Identification Software

Mike Dallwitz miked at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Wed Mar 22 16:44:32 CST 1995

                                                                 22 March 1995

> From: nino at (Nino Maida)
> To: Mike Dallwitz
> Mike, I looked at the program's requirements for data file writing and was
> afraid, therefore I baulked. The complexity of data structure is beyond easy
> to create. The program itself, I looked at with provided data sets, and was
> afraid. The complexity of use structure was not intuitive and would require
> great study, I surmized. I do not doubt that INTKEY might be head and
> shoulders above any other windows identification program, but easy to use,
> it is not (at least at first glance).
> As a programmer of a much simpler and more restricted identification
> program, I appreciate the trade off between power and user simplicity. I am
> in no way saying that for all purposes, simplicity of use is more important
> than power. I just felt moved to give you my impressions after reading your
> "small children" letter.

Thanks for your comments. In the first part of your message, I wasn't sure
whether you were talking about INTKEY, or the DELTA format and CONFOR. I know
that the latter are not particularly intuitive, but I know from running
training courses that people can master the basic processes in a few hours.
Most people, especially students, can also do this by working through the
Primer (which is available through the DOCPRINT option).

To use INTKEY, it is not at all necessary to understand the DELTA format and
CONFOR. We know from our open days that small children can use the MS-DOS
version successfully after a minute or two of instruction. (Often the most
difficult part is dragging them away to give other children a turn.) This is
made possible because we set various automatic modes in the initialization
file. Experienced users don't usually like to work with most of these modes,
because they make some other operations more cumbersome. Therefore, in most of
the available data sets, the authors have not set these modes in the
initialization file. Users can change the initialization file, or
interactively change the settings, but the catch is that inexperienced users
don't know how to do this.

In the Windows version, the user must choose between `simplified',
`automatic', and `manual' modes when the program starts, and all modes work
from the same initialization file. Also, we have added some features which
make the simplified and automatic modes more usable for general operation (not
just simple identification).

We hope that the simplified mode will be simple enough to suit anyone. The
menu bar contains 4 items (apart from Window and Help items to carry out
standard Windows operations such as tiling), and there are a total of 8 menu
items below those. There is some reduction in the power of the program in this
mode (see earlier posting), but the most important features for basic
identification are still there.

Mike Dallwitz                                  Internet md at
CSIRO Division of Entomology                   Fax +61 6 246 4000
GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia     Phone +61 6 246 4075

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