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Jean-Marc

Plant Reference Database - Plant ranges

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One of the reasons I just purchased Landmark 10 was for the Plant Reference Database and the filtering options it provides in developing plant lists. I've begun expanding and revising the species list, and in the process, have come across what seems to be a glaring weakness in the program (or I'm just not getting something).

Is there any way to assign more than one field selection for the plant ranges? Many plants, for instance, have two or more environmental tolerances (for instance, wet feet and drought) or can tolerate sand, loam, or clay soils, or can tolerate full sun to full shade.

I've been using the VWL Plant DB Utility to perform my edits. The utility does allow me to assign more than one selection per field using the Ctl key. However, when I import the reference plant list into the Landmark and access it from the Plant Reference Database, the data is all scrambled, data from the new records spills over into other plant records - in other words, its a mess.

If I can't assign ranges to the plant ranges fields and am limited to only one possible selection, then this database will generate flawed plant lists and is therefore of little use to me. Can anyone help? [Confused]

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Umm... that does not sound promising as I planned to enter plant details with more than 1 given range for an attribute as well.

I also purchased VW because of its ability in :

1.Plant placement.

2.A simple and extensive plant data base.

I at the moment are having problems with both of the above ! [Mad]

I reassure myself it is due to my inexperience with VW rather than holes in the program. [Eek!]

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The Plant Database provides 3 user-definable comments fields. The easiest way to handle this situation is to simply use one of the user-comments fields for additional tolerance information. However, the Plant Reference Data categories are fully customizable and allow additional "multi-range" values to be added, per the process described below:

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Let's say you wanted to add a combination category of "Drought & Wet Feet" to Tolerances. Here's what you'd do:

1. Choose Organize/Scripts/Edit Plug-in... The "VectorScript Plug-in Editor" dialog will appear.

2. Select "Plant Reference Data..." in the dialog list and click the "Strings" button. The "String Categories" dialog will appear.

3. Scroll down to ID: 21000, "Choice values for Tolerances", select it, and click the Edit... button. The "Edit Strings" dialog will appear.

4. Let's say you're going to add a new tolerance category of "Drought & Wet Feet". To do this, click the "Add" button.

5. The "Edit String" dialog will appear with a new sequential number automatically given. Add your text entry in the field, "Drought & Wet Feet" (no quotes). Click OK.

6. Change the first string in the series to reflect the new number of choices. To do this, scroll back up to the first choice in the list in the "Edit Strings" dialog (where you should now be) and highlight it. Click the "Edit" button.

7. Change the 12 to a 13 in this string. Click OK.

8. Click OK until you are back in the "VectorScript Plug-in Editor" dialog. Click Done.

Now you have an additional category in your Tolerances field. If you want to provide a similar category in your Plant Database Utility, you must edit the list (this is done the same way as in FileMaker, I won't elaborate on that here.) The password to allow edits to the Plant Database Utility is 'badger'.

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That sounds very promising! If I understand correctly, the procedure you described is for editing the fields within VWL only; if you want to have the field choices sync with the Utility you have to change them in exactly the same way using FileMaker procedures. If this is the case, where can we go to find out how to modify the Utility?

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Thanks Robert, it is indeed helpful to know that the Plant Reference Data categories are customizable. It still doesn't solve the problem entirely, as there can be any number of catagory/value combinations for plant tolerances, landscape uses, and flower, foliage, and fruit characteristics, and there is no way I'll be trying to set up combination catagories for all the possible permutations. It would be more effective to simply be able to select more than one value per plant attribute, as required.

As it is indeed important to synchronize the Utility with the database, I agree it would be helpful if you could provide some direction on how to edit the Utility.

, depending on the species. of values and allow additional "multi-range" values to be added, per the process described below:

-----------------------

Let's say you wanted to add a combination category of "Drought & Wet Feet" to Tolerances. Here's what you'd do:

Yes, it is helpful to know that the

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The Utility is a self-running Filemaker database which does not allow modification of the lists. If you want to change the lists, we can post the Filemaker data file on the website, but then you would have to buy a copy of Filemaker to modify it (and, of course, you would have to learn Filemaker). We provided the self-running version so users would not have to buy a separate program.

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1. So, then what are the implications regarding this inability to synchronize the plant list with the utility? Once I have customized the Plant Reference List, does it mean I will run into problems should I ever want to import a new plant list into reference list via the utility? [Confused]

2. Also, I'm back to thinking that the plant reference list is significantly flawed, at least for my purposes. Following your instructions, I've customized some of the attribute values. Unfortunately, it turns out that the combination values you suggested do not work well when custom filtering. Using your example, I created a "Wet Feet and Drought" value under Tolerances, and a "Sand, Loam, Clay" value under soil range (among other potential combo's), to reflect the fact that many, if not most, plants can tolerate a range of conditions. Now, say I want to set up custom filter to select plants for a sandy site that is drought prone, but never wet. When I set up a custom filter to search for drought tolerant plants that can grow in sand, none of the plants assigned a combination value will turn up, as I must enter the exact character string used in the field.

I am not a happy camper... I based my decision to purchase Landmark largely on the basis of the plant database, which would now appear to be largely unreliable. [Mad]

Also, I think it is misleading for VW to use the term plant "ranges" if I cannot in fact select a range of conditions.

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I just figured out why I was having trouble with my filter searches for plants assigned combination values. I should have used the "contain" parametre rather than the "is". So, I'm back to being happy with the plant reference database. [smile]

I still am concerned about the implications of not being able to synchronise the Plant Reference DB with the Utility...

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As I said earlier, we can post the Filemaker version of this database file for those of you who want to customize it. I really think the best solution is to use the user-comments fields. It's easy and it works within the existing paradigm, with no lost effort on your part.

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Since it appears that I will have to perform all my edits from within the Plant Reference Database rather than the Utility, it would be helpful to know which plant list file I should save as a backup so that I don't lose everything should I ever have to reload Landmark.

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The file is:

Plug-ins\VW_Land\Data\PlantReferenceData.txt

It is a simple tab-delimited text file. You can edit it in Excel or any other database program that accepts such files. The only thing to be aware of is that the first line should contain in its first field the number of data records.

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Thanks Robert. I just tried out some editing via Excel, and it worked.

To do mass plant entries, I will enter only the new species names via excel, to save me the trouble of opening and closing the PRD each time I want to add a new plant. I will then go to the PRD to select the appropriate attributes for each new plant, as this would be a cumbersone task in excel.

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Robert, I must agree with you about using the 'comments field' and 'custom filter' with 'containing' selected. It allows you to add any attributes you wish without tinkering with any database modification.

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Maybe I'm missing something here (I really hope I am, because I'm getting more miserable about the PRD every minute).

Seems to me if there is a field for soil types, then that's the field that I should be using, not the comments field (which I'd already planned to use for other plant parametres not included in the PRD).

Shasta, how would you deal with a species such Wild Geranium, as an example (amongst many others). It can thrive in sand, loam, or clay; sun, part shade, or full shade; and does well in sand, clay, or loam. Since I can only select one value per attribute, I will be missing a great deal of plant info. The only way I can ensure that the plant comes up in a custom filter search is to create combination range values, which I did. For instance, I created a value "sand, clay, loam" under soil types, to ensure that Wild Geranium and other similarly versatile species get listed when I do a custom filter search (using "containing") for a sandy site. That way, all the plants with the term "sand" in the values - be it "sand", or "sand-clay-loam" - will be listed.

The only way this will work using the comments fields is if I make sure to put all soil data for every plant in the same comments field, thereby rendering the actual soil range field useless.

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