[OSGeo-Discuss] looking for input on field enabled desktop / internet project

karsten vennemann karsten at terragis.net
Tue Jul 27 06:05:15 PDT 2010

Hi all,


I am working on a project that deals with storing, retrieving and displaying
field collected data about plant species. Data will often be entered on
laptops in the field and later uploaded onto the web and database server
once an internet connection is available. Thus the project involves both


* an internet based application for managing , updating and viewing spatial
data and

* a desktop application enabling the "disconnected collection" and editing
of data This is pretty similar to the approach taken by the initial version
of the Open Ocean map (desktop component based on QGIS - compare
http://www.ecotrust.org/ocean/OpenOceanMap.html ) 


While from my perspective the web based part can relatively easily
accomplished using Open Source components, the other component - a desktop
tool to collect the data in the field that should at the same time be
compatible with the desktop system could potentially prove to be more
tricky. One problem is that we might have to use ArcGIS as a desktop tool
because users are familiar with it and are already using it for other tasks.
Unfortunately (from my experience) ArcGIS is not really good in displaying
related table information in one-to-many relationships. 


Basically for each mapping polygon (there are many areas and many species)
over time different users will enter information about species. Those will
have times attached to them. This will create a time series that once can
monitor changes over time (did the species decrease or increase in that
area). Thus the database design I wanted to use will have 3 related tables 


1. polygon GIS layer of areas (static) 


2. a 'record" table (update all the time)

that will store each record ever entered with fields such as species name,
species_id, user, date, and map_area_id (this table will be related in a may
to one relationship to the mapping areas using the map_area_id (many records
related to one mapping area. In the end this table will have information for
each of the mapping areas, for each area several hundred species, for each
species multiple entries over time and from different users. Thus that
absolutely doe not follow the standard format of one column one could use to
symbolize this on the map in ArcGIS. However using zigGIS this can be pulled
from PostGIS. Using a "view" in a PostGIS with a definition query in ArcGIS
can handle the display in ArcGIS .


3. table of species (pretty static)

with specific species data (common and scientific names, species_id, web
links etc...) related to the records table using the species_id  


Now I am looking for a field enabled solution (no internet access) on the
desktop that can handle the editing of multiple mapping areas (assigning to
many map areas values for one of the species for example. The data should be
stored in a format that we can then (hopefully easily) upload to the PostGIS
database as new records ... ArcGIS can handle the editing very well but not
the relationships we will create (out of the box at least not), also zigGIS
does not allow the related tables to be edited out of the box.

We could do this adapting the OpenOcean Map tools - but would need to enable
advanced editing (to allow updating many map areas records and multiple
attribute data at once in a form) . Or we could use ArcGIS for editing and
define an upload mechanism to PostGIS . But whish data storage format to use
ZigGIS is not ready for editing for related tables . Another thought is
using some set-up of GIS on a stick (flash drive) .


Any suggestions how to approach this best?

Thanks Karsten

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