Updated July 2021
The living collections module manages data and images for botanic gardens, arboreta, estates and other horticultural projects. A comprehensive range of functions is provided to manage all aspects of garden management from initial accessioning on. This module is closely linked to the BRAHMS modules for managing taxa, vouchers, images, documents and maps. Daa can be added quickly using Rapid Data Entry and garden inventories can make use of BRAHMS garden app.
The botanical gardens mobile app is used to gather data and images for plants in botanic gardens or similar areas. As the app works both on and off line, you can gather data in garden areas that have no internet/phone signal. Example uses are to undertake stock-checks; check plant names; request labels/maintenace tasks; add map references; take images; and to log observations such as flowering.
Many tables have one or more calculated fields. These are handy fields that provide a range of numeric totals and calculated text strings. Examples are to total up the number of images or documents per record; the number of collections made by different collectors; and the number of genera and species per family. Calculated fields have multiple uses with viewing, reporting and error checking, as well as simply knowing what's in your database.
You can customise the visible columns from the Grid Tools menu. Multiple column views can be saved for each table and then selected from a drop down list. There are a number of ways to select or hide columns.
class="v8textintro">Column summaries are a powerful way to list different values in the current column. Moving to a new column updates the summary. You can also use the column summary tool to quickly filter on one or more of the listed values.
If BRAHMS does not have the storage fields you need, you can add your own custom fields. These fields are fully integrated with your database and appear in the main data grids with equal status to standard BRAHMS fields. Custom fields can be added to any table.
Create DwC archive files for taxa and occurrence data.
Multiple documents of any type can be linked to any record in BRAHMS. This could be a PDF material transfer agreement or collection permit linked to a specimen, accession or transaction; a protologue description linked to a species; a sound file linked to an animal entry; or perhaps a video or slideshow linked to a botanic garden greenhouse record. You can link any category of media including URLs.
All data editing is initiated using the Edit toolbar. User restrictions can be applied per module.
All edits are recorded in a central edit history table. Edits can be viewed and reversed from any table.
Tagged records from any table can be easily exported to Excel/CSV format. This function will export data from your currently selected columns respecting any filters and sort order you may have set.
Using the Excel Import Wizard, Excel tables can be opened and imported directly into Rapid Data Entry files and then, after checking/editing, transferred into BRAHMS itself. The Import Wizard is accessed when an RDE file is opened.
Match records provided in an Excel table to records in BRAHMS using any combination of fields, tagging the matched records. Examples uses: match a list of species provided in Excel to your own species list; match a list of museum specimens or seed accessions based on a list of barcodes provided in Excel.
When you open any data grid, you can use the Find option to locate any text or a number in any grid cell. Cells that include your text are highlighted in yellow. Using the search box navigation arrows, you can move to the next or previous matching cell.
class="v8textintro">By default, BRAHMS uses versatile data grids with context sensitive toolbar options to locate, select, sort, query and analyze your data.
Images can be linked to any record in BRAHMS and you can link multiple images to the same record. All images are listed in the central images table with their full pathname or web URL. Images may be located in any location including in media libraries and cloud servers. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS. You can store links to images using a URL - you do not need to have a copy of the image file. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS.
Mapping options include dynamic links to the in-built ArcGIS and externally, by passing data to ArcMAP, Google Earth, DIVA, QGIS and GeoCAT. Any data with map references (collection events, botanic garden plants, etc.) can be mapped. The internal ArcGIS mapper requires no installation but you do need to be online. Training videos on mapping in BRAHMS are available on the training video page.
QGIS is a mapping package freely available on https://www.qgis.org. BRAHMS can connect and pass data to QGIS – but you have to install the QGIS software locally first. You can open QGIS directly from BRAHMS, passing data to saved QGIS map projects. Training videos on mapping to QGIS from BRAHMS including creating species richness maps are available on the training video page.
The map point editor and location search option can be used in any table with map points. The editor opens a dynamic online map form. Records with existing map points will be mapped using your selected base map. A right-click on the map resets the point position and either auto-saves this to the grid or awaits conformation with via the Save option.
The integrated ArcGIS is being extended in phases to provide search and analysis features.
Context sensitive ribbon toolbars similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications are used throughout BRAHMS making the system intuitive, easy to learn and use.
MS SQL Server as a Data Store
MS SQL Server is an industry standard DMBS and as with PostgreSQL, is secure, highly scalable, and can be configured to optimise performance. Databases can be accessed simultanously by multiple users. The Standard (Express) edition is free but the Enterprise editon must be licenced.
Spread out on multiple monitors
Data grids, forms, images, weblinks, maps and calculation screens can all be undocked and used on separate monitors. Toolbar options always apply to the last selected window.
In BRAHMS v8, you can open as many tables as you wish at the same time. Table docking can be arranged as needed and using different monitors. Where tables are related, for example, [Family -> Genus -> Species -> Collection event -> Specimen] or ... [Species -> Garden Accession -> Garden Plant -> Plant Events], you can relate these tables to dynamically update as you select records on your data grids. This also applies to maps and external weblinks.
Multi-Value (list) searches
The Multi-Value Search enables you to copy or enter a list of values to locate and tag records in the current table. For example, you may have a list of species names, plant accession IDs, collector numbers, publication years, barcodes or transaction IDs that you wish to locate.
BRAHMS has been developed to store all categories of natural history collection - examples are birds, insects, fungi, ferns and higher plants. Specimens may have accession numbers and/or barcodes and be of any physical category. A specimen may have multiple determinations (annotations) over time and these are recorded with dates and the name of the person providinvg the name. Types can be recorded. Each specimen is linked to a collection event where comprehensive details can be stored on the origin of the material. With some categories of collection, for example plant material, a collection may result in multiple specimens, potentially distributed to different institutions. Specimes may be linked to boxes and/or folders and these in turn can be numbered or barcoded. Multiple images (files or URLs) can be associated with each specimen. Additional curation tools are provided across the collection management module, notably adding transactions for loans and exchanges. BRAHMS encourages the use of these data to catalyse research initiatives.
Permits and Permissions
The Legal option under Data Tools provides access to all details on permits, permissions and other issues related to the legal status of material and its movement. You can store details on permits of different types with links to material transfer agreements, notes on due diligence and other documents. Entries can be categorized as Nagoya (2014 onwards), CBD (1991 - 2014 ) or pre-CBD.
PostgreSQL as a Data Store
For larger databases, especially those with many simultanous users, PostgreSQL is one of the data store options. As with MS SQL Server, PostgreSQL is secure, highly scalable, and can be configured to optimise performance. It can manage extremely large 'industry standard' databases accessed simultanously by multiple users. PostgreSQL is open source/free.
Create, design and publish your own websites directly to BRAHMS Online (BOL) using the Publish Online features.
Query and Filter
BRAHMS includes powerful search functionality in all tables. The top data grid 'filter row' feature provides a fast way to add multiple filters. You can also instantly filter to the value in any selected cell using the Selection and +Selection toolbar options. And for those wishing to develop and save complex queries, the Query form can be used. Queries can mix and match fields of any data type.
Rapid Data Entry
While data can be entered directly into BRAHMS, RDE is recommended for entering larger numbers of records and also as a first step when importing or transferring data from other software packages such as Excel. RDE files are entirely separate mini-databases linked to your main BRAHMS database. Training videos on RDE are available on the training video page.
BRAHMS is delivered with a powerful and flexible suite of reporting tools that are fully embedded in the system. BRAHMS reporting options provide almost limitless power to generate lists, master detail reports, labels, charts, cross-tabs and more. You can print, send to documents, attach as email or publish online. Those wishing to go the extra mile can refer to the full reporter user manual. Training videos on how to create reports are available on the training video page.
The ability to sort records, vital for reporting, is also useful to simply locate records and to find errors. Tables can be sorted on single or multiple columns by clicking and shift-clicking on the headers. Complex sorts are carried out and saved using the sorting tool.
By tagging a record in any table, you add a character or number to the TAG field. Tagging opens up numerous options for subsequent record selections, processing and analysis. A simple example would be to tag a selection of collection events or garden plants manually or using a function - and then when mapping, restrict to tagged. Tagged records are dynamically coloured. All tags are user specific. Thus, on networked systems, your tagging operations do not interfere with those of another user.
The Tag Group option allows you to save profiles of tagged records in any table. You can mark up records with any of the available tag symbols and then save these tags to a named group. Examples are 'Medicinal species', 'My research taxa', 'Garden plants of special interest', 'Localities of special interest'. Tags from your saved tag groups can be loaded/restored to the respective table. Tag groups can optionally be shared with all users.
Managing taxon names
Central to all BRAHMS databases, be they for curation or research, are the core taxon dictionaries. Designed equally for zoologists and botanists, data for any rank from kingdom down to the infra-specific ranks can be stored. Aside from names and their authors, it's possible to add full nomeclatural details for each name, cross-referencing to online resources and literature links.
Descriptive texts for taxa
You can store descriptive texts for all taxa levels, defining as many text categories as you need. For example, you may want to store details of recommended seed germination procedures at the species level, notes on species hardiness or preferred water requirement or sun tolerance, perhaps a technical description of a genus. All these texts are stored in a central table and can be viewed/edited there or when viewing the respective taxa records themselves.
Transactions - loans, gifts, exchanges and similar
Managing transactions is an important feature in BRAHMS v8 - be these for preserved or living material. Transactions are linked to the categories you choose to add to your database. After adding a transaction record, you can link or unlink items; print packing notes and correspondence; record material as returned; edit determinations; and review all transactions using any of the standard data grid features. Transactions, best managed using barcoded material, can be uploaded to BRAHMS onliine as Image based transactions..
Tree Views provide an excellent way to locate, explore and filter data as well as tracking down spelling errors. The Tree View designer allows you to create and save your own views with up to 10 hierarchical levels, as many as you need per table. Once opened, you can then use the locate and filter options offered, for example 'filter on selection' when you click on any tree level.
Dynamic Web Links
You can consult a range of handy online references from the Weblink toolbar. As a rule, these locate an online source for the species name for the current record - and this will update as you browse through the data grid. For example, you may want to check an author name on IPNI, check nomenclature on Tropicos or simply check out google images.