Getting started with emzed workbench

Before you start

emzed helps you to develop work flows by two means:

  • a supportive development environment which we name workbench and
  • a collection of emzed modules for typical tasks which provide building blocks for an LCMS analysis work flow.

The following instructions help you to get started with the workbench, Getting started with emzed modules gives a first impression of the functionalities provided by emzed modules.

We recommend to exercise the tutorial below before following Getting started with emzed modules.

The emzed workbench

If you start emzed workbench the first time the user interface should look like the screen shot below. The window is divided into an editor for Python code at the left, and a variable explorer above an IPython console with an input prompt at the right. You can resize and reorder them using your mouse. This configuration is stored if you close emzed and if you start emzed again, it will be restored.

How to change the working directory?

Like a Linux command line emzed has the concept of a working directory. This is the location where the editor opens new files, and where scripts are started when using the IPython shell.


To change the working directory look at the labeled buttons in the screen shot and follow theses instructions:

  1. Press the “choose folder” button of emzed task bar (1.) and choose directory.
  2. Press the “set” button (2.) to set the current working directory to the chosen one.

After pressing the “set button” the command to change to the new working directory is displayed in the IPython console.

If you change to the emzed_files/example_files directory, which is located inside your home directory, you see that a statement similar to the following one is executed in your IPython shell:


This folder was created during the first startup of emzed.

You can verify the current working directory by typing pwd in the IPython console: Press Enter, type pwd and press Enter again.


You can display the content of the current working directory by submitting the ls command.


We will now create a new folder first_steps in the emzed_files directory. You can do that by clicking the “choose folder button” again. Then make a new folder called first_steps, select it, and press the “set” button. We will use that folder later on during this tutorial.


How to to work with the IPython console?

You can directly execute Python commands in the provided IPython shell [IPython]. If you follow the examples below, this is the place to input and execute the demonstrated commands.

Here is a very simple example how to use the console:


The command creates a string object called welcome. With the print command the content of welcome is displayed in the console. The console provides command completion and automatic dialog boxes showing a list of possible methods which can be applied to the object welcome. In the same way, available methods on any type of object are shown automatically. You can activate command completion after any character by pressing the Tab key. All methods which can be applied to the object are displayed in the console by typing the name of the object followed by a “.”. For given example:


We will now apply the function capitalize to the string welcome. You get the documentation of capitalize by typing:


We can now to apply the function capitalize to the object welcome:


The result of the last command executed in the IPython console is always accessible via underscore "_". In case you forgot to assign a variable name to a result you can do that afterwards by using the underscore "_".


Further, you can navigate through commands you entered before using the Cursor-Up and Cursor-Down keys. For more information about using IPython [IPython] see the Introduction at [ipython_introduction] .

To get online help on IPython console type help().

You can find a more detailed IPython tutorial here.

How to use emzed modules?

As an example we determine the isotope distribution of molecular formula C6H13O9P. It can be calculated using the method isotopeDistributionTable of the main emzed module utils. After typing emzed.utils. the auto completion shows all methods of the module utils.


You can reduce the number of methods by typing emzed.utils.i and pressing the Tab key.


To get help on the function type emzed.utils.isotopeDistributionTable? or help(emzed.utils.isotopeDistributionTable) and press Enter.


To execute the function with default parameter settings type isotopes = emzed.utils.isotopeDistributionTable("C6H13O9P") and press Enter.


How to inspect objects?

The variable explorer provides an easy way to inspect all kinds of Python objects. All object names and their properties are listed in the variable explorer. Here is an example:


To visualize the content of the variable isotopes double click the row and a new window with the table explorer opens:


Some objects, like tables for example, have a print method. Type .print_() after a table object and you can directly print the result in the console.


How to run scripts ?

emzed work flows are Python scripts generally using functionalities provided by emzed modules but also individual functions created by the user.

To build your own work flows you can use the Editor to write scripts and functions which can be executed in the IPython console.

Here is a very simple example which implements a function that calculates the mass of water using the module mass:


Type the code into the editor and save it as into the working directory .../emzed_files/first_steps which we set above.

There are two possibilities to run scripts in emzed.

1. You can execute the script currently displayed in the Editor by simply pressing the F5 key. When the F5 key is used the first time a dialog box will open. Choose the first option “Execute in current IPython or Python interpreter”.


When running the script you see that the print statement in the last line of the example code is executed. Furthermore, the function mass_of_water is now available in the IPython console. To call this function type the name of the function followed by () and press Enter.

  1. You can also use the command runfile immediately. For given example:

If the script is not located in the working directory you have to add the path of the script to its name, as in runfile(".../folder/").