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PLS_Toolbox or Solo?

Mar 28, 2011

Customers who are new to chemometrics often ask us if they should purchase our MATLAB-based PLS_Toolbox or stand-alone Solo. I’ll get to some suggestions in a bit, but first it is useful to clarify the relationship between the two packages: Solo is the compiled version of the PLS_Toolbox tools which are accessible from the interfaces. Similarly, Solo+MIA is the compiled version of PLS_Toolbox and MIA_Toolbox. The packages share the same code-base, which is great for the overall stability of the software as they operate identically. They are also completely compatible, so PLS_Toolbox and Solo users can share data, models, preprocessing, and results. Models from each are equally easily applied on-line using Solo_Predictor.

The majority of the functionality of PLS_Toolbox is accessible in Solo, particularly the most commonly used tools. Every method that you access through the main Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) of PLS_Toolbox is identical in Solo. But with Solo you don’t get the MATLAB command line, so there are some command-line only functions that are not accessible. The number of these, however, is decreasing all the time as we make more PLS_Toolbox functionality accessible through the GUIs. And of course all the GUIs in PLS_Toolbox + MIA_Toolbox are accessible in Solo+MIA.

So what to buy? Well, do you already have access to MATLAB? Over one million people do, and it is available in many universities and large corporations. If you have access to MATLAB, then buy PLS_Toolbox (and MIA_Toolbox). It costs less than Solo (and Solo+MIA), includes all the functionality of Solo and then some, can be accessed via command line and called in MATLAB scripts and functions.

And if you don’t already have MATLAB? If you only need to use the mainstream modeling and analysis functions, then Solo (and Solo+MIA) will save you some money over purchasing MATLAB and PLS_Toolbox (and MIA_Toolbox). I’d only purchase MATLAB if I needed to write custom scripts and functions that call PLS_Toolbox functions. Honestly, the vast majority of our users can do what they need to do using the GUIs. The stuff you can’t get to from the GUIs is pretty much just for power users.

That said, the big plus about buying MATLAB plus PLS_Toolbox is that you get MATLAB, which is a tremendously useful tool in its own right. Once you start using it, you’ll find lots of things to do with it besides just chemometrics.

Hope that helps!