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Creating an iPad wild plant checklist for Filemaker Go

Question asked by WildeLegard on Mar 26, 2012
Latest reply on Mar 30, 2012 by philmodjunk


Creating an iPad wild plant checklist for Filemaker Go



I'm the botanist at a large Park District that manages over 50 parks. I'm trying to create a simple wild plant checklist to use on an iPad with Filemaker Go. I'd also like to create a comparable wildlife checklist that can be used by the wildlife biologists on staff.

Currently I do surveys in more than 50 parks using a traditional printed alphabetical checklist of all the species that may occur in a particular park. The paper form for a plant survey looks roughly like this (with '.....' indicating many additional rows):

Date: __March 26, 2012__ Park Name: _Wildcat Canyon______

Ferns or fern-like:
Adiantum aleuticumFIVE-FINGER FERN 
Grasses or grass-like:
Agrostis avenacea   PACIFIC BENTGRASS
Achillea millefolium  YARROW
Acer macrophyllum   BIG-LEAF MAPLE

The printed plant checklist is currently 26 pages long, with a total of more than 1,300 species. I check off each plant I see in the field, and back in the office I manually update my Microsoft Access database with the results.

I would like to switch to FileMaker Pro with FileMaker Go on the iPad, but first I have to see if a functional digital checklist can be produced. I’m using the trial version of FileMaker 11 to test that now.

My goal is to create a database running on an iPad where:

1) 'Date' could be entered manually (or automatically).
2) 'Park Name' could be chosen from a list (a drop down list?).
3) The plant list (or wildlife list) could be easily scrolled or searched with a text entry.
4) Observed species could be easily checked off (with a checkbox or radio button?).
5) The results could easily be transferred to a master database back in the office.

For lookup tables, I've created: 
1) Parks: ParksID (autonumber), ParkName (text) - 66 records
2) Plants: PlantID (autonumber), PlantName (text), PlantNameCommon (text), Family (text), Form (text), Origin (text), Longevity (text), and HabitatBloom (text) - 1,359 records. The fields after PlantNameCommon would be used to filter a search or display helpful ID information on the data entry form. 

At this point, I'm stuck. 

Should I use a blunt force approach: Add 'Date', 'ParkName' and 'Check' fields to tblPlants and just edit a big table? I think I could set that up, but I'd prefer a more elegant solution.

Or should I create a normalized database with SurveyDetails junction table linked to the Survey table (SurveyID) and Plant Names table (PlantID), with a "Seen" field for checking off plants? See the screen shot below.

That sounds like the right approach, at least in the Access world, but , but I currently don't know how to get there. Do I need other fields? And how should the data entry form be designed? 

My apologies for any confusion in my descriptions and questions. I’m new at using FileMaker Pro and I’d appreciate any suggestions that would allow me to move this paper checklist to FileMaker Go.