What is Open Source RexDB®?

RexDB is a platform for creating Configurable Data Repositories (CDRs). Unlike typical data warehouses and data marts, CDRs can be configured by implementation analysts, usually with little-to-no help from software engineers, and with no help from database administrators.

RexDB includes several specialized end-user applications for supporting common data interaction activities and workflows. Several of these applications, such as those used for data entry and data exploration, are considered mission-critical and are “reserved” in the sense that that they can only be configured along specific dimensions to ensure high levels of stability and consistency across all solutions. Other “applets” are fully configurable in the sense that analysts can augment pre-built applets — or create entirely new applets — by configuring data models, ETL pipelines, data capture forms, data marts, user interaction screens, and business intelligence reports and dashboards.

Screens are composed of standard widgets organized inside templates. In cases where an application requires a screen not supported by the existing library of widgets and templates, the configuration library of widgets and templates can be extended by a customization engineer using a standard open-source web framework (ReactJS). Thus, the library grows over time, further reducing the need to use customization engineers for common cases and reducing the cost of delivery on standard projects.

Why use RexDB?

Because it focuses on flexibility through model-driven configuration, RexDB should be considered anytime an organization needs to continuously integrate complex structured data, for example, to support on-demand data repurposing. RexDB includes a powerful set of functions for data acquisition; data centralization, organization, and curation; data use, repurposing, and dissemination; as well as a functions (such as configurable workflow screens) that support operational process management.

RexDB is valuable where traditional data warehousing approaches are too rigid and expensive. This occurs, for example, where the data are highly variable and complex, or where the metadata changes quickly. It also occurs where resource constraints make it impractical to maintain a layer of database administrators and SQL developers between data producers and data consumers.

Where is RexDB currently in use?

RexDB is presently the data collection, data warehousing, and data sharing software platform of choice for numerous longitudinal multidisciplinary research studies, including the Simons Foundation’s Simons Simplex Collection and Variation in Individuals Project, the Yale Child Study Center’s Yale Autism Research Database, and the centralized data solution at Emory University’s Marcus Autism Research Institute.  RexDB has also been integrated with the laboratory data management system used by Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository.  Our community is still relatively small:

  • Several dozen installations
  • 4.6K Google search results
  • Hundreds of end users

Who is it intended for?

RexDB was designed to enable analysts, researchers, and clinicians to better organize, clean, and query their data in an integrated and secure manner.  Not only does it allow for multiple methods of data capture to support surveys and forms, it stores data in a model that is optimized for human subject research.  And because it is integrated with RexQL™ (a derivative of HTSQL), the open-source research query language, it allows for ad hoc reporting in ways not possible with traditional tools.  Electronic Medical Record (EMR) integration?  Solved.  RexDB is the answer to managing research data elegantly and in close communication with center-wide EMR installations.

RexDB is a platform that allows analysts to configure relational databases and powerful web applications to manage biomedical research data.

RexDB supports efficient reuse of data from multiple studies and multiple data types. For example, a typical RexDB install may integrate behavioral, medical, genomic, imaging, and biospecimen-inventory data from multiple studies on the same population into a unified searchable system. This integration allows translational researchers to ask questions like: “Across all studies in our center, show me the BAPQ, SRS, ADOS and ADI-R scores for everyone who has a verbal IQ above 75, no known genetic lesions at 16p11.2, and whose mother had a history of autoimmune disorders. OK, now limit the data set to those participants for whom we already have a live-cell-line biospecimen or those I have consent to re-contact.” Answers are available in minutes instead of weeks.

Who created RexDB?

Prometheus Research!  Prometheus is a premier provider of integrated data management services.  We’re also the creators of RexDB and other useful technologies.

For more about us, and the nearly two dozen clients we support, visit www.PrometheusResearch.com.