Herbarium database software, reflection from a FMP user

Daniel Janzen djanzen at SAS.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jun 2 09:17:36 CDT 1997


1 June 1997

Doug Yanega said:

> It may not have had the efficiency of a
>relational database like FoxPro, but it was much, much easier to use, and
>had certain advantages. I seem to recall hearing that the next version of
>Filemaker *would* be relational, so it might be worthwhile to check it out
>when/if it arrives.

Doug:  it has arrived long ago, and is called Filemaker Pro 3.0 by Claris

To anyone:  there is NO, I repeat NO, off-the-shelf database superior to
FMP 3.0 for the ordinary working biologist with lots of records about
individual - you name it - specimens, species, vials, events, rearings,
fractionations, etc., and who wants to understand his or her own db, build
it, grow with it, AND use it as an analytical tool.

All I would add to what Harvey Ballard said is that what he described is
just the tip of the iceberg.  The person who invented FMP obviously had in
mind the person with an enormous warehouse with a jillion different items,
about each of which there are various sorts of records, sales, additions,
repairs, histories, etc.  That is, in fact, lucky for us, the description
of a biologist.

And you can link a FMP 3.0 directly to the web through your web site with
Tango and other intermediaries, and it can handle all your storage and
sorting and wiggling of digital images as well as the prose and numbers.

And you can teach yourself how to do it, and do it, easy and fast.  And
grow into it.

It was made for Macs, but it has even stooped to a version to be used on
dos or Windows PCs.

And best of all, it is being used by a jillion different industries ranging
from newspapers to owners of the corner grocery store, from schools to
medics, to government agencies, to.....   Why is this good?  Because these
millions of paying users are a sufficient market draw to keep it up, cheap,
evolving, etc. and we biologists can reap the benefit off the market.

There is certainly nothing that could handle an ordinary herbarium and all
of its needs better than FMP 3.0, and even have all the staff understand
what is actually going on.  And that is, of course, the most important
selling point of all.  Sure it helps to have one individual who dedicates
themselves to continuously inventing new ways to apply it, but once done,
there is no magic - just showing you the new arrangement (like being handed
a new sheet of sheet music).

Go for it.

Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs and a prehensile-tailed porcupine

P.S.  (79,000 FMP caterpillar records and 8,000 digital images to go with
them, with some 150 fields of all sorts of complexity, all in two linked
(relational) FMP 3.0 dbs, that work like a charm).  That is 100 m; the file
size limit is 2 g.




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