Frequently Asked Questions about the µManager User Service Program

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions not addressed below.

To get professional technical support directly from the core developers of µManager, to stay up to date with the latest features and bugfixes in µManager, and to help ensure the future development of µManager.

Some background: until fall 2015, µManager was developed in Ron Vale's lab at UCSF, with funding from the NIH. This grant supported a dedicated µManager development team (on average, 2 full-time members), who made µManager available for free, and provided technical support via email and the public mailing list.

However, in our last grant renewal, the study section and NIH indicated that this would be our last round of funding and that µManager would need to transition to another funding model.

We decided that a small, independent company is the best model for us to ensure that we can continue µManager development and maintenance in the long term.

Being free and open source has been crucial to µManager's success. We do not wish to deviate from these core principles. Instead of charging a fee to use µManager, we hope that you will support your research program and invest in the future of µManager by purchasing a subscription to our User Service Program. The User Service Program is not just a funding mechanism for µManager development. We believe the services we offer to subscribers are valuable, and a bargain when compared to the pricing of many other image acquisition software packages.

The technical support included in our User Service Program includes: troubleshooting specific device issues; assistance with application usage, scripting, and setting up complex experiments; and rapidly fixing (or providing workarounds to) specific bugs you encounter in µManager. In the case of issues related to vendor-supported device adapters, we will work in collaboration with the vendor to assist you, when possible.

Setting up a microscope system and performing experiments are both immensely complex tasks involving many moving parts. We will do our best to fully understand your specific issues and help resolve them.

However, there are some practical limits to the scope of what we can offer. We generally cannot add missing features or capabilities to µManager, nor remove nontrivial limitations of the program. When not busy supporting our users, our development team spends their time making improvements to the program that we feel will be most widely beneficial. Subscribers are more than welcome to provide us with input on which improvements are most important to them.

As an open source project, µManager contains a lot of modules (device adapters, plugins) that were contributed by a wide range of developers, which is a great thing. However, not all of these modules have been widely tested or received adequate maintenance over the years. Some may have issues that cannot easily be fixed. For such modules, we'll make a reasonable effort to help you with issues, but we can't guarantee that a resolution will be possible. We will indicate the available support level for the device adapters you use when we send you a quotation for the User Service Program. Please also feel free to ask us ahead of time.

The following plugins will be fully supported: HCS Site Generator, Image Flipper, Intelligent Acquisition, Live Recall, Multi-channel Shading, Pattern Overlay, Pixel Calibrator, Projector, Sequence Buffer Monitor, Slide Explorer (not Slide Explorer 2), Split View, Stage Control. Support for all other plugins will be on a reasonable effort basis. (Some plugins may be supported by their authors on the community mailing list or through other channels.)

Routine Support covers questions that we can answer in a short phone call or email exchange, without requiring detailed research, analysis, troubleshooting, or a remote screen sharing session. As long as you have a valid subscription for the User Service Program, there is no limit to how often you can contact us with such questions.

A Technical Support Incident (TSI) is a request for system-specific troubleshooting or other technical support episode that requires detailed investigation or work on our part. TSIs can also be applied to troubleshooting or demonstration of µManager features over remote screen sharing, or code-level help with your scripts and programs.

TSIs cannot be used to request new custom programming by us, as custom development is beyond the scope of the User Service Program. We may, however, in some cases choose to address your issue by making improvements to µManager.

Open Imaging reserves the right to determine what is considered routine support, what constitutes a single TSI, and what is outside the scope of technical support as part of the User Service Program. However, we will let you know upfront when your support request will count as a TSI, so don't hesitate to just ask us if you are uncertain.

You get a number of TSIs with your subscription, depending on the number of systems you have. TSIs do not roll over even if you have a multi-year subscription; your balance is reset at the beginning of each 1-year period. If you need additional TSIs, they can be purchased.

Support will be provided directly by an engineer on the µManager development team.

You will be able to contact us with questions via email, phone, or via µManager's built-in problem reporting facility. This latter option will require using a µManager version from Open Imaging, which will be released later in 2015. Given the initially small size of our team, you may need to leave a message if you call us, but we will return your call as soon as possible.

Once you have contacted us, we will get back to you as soon as possible (normally within 2 business days) with an answer or, if it will take us more time to answer your question, an estimate of how long it will take. If answering your question or troubleshooting your issue will count as a Technical Support Incident (TSI), we'll let you know at this stage and you can decide whether or not to proceed.

Microscopes are complex and vary a lot, so some issues may be hard to communicate or troubleshoot over emails and phone calls. In such cases, we'll schedule remote screen-sharing sessions with your microscope computer and work with you to address the issue.

If you are planning to newly install µManager on a (new or existing) microscope system, you can optionally add our Getting Started Package to your first-year subscription. With this service, we will use remote screen sharing to walk you through the entire µManager hardware configuration procedure, and help resolve any issues you may encounter.

Pricing and availability of the Getting Started Package will depend on the set of devices you have on your system.

If you are installing µManager on a new system and you do not purchase the Getting Started Package, you will need to install and configure µManager yourself. In this case, you can apply your TSIs (Technical Support Incidents) to specific, individual configuration issues.

We ask that separate labs (or equivalent groups managing microscopes) purchase separate Lab Plan subscriptions. The Lab Plan is intended for a collection of microscopes that are managed by the same person (the main contact person for the subscription).

We have structured the Lab Plan pricing with a fixed base price and an incremental price per microscope system, because it is our aim to provide personalized support services based on an understanding of your lab's environment and goals.

If you feel that your circumstances warrant an exception to this (for example, you have a microscope jointly operated by two or more labs), please contact us.

Notwithstanding the above, we're open to negotiating department-wide or institution-wide support contracts. Please contact us if you are interested.