Skip to content

Ain’t no mountain high enough: Summit Software

Posted in: Flow Cytometry
Ain’t no mountain high enough: Summit Software

The town of Fort Collins is situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and it is those mountains that give inspiration to the name of the Beckman Coulter acquisition program Summit.

Summit software started out as the software to run the MoFlo (Modular Flow) high-speed cell sorter that was designed by Ger Van Den Engh and his colleagues at Cytomation in the 1990s. Cytomation later merged with Dako to form DakoCytomation and then bought by Beckman Coulter. You can find Summit software on the MoFlo Legacy (the original analogue sorter), MoFlo XDP (a MoFlo with digital electronics – either bought as an XDP machine or upgraded from the Legacy), the CyAn ADP analyser, and the new MoFlo Astrios sorter.

Ease of Use

Although Summit was designed for acquisition and sorting of samples, it can also be used as an off-line analysis package. When you buy a cytometer with Summit on it, users of the cytometer can also use the software on their own computer for post-acquisition analysis. In theory you can import any FCS files into Summit, but it is really designed for analysis of data acquired on Summit.


Compensation on the software is easy to do. There are slider bars on the side of your plots to adjust the compensation as well as being able to change it in the compensation matrix as well. One thing to remember is to select the parameters you have just compensated as ‘…comp’ in order to see the compensation. This is particularly important when sorting. Otherwise you will sort the uncompensated cells.

There is a tool for automatic compensation that is great for multi-color experiments. After saving your unstained and single colour controls, the files are uploaded into the automatic compensation window. Then, you draw gates on the positive and negative populations of each of your parameters. Of course you can always save your data as uncompensated and do the compensation later on.

Individual protocols

The software allows for individual ‘protocols’ to be saved, which can be easily opened which a couple of clicks of a mouse. Users can flick between old experiments and pull up an old protocol that shows the parameters used and the settings, including compensation. This is particularly handy when using Summit on a sorter and running multiple people’s differing samples during a day.

Operating platform

Summit on the CyAn and MoFlo Legacy is a windows based software and runs on Windows XP.

Capabilities of the software

The software is easy to use and most people pick it up really quickly. It allows a user to do overlays, although this is done in a bit of a clunky way. The gating used in the software is Boolean gating – which means that you have ‘and’, ‘not’ and ‘or’ gates.

The data from the software is exportable and can be read in other post-acquisition software such as FlowJo or FCSExpress.

Instrument controls – CyAn analyser specific

The software is made up of individual windows, each with different roles: The main window for visualising your data, a window for viewing keywords and your sample names, and one for controlling the machine. This last Control panel allows you to see the levels of sheath, waste and cleaner as well as controlling the sample rate, whether lasers are switched on or off and start up, cleaning routines and shutdown. One great part is that you can add the cleaning step as a shutdown step, which means that the machine has to be cleaned before it shuts down and helps to keep the instrument working well. The software asks users to take off tube etc. when doing start up, cleans, or shutdowns.

Instrument controls – MoFlo sorter specific

The Summit software has extra duties on the sorter as it controls the sorter as well as acquiring the data and compensating as you would do on an analyser.

A few things to remember

When opening the program, it asks a user to load up a database, however reusing old protocols can make the software crash. Therefore, it can be easier to use a fresh database each time, but make sure you save your data and protocols separately.

Important thing to remember with this software is that you acquire your data and the press ‘save’ after to keep your data. This is different than some other software, such as DIVA, where you would record as you put them sample on. This can make life tricky if using multiple cytometers, remembering to either save at the end of a sample or record at the beginning. However, there is an auto-save button, which means you should never lose any data.


Share this to your network:

1 Comment

  1. Patrizio on January 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Dear Rachael,
    I am newbie with BC FACS as well as Summit although I do have enough experience with BD analyzers machine. Basically, I recently joined a new lab and I am trying to make MOFLO working. So far I just realized that it is not an easy machine to handle because everything has to be settled up manually.
    I would like to make you several questions but to me now the most important one is :
    how can I use this machine only for analysis?
    including how rename a sample, what to do if I have more samples and how to adjust the EPS

    Thank you for you post and I would really appreciate your answer.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top