Tutorial Page 2: What can I do with the software?
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The Compleat Botanica can be used to organize your collection of plant related data, educate you about your favorite plants, research the world's vast collection of plant information, and publish or share what you've learned along the way, thus completing the full cycle of knowledge acquisition.


As you collect interesting information you need a good way to organize it in order to find it again easily at a later time. Classifying the information through well-defined categories is a good way to see both the similarities and the differences among the members of a collection. Categorization is one of the great strengths of the software. When information is stored using categories you can use a single word or a short phrase to distinguish one member from another; for example plants may be listed as sensitive, rare, threatened, endangered, or extinct to indicate their endangered status. If you're preparing information about fruit bearing plants you might categorize members as dioecious, parthenocarpic, or self-fertile to indicate the method of pollination. And if you're studying the traditional medicinal qualities of plants, you would classify members by choosing from a list of 160 different medicinal uses such as aperient, bronchiolytic, carminative, demulcent, expectorant, etc.


You can educate yourself about the plant kingdom through direct observation, with anecdotal conversations, through books, via the web, and so forth. Learning about plants, their uses, their names, and the history of our study of them can be a life-long pursuit. The Compleat Botanica can be a useful tool to help in this education. Every plant has a botanical name. Where did it come from? When was it first named? What other plants have similar names -- does that give us clues to the plant's color, smell, form, uses, locality, and so forth? The software provides a complete hierarchical classification of plant names beginning with genus and species and continuing up through tribe, family, order, class, and division. This makes it easy to see how close or how far apart two plants are from each other.

The common names of plants can also be a fascinating field of study. Who can deny the beauty in such evocative names as love-bind, love-in-a-mist, love-lies-bleeding, or Shakespere's love-in-idleness? And how do you feel about maiden fern, maiden grass, maiden pink, maidenberry, maidenbush, maidenhair, mistmaiden, dustymaiden, milkmaids and oldmaid? Finding common names and their botanical name equivalents is fun and simple.


The World Wide Web is a treasure chest of information. Accessing this information is easy with most sites providing search and lookup facilities by either botanical name or common name. The Compleat Botanica can make this research effort even easier through its gateway facility. 

If you already have basic information about a species, you can use one of the gateway scripts to automatically search Web sites for more detailed information. You can even develop your own scripts to access new information sources for your area of interest. Results from these Web sites are displayed right inside the software providing a fully integrated approach to research.


Sharing your personal collection of plant data can be done many ways. If you need to print paper-based reports, the full featured report generator is the best tool to use. If you want to move data to an electronic publishing tool such as PageMaker, the export facility can generate tab-delimited output files suitable for use by most applications. When you need to move data from another database into The Compleat Botanica, the import facility can accept most tab-delimited input files.


Overall, the publish facility gives you the most degrees of freedom when it comes to sharing data. By publishing your data you can create HTML pages that are ready for the Web or ready for the printer. This type of data sharing allows you full control over the layout, the styles and colors, and the content of each page. Templates for abstracts, labels, proof-sheets, indexes, table of contents, data sheets, nursery placards, and trailside markers make it easy to produce high-quality output. If you're an advanced user, you can create your own templates for even greater flexibility.

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Last reviewed March 25, 2004   


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