Thank you again to everyone for joining and participating in this year’s 2020 Virtual Plant Records Conference. It was truly an enjoyable and enriching experience for us and I hope you felt the same. 

A conference summary article will be prepared next week, but in the meantime, we will focus on answering the questions that were addressed to us during and after the conference. 

As a prelude to next week’s article, we have included the recording from our conference session where we presented a summary about the past, present and future of Botanical Software.

Our goal in organizing this type of event is to facilitate the exchange of ideas, learn from each other and better understand each other’s needs and aspirations. However, some of the questions posted on the boards sadly indicated that there is unease and confusion within the community about Floria and IrisBG. We have tried to answer the questions below as best we can, but unfortunately some topics will need to be clarified further at a later stage. 

Questions and Answers

Is IrisBG supported by Floria Handheld?

  • As stated in our presentation, the answer is yes. Having supplied mobile solutions for IrisBG since 2008, we will continue to develop and support the Floria Handheld App for its 600+ users. 
  • Our approach of moving away from the tightly integrated architecture of the two systems to using the data import feature in IrisBG to submit data, should remove many of the compatibility problems we have seen recently. 
  • With regards to Floria Mobile for Windows Embedded Handheld, see below. 

Is Floria Handheld supported by IrisBG?

  • Floria Handheld works with all versions of IrisBG Desktop up to and including version 4.2.5. 
  • At the conference, Compositae announced for the first time policies regarding 3rd party integration, mentioning guidelines that we believe are yet to be published.  
  • If you are reasonably content with your current software installation, we would recommend that you consider postponing any software upgrades until the situation has been clarified. 

Why is Botanical Software hosting our database?

  • The database hosting service was introduced in 2011 by Botanical Software as an optional service to the IrisBG community. 
  • Botanical Software has since rolled out and safely looked after 60+ database installations on 4 continents. 
  • Although we are no longer part of the IrisBG collaboration, we are 100% committed to the continued supply of this service with the reliability and cost our customers are accustomed to. However, it is entirely up to you to change to another supplier at any time. We would however, recommend that you first verify whether the new supplier can accommodate your basic requirements. We have highlighted some important points below. 
    1. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance. Access to data is strictly managed, staff are vetted and familiar with relevant protocols. 
    2. Disaster Recovery Plan. Prior to joining Candide, being a small company, Botanical Software put into place a DRP plan to ensure customers have continued service in cases of loss of key personnel, severe disruptions, etc. Having now become part of Candide, Botanical Software’s services are further secured with access to a large team of skilled engineers, which will ensure smooth and continued support. 
    3. Data ownership. From our point of view, all database content is unequivocally your property and it is for you to use and access as you see fit.  We recommend that you ensure that any potential new service provider will not challenge this very important principle.

Floria vs IrisBG lite

As a user I feel confused how Floria and IrisBG Lite will work together.

  • Floria Handheld is an App for Android and Apple iOS that is designed to work without the need for network connectivity. This is useful if you have network coverage issues in your garden and it also removes concerns regarding the users’ mobile data allowance. Furthermore, as an App, there are more options in terms of improved integration with device hardware such as barcode scanners, GPS receivers, etc. In addition, the aspect of allowing data to be revised before submitting it into the system has proven to be very useful for many institutions who can then include volunteers, trainees and inexperienced staff in the record keeping process. 
  • It would be easier to comment on IrisBG lite if the product had been demonstrated at the conference. However, it is our understanding that it will be a “web browser product” meant to emulate aspects found in the IrisBG desktop, according to this quote from the conference: “Hopefully it will give you the same user experience as when you use the desktop”. If this is achieved, then we can expect that the user experience will be distinctly different to Floria Handheld. I suggest this topic be revisited when the product is available. From what little was shared about IrisBG Lite, the two products should technically work fine alongside each other. 

Colour scheme for the colour blind

Some of our users are colour blind and find it difficult to distinguish between the 3 colours of tasks (green, yellow, grey) on the map in Floria. Is there a way the colours could be user defined. 

  • A very good point. Now that we have a designer on our team, we will be more equipped to deal with general accessibility issues in all the work we do. For Floria Handheld, we will introduce symbology to be used together with the colours. This approach will allow the data to be more readable and not solely dependent on the use of colours. 

Botanical Software Compositae split

What, ultimately, is the goal of splitting off from Compositae? Is the split of the two companies related to differences of opinion regarding the importance of user interface…? How and why was it decided that Botanical Software would manage the IrisBG databases themselves?

Candide availability and Candide Virtual Plant Labels

Will candide be available in other countries? Also, could you talk further about the candide labels that are in the garden? The virtual labels would be really interesting for us.

  • Candide is currently available in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and USA. 
  • Although Candide would like to reach as wide an audience as possible, we feel it is important to bring a richer experience to the countries currently using the App before rolling it out to new regions. Therefore, at the moment, there are no short term plans to expand.
  • We will include a discussion about virtual plant labels at our next webinar on December 3rd. Please join us.

Floria Mobile for Windows Embedded Handheld

It has been increasingly difficult to support Floria Mobile for Windows Embedded Handheld, introduced in 2008. The software platform has not been renewed since 2010 and Microsoft announced the end of all support for the platform on the 14th of January 2020. Furthermore, the IrisBG integration has been increasingly difficult to maintain. The replacement product, Floria Handheld has now reached a 2 year anniversary, which hopefully will have provided a reasonable amount of time for customers to switch over. We will continue to offer technical assistance to users who are still using the platform, but there will be no further compatibility updates to IrisBG Mobile Sync. The final IrisBG Desktop version supported by Floria Mobile Sync will be IrisBG desktop version 4.2.3.  

Questions and Answers from the 2020 Virtual Plant Records Conference