FRDBI

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adampembs
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FRDBI

Post by adampembs » Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:41 pm

Used to work well. As is often the case, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It's overcomplicated for what most users require of it
It's slow
It doesn't return any of the records in my locality VC45.

I'm no database expert, but the previous database construction was basically sound. The biggest issue appeared to be the hosting.
I understand it was hosted from someone's home using a regular broadband connection, rather than from a proper datacentre with professional hosting. I offered to host it (for free or a cost price if bandwidth was significant) The offer still stands.
Sadly, the system is no longer fit for purpose. Whoever built the new system needs to be replaced by someone who knows what they're doing.

This should not have been launched as a live system. Its an alpha at best, not even a piece of beta software.
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Re: FRDBI

Post by Chris Yeates » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:30 pm

I'm assuming the above is about the "new" version, Adam, not the https://basidiochecklist.science.kew.or ... /FRDBI.asp one which takes a while to launch but is OK when up and running.
The argument about the old one was that there were duplicate records etc. but any serious researcher could spot those, and the glaring errors, and ignore them - IMHO better too much than someone else's idea of "data cleaning". I am using the data from this version to compile a Mycota of Yorkshire.
I haven't looked at the new version recently - it's still slow is it? That's a pity because people have put a lot of work into it. A mycologist friend who is highly computer literate and database-savvy said to me quite a while back that he considered it was too complicated for what most people want out of a system.
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
Steely Dan - "Rose Darling"

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Re: FRDBI

Post by Lancashire Lad » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:25 pm

I can only agree!

The "new look" FRDBI leaves a great deal to be desired.
It is unnecessarily complex, exceedingly slow, and the rather hit-or-miss “create a filter” function is incredibly frustrating to work with.

The new look version has been up and running for a couple of years now, and yet the ". . . . A new technique that will speed up searches is gradually being implemented" message is still there on the "explore all records" homepage. - In my own experience of using the database, I have seen no evidence of any speeding up of searches to date. (In fact the contrary!!!!).

The multiple "bells and whistles" webpage approach might look nice on the screen when compared to the old version. - But when that comes at the expense of intuitive, speedy user functionality, it makes no sense whatsoever.

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Mike.
Common sense is not so common.

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Re: FRDBI

Post by adampembs » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:46 am

I've held back from public criticism till now but it's really had long enough. The biggest issue for me is actually finding any records. For Pembrokeshire, I get 4 records and that's when I remember to increase the duration from 6 months to something like 60 years. Why 6 months? Why set any time as default? Its a filter I have never used. I can see why someone might want it, but should not be set by default. But it still only shows 4 records for the whole of Pembrokeshire.
If I use the vice-county filter, its not clear what format should be used, eg VC45, VC 45 or just 45. When I do this, it gives me all records for the UK. The vice-county should be a drop down, or it should indicate the correct format for entry.
Critically, though, these questions should have been dealt with during the development stage before launching it live.

I mainly use the old FRDBI vice-county search but that is a "put the kettle on while the page is loading" job. And often it times out anyway.

Welcome back, Mike!
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Re: FRDBI

Post by Lancashire Lad » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:23 pm

Hi Adam,

I haven't been away! - I've not had much of an input on the forums lately, but I'm always lurking in the background, and log in every now and again to see if anyone needs post approvals or if attempted spammer posts need deleting etc. etc.

Anyhow - as for Vice County on new look FRDBI - I discovered, after much frustration!!!, that you don't actually put the number in.
You need to start typing in the name of the vice county that you want to search records for. (i.e.: - "Pembrokeshire").
When you do this (and in that instance, after you've typed "P"), you get a drop down box allowing you to select either Peebleshire or Pembrokeshire.
You would then click on the Pembrokeshire option to select it.
Then you have to click on the adjacent blue "Add" tab, and then you have to scroll down and click on the blue "Apply" tab.
After which, the database will actually show records for the selected vice county only.
(I've just tried it for Pembrokeshire, and It's currently showing 150 records there in the last 6 months).

As you say though, such user input should work with VC45, VC 45, or just 45, as those would be the typical responses when asked to input vice county.

If you try to enter the "Max. record age:" in a format that is anything other than "6 months" or "10 years" style, then you get an Invalid Format warning.
Why then, don't you get an invalid format warning when inputting vice county details (and other user input) in the "wrong" format?

If a specific input format, (such as typing in the name of the vice county), is required, then that specific format should be clearly stated.

Apart from still being sorely deficient in records, this new version of the database is simply too slow, too complex and too "non user friendly"!!!

Regards,
Mike.
Common sense is not so common.

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Re: FRDBI

Post by Chris Yeates » Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:35 pm

As I am currently updating the Yorkshire Mycota I needed access to the old FRDBI records. Stuart Skeates kindly created a subset of VC61-VC65 records as an Excel file, so I generally use that offline, in combination with loads of stuff I've researched from numerous publications over the years, much of which is not on either of the BMS systems. At some stage soon I'll be prepared for people to have a look at some of the groups I've finished.

I suspect there are far fewer historic records for the fine county of Pembrokeshire; there has been a long tradition of mycological activity in Yorkshire, with a few 17th Century records!

I see "old" FRDBI is currently unavailable . . . (perhaps we've upset it)
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
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Re: FRDBI

Post by CJohnsonOHBR » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:32 am

I maintain the database for biological records for the Outer Hebrides (VC 110) for Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, a small group of amateur naturalists who collect and collate biological records for the islands on a voluntary basis. We have a policy of making all our records (apart from a few sensitive species) freely available to everyone. Our records are all available on NBN, which is not perfect, but it is the only platform available.
I looked at FRDBI a week or so ago and discovering that there were records on the system for our area I was interested in seeing the details. After a very frustrating 40 minutes or so I eventually manged to see the records, but I'm still not sure how I manged it. The system is not user friendly, the search system appears to be neither logical or intuitive, and the help system is rudimentary.
Apart from the inadequacies of the search system, one of the major problems is the inability to up-load multiple records, which probably explains why there are so few records in the system.
It is irritating that there is a great deal of information about the distribution of fungi within the UK which is totally inaccessible. There is a dataset of fungi records from the BMS on NBN but the records for VC110 provide very minimal data and therefore have to be interpreted with great care. We would like to up-date Dennis's work on the Fungi of the Outer Hebrides (1986), but it will have to wait until the BMS get their act together on data mobilisation. I suspect that there are others who are similarly frustrated by this situation.
I, and many others, have been waiting patiently for this site to become fully functional, but I think that the it is now time for the problems to be aired and a resolution sought.

Christine

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Re: FRDBI

Post by Lancashire Lad » Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:55 pm

CJohnsonOHBR wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:32 am
. . . It is irritating that there is a great deal of information about the distribution of fungi within the UK which is totally inaccessible. . . .
I agree wholeheartedly!

When I became interested in Fungi in 2008, I joined my local group, (North West Fungus Group). I also joined the British Mycological Society, and the Association of British Fungus Groups, (since rebranded as the Fungus Conservation Trust). I have held continuous membership of those three organisations since.

Using the old FRDBI, it was reasonably easy to find out if a particular species had previously been recorded in my area, by using the Vice County search. – However, for the most part the records don’t give specific site details.

The new look FRDBI does give site details, but it is so frustrating to use, and the records dataset is nowhere near complete.

As a member of ABFG/FCT for some twelve years now, I recently requested full access to the records on CATE-2, the FCT’s records database, as I thought that that database might, (in view of FRDBI shortcomings), better satisfy my search needs.
The response was that CATE-2 is only made available to: - “vetted recorders, ERCs, the main conservation agencies, and occasionally individual researchers with authorisation from an accredited establishment e.g. a university.
We are not in a position to provide full access to someone merely on the basis that they are a member of the Trust. Data protection law had changed significantly and we are obliged to keep within the legal remits”.
I find all that very odd. – If the BMS can comply with data protection requirements etc. and yet still make their entire records database available to all registered members, then why can’t the FCT?
FCT’s response also mentioned that the factors of: - “tribal politics”, and “some local fungus groups not being sympathetic towards the FCT”, also come into the equation when considering who would be granted access to the CATE-2 database.

The result being that my request was denied. (On the strength of this, I’m currently considering whether I should continue to pay my subscription when it expires later in the year).

UK fungal records information, and access to it, is a shambles!

Regards,
Mike.
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Re: FRDBI

Post by adampembs » Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:06 pm

It's nonsense about data protection. The names of recorders are not sensitive, and there is no need to give further details than name and where the fungus was recorded. This would be aan ideal time for CATE to show the way, but Michael Jordan seems determined to involve everyone in his war with the BMS. Meanwhile, most fungal recorders are only interested in enjoying identifying and recording fungi, and don't care about the politics.

At this point, I think the BMS should go back to the old system and sue the software developers for providing something that simply doesn't work - "not fit for purpose." Or they could piggyback on another system that is tried and tested.
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Re: FRDBI

Post by Flaxton » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:13 pm

When the FRDBI first started to have problems we (The Mid Yorkshire Fungus group) chose to enter all our records on to Cate. We had and still have every intention of entering them on the new FRDBI but not until we are able to do this as a group upload, I am not willing to put the in the work to enter all records individually twice. Having said that one of our members was also denied access to the details of some records on Cate “because he was not a recorder”. As I am the only member of our group who is that “bone fide” recorder I am the only one who has access. That person is no longer a member of the FCT. Not the best way to enroll new and keep old members.

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Re: FRDBI

Post by Chris Yeates » Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:19 pm

Antoine Carter on ASCOFrance has sorted it - to quote him:
"I have solved the problem. Having moved server it is no longer https (Secure). It is just http.
So just cross the s off.
I think you owe mw a couple of drinks for this effort.

Tony Carter
"

Thank heavens he posted this before 11pm on Friday ;)
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
Steely Dan - "Rose Darling"

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Re: FRDBI

Post by adampembs » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:02 am

Chris Yeates wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:19 pm
Antoine Carter on ASCOFrance has sorted it - to quote him:
"I have solved the problem. Having moved server it is no longer https (Secure). It is just http.
So just cross the s off.
I think you owe mw a couple of drinks for this effort.

Tony Carter
"

Thank heavens he posted this before 11pm on Friday ;)
In case of confusion, the secure certificate is not what causes the speed issue. That is more likely due to the database being hosted on a underpowered computer. cf this website (fungi.org.uk) is now much faster since I changed server. There is no excuse any more for not having https (secure certificates) as "Let's Encrypt" is a freely available self signed certificate and some browsers now throw up a warning if a website is not secure.
The bigger issue for me is still usability. Here is a list of Pembrokeshire records. Ie None. If I increase the pre-set filter from the ridiculous 6 months to 60 years, I get 4 records.
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