

Tecnalia - Fatronik supports this open source software since January 2010


Version 2011 03 01 for Windows - standalone (zip 11 mb).

documentation (pdf) 

New features: predefined templates of procedures, edition of template.

Previous versions: bottom of page (All Downloads)

Templates of procedures: bottom of page  (All Downloads)


Windows XP and further, 25 Mb disk space.

No additional requirement. 

Note. Basic Experimenter is written in Python but it 

contains a local installation, i.e., it is standalone.

Installation and uninstallation

Installation: unzip the download in any directory. 

Uninstallation: delete the installation directory. 

What is Basic Experimenter?

Basic Experimenter is a standalone application to conduct an experiment

An experiment is a procedure, i.e., a sequence of steps. If the experiment is reproduced (e.g., with several participants), the steps must be identical.

In Basic Experimenter, each step is materialized by a file: document to view, print or read aloud, checklist,  data to fill on line...

At the end of the experiment, some of these files may contain new data (e.g., information on participant), other files are static (like the documents to print or the consign to read aloud).

However every file is necessary to document  the experiment, whether the file contains data or not.

At the end of the experiment, the data from different sources (e.g., different computers or programs) is copied in directory. Then everything is backuped together: program, files and data.

Basic Experimenter contributes to good scientific practices in 3 ways.

Documentation of your experiment. The template defines what you do.

Reproducibility. The procedure can be repeated identically. In addition, the procedure can be run again on any computer therefore there is no problem of hardware obsolescence

Traceability. The procedure indicates how the data have been obtained. In addition, procedure and data are archived conjointly.

Finally, Basic Experimenter is a way of sharing experimental procedures. Version 2011 03 01 comes with 4 templates. With time, this site will contain more templates. 

Write to if you are interested in sharing your experimental procedures.

How it works

Basic Experimenter normally runs on an independent computer reserved to the experimenter.

Note that i
t is a safe experimental practice to use separate computers to present stimuli, control equipments and/or capture real time data.

Note that

 the same computer can be used in turn by the experimenter and the participant. In this case, the fine timing is left to external programs (e.g., stimuli, responses)

Using Basic Experimenter is 3-fold:

In order to define a new test protocol, make a copy of Basic Experimenter and modify a template that contains the files (you can complete the files, add or remove files).

In order to execute the experiment, run Basic Experimenter. A fresh copy of the template is made so that the data can be modified. At the end, a new backup is generated.

In order to reproduce a given execution, unzip the backup and reinstall the files in the data directory.  

Figure 1. Executing a procedure with Basic Experimenter.

Basic Note Tagger. An experiment repeated many times may generate many files, some of them having the same name. 

In Basic Experimenter, each modifiable file (e.g., spreadsheet, text document) should contain a stamp that allows to identify its content unambiguously. 

This is done by a program called Basic Note Tagger. Basic Note Tagger is launched automatically. 

Click on its icon on the task bar then paste the clipboard in your file. A stamp that contains context information (Date, time, experiment, etc.) is inserted in your file.

These stamps (or "tags") are also used to take observation notes. The context (especially the date and time) helps in situating the note and understanding its meaning.

The real scope: computer-supported procedures

Basic Experimenter comes with a template of procedure for experiments with human participants. However, it can run a broad range of  computer-supported procedures. Here are 2 examples:

Follow up of Project. The control points of a project (reports, deliverables, meeting minutes). However, there may be long interruptions between control points. 

Basic Experimenter can be interrupted at any time and the procedure is resumed where it was left.

Tutorial. A tutorial is a sequence of steps composed of presentations (texts, videos) and of  programs (like demos). 

Basic Experimenter can 'open' whatever type of file..including programs or scripts.

Getting started

Run Basic Experimenter with the default procedure. 

1 - To start Basic Experimenter go to the installation directory and execute
startExperimenter.exe. This also launches Basic Note Tagger. In the task bar, you see:

Icon of Basic Experimenter and Basic Note Tagger in the task bar.. Version 2009 10 31

2 - To cancel Basic Experimenter at any time, use the close button ( X upper right corner) or right-click the task bar icon and use the
close option. In this case, the data is not backuped. No matter: you can resume the execution on this data.

Closing basic Experimenter. Version 2009 10 31

3 - The first screen indicates that the data directory is ready (see below).

First screen. Version 2009 10 31

4 - Press continue, and the second screen appears. It captures information about the experiment. The leftmost marks indicate whether the fields are filled or not.

Second screen - general information. Version 2009 10 31

5 - When the information is completed and saved, a copy of the template is done and the procedure starts. 

In the middle of the execution. Version 2009 10 31

It is a one-button interface.

You see the content of the data directory (copied from the template). There are folders and files. 

Click the wheel button to execute next step. To go back in the procedure, uncheck the desired line.

6 - Each line (except the subfolders) opens a file in an external window (edit, display or execute something).

Opening an Excel(r) file

7 - When the procedure ends, the data directory is backuped automatically.

The backup directory. Version 2009 10 31

This backup contains whatever you uploaded in the data directory in addition to the files from the template: datasets, logs, recordings...

8. Working with templates. Run prepareTemplate.exe to select a predefined template

Directory of predefined templates. Version 2010 11 30

Select a template from the list, browse your file system to get a template or modify previous template. 

9. To edit a template, Basic Experimenter opens the files of the template, not the copy done in the data directory. In order to avoid confusions, there is a tag on the screen.
Editing a template with Basic Experimenter

This was a very short tutorial. Among the features of Basic Experimenter that were not presented:

include any file and directory from the file system in the template
redirect the template directory anywhere
customizable buttons and messages
predefined variables in the text files, e.g., date, experimenter, etc.
use of Basic Note Tagger to identify the content of the files

All downloads

Templates of procedures

Download and unzip in subdirectory ../templates/ of Basic Experimenter.

Write to to publish your templates.

Human Laboratory Protocol (450k) . 2011 03 05. Author: EJF. Quantitative behavioral experiment

Usability Test (220k) . 2011 03 05. Author: EJF. Agile usability test.

Mechanical Measurement (520k) . 2011 03 05. Author: EJF. Template of mechanical measurement, here a 3 points bending test.

Prototype Development (25k) . 2011 03 05. Author EJF. Documentation system for iterative prototype development. 

Current version - 2011 03 01


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify  it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by  the Free Software Foundation version 2 of the License. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  

See the GNU General Public License for more details.

Open source software and icons included in this distribution