Initial screenshots of the SPF User Experience

Everyone has waited long enough.  Some of the initial reactions were not favorable, so that has slowed momentum somewhat.  But in the end, progress needs to be shown.  Besides the main point is that the interface can be updated and changed darn near on the fly.  Let’s take a more in-depth look.

The Main Ribbon Layout

As can be seen in the above ribbon the layout is very much laid out for typical tasks and procedures.  More discussion on the exact design will be below in the rest of the user experience images.  The basic premise was to develop an interface that would speed up the user’s ability to get daily tasks done by putting most of what the user needs on one ribbon element.  The current layout is based on the experience of the developer’s history with the background software that this interface is to enhance.

There is little reason to go through all the interface details, but some of the highlights are discussed below.

Basic Preparation

This tab represents a few different user views and needs.

  1. What might I need to do to get started today and use the database
  2. I am starting from scratch and what do I need to do to get started in the process of developing an inventory using recognized Biometric and Mensurational Practices (BMS’s)?

Some processes are holdovers from the archaic methods used by the backend model.  However, since The Natural Biometrician has no control or access to that model we are forced to jump through some hoops to make the model work with this new database interface.  One such thing is the Activate Model button.  We know that many people are annoyed with the “start” screen experience that is

  • Plastered in front of you every time the original database opens
  • Worse yet the user doesn’t click the right thing and links the wrong database
  • Needs to move between databases rapidly.

Those days are behind is in two ways.

  1. A button exists to create the database link necessary
  2. The user will NOT NEED A BUTTON OR A LINK! That is right no need.  When the user wants to run the model the database on the fly will create that link if the link is not already made and this will be user configurable option. Yes, an OPTION!

Have you ever wanted to start from scratch??  Put your stuff in a database.  Well, the existing database can’t do that entirely.  The SPF database if provided a table with the information can generate itself and update itself with no problems.  A simple set of directions will be supplied the user.  So this means while SPF is intended to replace a specific database with minimal development it would be possible to generate any database structure and this includes menus and queries.

Lastly for this description the ability to get data from a variety of sources and transform it into a useful format.

Selection of data to be processed

All of the basics are available to the user at a simple glance.  Ever wanted to select stands based on “non-standard” data? We are adding this because we don’t believe in non-standard.  What stands have a Basal Area greater than X? Or What stands have less than X density?

Additional Selection options with descriptive names.  As more users provide feedback, more features will be integrated.

Want to add your own? Just add it to the menu, and it will be there from now on.

What do I have today?

The today tab contains the solution to the question asked by 95% of users of most forestry models.  Some expansion is needed, but the basics of the existing model options are here.

  • Cruise
  • Classify
  • Report
  • Repeat!

Some of the additional features will include improved reporting of non-tree vegetation as well as data entry of cruise data.

What will I have tomorrow?

The tomorrow tab will be the location for silviculture, silviculture, silviculture.

Managing for the future

The focus here is purely on planning and harvest scheduling.

Configure the Database

Oh, let me find that manual and see what I need to configure to make sure I am getting the results.  NOPE.  No more this tab will take you where you need to go to get the database set properly.  There are many essential configurations that no one ever does because they don’t know that a table contains settings which can be the sign of a poorly implemented database or interface.  So we have tried to fix this problem.

Spatial management

The GIS tab is only essential spatial management at this time.  The settings in the GIS tab will allow the user to move attributes between the GIS layers and the SPF database.  So after using whatever model you choose to use to populate values, this can quickly link and transfer data although this is still in development.  The original model had limited features also, but more are needed.

Why aren’t things working?

Have you ever wanted to know why something is not working? Only to be left with contacting support or worse giving up.  This tab will be developed into some necessary data cleaning and checking utilities.

I know what I want to do let me configure it.

As the tab suggests, this will be the location of power user features.  These features may not be needed often or ever by a standard user.  But they will be available here so that they are accessible without the need to remember that alt-F37-left shift is the key combination to get the function to run.

Where does The Natural Biometrician go from here with the SPF interface?

These screenshots are considered mockups.  In as much as the buttons exist and self-generate as stated but currently don’t link to functions.  It is also clear that a lot of work needs to be done to expand functionality.  The tasks included were the base set from the “demo” database provided by the original model developer.  So much more can and should be added.

What else can SPF do? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?  Currently in development are also a set of depletion database tools as well as a research database for taper and site index studies.  This utility is being built to a generic enough level that it can be updated rapidly and with ease.  A simple text download can upgrade the user experience menus and queries to a current version.  But to get there more work is needed.  It is the natural biometricians hope to have most of this worked out in the next month.

Isn’t this a lot of development for one niche market? Or is it?  We believe that this may be able to fit well into many of the other products under development here.  It is easy to see where SPF could fit into The International System of Natural Resource Database Format (SINRDBF), The International System of Natural Resource File Format (SINRFF), The International System of Resource Management (SIRM).

Special thanks to everyone that has reviewed the layout and tested that the interface will even display.  Also thanks for the time donated by Free State Drivers without their skills, time, and dedication this process may not have made it this far.