New tools for morphological data management

Derek Sikes dss95002 at UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU
Fri Sep 7 16:41:52 CEST 2001

- From: Steve Shattuck

> The result will be new tools that have little resemblance to the 
> current DELTA software but provide new and enhanced features and 
> functionality not currently possible.
> The broad goals of this development can be found at 
> Community feedback on our ideas is essential, especially now before we 
> caste them in code. We would like to know your views on the best 
> features of the

I would like to stress 2 points that I feel should have the greatest 
priority for this project (and hopefully generate some discussion on 
these points)

1. some or complete integration with the NEXUS file format. This file 
format could be the basis of the data storage [create a unique data 
'block'], or , at the very least, your final solution should be able to 
export to this format.

2. cross platform. Following the example set by PAUP* the final product 
should not be restricted to a single computer platform. I would rather 
see a simple, elegant, option-poor product (with the potential for 
increase in options over time) that is cross platform, than a complex, 
option-rich product that can only be used on a single platform [like 
DELTA was].

I have been contemplating adding 2 tables to my current database of 
choice [Mantis: or 
convince the designer, Piotr Naskrecki to do so :) ]; one of which would 
be a characters file and the other would be a states file. This would 
allow a species to be linked to infinite character state records and 
allow illustrations for each state to be stored digitally, allow 
interactive on-line keys, allow export in NEXUS format for PAUP 
analysis, allow export of species descriptions, allow linking of each 
specimen examined for a single state for tracking of material examined, 
etc. In the meantime I've been managing all my morphological data in 
MacClade which does many, but not all, of these things.

Good luck!
Derek Sikes

Derek Sikes
Dept. of Ecology and Evol. Biology U-43
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269  USA

FAX: 860-486-6364

dss95002 at

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