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The BRAHMS Project

BRAHMS development started around 1990 with a focus on taxonomic research and herbarium management, hence the name BRAHMS (Botanical Research And Herbarium Management System). Over the years, the system broadened its management capability encompassing botanic gardens, seed banks and field surveys.

Version 8 published in May 2019 is a comprehensive upgrade - moving BRAHMS to new technology and extending its role to manage Natural History collections (Zoology, Botany, Fossils, etc.).

The project is based at the University of Oxford and is now managed by Oxford University Innovation (OUI).

As of 2018, BRAHMS v7 was deployed in some 80 countries with projects ranging in size from the taxonomic revisions of small genera to managing some of the world's largest herbaria and national networks. The largest single database with data and images for over 5 million museum specimens runs at the National Herbarium of the Netherlands (Naturalis). The country with the largest number of individual projects is Brazil.

Example projects: National Herbarium of the Netherlands; The herbaria of the Brazil Amazonian region; The herbaria of South Africa; The herbaria of South East Asia; The Kew Millennium Seed Bank Partnership; RBG Kew UK Overseas Territories projects; The Morton Arboretum, Illinois, USA; Conifers of the World; Plants of Namibia; The National Forest Herbarium of New Zealand; PBI project on the revision of the genus Solanum; The University of Oxford Herbaria and Botanic Garden; An e-monograph of the Caricaceae; The Ancient Oaks of England; Trower Botanical Illustrations; Oxford Plants 400; Singapore Herbarium; L'Erbario di Ulisse Aldrovandi; The National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago.

Our development priorities

BRAHMS has been developed as a scalable research and management system for preserved and living natural history collections. While derived from earlier versions with respect to much of its functionality, v8 is an entirely new system with updated technologies and data store. Development has been undertaken in consultation with many different categories of user and project.

  • easy to install and maintain, intuitive to use;
  • scalable from small research projects to large, multi-site enterprise systems;
  • extendable, allowing projects to add custom storage fields;
  • manages and integrates all categories of preserved and living collection;
  • modular, allowing others to add components including web-based add-ons;
  • international with respect to data store and user interface;
  • a sustainable solution with the potential for distributed development.

The Technology A modular system bringing your data together

BRAHMS has a flexible, 3-tiered and modular architecture with common services utilized as required. Individual modules may have their own internal services for specialized purposes. Data are fully integrated system-wide. The modular architecture opens up options for shared development.

  • a flexible, 3-tiered and modular architecture with common services.
  • each module may have its own internal services for specialized purposes.
  • the modular architecture opens up options for shared development.
  • modules and their components can be developed independently of each other.
  • the current user interface is written using WPF (XAML) as a ‘Desktop application’.
  • the UI is independent of the services and data store access and therefore could relatively easily be substituted by other technologies such as a web-browser UI.

For collection managers in museums, botanic gardens, herbaria and seed banks and for those undertaking taxonomic and biogeographic studies, BRAHMS helps integrate your data for collection management and research, increasing outputs and productivity.

A user friendly and brandable system

BRAHMS is highly intuitive using dynamic, context sensitive ribbon technology similar to that used in MS Office applications. Menu text, tooltips and related help messaging are held in translatable resource files. Setup options allow the selection of background imagery and form banners.

Context sensitive menus and toolbars are intuitive and easy to use. Data can be viewed and edited in versatile data grids or using forms, both dockable.

Data store, scalability, portability

One of the key challenges in developing BRAHMS has been to provide a system that can be scaled up to enterprise level projects with the capability to manage many millions of specimens on servers with suitable IT support - but is equally accessible to the itinerant researcher needing to copy an entire database onto a memory stick.

Data may be stored in MSSQL Server or PostgreSQL on locally or remotely based servers, enterprise or cloud. Selected data can also be transferred to portable SQLite databases. Rapid Data Entry tables always use SQLite and are thus entirely portable.