Specimen databases

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Thu Aug 10 14:24:28 CDT 2000

>>> Michael Chamberland <chamb at U.ARIZONA.EDU> 08/10 1:44 PM >>>
> wrote:
>The disadvantage of this approach is you must build your own program and
>debug it.  But it is easier than it sounds.  You can also get a head
>if you can copy someone else's label-making setup.  BIOTA and SPECIFY
>many features for herbarium management, and are a platform for managing
>kinds of specimens (not just plants) as well as tracking relationships
>between specimens (host/parasite, predator/prey).  These many features,
>IMHO, rendered these programs a bit too cumbersome for my taste, and
>not be customized.  And ultimately the flexibility of Access to import
>existing data won out in its favor.

While I am not using Microsoft Access, there is a lot to be said for Mike's

I used FileMakerPro to set up 4 "databases" to create a relational system
that follows the ASC model. It was not difficult to do. And because of the
features of FMP labels are generated within the database and images can also
be captured, etc.

In fact, we use this simple 4 table model
(localities=>lots=>specimens=>names) to teach the basics of relational
databases in our introductory systematics course. We feel that some
knowledge of databases is essential for all students just as the ability to
use Hennig86 or McClade. Sure the terminology is new, but putting data into
the "first normal form" is no different from properly defining unit
characters, etc.

So, in short, rolling your own is not that difficult.  Even relational
ones.  And the real advantage is you will have a small application that
precisely matches your needs and one which you fully understand.

BUT IF YOU HAVE A LARGE complex project like the ALAS project, etc., then
don't waste your time. Buy BIOTA. It is good.

Obviously if you are an entomologist and dealing just with pinned
specimens, etc., and want to see and/or use my simple system, just contact
me off-line.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov
visit our Diptera site at www.diptera.org

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