Recording Software – a Work In Progress

7 Jul

For a while now I’ve been working on writing some new software for managing my own records of species sightings on the basis that most of the software I’ve seen out there doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Being a professional software developer I am perhaps a hyper critical of some of the software that seems to be cobbled together by hobbyists rather than being slick commercial quality stuff, and other tools seem to be overly burdensome and detailed and not so easy to use.

I currently log my sightings on a spreadsheet but there are lots of things I would love to do with the data that spreadsheets don’t really excel at if you’ll pardon the pun, especially once I accumulate a critical mass of information.

I posted on BirdForum that I was contemplating writing a new program and got some interesting comments and feedback, including a contact from the MD of the company providing one of the most popular tools currently on the market. I spent a little while helping him out by doing some beta testing of a new release but sadly that only reinforced my view that much of the software out there is too buggy to justify paying money for, and that I would press on and see what I could come up with myself.

I spent a while banging my head against a wall because I viewed this as an opportunity to learn a new technology but found that progress was frustratingly slow given how quickly I knew I could develop something using the development tools I’m familiar with, so a few weeks ago I scrapped my initial version (a decision aided by a catastrophic computer crash and faulty backup process meaning I lost almost all my source code), and started from scratch “old school” and have made good progress now to the point I have the bare bones of a working system to log my sightings. Now I can put the raw data in I can start on the fun stuff doing analysis and reporting.

If anyone is interested in helping me out with suggestions and/or feedback I’d be keen to hear from you. I can’t guarantee I’ll complete the project as its dependent on me having the time and motivation to push it forwards, but anyone who can provide material assistance and input would obviously looking at a serious discount should it ever become commercial, as well as having software effectively tailored to their requirements.

I have started a separate blog to post updates and gather feedback so as to keep the geeky stuff separate from the nature stuff. You can find it at http://naturerecorder.wordpress.com

NB at the moment it is set up to cater for birds only but there’s no reason why it cant be expanded to recordings of animals, butterflies, plants etc

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One Response to “Recording Software – a Work In Progress”

  1. Alan Tilmouth July 7, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Paul drop me an email I’m always interested in new birding related ‘innovations’ and I currently use one of the products on the market so can provide some comparative comments.

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