ABOUT BRAHMS v8Development priorities
SAMPLE APPLICATIONSManaging natural history collections
SOME v8 FEATURESData store, scalability, portability
The list of topics is gradually being extended.
ABOUT BRAHMS v8
BRAHMS v8 has been developed as a scalable research and curation management system for preserved and living natural history collections. While derived from earlier versions of BRAHMS with respect to much of its functionality, v8 is an entirely new system with updated technologies and data store. Based on almost 30 years of database development and implementation, v8 is being phased in during 2018. Development has been undertaken in consultation with many different categories of project, many of these long term v7 users. Wherever beneficial, the system follows published management standards for preserved and living collections.
The development priorities for BRAHMS v8:
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.
User friendly and brandable
BRAHMS v8 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.
A sustainable future
BRAHMS licensing and support are now managed through Oxford University Innovation. OUI provide rigour to the entire project and through appropriate licensing, ensure our projects get the service and support they require. With OUI backing, a sustainable and long-term future for BRAHMS is secured.
Natural history collections
BRAHMS v8 has been developed to store all categories of natural history collection. Above family, taxa levels including Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order and Suborder are provided as standard higher classification fields. However, depending on the collections you are managing, you can define as many new taxonomic ranks as required, both above and below family level (superfamily, subfamily, tribe, subtribe, etc.). Read more about using BRAHMS for museum management.
While some projects require only a simple list of species names, others assemble comprehensive details about each name as required for different types of research publication. In this respect, BRAHMS manages all details of nomenclature for taxonomic research. The ability to select, format and publish taxonomic information for different purposes, including online, is a key BRAHMS priority. Read more about using BRAHMS for taxonomic research.
Botanic gardens and living collections
The BRAHMS living collections module manages data and images for botanic gardens, arboreta and other horticultural projects. The module uses all the standard BRAHMS features to edit, query, report, map, export and publish online with additional features to manage garden accessions and plants. As living collections data are fully integrated within BRAHMS, it becomes possible to develop a comprehensive system for both curation and research. Read more about managing living collections in BRAHMS.
The seed module, developed collaboratively with the Millennium Seed Bank at RBG Kew, has broad curation and research applications for projects and institutions that collect, store, test and distribute seed. Seed accession and test data, related vouchers and images are all integrated and can be published online. Read more about the seed bank module in BRAHMS.
Samples and surveys
The survey module manages data from temporary and permanent plots which may be small, irregularly shaped survey sites or industrial scale forest grid blocks. The simplest samples may only register species presence. More complex surveys may include many more measurements. For example, a forest survey may add data about trees - tree numbers with their provisional identification, diameter, height, stem form, field images, specimen vouchers and more, depending on the research objectives. Plot data, combined with other data stored in BRAHMS, can be used for diversity and bio-quality analysis. Read more about using the sample and survey module in BRAHMS.
BRAHMS online allows you to design websites and manage your data and images online for curation and/or research use. Websites can be created for herbaria; botanic gardens; seed banks; taxonomic groups; geographic areas; images, paintings and illustrations; or any combination of these. Specialist websites can also be created, for example, websites for historical collections or all collections of a particular collector. Read more about publishing online from BRAHMS.
SOME v8 FEATURES
Data store, scalability, portability
One of the key challenges in developing v8 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 his or her entire database onto a memory stick.
Context sensitive menus and toolbars
Context sensitive ribbon toolbars similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications, offer all the features that long term v7 users have voted for. These include record tagging, two step deletion, zoom, column summaries and column selection. They also make BRAHMS v8 intuitive - easy to learn and use.
Spreadsheets and forms
By default, BRAHMS uses versatile data grids with context sensitive toolbar options to locate, select, sort, query and analyze your data.
Opening and linking multiple tables
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.
Find anything - anywhere
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.
Explore, query, filter
BRAHMS v8 includes comprehensive search functionality. The top 'filter row' feature provides an extremely fast way to add multiple filters. You can also quickly filter to the value in any cell, adding further cell value filters using the Selection and +Selection toolbar options. Using the main Query tool form, you can design and save your own queries. These queries, which generate visible SQL commands, can mix and match fields of any type. Column summaries and Tree Views provide additional mechanism to quickly locate and query your data.
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.
Column summaries are a powerful way to list all the different values in the current column. Moving to a different column updates the summary. Furthermore, you can use the column summary tool to quickly filter on one or more of the listed values.
Selecting visible columns
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.
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.
Design your own Tree Views
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.
Module specific tools
Module specific data processing tools help with many different tasks, for example, checking data quality and editing records in batches.
All data editing is initiated using the Edit toolbar. Context sensitive editing applies throughout BRAHMS. Thus, if you are in a date field, a date editor is used while with map points, the map point editor will be available. All changes are tracked and can be reversed in steps.
Comments are easily added to any record using the data tools Comments option.
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 your main data grids with equal status to BRAHMS default fields. Custom fields can be added to any table.
Taxon names in v8
BRAHMS has separate tables for Higher Classification, Families, Genera and Species. The first three of these store details from Kingdom through Phylum, Class and Sub Class down to the Order, family and genus. In each of these tables, you can define further taxonomic levels as needed for particular taxa groups, examples being suborder, superfamily, subgenus, tribe, section and series. Each name can be assigned an authority and be linked to publication details. Further standard fields are provided for commonly stored data and again, you can extend the tables by adding your own custom fields.
Descriptive text for taxa
You can store descriptive text 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.
You can add literature references to the main literature table, linking these to any record in your database. Typically, links will be to species but you may want to store reference entries for people, genera, seed collections, plants, etc.
Importing data from Excel
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.
Matching data from Excel
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.
Adding to the existing report features, we have connected BRAHMS v8 to a reporting suite that effectively replaces the functions of Text and Visual reporting in v7. As with the ArcGIS API, links to Stimulsoft Reporting have been fully embedded in BRAHMS v8. This new reporter, which comes licensed with BRAHMS, provides 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. Stimulsoft report wizards are provided and there are guides and videos available online for those wanting to stretch their report design legs. Some ready to use examples are provided with BRAHMS, together with some start up notes. For those familiar with v7 reporting, there are many familiar features such as a visual designer; report bands for headers, data, footers and summaries; and text formatting and style setting. Although not needed, you can refer to the full reporter user manual.
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..
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.
Tag Group Manager
The Tag Group Manager allows you to save profiles of tagged records in any table. You can mark up records with any of the available tag characters/numbers and then save these tags to a named tag group. Examples are 'Medicinal species', 'My research taxa', 'Garden plants of special interest', and 'Localities of special interest'. Tags from your saved tag groups can be loaded/restored to the respective table.
Mapping options include dynamic links to the in-built ArcGIS and externally, by passing data to ArcGIS, Google Earth, DIVA, QGIS and GeoCAT. Any data with map references (collection events, botanic garden plants, etc.) can be mapped.
Map search and analysis
The integrated ArcGIS is being extended in phases to provide search and analysis features.
Mobile technology for gardens
The mobile app developed by the Morton arboretum is currently optimized for any 7 inch tablet and is soon to be optimized for different sizes of the screen.
Images can be linked to any record category in BRAHMS and you can link multiple images to the same record. Some images may also be linked to multiple data records. All your images are listed in the central images table with their full pathname or URL. Images can be viewed from the main file and/or wherever they are linked. Various options are provided to link images and you can also drag and drop images to the image viewer. Images may be stored in any location including in media libraries and on cloud servers. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS.
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.
Transferring data from v7 to v8
Data stored in v7 can be transferred to v8 using the administrative function provided in the latest versions of v7. The procedure creates a sequence of XML files in a designated folder, ready for the transfer to v8. As part of this process, detailed checks are carried out on your v7 database to ensure there are no data integrity errors.