Field Guide to the Field Guide

Displaying all posts from May 2011:


Sounds and Pictures

31 May, 2011 10:48 by Simon S

Most of the information youre going to store about an animal will be simple strings. Images and sounds are the exceptions. Each image and each sound requires two pieces of information: a filename and a credit.

For images, the credit is shown in the bottom right corner of the image panel.

Closeup of image credit

For sounds, the credit is listed in the audio popover.

Closeup of audio credit

The filename for each image and audio file you use in the app should be unique.

When youre sourcing your images and sounds, get the largest, highest quality file that you can. Currently, the maximum size of an image on the app is 1024 pixels square. As memory, processor power and screen resolution of these devices increase, so will the maximum size of the image. Scaling an image down is easy, scaling up an image isn't except on television shows.

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Content is King

23 May, 2011 10:16 by Simon S

In the last post, I said that content was the star of the show. So what information can the field guide display about an animal? There are a few details for each animal that are mandatory. Each animal needs

  • at least one common name,
  • a square thumbnail image,
  • either a phylum, class, order, family or genus, and
  • to be in a taxon

The set of taxon values forms the top level list in the app. The taxon values in MV’s field guide are Birds, Butterflies, Fishes, etc, but you can define your own list. If your guide is only going to include frogs and toads, then your taxon list could be Burrowing Frogs, Froglets, Toadlets, etc.

These fields are required because they are the ones that are used to create the listings.  Every other field is optional. Okay, you probably should have at least one display image for each animal, but apart from that you can use the other fields, or not, at your pleasure.  Here's the full list of fields:

  • Identifier (e.g. catalog id)
  • Common Names
  • Taxon (informal name used as a navigational element, e.g. "Birds")
  • Subtaxon (informal name used as a navigation element, e.g. "Herons")
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species
  • Square Thumbnail Image
  • Distinctive Markings
  • Identifying Characteristics
  • Biology
  • Habitat
  • Native Status
  • Distribution Map
  • Distribution Description
  • Audio Files
  • Image Files
  • Local Conservation Status
  • National Conservation Status
  • International Conservation Status


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And so it begins

18 May, 2011 12:00 by Simon S

When we released Museum Victoria’s Field Guide back at the start of March, we stated that we’d be releasing the code under an open source license. So where is it? Well, the code needs a bit of a tidy up. There’s a lot of unused code to be pruned, along with a few short cuts and gravel roads that need to be paved.

The reason for the polish and the roadworks is to give you code that allows you to add your data, compile and have something that looks as good as MV’s Field Guide (even if I do say so myself), no code tweaking involved. Don’t get too focused on the code though, it’s not the droid you’re looking for.

The real star of the field guide is not the code, it’s the content. Even if we released the code tomorrow, it would take you a while to get your data, images, audio, icons, templates and splash screens together. That’s the purpose of this blog, to go through all the things that you’ll need to have to hand to publish your field guide when the code is released.

We’ll be blogging once or twice a week between now and when the code is published. Every comment gets read, so if you have any suggestions, or if you run into roadblocks and need answers, let us know.

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About this blog

We've released the source code for MV's Field Guide Project under a MIT style license. This blog will help you identify all the material you need to collect so that you can publish a field guide of your own.

MV's Open Sourced Code on Github

View all Museum Victoria's apps

Blog authors

Simon S is the programmer behind the field guide app.

Simon O is the designer behind the field guide app.