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Rat Genome Database

The Rat Genome Database is a collaborative effort between leading research institutions involved in rat genetic and genomic research. The rat continues to be extensively used by researchers as a model organism for investigating the biology and pathophysiology of disease. In the past several years, there has been a rapid increase in rat genetic and genomic data. This explosion of information highlighted the need for a centralized database to efficiently and effectively collect, manage, and distribute a rat-centric view of this data to researchers around the world. The Rat Genome Database was created to serve as a repository of rat genetic and genomic data, as well as mapping, strain, and physiological information. It also facilitates investigators research efforts by providing tools to search, mine, and analyze this data.

RGD's continued and expanding collaborative efforts with other databases and laboratories around the world allows researchers to access the most current, complete set of rat genomic and genetic data available, as well as the most innovative tools for analyzing this data.

Search for a Solution

After managing static content on their website for several years, RGD staff decided it was time to migrate to a content management system. This was necessary because updating the static content was very time consuming and required the assistance of a developer. Content was in HTML or programming code and this was a barrier which prevented most employees from making updates and contributing to the website.

RGD was searching for a content management system that would allow staff to easily add or update content through a powerful rich editor interface. Once the content was added or updated, the system would need to have a robust versioning system to protect the data and a flexible workflow system to handle content approval. Because the RGD is a collaborative effort between institutions at several different physical locations, it was extemely important that staff and contributors could manage all aspects of the site through an internet browser.

RGD wanted a solution that had a long list of built-in features without having to install and manage lots of external 3rd party plug-ins. The complexities of the RGD website and technical environment dictated that an enterprise content management system would be required. The system would need to be fast, flexible, scalable, integrate with existing applications, support a wide variety of technologies, and perform well on Solaris.


“We needed a CMS that would integrate well with our existing architecture. WebGUI has passed that test with flying colors.”


RGD selected the WebGUI content management system after reviewing several enterprise CMS solutions. WebGUI was the best option because it met all of the primary requirements for RGD and included a long list of built-in features. In addition, WebGUI integrated well with existing applications and performs extremely well on Solaris. RGD was also pleased that WebGUI was an open source solution with an active user community and commercial support options from Plain Black Corporation.

RGD began by moving the homepage and much of their static content into WebGUI. The flexible templating system allowed RGD to easily customize the style and create a consistent look across the site. WebGUI's macros allowed designers to quickly insert applications and dynamic navigation menus into the templates.
The rich editor interface in WebGUI allows staff to add new content and make updates to existing content without any programming knowledge. An example of this would be how the curation staff at RGD are now able to add news stories and make updates to the rotating banner. Best of all, the new content or changes are automatically stored in WebGUI's versioning system where they are kept safe and organized.
In addition to the basic content management features, RGD also uses WebGUI to build custom sites and applications. Here are a few examples:

  • RGD built a system that allowed curation staff to publish and comment on interactive pathway diagrams generated by third party software.  A listing of available diagrams can be found at
  • RGD used WebGUI to create a site to house rat physiology information in a short period of time.  Having our curation staff enter and manage the content accounted for the time savings.  Rat physiology data at RGD can be found at


“Rat genetics and physiology is a rapidly changing field. WebGUI allows us to update the site based on need versus developer availability.”

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At a Glance

Rat Genome DatabaseRat Genome Database (RGD)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Deploy a CMS with the following:

  • A powerful rich editor interface
  • Content versioning & workflow
  • A large, active user community
  • Wide variety of built-in features
  • Excellent performance on Solaris

RGD staff are able to manage their own content without the assistance of a developer. Designers and developers are now able to work on other projects and enhancements instead of content management. Recent projects include building custom web applications and sub-sites for new areas of research.

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“We are very impressed with WebGUI's speed and stability. We have been using it for almost a year without any issues.” Jeff De Pons, Lead DeveloperRat Genome Database