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MVZ Collections Information System Re-engineering Project

This project had its conceptual origin when Peter Rauch began to work with the MVZ's legacy database, TAXIR, in 1990. Although now retired, Peter remains a persistent and valuable consultant to this ongoing effort. Jim Beach took the project from conception through its first year, helping to bring Stan Blum on board and setting a course for the successful creation of a new collections information system for the Museum. Without Stan, however, there would be no new database. After familiarizing himself with the intricacies of our curatorial practices and legacy data, he completed the requirements analyses and constructed the data model. Chris Meacham was responsible for the majority of the code that effectively munged 20-year old TAXIR data into a form consistent with the fields in Stan's model. Mike Blasingame deftly migrated the munged data into our model, while Effie Dilworth has been our faithful Sybase administrator.

Funding was received from the National Science Foundation in 1996 to pay for the final step of the project, development of a client/server application for the highest priority components of our collections' information system. In January, 1997 John Wieczorek was hired to write that code. As a result of his development efforts, the Museum now uses a state-of-the-art multi-tier server architecture that isolates the business rules from both the client and the database. Sophisticated data entry and query applications for all aspects of the Museum database can now be used by Museum personnel on the web. The Museum received additional support from NSF through their Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program in May, 1998. This money allowed us to extend our development effort to include the secondary components of the Museum's collections data, i.e., information contained in field notebooks, photographs, and archival correspondence. As a result of these efforts, all MVZ specimen data as well as data and images from the photograph and field notebook collections are now freely accessible online. Throughout all stages of development Barbara Stein bravely faced the future and directed the efforts to bring the project to fruition. We trust that open access to MVZ data is of great value to a wide audience and we hope that other development efforts will take advantage of the archive of relevant documents placed at this site.

Documents are available as Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files:

PDF viewers are available from Adobe, Inc. for viewing and printing the model on Macintosh, PC, and Unix workstations. The information modeling was accomplished with InfoModeler software from Asymetrix, Inc. Infomodeler uses fact-based "object-role modeling" which generates conceptual and logical models (schema). Stan Blum has produced a useful "Primer on Object Role Modeling" (5/95) in PDF file format.

MVZ Contact: John Wieczorek

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