HISCOM Teleconference April 2010

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The HISCOM Teleconference for April 2010 was held on Wednesday 7 April 2010 between 13:00 - 14:40 AEST.




  1. AVH 3
    1. Current status
    2. Process for changes and improvements
    3. Moving AVH to servers
    4. Future improvements/directions for AVH
  2. AVH Connectivity
    1. Update on current status
  3. HISPID issues
  4. ALA update
  5. Imaging proposals
  6. Action items from Cairns
  7. Any other business
    1. APC-APNI update
    2. AVH badging
    3. Weed Tracker
    4. FCIG meeting
    5. LSIDs



Current status

Registration of users (Alison). The registration policy approved by CHAH is on the wiki (see AVH User Registration Policy). There is one herbarium-based registration administrator from each state and territory, as decided in the 2009 HISCOM meeting in Cairns. Applications from herbarium staff or other state/territory agencies are directed to the registration administrator for that state or territory; all other applications require approval from CHAH and are directed to David.

There are currently a lot of things that need to be fixed to make the registration process fully functional. The user list is not currently accessible, and there are a lot of pending registrations that have not been dealt with because the relevant data can't be accessed.

Once the basic functionality has been implemented, we can start thinking about improvements to the registration process that could be incorporated into a future release, but at this stage the emphasis should be on getting the system working reliably rather than modifying the current procedures.

* Paul - a new version which should address some of these issues will be posted today/tomorrow.
* Alison to then put remaining bugs into Google Code repository for a fix.
* Brett to write to Paul Coddington to note urgency of this sytem to work.

Process for changes and improvements

  • Compliance of the AVH web site with Australian Govt. web accessibility legislation was discussed (Niels). We are actually doing quite well, but there are a couple of issues that need attention. The main thing that needs work (and the only thing that was mentioned) is server-side user input validation. At the moment all user input validation is done in the browser through Javascript. In the past also submission of the query form required Javascript. In order for the page to work without Javascript enabled (which is a government requirement) this is no longer the case. As checking whether the user has agreed to the data use agreement is part of the form validation, it is currently possible to submit a query (or a registration form) without having agreed to the data use agreement. In IE, which is still the most popular browser, Javascript is turned off by default.
* Niels to write report and send to Brett;
* Brett to follow up.

Moving AVH to servers

Current AVH server is not especially large or robust, and has moderate memory. Ideally we would move the application to other servers.

Paul Coddington: AD, MEL, CANB are the candidate additional providers and installation guidelines available.

* MEL has a server able to be put into service within a week or so (Niels).
* CANB could be ready - in a fortnight (Greg).
* AD will take longer still - no estimate from Rex.

One insititution must be identified (MEL was volunteered) to be the master, and a replication mechanism to the mirror sites established. Tests on this have been carried out.

NB. Synchronising the user-base will be a problem with multiple servers (Rex). This is covered in a similar way as the dataset (Paul).

What is the trigger for sync (Jim)? Done as a 'cron' job nightly, weekly (Paul).

BioCASE Providers

Schedule for BioCASE providers newly available via Jorg's recent work (Paul)?

Testing of these - eg. that are generating valid ABCD; is this a task for the ALA's John Tann?

Database dumps in CSV format is available in the interim. As found in PERTH, multiple files of c. 100K records was most feasible. BRI ready to do a complete refresh of the data. Specification for csv data format is specified in our Google Code site (http://code.google.com/p/avh/wiki/CSV_File_Notes).

However, no requirement for the data dumps to be in place before the move to MEL.

If MEL is first online provider it is implicitly the 'master' dataset (Karen), but this is yet to be decided/confirmed by CHAH (Brett).

Google Maps

Whatever happened to the Google Maps interface into AVH (Jim)?

(Paul) - All there but commented out in the code because David Cantrill concerned of licensing issues. For Australia and New Zealand the maps or satellite imagery require some additional licensing.

(Niels) - the Google map is not ready - it does not have all the functionality of the main AVH mapper.

* (Jim) - request via the Chair for CHAH to reconsider making the Google map version available, resolving licensisng issues if considered necessary.

Future improvements/directions for AVH

(Rex) - how do we know the data of last update from each Herbarium?

Date of last record contributed by each institution - should be available in each BioCASE file, but not catered for otherwise.

Would be a feature of the site to have the data currency specified, and probably some other summary stats as well, such as number of records provided by each institution etc.

AVH Connectivity

Update on current status

  • MEL - up and running (Niels).
  • AD - (Rex).
  • PERTH - ready to go, some final tweaking of data elements (Alex).
  • NT - running on an old version of BioCASE; once new version is installed, then requires mapping of some three additional fields (Donna).
  • BRI - (Peter).
  • NSW - all working nicely on their dev box. Will take some work to get the IT section to get it available on the production box (Gary, Karen).
  • CANB - all up and running and serving data; some data broken eg. accession numbers vs sheet numbers.
NZVH Report

Aaron reports that: NZVH is on production servers and is publically accessible, but has not been announced due to performance issues with displaying the maps. We have had a newly employed GIS developer look at the cause of this and he has indicated a couple of issues that were likely to improve performance: (1) configuration of the [NZ]VH database (some changes to the views and indexing required - his tests showed searches dropped to 10% of previous times); (2) some changes to java code and workflow logic (e.g., not re-requesting the legend each time a map is zoomed).

We have yet to look further into what he has found and discuss with Paul (they may be NZVH/geoserver specific). We will need to do this in the very near future as I have a small window to potentially obtain additional funds to help address these issues.

HISPID issues

* Ben to provide a brief update on mapping.

ALA update

(John) - developing an architecture that HISCOM might be interested in. Public release of ALA in September.

(Brett) - is now chairing the Management Committee for ALA.

Imaging proposals

Mellon Foundation - funding for type imaging - eg. of Banks and Solander material at the BM.

ALA - new help for imaging requirements.

ALA supporting an Aust node of BHL, but somewhat different. Run by Ely Wallis. Chris Freeland to visit later this year.

Action items from Cairns

(Brett) - these remaining items covered elsewhere in this meeting.

Any other business

APC-APNI update

(Helen) - APC updating from National Species Lists - eg. faunal directory, marine (AMANI) and fresh-water algae - coming into APNI. Contracts being sorted, data to come soon. Mosses, lichens are also coming into APNI. Robyn Lawrence will be seconded to the media side of ALA.

(Greg) - Service level layers - LSID's, TCS, etc. Greg will provide some URLs for perusal.

Weed Tracker

(Rex) - The Early Warning System (EWS) replicated a lot of the work of AVH3 and needs a re-write to make it usable; Bill may have some more funding (?ALA).

AVH badging

(Greg) - leave for CHAH to deal with

* Chair to discuss with CHAH

FCIG meeting

FCIG meeting in Brisbane in early May - Peter happy to attend but deferred to Brett who is attending a meeting next door and has offered to report on HISCOM matters..


(Karen) - Are they still in use? Documentation aging on TDWG site. Is this to be used in AVH, as agreed?

(Greg) - ALA work uses both LSIDs and URI's; for names, taxa, specimens, references and people. (Much interest now in DOI's over at ALA.)

Discussion on use of Herbarium acronym + sheet number as an LSID.