Specimen databases

Una Smith una.smith at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 11 08:31:35 CDT 2000

On Thu, 10 Aug 2000, Kathie Hodge wrote:

>We're using Biota now at CUP.  [...]
>The software is working well for us, although we've had to invent
>some hacks to get around a few problems.

>From the rest of Kathie's note, it sounds as though BIOTA does not
have problems so much as it does not do *everything*.  I don't think
any one program ever will (or should) do everything.  BIOTA has a
pretty good data import/export facility, and I assume any user can
buy their own copy of the underlying database management system, 4th
Dimension, and roll their own tools to operate directly on a BIOTA

>                                               [...]  So we export
>Biota data to Filemaker to generate labels of several different types
>(for special subcollections, photographs, etc.--which need different
>data on the label), and also use Filemaker for shipping notices.

I think special labels and other types of highly customized forms
are best produced using software designed for that purpose, using
data export features of BIOTA.  I'd rather have Rob Colwell focus
his BIOTA efforts on improving features that are central to its
function (e.g., adding the ability to code descriptive characters
that can be exported as a data matrix in NEXUS or DELTA format),
rather than replicating a zillion features that are already well-
developed in hundreds of other products.

The burden should be on us to learn at least one parsing language
(e.g., PERL, REXX) and one general-purpose utility database tool
(e.g., Filemaker, MS Access).

        Una Smith               una.smith at yale.edu

        Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
        Yale University
        New Haven, CT  06520-8106

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