[Taxacom] Software for curating taxonomic/biological/specimen information

John Bruner jbruner at ualberta.ca
Thu Dec 1 13:15:38 CST 2016

I would recommend the web version of Specify 7.2.  It is *free* and the
most widely used software for natural history museums in the world. It  will
allow data entry and querying through a web browser and an iPad application
that will allow you to interrogate your collection.


The system is highly customizable for individual collections and is full of
great features – built in georeferencing and visualization tools, workbench
for importing Excel data, report designer for labels, loan forms etc, a web
portal and Darwin Core mapping tool for exposing your data to the world and
joining portals like GBIF etc. as well as the usual data entry, querying
and interactions tools.  It is completely open source and uses MySQL as its
database engine.

There is a weekly live on-line tutorial on Specify. The Florida Museum of
Natural History, Gainesville, FL, recently migrated its 40 million
collection objects to Specify.

On Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 11:44 AM, Francisco Borrero <borrerofcoj at gmail.com>

> ANSP Malacology also uses FileMakerPro.
> Francisco J. Borrero  Ph.D.
> USDA APHIS National Malacology Laboratory
> Academy of Natural Sciences
> 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
> Philadelphia, PA 19103-1101
> Ph.:  215 299-1160; cel. 215-847-3271
> Fax: 215 567-7229
> e-mail: Francisco.J.Borrero at aphis.usda.gov
> or:  borrerofcoj at gmail.com
> On 12/1/16 1:27 PM, "Taxacom on behalf of Doug Yanega"
> <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:
> >I'll offer my two cents. Back around 1994, I had a postdoc at the INHS
> >to help develop a database for their aquatic insect collection. The
> >database was in FileMaker. I learned how to use it, how to design fields
> >and modify the interface, how to link relational files, and it was not a
> >difficult thing. 22 years later, I still use FileMaker Pro, now to
> >manage a collection at UCR containing some 4 million specimens, of which
> >around half a million have database records. True, it is not
> >pre-packaged. You have to learn how to make it do what you want it to
> >do, but it can do almost anything. True, it has some "personality
> >quirks" which take getting used to. But it is platform-independent,
> >flexible, powerful, easy to learn and use, fairly cheap, and it is
> >extremely well-supported. Over 20 years and still going strong, and I
> >have no fear of ever losing our data to obsolescence. I've seen most of
> >the other software that's around, and have never yet seen anything that
> >I would consider a significant *overall* improvement over what FMPro
> >does for me. True, I had to put a fair bit of my own time and energy
> >into building the interface, but that's not really a drawback; after
> >all, if I decide I need a new or modified data field (e.g., in order to
> >better correspond to Darwin Core standards), or want to add new
> >functionality (e.g., displaying images, linking to Google Earth), I can
> >do it myself (or with a little help and/or research), sometimes
> >immediately.
> >
> >I'll add one more thing: since it CAN be customized, FMPro offers the
> >potential for different users to develop tools, tricks, and interface
> >designs that can be shared with other users, to everyone's collective
> >benefit. If someone else using FMPro wanted to see how my database is
> >structured, I could easily send them copies of the templates for each of
> >the five relational databases that comprise my system (one for
> >localities, 3 for taxonomy, and one for specimen records themselves),
> >and vice-versa; we could learn from one another, and maybe both come out
> >ahead. I know at least a few major collections other than mine use
> >FMPro-based databases (e.g., INHS, AMNH), so I'm not alone. But, when
> >discussions like this crop up, they ALWAYS focus on pre-packaged
> >specimen management software, so you will rarely hear from us. I'd
> >encourage people to consider FMPro as another option.
> >
> >Peace,
> >
> >--
> >Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> >Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> >phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
> >              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
> >   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
> >         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
> >
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> >The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> >http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >
> >Injecting Intellectual Liquidity for 29 years.
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* Mr. John C. Bruner                                  *
* Department of Biological Sciences                   *
* University of Alberta                               *
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