Before starting your first analysis, take a moment to explore the elements of the graphical user interface.

Workflow bar

The elements in the workflow bar at the top of the screen help you navigate through the workflow and give access to application-wide options.


  • Navigate back and forth between the workflow steps using the Next and Back arrows. Alternatively, you can directly switch to a workflow step by clicking on it. Only workflow steps in blue are enabled (clickable). Workflow steps that are not yet enabled are displayed in gray.
  • Click the Close project icon to close the current project and return to the Project screen, where you can create, manage and open projects.
  • Click the Help icon to display brief contextual help about the current screen. The help message provides a link to more complete documentation on our website, or – if you work off-line – a locally installed copy.
  • Click the Options icon to access the General options (applicable to the entire application), Workflow options (applicable for certain workflow steps) and various Export options.
  • Click the Image view icon to enter the Image view mode. This mode is accessible from all workflow steps. It allows even more flexible image visualization, letting you choose only certain images to look at.


The various steps of the analysis are summarized below.

Quality control 01QualityControl Check the quality and consistency of your images.

Melanie provides the necessary feedback to optimize your image capture procedures. Potential issues are highlighted and information provided on how to solve them. When required, re-scan gels or edit images. Then validate the images you want to take forward for further analysis.

Experimental design 02ExperimentalDesign Define the experimental design variables.

Use the Experimental design wizard to create one of the common designs, name factors and factor levels, and assign images to the different treatments. Specify additional experimental variables that you might want to investigate, and verify if you have a consistent and balanced experimental design matrix.

Alignment setup 03AlignmentSetup Specify your alignment strategy.

To increase alignment efficiency and minimize match editing work, you can first align images within groups of similar images. The different groups are further matched by aligning their respective reference images. Group your images based on factors defined in your Experimental design, or build your own group hierarchy. Then specify the reference images and reference groups for alignment.

Alignment 04Alignment Align images to remove positional variation between gels.

Align the images in your alignment hierarchy, systematically review each alignment pair using the dedicated tools, and edit matches where necessary.

Detection 05Detection Detect and quantify spots on all images.

Fine-tune the automatically calculated detection parameters and choose the images to be taken into account for the generation of a representative spot pattern.

Review 06Review Review spots and normalization.

Review the spot pattern, possibly editing spots or making corrections in the alignment. Select spots using the advanced selection criteria in the spot filter, to include or exclude them from further analysis. Review the normalization before continuing with the statistical analysis.

Results 07Results Explore your results.

Melanie automatically proposes dedicated tools and statistical tests adapted to your experimental design. Filter your spots based on selected fields in your tables, tag them using spot sets, and validate spots by using the various plots and viewing options.

Picking 08Picking Choose and export spots for picking.

Pick spots for picking and further downstream analysis.

Display area

The Display area is where the image views are shown. You can manipulate and customize these views using the different options in the Toolbar.




The Mode icon lets you pick the desired tool for manipulating your images.

There are a number of common manipulations that you can carry out with all of the modes, essentially using the scroll wheel of your mouse:

  2D view 3D view
Move image (Ctrl +) Hold down scroll wheel and drag.
Double-click scroll wheel to re-center on an area.
Ctrl + Hold down scroll wheel and drag.
Zoom image Roll scroll wheel. Roll scroll wheel.
Rotate image Hold down scroll wheel and drag.


Note how all images move/zoom/rotate simultaneously once images are aligned. To manipulate only one image at a time, hold the Shift key while carrying out the desired operation. To synchronize your image views again, zoom in or out on your image without the Shift key, or double-click the mouse scroll wheel.

Choosing a different mode will allow additional manipulations with the left and right mouse clicks. These are summarized in the following tables.

HandMode Move 2D view 3D view
Move image Left-click and drag.
Double-click left button to re-center on an area.
Left-click and drag.
Set peak height Hold down right button and drag up/down.
ZoomMode Zoom 2D view 3D view
Zoom image Left-click to zoom in.
Right-click to zoom out.
Left-click to zoom in.
Right-click to zoom out.
SelectMode Select 2D view 3D view
Select spots Left-click on spot to select.
Right-click on spot to deselect.
Left-click and drag to select spots in area.
Right-click and drag to deselect spots in area.
Right-click in background to deselect all.
Left-click on spot to select.
Right-click on spot to deselect.
Left-click and drag to select spots in area.
Right-click and drag to deselect spots in area.
Right-click in background to deselect all.
MeasureMode Measure 2D view 3D view
Measure distances Left-click and drag to measure horizontal and vertical distances. Left-click and drag to measure horizontal and vertical distances.
AlignmentMode Align 2D view 3D view
Select/edit matches Left-click on match to select/create.
Right-click on match to delete.
Right-click in background to deselect all.
Rotate image Hold down left button and drag.
Set peak height Hold down right button and drag up/down.
PickMode Pick 2D view 3D view
Select spots to pick Left-click on spot to select.
Right-click on spot to deselect.
Left-click and drag to select spots in area.
Right-click and drag to deselect spots in area.
Left-click on spot to select.
Right-click on spot to deselect.
Left-click and drag to select spots in area.
Right-click and drag to deselect spots in area.

A few modes are only active on the 3D view:

  • Rotate – Left-click and drag to rotate.
  • Contrast – Left-click and drag up/down to change peak height.
  • Z position – Left-click and drag up/down to move the entire 3D view vertically.


Click the 2D/3D icon to choose different combinations of 2D and 3D views for your images. If 3D views are included, there will be further options for the display of the 3D view.


Various tools and options are available to adapt the default views to specific needs.

  • Grid – Display a grid over the images in the 2D view. In combination with the Warp option, the grid helps you visualize the deformation in your images.
  • Profile – The profile helps explore spot shapes in the 2D view. When this option is activated, transparent curves represent the intensity variations of the gel in the vertical (right) and horizontal (bottom) directions at the position of the mouse cursor. White lines indicate the exact position of the cursor, with the corresponding pixel gray level in red. The gray numbers indicate the minimum and maximum gray levels in a specific profile view.
  • Overview – Show the currently visible area on a small overview of the entire image.
  • Scrollbar – Show or hide the scrollbars.
  • Warp image – Warp the aligned image in the 2D and 3D views so it superimposes perfectly with the reference image.
  • Adjust contrast – Adjust the contrast of images.
  • Overview window – Display a separate window to show the currently visible area on an overview of the entire image.


Depending on the workflow step, related images are grouped in containers that are called panes. Click the Layout icon to group your images differently, change the layout of the panes in the Display area, or the layout of your images in the panes. Note that some of the options are not available in all workflow steps.

  • Group images
    • In one pane – All images are displayed in a single pane.
    • By factors – Images from the same factor level are grouped within a pane.
    • By alignment – Images from the same alignment group are grouped within a pane.
    • By DIGE – Images from the same DIGE gel are grouped within a pane  (only for DIGE experiments).
    • By dye – Images using the same Cydye are grouped within a pane (only for DIGE experiments).
  • Pane layout and Image layout
    • Stacked – Panes/images are one on top of another.
    • Tiled – Panes/images are side by side.
    • One row – Panes/images are in a single horizontal row.
    • One column – Panes/images are in a single vertical column.
    • Free – You specify the number of panes/images laid out horizontally and vertically.

Status bar

The status bar gives access to some useful tools.


  • Click the Cursor information icon to display the Cursor information window. It displays information about the pixel and spot you hover over with your mouse cursor. You can show additional properties or hide some of them by clicking on the Settings icon in the toolbar of the Cursor information window.
  • The Status bar indicates the total number of images and matches (spots) that are currently selected. If you move your mouse over a gel image, the Status bar also indicates the X and Y coordinates at the cursor position, as well as the pixel intensity (calibrated). The unit of the coordinates can be changed in the Display tab of the General options.
  • When you click directly on the Undo or Redo icon, you can undo (or redo) the last operation. When you click on the arrow next to the icon, you get access to the list of all operations that can be undone/redone.
  • The Project lock icon, tells you whether your project is locked for editing. Projects get locked once the images are aligned and detected. Editing them in any way will require you to confirm that you effectively want to carry out the requested operation and are aware that this will make you loose your results (validations, or even alignment, detection or normalization, depending on the step where you want to make a change).
  • When you click on the Project lock icon, you can:
    • Save modifications: Save all modifications carried out in the current workflow step, since the last save operation.
    • Reset modifications: Cancel all modifications carried out in the current workflow step, since the last save operation.

Step-specific tools

The step-specific tools and views are mostly displayed at the top and/or left side of the software screen. They will be specifically documented in the sections of the User Guide corresponding to each workflow step. Several of the step-specific tools are reports, for which the common features are described below.


Reports describe your gel data. They may be in table format, but can also be graphical representations of data such as normalization plots. The report content is continuously updated, and selections in reports are synchronized with the gel images and other reports.

Report toolbar

The toolbars of the reports in Melanie share a series of common tools.

SaveIcon Save

Use the options available under the Save icon to:

  • Save your report – Tables can be saved in tab-delimited format (.txt), as a Microsoft Excel Workbook (.xls), or in XML format (.xml). Graphics can be saved in PNG, TIFF or BMP formats.
  • Print your report – Normal print options are available when printing graphical reports. When printing tabular reports, the table is first displayed in your default browser. The XSL stylesheet located in the Template\Reports folder of the Melanie installation directory is used to transform the XML report into an attractive table. You can then use the print option in your browser to get a printout.
  • Copy to clipboard – Export your data directly into another application. Paste directly into the preferred software.

PreviousSelectionIcon/NextSelectionIcon Previous and Next selection

Click the Previous Selection icon to skip to the first selected item encountered when scrolling towards the top of your table. When only one row is selected, this selects the previous row in the table.

Click the Next Selection icon to skip to the first selected item encountered when scrolling towards the bottom of your table. When only one row is selected, this selects the next row in the table.

SelectByValuesIcon Filter by values

Select items in the report based on one or several numerical filter criteria. Click the Filter by values icon, choose the measure (i.e., column) you want to use for refinement, and set the lower and/or upper limits of your search interval. When you add additional criteria, you can specify the operator used to combine the criteria.

Choose the output for your filter as being the new Current selection, a New spot set, or one of the existing spots sets.


AnnotateIcon Annotate

Melanie provides two ways to annotate interesting spots in your analyses:

  • The first one is by creating a collection of spots that belong together based on a specific criterion. Such a collection of spots is called a spot set. For instance, you can create a spot set ‘Fold>2’ for all spots that have a Fold change higher than 2. This means that all spots in the set are tagged as belonging to the spot set ‘Fold>2’.
  • The second option is to label spots individually with an annotation. Annotating a spot means that you give it a specific label that belongs to a certain category. For instance, you can annotate each protein spot with it’s accession code in a protein database. Every protein spot will have a specific label – in this case an accession code (e.g. P12345) – within a category ‘Ac’ for instance.

Spot set

It is possible to focus your analysis on particular spots by creating and saving spot sets for later selection or combination. Spots sets are visualized as columns in various tables. Once a spot set is created, you will see a checked box for spots that belong to the set, or an empty box for spots that do not belong to the set. Click in a box to change its state. If several spots are selected, clicking in one box will change the state for all selected spots.

Hover over the name (column header) of a spot set to see a tooltip with information about the set: how it was created, and based on what criteria. If the set has been modified since its creation (for sets created from Combine spots sets), or if the data used for its creation has been modified (for sets created from Filter by values), this will be indicated as well.

Click the Spot Set option under the Annotate icon to create, combine and manage new spot sets:

  • Create – Select spots you want to include in a spot set, either manually or by selection in a report, and then choose Create.
  • Combine – You can combine two spot sets using logical operators. Four operations are available:
    • And – Keeps spots that belong to both spot sets.
    • Or – Keeps spots that belong to either one or both spot sets.
    • Not equal – Keeps spots that belong to only one of the two spot sets.
    • Exclude – Keeps spots that belong to the first spot set and do not belong to the second spot set.


  • Delete – Delete a spot set.
  • Rename – Rename a spot set.
  • Select – Select all spots in a spot set.


You can annotate spots by entering a label belonging to a certain category. Annotations are also visualized as as columns in various tables. There will be one column for each annotation category. The value for a given spot in that category is the annotation label of the spot. Annotation labels can be edited directly in the table, by double-clicking in a cell of an annotation category.

Click the Annotation option under the Annotate icon to create and edit annotations and annotation categories:

  • Add label – Click Add label to create a new label. You will be asked to enter a category for the label. Select one from the list, or enter a name for a new category to be created. Also define the constraints for the new category.
    • Data Type – To ensure consistent annotation data, the label contents can be constrained to one of the following data types:
      • Text – Can contain any character.
      • Number – Can only contain numerical values.
      • Auto-Numbering – An incremental number is entered automatically as the new label.
    • Is unique – When you check the Is unique box, you indicate that each label on a gel within the new category should be unique. The software will not accept a new label when an identical one already exists.
    • External engine – To link spots on gel images to protein data in 2-DE or other databases, you can input the appropriate query format (database address and query engine) in the External Engine field of the new label category. If you enter valid database accession numbers as labels, and you subsequently click on a label of such category, the software opens your default Internet browser and launches an HTTP query that takes the form of a Web page address.


  • Delete label – Click Delete label to delete the labels for selected spots.
  • Edit label – Click Edit label to edit the labels for selected spots.
  • Rename category – Click Rename category to rename a category that you can specify in a list.
  • Select by category – Select all spots that have labels belonging to one or several categories.
  • Select by content – Select all spots for which the labels, in the specified categories, contain a specific search word or character pattern.
  • Import – Import annotations from a tab-delimited text file or XML file containing the required columns ID, Pixel X, Pixel Y, pI and MW. If values for ID are entered, the Pixel X and Pixel Y values can contain ‘-1’ if the coordinates are unknown, and vice versa.

ReportsIcon Reports

Click on the Reports icon to display complementary reports. The new report will generally appear on top of your existing report. You can click on the tabs at the bottom of the table to switch between reports. Click on the small cross at the top right of a complementary report to close it.

SettingsIcon Settings

Click the Settings icon to set the visibility and order of your columns. In the toolbar of the Settings window, you can Load a predefined template or Save your own template indicating what columns should be hidden or shown.

Image view

At any time, you can click the Image view icon at the right of your Workflow bar to enter the Image view mode. Here you can select a subset of your images for more in-depth visual exploration.

Examine gel images, spots and annotations using the Gel and Spot tables.

Keyboard shortcuts

Take a look at the list of keyboard shortcuts to help you become even more efficient.