1 (edited by HBRG Data Manager 11-08-2016 15:56:16)

Topic: More ALS conundrums

Another dull day, I have had my exercise, so I sat down to investigate another of the new features on ALS.  Experience has taught me that ‘Analyse’ is the place to go to for anything you might have thought would be more obviously signposted, and I was not disappointed.  There I found the option to define an area and download a checklist.

I opted to draw a polygon, following the instructions in a box. Unfortunately, it omits to tell you how to close the polygon. I have met this sort of thing before (many potential users will not), and so divined correctly that a double-click does the business.

I am offered a glimpse of the metadata for the polygon.  Puzzling, because on the first time through I had seen a longer list of options on the same screen. A flash of inspiration, I refresh the page, and then I am offered what I started off looking for, to download a checklist (now they call it a species list for the polygon, not a checklist).  Ok, that worked, and I get to see the top 200 species, with the following headings and first data items:

Scientific name authorship    (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom    Animalia
Phylum    Arthropoda
Class    Insecta
Order    Lepidoptera
Family    Geometridae
Genus    Abraxas
Species    Abraxas grossulariata
Vernacular name   
Number of records    2

Not much wrong there, though it is at least unconventional to cite the author in front of the Kingdom rather than after the binomial, and most folk would be happy to call the moth the Magpie Moth (why is the vernacular column blank, even for species with well-established English names?).

Great stuff so far, and I click to download the list as .csv.

The headings and data items for the first record are:

LSID        Abraxas grossulariata

Scientific Name    (Linnaeus, 1758)

Taxon Concept    Animalia

Taxon Rank    Arthropoda

Kingdom        Insecta

Phylum        Lepidoptera

Class        Geometridae

Order        Abraxas

Family        Abraxas grossulariata


Vernacular Name        1   

Number of records   

Yes, look carefully – there is no mistake.  Copied and pasted faithfully from the file.

At this point I decided that really there was no point in wasting any more time on it, so please:

1 – design instructions to be appropriate to all levels of prior experience;

2 - sort out the glitch which does not present the download option on the first screen after drawing the polygon;

3 – in the page display of the records, put the authority after the binomial;

4 – if you are going to offer vernacular names, give us more than just a heading;

5 – redesign the download so that the headings fit with what is below them (I am unable to understand how the page display has the correct matches, but the downloaded file does not);

6 – do consider taking the entire site offline until the basic testing of routines has been done, and then add things page by page as they have been coded, tested thoroughly, and are actually in the appropriate state for the beta testing we are supposed to be doing here (for the avoidance of doubt, this sort of thing is not beta testing, but the testing that should have been done by the IT team before it ever reached the public);

7 – confirm that these points have been noted for action.



Re: More ALS conundrums

I had another little play this morning with the checklist on ALS.

Analyse, Export, Checklist, Define new area, Draw bounding box, zoom in.  Then on the map appeared a rash of photograph thumbnails, most of which have nothing to do with wildlife but are scenic views of Scotland.  One odd (and worrying) thing is that I have been unable to replicate this display, and I did nothing consciously to show them.  Another odd thing is that they are here at all – is ALS sponsored by VisitScotland? I find it difficult to believe that anyone primarily interested in a checklist of a defined area would want to see a picture of the seat at the Neil Gunn memorial.  The comments made elsewhere about broadband speeds are, of course, highly relevant here.

Please explain about these images. How are they displayed (and, more importantly, cancelled, if we are unlucky enough to have them foisted on us)? Why do I find that the display was not replicated by the same sequence of commands on the same machine in the same browser within a few minutes? Where do the images come from? Can we put up selfies as well as our favourite local attractions? Most pertinently, why are they there at all?

If the images have some relevance within the context of ALS, then we need to know what that is.  If they are not relevant, please remove them.



Re: More ALS conundrums

I was intrigued to see what what would happen if I tried this function, such a disappointment not a picture in sight.
I tried all the options from current to define new area and although I generated a list, as soon as I tried to scroll down the list I got a scripting error and the whole site froze!

Sorry another one for the bug list.