“Now I can manage my collection, with a vision of exciting possibilities.”

John McArthur - Butterfly Collector

Unsuspectingly hidden away in a Wellington suburb is John’s collection of 17,000 butterflies – many gathered by hand on his travels for a government ministry.  The collection had become complex and unmanageable on his ‘DIY’ DOS-based database, even causing his computer to crash. It was quite frustrating, and there was always the fear of losing 25 years of data.

When he sent 2,000 specimens to the Natural History Museum in London, he was inspired to take a leap with his information management.
Then his brother-in-law recommended FileMaker™, and set it up, but with limited knowledge he could only take it so far.

A complete re-think

I Googled FileMaker, and Dominique’s name popped up.  I called him and he was very enthusiastic, immediately understanding what I needed.  He told me on the spot what I needed in terms of data categories and inter-relationships for the database tables.

These were the things I wanted to do:

  • Easily search for butterflies by name, and locate them in my stack of plastic boxes – in one-step vs. multiple processes.
  • Print labels, lists, and catalogues (vs. the limitations of my hand-written labels).
  • Link existing photos to specimens.
  • Re-think my forms of presentation.
  • Make the collection importable to a museum one day.

Dominique is quite unique, with an interest in the natural world from previous work in MAF, so we could talk the same language.
He encouraged me to take a fresh approach with what I was doing – thinking laterally and big to ‘reach for the stars’.”

New and better ways

“He simplified the database and made it far more user-friendly.  Now I know where everything is and can find out exactly what I want to know.

He created a ‘smart’ search system for finding butterfly names by typing the first few letters instead of having to wade through lists of categories and subcategories.

Photos are all integrated into the system now, and I can print-off lists / catalogues by any information criteria I want, so easily.

We’ve looked at QR-coding each specimen on the glass display cases to link to online information.  One of Dominique’s ideas was linking to Google Earth for the location of each butterfly, climate, conditions, and photos of the area.

I’d also like to make the system management Web-based, to be accessed remotely from anywhere.”

Personal recommendation

Dominique is very helpful and always available by phone or Skype.  He’s clever with what he can do remotely on my computer.

He is a born teacher, inspiring, motivating, and unlocking the mind to greater possibilities.  He is extremely enthusiastic to help me and to maximise the enjoyment of what I’m doing.

He is a real pleasure to deal with.

We’ve broken new ground with our database, and I encouraged Dominique to market it to other collectors of any kind who need significant information recording and searching.

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