Not needed?

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Misconception: We have never used custom software and we get along just fine.

The ability to gather and catalog data with the increasing power of the microcomputer, tablets, hand held field computers, and smartphones has made data acquisition go into hyper drive. Classic examples of data overload in biology include DNA research, GIS applications, and GPS data.

The former ability of "out of the box" software to handle these data management needs has been overrun (which is why there are so many scripts and home made add-ons to some software in an attempt to "improve" such out of the box software for specific applications). At the same time, these same "out of the box" software add more and more features in an attempt to outgun their competition, but these features rarely address needs of biologists and environmental sciences and merely end up taking up space on your hard drive. The end result is top-heavy software that takes days or weeks to really understand how to use efficiently. This is one of many hidden costs of these types of software.

Another situation is with field data. With field crews data forms are often not designed by the person who ends up entering the data. Hence, data forms are often poorly designed for efficient data entry. Custom data entry software is designed to bring a synergy between data recording and data entry as forms are printed by the custom software to match its user interface, increasing efficient data entry and again saving on overall cost in terms of worker time. Other advantages of custom data entry software include such features as allowing field crews to enter data directly into a laptop and emailing the daily results to a supervisor or project leader. This allows for visualization and progressive data analysis in "real time" as data comes in. Also, since any number of fields can be set to "required" this also means no more "empty" fields on the data sheet resulting in lost data.