Simple collection management system ”Hyntikka”

I’m building a simple collection management system Hyntikka* to be used mainly (or first) with insect collections of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. We currently don’t have any such system in place for insects. Plans to get (build/buy/modify) a more sophisticated museum-wide system are underway, but a practical system for insects is needed asap. Hopefully Hyntikka will either develop into better system, or help in figuring out what are the most important real-life needs for such a system and its user interface.

Main features of Hyntikka

  • Browser-based user interface
  • Supports different types of GUID’s, currently HTTP URI’s and LSID’s
  • Data import from flat-file CSV-tables (ad hoc format)
  • Basic data validation (handling fatal and non-fatal errors separately)
  • Simple search tools
  • Label printing tools:
    • Creates either unique specimen labels from pre-entered data or labels
      en masse with unchanging data (and unique ID’s)
    • Supports QRCode and Code 39 -barcodes
    • Templates for different kinds of labels (small, large, entomological,
  • Persistent data structure: all versions of the data are preserved
  • Unicode support (UFT-8)
  • User authentication via Windows Active Directory
  • Full daily backups
  • Currently about 80 data fields. More can be added at ease.
  • Ability to handle data on different taxa (insects, plants, fungi…),
    object types (specimens, direct or published observations…) levels (single
    individuals, boxes, trays…) and primary & secondary data.

More powerful tools for querying, analyzing, publishing and sharing the data are being built in a separate data warehouse -project (Mustikka). Hyntikka will be connected to the warehouse with automatic ETL**-process using XML-files (ABCD-compatible FMNH2008-schema). Connection to LSID and HTTP URI -resolvers will be made directly or via the data warehouse.

Hyntikka does not contain tools for maintaining taxonomic information (hierarchy, synonyms…) about the names used with the specimens. Taxonomy will be taken care with a separate system.

So far I have used roughly 5 weeks for building Hyntikka (under 10 months), with zero funding. Testing the system with pilot data (c. 15000 records) is underway. No online demo available, sorry.

Software used: PHP 5 with Codeigniter and Zend frameworks, SQL Server 2008, with some Javascript and Google Maps.

* Hyntikka = abbreviation for hyvin yksinkertainen kokoelmatietokanta, very simple collection database.
** ETL = Extract-Transform-Load