Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #1448
    Norine Spears

    What constraints, requirements, and strategies would be priorities for your institution?

    Daniel Geiger

    This my personal opinion, not institutional.
    Bang for buck. Currently Specify 6 sort of works, and it is free. That’s a decent trade-off.

    Priority: Is the new Specify development team going to provide critical basic db functionality?
    Data entry is OK, but clean-up is non-extant. Change-all in a record set (for instance from inventory “empty” to “found”) is impossible. A total waste of time going through every single record, click edit, click Inventory “found”, save, next record, etc.
    Or double entered Agents. While I can easily merge taxa, I don’t think it is possible to merge Agents or Sites.
    While the idea of clean data-entry is nice on paper, in reality, you gotta clean it up afterwards. While this may not fit a TADWIG platonic ideal, please accept reality and provide tools accordingly. I know that the change-all feature has been on the list for years, but nothing happens.

    Similarly for label design, which seems to be a major problem. It should be as easy to do as in FileMaker or Access.

    However, there is a mapping tool for the ipad. So what? It seems to me that Specify gets side-tracked on the latest fad while not actually excelling at core business. This is OK for a free piece of software, but once I have to pay for it, it better work flawlessly as a productivity tool at the core function.

    Before paying for Specify, I will be looking at alternatives.

    my 2c.

    Jim Beach

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your thoughts. The feature you describe, what we call ‘batch editing’, has been regularly requested by Specify users and we have had numerous team discussions about how to approach it. As you point out we have had it on our new features list for some time, and we’re definitely aware of the impracticality of updating large numbers of records, one-at-a-time. There are a couple of difficult design challenges, centered around how the user will know which records they are actually updating and the impact of those updates as they cascade across the numerous table relationships associated with (e.g.) collection objects or collection events. We had batch editing as a feature in Specify 5 and it was a powerful tool, but we regularly received distress calls from users who had made batch changes and not realized the impact they had on other records they had not intended to change–as a result of the logical relationships among multiple data tables. For that user experience reason, batch editing will probably require additional functions like a system to do complete roll-back of updates that have unanticipated consequences. A batch change facility will probably need to be incorporated into the WorkBench module, where we would flatten out all those hidden logical relationships, enable spreadsheet-like batch operations, and then re-import the records in the dataset back into the Specify relational schema with the required validity checking. We’re also looking at the possibility of using the query results screen as a starting point for batch updates, some of the same engineering challenges apply, but by limiting updates to one data table at a time we may reduce the risk of unintended cascading changes. In summary, we know of the need, we’re still trying to scope the capability and to find a way to minimize collateral damage, and then fit the capability into our development priorities. Significant design, business logic and UI challenges like this unfortunately get pushed back as we resolve problems and add features that are smaller and have more discreet boundaries. That’s not optimal.

    With a more open, collaborative consortium organizational model and more resources, we would be more responsive to significant engineering challenges that capabilities like this represent. It’s still on the list. Thanks again.



    Here is what we (project Austrian Barcode Of Life) need desperately:

    Batch editing (I know…)
    Workbench-Upload in DNA Sequence und DNA Sequence Run
    Carry Forward for DNA Sequence Run
    Deleting a set of CollectionObjects/Localyties/DNA Sequence (probably part of the batch editing)
    Incorporationg Preperation Type in the picklists (it is not sustainable to add/change prep types seperately for every collection)

    I understand that you cannot do all of this or even plan on doing it, but maybe you can let me know what we can expect =) Thank you!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Grau.
    Norine Spears

    Hi Grau,

    Thank you for communicating your priorities for the Specify Collections Consortium.

    We have been working on a Batch Editing tool for editing fields in several tables since Fall 2017, and we have a Beta version being tested at the time of this writing. We will gather feedback from our field testers in the next two weeks and look forward to a software update in March!

    Regarding DNA Sequence capabilities, we absolutely understand the need for this and would love to discuss opportunities for collaboratively finding resources that would allow us to create a plugin in Specify. Alternately, our engineers are available to assist with importing DNA Sequence information through MySQL as part of our Data Cleanup Management services.

    Our Preparation Type is already an editable Pick List. I have created a topic in the Tips and Tricks forum that you may find helpful.

    – Norine

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Norine Spears.


    I know, there are more pressing features, but I just wanted to put this idea out there =)

    It would be great if some entries could be set on “private”, meaning, that only the creator of the entry can see the database entry. Some scientist want their entries to be invisible to others until they decide otherwise (we had that discussion yesterday).


    I’m looking for a way to upload storage cabinet location in the “storage” field under Preparations. Inventory was completed, and I have data in excel that corresponds with each catalog number and cabinet location. Is there a way to upload this in order to populate in the “storage field” without having to individually enter this information by selecting each record?

    Norine Spears

    Dear Claudcm,

    The only way to bulk update records in the Specify database from an Excel spreadsheet is directly through MySQL. If you are uncomfortable doing this it is a service that we offer to our members. Otherwise, you can manually update multiple storage records at one time using the Batch Editor.

    – Norine

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