We are enthused to announce the availability of two software updates: Specify 6.8.01 and Specify 7.6.0. The releases have been under development for several months; they include major new capabilities and extensions, as well improvements to numerous previously reported issues. Highlights of the new releases include a wholly re-engineered Specify 7 WorkBench module with a new intuitive interface, powerful data validation and editing functions, and with increased flexibility for importing and uploading more types of collections data into Specify. We also made a significant investment in documenting Specify 7’s APIs in part due to strong encouragement from the SCC Board of Directors. We plan to do much more with Specify APIs in coming months. See the Specify 7.6.0 release notes for links to more information.
In the Specify 6.8.01, we added many workflow support features and even more data fields for facilitating the management of museum interactions (transactions). As more institutions with formal procedures for specimen transactions join the Consortium, support for item–level processing and tracking of preparations for accessions, loans and other transactions has become more of a priority. We enlarged the Specify database schema to accommodate the finer “Item” level of resolution for tracking the parts and pieces of lots and specimens in Specify 6. Other changes to Specify 6.8.01 are described in the release notes linked here.
We are also delighted to announce the creation of the Specify Network, a start on what will become a major part of the Consortium’s technology future. The Specify Network provides a way to link the specimen information in your Specify databases with the information derived from your records being served by aggregators, and also to link with online authorities that have classification and nomenclatural information on the taxa in your collection. This is just the beginning of a network-integrated future for Specify. We are keeping an eye on the envisioned global, digital object, specimen data architecture. Additional developments in this area will include more direct forms of integration between Specify and remote information and computational resources, including more two-way data interaction with downstream users of your data. In Specify 6 and 7, Specify Network integration services are available by clicking on the new button at the top of the Collection Object form. This web page provides a brief overview of the new Specify Network.
Also for Specify 6 sites, we created a new SCC internal data archive, the Specify Cache, which optionally (collection opt-in) stores a copy of Darwin Core formatted records for purposes of matching and computation, as part of the services offered by the Specify Network. The Specify Cache does not have a public web interface and its data are only accessible to the collection that opts-in to the Network. We will provide the capability to access collection object data from Specify 7 collections (including Specify Cloud sites) for Specify Network integrations and analyses in an upcoming update.
We gratefully acknowledge the collections scientists that serve on SCC advisory committees and those at member institutions who contributed to the formulation and development of the capabilities and features in these releases.