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.

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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.

A little more progress

I’ve finally managed to make some progress on the core application (I’ve been working on importing data via CSV and tab-delimited text) but I’m hoping to make v0.0.2.0 available soon – this will be the biggest increment in functionality since the first alpha.

What this will open up is the ability to manage locations – to this point the locations tab has been hidden from alpha versions but I’ve got enough feedback on the species selection features to open things up a bit.

I’ve also been refining the management of locations and added some new functionality around categorising locations by habitat.

Editing Locations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above screenshot shows the edit location dialog. From here you can change the name, description, set the location (currently only via latitude and longitude but I’ll work on other formats eventually), change the region, and pick from pre-defined habitat types (again… eventually this will be a customisable list but at the moment it comes from the BTO survey codes). I’ll also be extending the List page to allow you to see a view of species seen in different habitats.

A slightly larger view…

Edit Location

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing you may note from the initial shot is that I’m working on integrating with Google Earth to provide mapping capability – in this example it is just to shot the location of the site ou are editing, but this will also extend to being able to view your records and reports on a fully interacive map. More on this soon….

Google Earth

Year List and Life list – report now available in v0.0.1.4

A few simple enhancements but quite useful (in my humble opinion anyway) are now available in v0.0.1.4 from the website (www.naturerecorder.com)

First up – the buttons to add and remove individual records from a report once the wizard has been completed have now been implemented (up til now they’ve been there but not enabled).

Next – the graph display below the news on the home tab has been the source of some confusion amongst those testing so far, so I’ve elected to make a change. As it stands this chart is supposed to be the cumulative year list progress, so for example today is Jan 15th and I’ve got around 70 species on the year list so January shows 70 species. I haven’t got any extra species in Feb as it hasn’t started yet so Feb shows the 70 from Jan, as does March etc). I’ve now added an option – available from the Settings dialog – to switch that to showing a simple histogram showing the number of new species seen in the month (this means I now have 60 species in January but nothing for February through December).

The main change though is the additon of the Lists tab.

It struck me the other day that while I show on the home tab the current totals of life list and year list, there’s no actual display of whats in the list.

To this end I’ve introduced a new lists tab which currently has two lists available – Year List and Life List. These reports should be largely self-explanatory, but with one caveat… unlike much of the program these reports are static, ie if you view your year list and then add a new report featuring 5 new species for the year, the report will not automatically update to show the new species.

Year List

There is a refresh button in the toolbar on the tab which allows you to manually refresh, or you can just select the report again from the dropdown. The reason the lists are not dynamic is down to performance – it would slow the system down too much to dynamically re-do the reports. Note there are also toolbar buttons for print and save – neither of these are implemented yet so are disabled until such point as I write the code for them!

Updated version coming soon

I’ve had a bit of a delay in making progress on the latest update, largely due to the demise of my previous laptop. I’ve not lost anything , however its taken a while to get things up and running, and I’m in the process of making a couple of changes under the hood.

First – I’ve added in functionality so that the application checks the website (www.naturerecorder.com) to find the latest version and will flag up if there’s an update available. Second – as some of the changes that i want to make -(including adding synonyms for common names ) will require database schema changes, I’m writing a utility to take existing databases and upgrade them to the latest schema version so that anyone creating records with old versions of the DB don’t have to start again from scratch if they don’t want to.

Work on this is nearly done, so as soon as thats available I’ll implement the synonyms feature and then I will look to make 0.0.1.3 available.