This manual will show you how to write high-level protocols that can be executed on multiple robotic platforms. We introduce Roboliq, a software system for automating lab protocols using liquid handling robots. Roboliq support high-level commands that make it much easier to write automation protocols, especially complex ones. It then generates the low-level commands that for your robot system (currently only Tecan Evoware).

Structure of the manual

  • Chapter 1 “Introduction” gives a quick overview of how to use Roboliq.
  • Chatper 2 “Quick start” is a practical walk-through for writing Roboliq protocols and compiling them.
  • Chapter 3 “Input formats” describes several formats that Roboliq accepts for writing protocols.
  • Chapter 4 “Robot configuration” describes how to write robot configurations that Roboliq uses to turn high-level commands into low-level instructions.
  • Chapter 5 “Simple Protocols” describes the contents of simple Roboliq protocols.
  • Chapter 6 “Advanced Protocols” describes the features available for more sophisticated protocols.
  • Chapter 7 “Design tables” describes a how to represent experimental designs in a tree or table format, and how these can be used to concisely define complex experiments.

Additional documentation

Roboliq has several other documentation sources that might be of interest to you:

  • Protocol – reference documentation for the commands and type available in Roboliq protocols
  • Processor API – programmer documentation for Roboliq’s protocol processor
  • Evoware API – programmer documentation for Roboliq’s Evoware backend

Software information and conventions

Roboliq accepts several input formats, but in this manual we will use YAML. YAML is a very popular format for writing software configuration files. If you are not familiar with it yet, please checkout this page on Wikipedia.

Some of the advanced programmable features of Roboliq are demonstrated with JavaScript. Most users won’t require knowledge of JavaScript, but if you do need it, there are many good tutorials online.


Many many many thanks to Prof. Joerg Stelling for his guidance during my PhD research developing Roboliq. Fabian Rudolf was instrumental in determining which features are most relevant for biologists. Michael Kaltenbach provided sage statistical advice while developing the most sophisticated protocols we tested. Daniel Meyer and Urs Senn provided critical technical support in the lab. Oskari Vinko, Charlotte Ramon and Elena Karamaioti were wonderfully helpful guinnea pigs when testing Roboliq’s usability.