Website updated… v0.0.2.3 available

Further to my post of yesterday, my web host is back playing nice and so I’ve been able to get the new release back online. Check out http://www.naturerecorder.com and download v0.0.2.3 to get the major changes since v0.0.1…

You can now create and edit real locations rather than being tied to the dummy Site A, Site B, Site C from the earlier releases.

I’ve had a small number of people using the new features for a while but I’ve finally got it to a point where I’m happy for a wider audience to have a play.

This marks a major extension to functionality and brings it much closer to a system you can actually use for real recording.

Further developments are on the way.

Apologies – wrong kind of work on the tracks

Many apologies to those waiting for 0.0.2.0… progress has been a little slow lately.

The day job has been very hectic with many deadlines over the last three months plus an internal reorganisation meaning I have had to hand over my team and workload to another manager and prepare to pick up a new team myself.

This has meant a few long days (and weekends) and i’ve not had chance to move things forward like I’d like to, however there have been some fairly big steps forward in the codebase that I’ve had a few guys testing in earnest before I roll them out to the world (there are over 100 users already – not too bad for an alpha release!)

It will probably be another couple of weeks before i manage to get to where I want to be for the next release so please bear with me and we’ll get there as soon as possible.

As a side thought – I’ve had a few requests later for functionality to support other realms of nature such as butterflies etc. The program is designed in such a way that it can be used with virtually no modification (just a different taxonomy database) for any order of creatures.

If this is something you’d be keen on please let me know and I’ll try and schedule a release that incorporates butterflies, mammals etc.

Regional Lists – coming in v0.0.2.0

Just a quick update… coming soon in v0.0.2.0 is the ability to manage locations, and to produce lists on a regional basis taking advantage of the hierarchical nature of locations.

My own database is set up with the World at the top level and then beneath that is Europe (I haven’t made any real records of sightings outside of Europe), and beneath that the UK which in turn is split into England and Scotland, and England is split into the counties I have records for. The benefit of this hierarchy of sites is that you get multiple lists for free… add a report to Cresswell Pools and not only do all the records count for my Cresswell list but also for my Northumberland list, my England list, my UK list, my Europe list, my Life list and my Year list.

Now you can already report on species on a site-by-site basis, or globally via the Life List and Year List options but what you can’t do with the current release is report on *all* sites in a county, or a country, or a continent. That changes in v0.0.02.0 :

Lists dropdown

I’ve also made a change to the year list options – it now gives you the option of current or previous year’s year lists rather than just the current one. If there’s demand I can expand that to offer year lists for each year that contains any records within the database.

100 downloads!

Forgot to mention… according to the stats from the website (www.naturerecorder.com) i’ve now had 100 downloads – from different people not just upgrades. I have users in 11 countries on three continents – from Canada and the US – through Europe (UK, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Russia and Turkey) to New Zealand.

Many thanks to all who have offered their time and constructive criticism (and touch wood so far all the feedback has been constructive)…

I’m aiming for a proper beta launch with a full set of usable functionality by Easter, through to a full lauch in the summer.

I say “full launch” – I’ll be wielding the full force of my corporate marketing machine (ie me) to publicise… so word of mouth is going to be important. At some point I’ll be drawing up a feature comparison between what I’m offering for free and what the commercial offerings have and I hope that will show in a favourable light what you get with Nature Recorder.

Thanks again for the invaluable support and encouragement- without the interest shown by people I’ve never met this project would never have got off the ground and I’d still be using a spreadsheet and shaking my head at what people expect you to pay for!

The next 12 months should be pretty exciting with lots of cool new stuff on the way including integration with Google Earth and Google Maps and online functionality to allow you to share your data if you’re in a club or just with your mates.

Now.. maps for sites

Right.. the last thing I work on before releasing an alpha… honest

I’ve now got integration with Google Maps working… so as long as you have an internet connection you can specify latitude and longitude co-ordinates for sites and see their location using google maps. I will add functions to switch between roadmap, terrain, satellite and hybrid views as supported by google. Going down this route does tie me to what google decide to offer or stop offering at any given time but the cheapest decent option that I can find that is independent of web services costs around £4,000k and if this is a not-for-profit exercise I don’t think I can find £4k to cover that!

Image

More mapping to come so that you can see recent sightings on a map… probably on the home page.

A further demo – adding details and photos

OK so a couple of weeks ago I showed a video demo of how to add a simple record via the add report wizard.. here’s part 2.

At the moment the wizard only goes so far as adding basic species info and if you want to add more detail such as the count for a particular species, or if you want to add a subspecies or a note, or indicate you only heard the bird or it flew over you need to go into the details…

This video demonstrates how to go in and add more detail to your sighting (apologies if its a little faster paced than the previous one!).

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I’m open to suggestions about whether the wizard should allow you to edit this detail – at the moment i’m working on the principle that those who would use the wizard would only record basic details, and serious listers would go straight in and add records in the main grid views.

Short codes now in place… alpha test version 1 coming soon (honest)

.. only a small step forward but one thats been on the agenda for months now… you can add “short codes” for each species so now if you’re typing the name of a species to add to a report list you can type in “lbbg” for lesser black backed gull, “gsw” for greater spotted woodpecker.

Only a modest increment of functionality but nice to clear it off the backlog as its one that potentially makes it much quicker to enter common species

My plan for the next week is to get a packaged up version ready for people to play with. This will be strictly limited in functionality – I want to focus efforts on making the species entry as slick and robust as possible, so I will disable most of the things you can do at this point but it would be really good to get feedback on this mechanism.

I’m part way through this at the moment and I’m just fighting with WiX installer technology to get a package in place that will install the app and all its pre-requisites.. as soon as its up and running I’ll put something up here for people to download.