The Specify Collections Consortium is pleased to announce updates for Specify 6, Specify 7, and the Specify Web Portal. The new releases include database schema enhancements, new capabilities, and a large number of fixed bugs. Database administrators note with these updates: (1) the Specify 6 updater modifies the Specify database schema, and (2) the updates create new dependencies among the three packages (Specify 6, 7, and Web Portal) that are not backward compatible with previous releases. Specify 6.8 and Specify 7.4 work with the new database schema update (ver. 2.7), the Specify 6 installer adds tables to the database, and adds or changes fields in others. (See the Specify 6 release notes for more information.)

We are committed to keeping the SCC’s development and support activities moving forward during this extraordinary, global hiatus, and hope to return to our Consortium offices later in the year. In the meantime, make contact if we can help. E-mail is the best way to reach us for most things: [email protected] We would be happy to set up a conversation, over the phone or launch a Zoom or Skype session, on Specify matters large or small.

Summary of New Capabilities

A significant new module in Specify 6 and 7 provides support for recording all changes made to a database, including record additions, edits, and deletions. “Audit Logging” is a background process that records every change to data along with metadata on who made it and when.

The status of Loan transactions can be tracked more efficiently using new data fields that summarize the disposition of loaned items (cataloged or uncatalogued) on the Loan form.

We added a second link connecting the Storage Tree and the Preparation table in order to provide the possibility for designating a second or alternate storage location for a Preparation.

In an earlier Specify 6 release, we added two new tables: Collection Object Properties and Preparation Properties, to handle attribute or trait data for Collection Objects and Preparations, respectively. These new data tables allow a researcher to choose the attribute being described or measured at the time of data entry, e.g. from a drop-down pick list, and then record the corresponding value in a second, associated field. This extensible design makes the number of attribute types that can be recorded essentially limitless. Attributes are variables that can be defined as logical (presence/absence, yes/no, etc.), categorical, or quantitative. Values are represented in the database as logical, text, integer, or floating point data. Members are invited to contact the SCC Lab for additional information on how to configure these tables for trait data.

We implemented two Cyrillic language translations of Specify, Russian and Ukrainian. The localizations are available for Specify 6.8. Contact us for setup information if you are interested in using them.

With the Specify 6.8 and 7.4 updates, we confirm compatibility and support for MariaDB, a popular open-source, relational database platform and alternative to MySQL.

Specify 6.8 is Apple notarized by Apple to run on macOS 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

The Specify Web Portal can now ingest, search, and display Collection Object records from multiple Specify collections. We also changed the way the Specify 6 and 7 platforms export data to the Web Portal, and improved search behavior in the Portal when using quoted phrases.

Additionally, URLs in Specify weblink data fields published to the Web Portal can now be made live; public web users can click them to retrieve linked remote resources.

With Specify 7.4, in addition to adding support for Audit Logging, we fixed a number of issues (below). We are updating Specify 7 modules to Python 3 and Django 2.2 in the next release.

Sources

Specify 6.8.00: https://www.specifysoftware.org/join/download/
Specify 7.4.00: https://github.com/specify/specify7/releases/tag/v7.4.0
Specify Web Portal 2.0: https://github.com/specify/webportal-installer/releases/tag/v2.0

Bugs Fixed

Specify 6.8.00 addresses over 135 engineering issues, about 50 user-facing. The list is at: https://github.com/specify/specify6/milestone/5
Specify 7.4.00 listing of fixed bugs: https://github.com/specify/specify7/milestone/16
Specify Web Portal 2.0 fixed bugs: https://github.com/specify/webportal-installer/issues?q=is%3Aopen+is%3Aissue+label%3A%22Confirmed+Fixed%22