Template Letters

The reader getting to this point in the documentation probably understood that this Ghini project is above all a very open and collaborative project.

Here in this page you find some template letters, used to welcome new users, or that you can correct, print, and go with it to a garden, and propose them to adopt Ghini, or share with a group of your local friends, so you can make Ghini become a (voluntary, or paid) part-time job for you.

Dear conservator or scientist,

You are reading Ghini’s presentation letter. Ghini is a libre software project on GitHub, focusing on botany. Brought to you by a small community of coders, botanists, translators, and supported by a few institutions around the world, among which, gardens that have adopted it for all their collection management needs.

The Ghini family is a software suite composed of standalone programs, data servers and handheld clients, for data management, and publication:

  • Ghini’s core, ghini.desktop, lets you

    • enter and correct your data
    • navigate its links,
    • produce reports
    • import and or export using several standard or ad-hoc formats
    • review your taxonomy using online sources

    all according best practices suggested by top gardens, formalized in standard formats like ABCD, ITF2, but also as elaborated by our developers, based on the feedback of Ghini users.

    ghini.desktop is developed and continously tested on GNU/Linux, but runs equally well on Windows, or OSX. [1]

  • ghini.pocket is your full time garden companion, an Android app installed from the Play Store,

    • assisting you in collecting or correcting data while in the field,
    • associate pictures to your plants, and verify taxonomic information.
    • Import your collected data into the desktop client when back in the office,

    ghini.pocket reduces the time spent in front of your desktop PC to a true minimum.

  • ghini.web is a web server and a courtesy data hub service, offering you world wide visibility: Export a selection of your data from your desktop database, and handle it for publication to the Ghini project, and we will include it at http://gardens.ghini.me/, at no cost while we’re able to do that, or for a guaranteed minimal amount of time if you are able to support our hosting costs. ghini.web serves a world map to help locate participating gardens, and within each garden, its contributed georeferenced plants.

  • ghini.tour, a geographic tour Android app aimed at visitors, using OpenStreetMap as a base map, retrieving its data, gardens and virtual panels, from the web data aggregator ghini.web.

All software within the Ghini family is either licensed GNU Public License v2+ or v3+. It is a strong copyleft license. In short, the GPL translates the ethical scientific need to share knowledge, into legal terms. If you want to read more about it, please refer to https://www.gnu.org/licenses/copyleft.html

Ghini’s idea about knowledge and software ownership is that software is procedural knowledge and as such, should be made a “commons”: With software as a commons, “libre software” and more specifically “Copylefted software”, you not only get the source code, you receive the right to adapt it, and the invitation to study and learn from it, and to share it, both share forward to colleagues, and share back to the source. With proprietary software, you are buying your own ignorance, and with that, your dependency.

This fancy term “copyleft” instead of just “libre software”, means the software you received is libre software with one extra freedom, guaranteeing every right you were granted upon receiving the software is never lost.

With copylefted software you are free —actually welcome— to employ local software developers in your neighbourhood to alter the software according to your needs, please do this on GitHub, fork the code, develop just as openly as the common practice within Ghini, and whenever you want, open a pull request so your edits can be considered for inclusion in the main branch. Ghini is mostly continuously unit tested, so before your code is added to the main branch, it should follow our quality guidelines for contributions. With libre software you acquire freedom and contribute to it, something that earns you visibility: Your additions stays yours, you share them back to the community, and will see them completed and made better by others. Having your code added to the main branch simplifies your upgrade procedure.

You can also contribute to the software by helping translate it into your native language. [5]

Some videos are published on YouTube, highlighting some of the software capabilities. [6]

Share back with the community. Several developers have spent cumulatively many thousand hours developing this software, and we’re sharing with the community. We hope by this to stimulate a community sentiment in whoever starts using what we have produced.

Thanks for your consideration; please let me know if you have any questions,

In case you’re interested in publishing your tree collection on the net, I would be happy to include your plants, species, coordinates to http://gardens.ghini.me. Georeferenced textual information panels are also very welcome, all offered as a courtesy: We’re still defining the offer. The idea behind this is allowing visitors to explore aggregated garden collections, and the current focus is on trees.

A small example: http://gardens.ghini.me/#garden=Jardín%20el%20Cuchubo

Mario Frasca MSc

free botanic data management systems

Many institutions still consider software an investment, an asset that is not to be shared with others, as if it was some economic good that can’t be duplicated, like gold.

As of right now, very few copylefted programs exist for botanic data management:

  • ghini.desktop, born as bauble.classic and made a commons by the Belize Botanical Garden. ghini.desktop has three more components, a pocket data collecting Android app, a Node.js web server, aggregating data from different gardens and presenting it geographically, again a geographic tour app aimed at visitors using the web data aggregator as its data source. You can find every Ghini component on GitHub: http://github.com/Ghini
  • Specify 6 and 7, made a Commons by the Kansas University. A bit complex to set up, very difficult to configure and tricky to update. The institutions I’ve met who tried it, only the bigger ones, with in-house software management capabilities manage to successfully use it. They use it for very large collections. Specify is extremely generic, it adapts to herbaria, seed collections, but also to collections of eggs, organic material, fossils, preserved dead animals, possibly even viruses, I’m not sure. It is this extreme flexibility that makes its configuration such a complex task. Specify is also on GitHub: https://github.com/specify and is licensed as GPLv2+.
  • Botalista, a French/Swiss cooperation, is GPL as far as rumours go. Its development has yet to go public.
  • bauble.web is an experimental web server by the author of bauble.classic. bauble.classic has been included into Ghini, to become ghini.desktop. Bauble uses a very permissive license, making it libre, but not copylefted. As much as 50% of bauble.web and possibly 30% of ghini.desktop is shared between the two projects. Bauble seems to be stagnating, and has not yet reached a production-ready stage.
  • Taxasoft-BG, by Eric Gouda, a Dutch botanist, specialist in Bromeliaceae, collection manager at the Utrecht botanical garden. It was Mario Frasca who convinced Eric to publish what he was doing, licensing it under the GPL, but the repository was not updated after 2016, April 13th and Eric forgot to explicitly specify the license. You find it on github: https://github.com/Ejgouda/Taxasoft-BG
  • BG-Recorder, by the BGCI, runs on Windows, and requires Access. Developed mostly between 1997 and 2003, it has not been maintained ever since and isn’t actively distributed by the BGCI. I’ve not managed to find a download link nor its license statement. It is still mentioned as the free option for botanic database management.

Of the above, only ghini.desktop satisfies these conditions: Copylefted, available, documented, maintained, easy to install and configure. Moreover: Cross platform and internationalized.

Welcome to Ghini/Bauble

Dear new user,

Welcome to Ghini/Bauble.

As the maintainer, I have received your registration for bauble.classic/ghini.desktop, many thanks for taking your time to fill in the form.

I see you are using bauble.classic-1.0.55, whereas 1.0.55 is the last released version of bauble.classic, however, bauble.classic is now unmaintained and superseded by the fully compatible, but slightly aesthetically different ghini.desktop. Install it following the instructions found at http://ghini.rtfd.io

The registration service says you’re not yet using the newest Python2 version available. As of 2018-05-01, that is 2.7.15. Using any older version does not necessitate problems, but in case anything strange happens, please update your Python (and PyGTK) before reporting any errors.

Also thank you for enabling the “sentry” errors and warnings handler. With that enabled, Ghini/Bauble will send any error or warning you might encounter to a central server, where a developer will be able to examine it. If the warning was caused by an error in the software, its solution will be present in a subsequent release of the software

If you haven’t already, to enable the sentry and warnings handler, open the “:config” page in Ghini and double click on the row “bauble.use_sentry_client”.

I hope Ghini already matches your expectations, if this is not the case, the whole Ghini community would be very thankful if you took the time to report your experience with it.

The above is one way to contribute to Ghini’s development. Others are: - contribute ideas, writing on the bauble google forum (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/bauble), - contribute documentation, or translations (https://hosted.weblate.org/projects/ghini/), - give private feedback, writing to ghini@anche.no, - rate and discuss Ghini openly, and promote its adoption by other institutions, - open an issue on GitHub (https://github.com/Ghini/ghini.desktop/issues/), - contribute code on GitHub (fork the project on (https://github.com/Ghini/ghini.desktop/), - hire a developer and have a set of GitHub issues solved, per-haps your own - let me include your garden on the still experimental worldmap (http://gardens.ghini.me)

I sincerely hope you will enjoy using this copylefted, libre software

Best regards, Mario Frasca

https://ghini.github.io https://github.com/Ghini/ghini.desktop/issues/

Do you want to join Ghini?


I generally send a note similar to the following, to GitHub members who “star” the project, or to WebLate contributors doing more than one line, and at different occasions. If it’s from GitHub, and if they stated their geographic location in their profile, I alter the letter by first looking on institutos botánicos if there’s any relevant garden in their neighbourhood.

Dear GitHub member, student, colleague, translator, botanist,

Thank you warmly for your interest in the Ghini project!

From your on-line profile on github, I see you’re located in Xxxx, is that correct?

If you are indeed in Xxxx, you live very close to gardens Yyyy and Zzzz. Maybe you would consider the following proposition? All would start by contacting the botanical garden there, and get to know what software they use (what it offers, and at which price) and if they’re interested in switching to ghini.desktop+pocket+tour+web.

The business model within Ghini is that the software is free and you get it for free, but time is precious and if a garden needs help, they should be ready to contribute. Maybe you already have a full-time job and don’t need more things to do, but in case you’re interested, or you have friends who would be, I’m sure we can work something out.

Let me know where you stand.

best regards, and again thanks for all your contributed translations.

Mario Frasca