Hello from the BirdSight developer

To: Charles Mezak <>, "" <>
Subject: Hello from the BirdSight developer
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:07:25 +1000
Charles Mezak wrote on Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:20 AM:

Hi Charles, I'm not a user of your software, and without an iPhone I won't be, 
but here are a few thoughts anyway.

> Once important thing to note is that the sighting database has been
> substantially changed in this update, so the old database will no
> longer be valid. This means that you'll have to export your existing
> sightings before you upgrade if you wan to keep them. I'm glad to see
> that folks have been using the exporting feature.

I've been burned a few times by phone apps that change the database format 
between versions.  It might not matter at this early stage when there are few 
users with much data, but it's really nice if a new version of an app is able 
to convert the old database to the new format.

>   - About importing data: I haven't worked on this, mainly because
> there really isn't an easy way to send arbitrary data to the iPhone.
> I think that the best way for the iPhone app to track a user's life
> list and other long-term data history stuff is for the app to connect
> to an existing online data system like or
> There are so many of those sites in existence, that I haven't tried
> to reproduce one. By the same token, I don't know which one to
> connect with. Some one at Wildiaries has contacted me recently, so
> that might lead to something. I've also developed an app for the
> Encyclopedia of Life and for a project called Nature Worm run by a
> Cornell professor. Many players in this game!

Data stored on a phone is always in imminent danger of being lost.  Even if it 
doesn't end up getting stolen or dropped in a swamp, no one is going to find it 
and enter it into a public database 20 years after the owner carks it, as is 
currently happening with collections of fieldnotes.

I think you should concentrate on assisting with the export of data from your 
application to external databases, rather than the other way around.  The 
online data that people collect is a valuable resource, and I'd be disappointed 
if people started abandoning it in favour of private databases on phones.  It's 
bad enough that records are already distributed across many online databases 
without starting to hide them from public view altogether.

I'd rather see the application as a front end for the online databases, than a 
replacement for them.


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