Robert K. Colwell colwell at UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU
Tue Jun 24 18:29:37 CDT 1997

I would like to reply to Geoff Read's concerns about the US date
format in Biota, and offer my original posting again, but with line
breaks (see the end of this message, after the stars) for those (like
Robin Panza) whose email clients cannot handle wordwrap. (Sorry--I
forgot about that courtesy...)

Geoff Read wrote:

>If there
>is no workaround, I am curious as to how the metric measurement,
>dd/mm/yy, majority of the world will be happy, or able to change
>to  US formats in order to use Biota, especially on a network.

First off, let me make clear that, on all printed labels and exported
text for labels, Biota uses strictly the International date format, =
Month yyyy, where Month is either the three-letter English month
abbreviation or a Roman numeral, as you specify.

Moreover, everywhere that dates appear in Biota screens, the actual
screen display uses the three-letter month abbreviation, albeit in
US format (e.g. Oct 9,1943, *not* 10/9/43), so there is no confusion
about which digits represent the month and which the day of the month.

By way of explanation, Biota uses the US date format
(mm/dd/yyyy) internally because the US version of 4th Dimension
(the development environment for Biota) and 4D Engine (the
database engine merged in BiotaApp, the standalone version of
Biota) use this format for Date fields, obligately. Of course, dates
can, instead, be represented internally by three fields, instead of
one, but this approach considerably slows searches, sorts, and

For those who normally have their operating system set to
International date format (that is, virtually everyone outside the US
and virtually no one inside the US), the workaround is, in itself, =
difficult: Before launching Biota in Windows 95, open the Windows
Control Panel, then open the Regional Settings icon. In the Date tab,
set the Short Date format to MM/dd/yyyy and Long Date format to
MMMM/dd/yyyy. Close the control panel and launch Biota. (The
procedure is similar for the Mac OS.) Granted, this is annoying to
have to do every time you want to use Biota and undo every time
you quit Biota (assuming other applications require the International
date setting), and it means any other application open at the same
time will be subjected to US Date formats as well. (I cannot think of
any problems this would cause on a network, however.)

I regret this unfortunate bit of senseless imperialism (for which the
makers of 4th Dimension, or the recalcitrance of American society,
may be blamed). I am reasonably confident I will find to find a way
to accommodate both US formats and the international operating
system date formats in a future update of Biota without impairing
the efficiency of the application, but for now, that=B9s how it =
Since a sizable number of non-US users of Biota (for Macintosh and
Windows beta) have managed to survive the inconvenience, I opted
not to delay the release of Biota for Windows any further while
working out a fix.

Here is my original posting (Title: Biota for Windows is now
available=B2), with line breaks. *If you could read the original, =
ignore this re-posting.*

I am pleased to announce the publication (by Sinauer Associates, of Version 1.2 of _Biota: The Biodiversity
Database Manager_, specimen-based, biological data and collections
management software for individuals, projects, museums, and
herbaria. With this release, Windows users can now join the
growing group of Macintosh Biota users.

This new version of Biota is available in standalone format
(BiotaApp) for Windows or Macintosh ($125 complete) , and in
client/server format (Biota4D Multiplatform) for Windows and
Macintosh servers with mixed clients ($175 plus the cost of 4D
Server). BiotaApp for Windows and Biota4D for Windows servers
requires Windows 95 or later or Windows NT. BiotaApp for
Macintosh and Biota4D for Mac servers requires System 7.1 or

With the exception of client/server capability, features are =
identical in
all Biota formats. Biota Data Files, which can accommodate up to
128 GB of information, are 100% compatible between Windows
and Mac operating systems. The profusely illustrated Biota Manual
(585 pp.) and Supplement for Version 1.2 (65 pp.), included with
the software, offer a quick-start overview, a tutorial covering basic
features , and comprehensive but easy-to-use reference sections for
advanced features.

Through its intuitive menus and screens, Biota offers efficient tools
for rapid data input, update, maintenance, analysis, and reporting of
biosystematic data. Biota's capable Import Editor helps convert
existing data sets to Biota's relational structure. A wide array of =
and image file export tools (including NEXUS export of character
matrices for PAUP and McClade) provides easy access to data for
analysis and publication. Biota produces hierarchical taxonomic files
in HTML (with images) ready to post on a Web server and creates
virtually journal-ready Specimens Examined lists based on any
selection of records.

Other tools include a straightforward specimen loan management
system; label-printing and label text export facilities (for pinned,
fluid-preserved, slide-mounted, or herbarium specimens); unlimited
user-definable fields; recursive specimen relations (e.g., herbivore-
plant, parasite-host, DNA-specimen); automatic maintenance of a
specimen determination "audit-trail"; flexible barcode/manual input
for record entry, record retrieval, and loan management; and a
password security system with multiple privilege levels.

**Visit the Biota Website** at
for full details on Biota, including features, formats, ordering
information, and a complete analysis of Biota=B9s data model in
relation to the ASC data model.

**NOTE to registered users of Biota 1.0.x for Macintosh or beta
versions 1.1.x for Macintosh: You may download Version 1.2 from
the Biota Website using your registration number as a password.
You can also download the Supplement to the Manual, although you
will receive a printed copy direct from Sinauer in the near future. =
you purchased Biota but have not sent in your registration, please do

Robert K. Colwell
Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, U-42
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-3042, USA
Voice: 860-486-4395   Fax 860-486-3790
Internet: colwell at
Biota Website:

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