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5824Re: [pfaf] Permaflorae : FEEDBACK for NICOLAS & others: New offline and portable way of consulting PFAF

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  • Christopher McCOY
    Nov 14, 2011
      Dear Nicolas,
      A Massive Thank You, first of all, for your effort with the PFAF database!
      The computer being used here employs a Windows 7 Home Premium Edtion 2009, although only employs it for a small wage... I previously purchased the PFAF database CD-ROM, but it didn't run sucessfully on this computer and could not be view using it...
      I used Internet Explorer to read your email, click the link, and selected the lower of the yellow-orange download buttons 'Source' rather than the CDROM/USB-card version above, though a previous attempt to use the upper download button didn't then work after following through several of the options, though there may be another reason for that (Previously, I had selected 'Open' first rather than 'Save' having selected the upper 'Download' button option, but which did not extract or initiate properly, though a silly simultaneous use of 'Internet History - Deletion' might also have had something to do with that...)
      The window that opened-up - which required my allowing this to occur by clicking on the 'allow' options of the computer firewall - offered to 'Open' or 'Save' or 'Cancel'. In this case I selected 'Save', and defined where to save it to on the computer. Thereafter, selecting 'Open' implied 'extracting the ZIP files', with the selected computer location. Once the files had been un-zipped/extracted, the folder 'permaflorae' could be opened to display 7 folders, 1 autorun file, 2 Applications entitled 'Server2Go' and 'Permaflorae', 1 'readme' Notepad file (but which is not a Help Manual), and 5 other items, so 16 items in total. First I selected the Readme file, but which did not really contain any instructions or Help manual, but rather a smidgen about Server2Go. Next I clicked 'autorun', but that merely open  notepad windows with a few lines of words/code, so that was no overly helpful. That was no good. Next I clicked on the Application 'Server2Go', which went through it meanderings and opened using 'Mozilla Firefox', but which, if I recall correctly, opened up in a window that was not overly connected with 'Permaflorae' per se, and could not be searched successfully - I additionally typed in the .html address of the 'readme' file into the web-address window, just in case that might do something, but that was of no help. Finally, I clicked on the Application, 'Permaflorae', which opened a 'Mozilla Firefox' window, entitled 'Permaflorae' and featuring a 'Quick Search' box towards the top-left of the window and the words 'Advanced Search' to the right, and not much else other than the very fair Donation request and Alpha version information. Thus, one has to have at least a simple something in mind to be able to enter in the 'Quick Search' box in order to progress to accessing the database by that means, else one can use the 'Advanced Search' option, which is more helpful and one can click on this or that and combinations to find out how many entries are in the databse with such combinations.
      Thus, put simply, INSTRUCTIONS might best be something like, to select whichever Yellow-Orange Download button you wish given Nicolas' web-link from the previous email, then select 'Allow' for any Firewall notices that may arise to stop this being blocked (unless you are suspicious of something for some reason), select 'Save' rather than 'Open' and decide where you want to save the database etc, then select 'Open' to extract all the files, again knowing where you want them to go, then click on the 'Permaflorae' application file out of those 16 files that are extracted...
      First, I typed in 'Tilia' then immediately pressed the <Return/Enter> key. If memory serves, it displays 'no entries'. It took a few minutes of playing with this to realize the following:
      (a) If one enters a search word in the 'Quick Search' box, it is best to wait a little while before doing anything else or before pressing <Return/Enter>, because the program tries to come up with a drop-down list of similar word matches, from which one then selects which plant to search for;
      (b) If one writes in a word in the 'Quick Search' box and impatiently/too-rapidly presses <Return/Enter>, as one might do when typing or when using Google for example, then almost any database entry may instead be selected, either one previously approached in one's search history or a seemingly almost-random or alphabetical result will be displayed, but not that which one has typed. For example, typing 'Urtica' then <Return>, at the speed one might normally type and then <return>  instead flung back 'Acer', 'Aconitum', and other databse entries instead;
      (c) It is necessary to use the Arrows on the Top-Left of the window to go 'Back' or 'Forward'.
      (d) Using the 'Advanced Search' selections and combinations is perhaps far more suited to selecting appropriate desired characteristics, especially for those who do not have some word or name first in mind before they start.
      (e) One can view images of the plants by clicking on the Thumbnail images towards the top of each database entry window for the plant's entry you are currently viewing;
      (f) If one clicks on any of almost all of the 'UNDERLINED' Genus name or other UNDERLINED entries in the entry per plant in the database, instead of getting further information or pictures one is instead simply returned to the 'Advanced Search' window only. However, a superb feature - though I have not checked whether or not a live internet conneciton is needed to enable this to function or not - is sited down in the 'Gardener's Corner' section of each Plant's database entry, where one has the option to 'Search nurseries in UK', which 'UK' is UNDERLINED. That particular Underlined item DOES seem to work, given a list of nurseries providing that plant Genus and Varieties in the UK...a superb feature if it tallies correctly with what nurseries actually provide, and which might additionally benefit from a regional/post-code search to identify closest/local/regional nurseries, organic status or otherwise, GM status or otherwise, whether they are open to the public or mail-order, whethe they transport or other...;
      (g) There may be some inconsistencies which might be hard to systematically search for and cross-check in other than laborious ways, or missing database entries/cross-links. For example, as a test, in the 'Advanced Search' window I selected 'Edible parts' --> Seed (also tried every other 'Edible Parts' entry), and in the 'Uses' section--> Coffee. Now, one might expect certain entries, such as Dandelion, to be flung back as possibles for Coffee substitute when selecting BOTH Root and Coffee simultaneously. However, 0 entries were displayed, as compared with 226 results for 'Coffee' selected alone...so maybe Cross-linking is an issue for later development/checking of the database.
      (h) In the 'Advanced Search' window, there is a 'Reset' button beneath the Number of Results, which resets the 'Advanced Search' settings.
      (i) For future suggestions, research, and developments, which could employ several people over the years, in addition to such as Lottery or Eden Project Funding or similarly, I would suggest such Additions as: Operable Root depth, Clarification of which dimensions are Height/Width/Spread and what teh relevant time-period ight be, Companion Plants, Plants to Avoid, Companion Fungi etc., Companion Animals, Animal and Fungi and Pests and Diseases to avoid and with what ranges and Treatments, Recipes, Guidance on Crafts (e.g. dyeing, basket-weaving, fibres, beekeeping, etc.), History/Breeding-History/Origins, HOW-TO of ' Plant/Animal/Fungal/Geologic Healing', and automatic never-makes-you-fat free Chocolate and Ice-Cream-of-your-choice dispenser system IV...
      I have not yet tried the 'Export' option also located next to the 'Reset' option in the 'Advanced Search' window.
      In summary, all in all a very good Alpha version for this particular operating system at least, though which might benefit from a brief instruction manual/handbook Notepad, Word, or .pdf file to guide users around it.
      Well Done Nicolas!
      All the Best, and Many Thanks!

      From: Nicollas <permactiviste@...>
      To: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, 11 November 2011, 8:44
      Subject: [pfaf] Permaflorae : New offline and portable way of consulting PFAF


      i just finished my work on a new way of browsing the PFAF database, here are some major features :

      * Offline : you can browse PFAF database even when WWW is not available (do not fear the collapse of civilization anymore !)

      * Portable : no installation, you can copy-paste it in one of your directories, a USB key, burn it on a CD and use it on other computers

      * Powerful : more search option than on PFAF website (you can query all fields in one time)

      * User friendly : a bunch of visual features (like automatic update of results when you change something in the search form) to ease the search of the plants you need

      * And a lot more : exportation of results to PDF and BBCode, results sorted visually by fruit ripening date, filter the result from a list of plant (e.g. copy-pasted from a online catalog of plants ...), conversion to imperial metrics ...

      Here is the website, for screenshots, features and download link :


      Note that it is an alpha version, so it might not work on your configuration (it only works on windows, and only be tested on windows XP) and have a lots of bugs, but with time and help from the community, the software will be even better than today !

      Please note that this work is the result of hundreds of hours of development. After developing it for myself, to counter limitations of PFAF website, i decided to update it heavily in order to bring the good of PFAF to everyone. In first place i hoped to fundraise it, to let the community free the code, but communication with PFAF staff has been slow and difficult, and has i will be dad in a few weeks, i'm finally releasing the software and code for free and under the same creative common licence as the database, so i hope to receive a few bucks from donations of satisfied users, thanks for your comprehension !


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