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How to Make Interactive Keys | The Society of Herbarium Curators

How to Make Interactive Keys

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1. SLIKS

SLIKS is a small Javascript program that Stinger Guala developed to facilitate the use of interactive keys. SLIKS is written in simple Javascript and distributed under the GNU public license. It runs over the web or locally on your machine. Users can download their own copy or use it from your web site. It runs through the web browser so it is essentially platform independent.

2. Lucid3

Lucid tools are powerful and highly flexible knowledge management software applications designed to help users with identification or diagnostic tasks.

Lucid software is a special type of expert system, specifically designed for identification and diagnostic purposes, which enables expert knowledge to be “cloned” and distributed to a wide audience via CD or the Internet. The large number of functions incorporated in the software and the ability to include multi-media makes the creation and use of identification and diagnostic keys easy, effective and enjoyable.

3. Delta format and Key

The DELTA format (DEscription Language for TAxonomy) is a flexible and powerful method of recording taxonomic descriptions for computer processing. It was adopted as a standard for data exchange by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).

The DELTA System is an integrated set of programs based on the DELTA format. The facilities available include the generation and typesetting of descriptions and conventional keys, conversion of DELTA data for use by classification programs, and the construction of Intkey packages for interactive identification and information retrieval. The System was developed in the CSIRO Division of Entomology during the period 1971 to 2000. It is in use worldwide for diverse kinds of organisms, including viruses, corals, crustaceans, insects, fish, fungi, plants, and wood. The programs are free for non-commercial use.

The program Key generates conventional identification keys. In selecting characters for inclusion in the key, the program determines how well the characters divide the remaining taxa, and balances this information against subjectively determined weights that specify the ease of use and reliability of the characters. Keys can be tailored for specific purposes by adjusting the weights, restricting the keys to subsets of the characters and taxa, and changing the values of parameters that control various aspects of the key generation. For example, keys could be produced for particular countries or climates; using only vegetative, floral, or fruit characters; starting with important characters; or biased towards common species.

4. Kew Interactive Key Forum

Interactive keys can loosely be described as software which makes identification of organisms easier by taking advantage of the data querying and multimedia capabilities of modern computers. There are a number of tools available for both building and running these keys with the main current players being Lucid and DELTA/Intkey.

There are a growing number of interactive identification tools being built at Kew and other institutes around London. There is also growing interest in the broader taxonomic community including global initiatives such as the IdentifyLife project and a number of on-line electronic floras.

The Kew Interactive Key Forum has been started so that users and developers of interactive keys can share their knowledge and past experiences.


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