Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's colouring in time at NatureWatch NZ

In our last blog post, we introduced some of the many ways you can edit the content of NatureWatch NZ. Not only can you add your observations, but you can add places, projects, common names of species, new links about species, and more. Here's another one. From today, you can select the colours found on any species in NatureWatch NZ.

Why would you do that? So that people can easily find the species they're trying to identify. Imagine you're looking at a butterfly with blue on its wings. If NatureWatch NZ users have added colours to all the butterflies, then all you need to do is search on "butterfly" in the NatureWatch NZ species search, click "blue", and you'll see a list all the New Zealand butterflies with blue. Handy!

As a demonstration, I've already quickly whizzed through the NZ butterflies, since we don't have many of them, and done exactly that. New Zealand is a big tangle of thousands of other species so the rest is up to all of us.

Below I'll describe just how stupidly easy it is to add colours to a species page. But first, a big tip of the hat goes to Ken-ichi Ueda and the other developers of our parent system, iNaturalist, from which we got the code to do this. And thanks to Patrick Davey of Egressive for getting it working on NatureWatch NZ.

Noting the colours found on a tui on the NatureWatch NZ species page for tui.


To set (or edit) the colours for a species, first go to the NatureWatch NZ species page of your choice. You can do this by clicking on any species name on an observation page, or going to the entry taxa page and searching. Here we'll start with the kahukura (red admiral butterfly) page. The screenshot below shows the area down the left hand side of the page where you can specify colours.

Colouring in a kahukura butterfly, NatureWatch NZ style. Click all the colours found on the species, in this case red, blue, black, white, and brown.

The same area of the species page for the kahukura butterfly now looks like this.

In next to no time, I worked through all of the NZ butterflies and added their colours. Now, when I search on butterfly and select "Insect"under taxonomy (to remove plants like butterfly bush from the list) and select "blue" under colour, I get just eight butterfly taxa with blue on them.

The NatureWatch NZ search page for blue butterflies, built by me in about ten minutes.

So what's your favourite group you want to colour in?

(P.S. Yes, Americans don't know how to spell "colour". We're fixing that ASAP.)

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