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Poll
Question: Online or Offline Hive Management Program?
Hosted completely online - 4 (21.1%)
Offline, client side only - 10 (52.6%)
Some combination of both (Please describe in post) - 5 (26.3%)
Total Voters: 19


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Author Topic: Online or Offline  (Read 6927 times)
KES
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« on: April 21, 2008, 11:49:45 AM »

If you've been following this thread, you've seen that I'm trying to create a software solution for hive management and record keeping. For those who haven't seen it, I've posted my idea on a crowd sourcing website called Cambrianhouse.com and it's received an overwhelming amount of favorable comments. I've been contacted by people who would like to be a part of creating a site and people who are interested in designing the app itself. The idea is currently being voted on and the voting round will end on Wednesday at noon (CST).

After sixty-some comments, several questions about the basic framework have risen to the top. First and foremost, we need to determine whether or not this should be an online app or a downloadable, client side app. Great arguments for both sides have been made and I would encourage you to review the comments (in the link above) before you vote here.

I know there have been several attempts at designing an application for beekeepers. I strongly believe that approaching this particular design, both from the side of the beekeeper and the side of professional software engineering, could result in an excellent solution for beekeepers everywhere. The "crowd" is looking to you to help make this, and many other decisions about the program. Please help them design what you're looking for.

Thanks for taking time to vote.

Ken
« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 02:35:11 PM by KES » Logged

Bennettoid
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2008, 12:48:21 PM »

I prefer controlling my own software and hardware, but I may be rare. I have an extensive network and a file server for back ups.
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KES
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2008, 02:36:31 PM »

Thanks Bennettoid!
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annette
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2008, 04:39:09 PM »

I voted
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KES
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2008, 05:39:42 PM »

annette, I knew you'd stop by.  Thanks for voting. Smiley
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Sean Kelly
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2008, 06:16:44 PM »

There's already a online beekeeping software that's free called mybeehives.com.  It's okay and I started to use it but found that an online record keeping system took too much work to access.  Plus if there's something wacky with the internet that day or the server is down, you're gunna have to wait until it comes back up.  Also you'll have to take notes in a note book and then enter it into your computer later that day all over again.  Plus not everyone has internet still.

A lot of people seem to like an actual physical product that they can buy and hold in their hand and install on their computer.  Having something that I can put into my laptop and carry out in the field would be priceless.  My wifi wont reach out to my apiary and I really don't want drag a bunch of ethernet cables out that far just to sign online and update my records.  Plus if the phones and or power go down for some reason I can still update my stuff.  Bees keep working even when our technology stops.

Just my two cents.  Good luck and I'm looking forward to your product.

Sean Kelly
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KES
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2008, 06:51:43 PM »

Thanks Sean, those are some great points.
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Bob Delp
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 07:22:11 PM »

It would be nifty if the offline program could upload the data (ONLY if the user chose to allow) to a central file....that way "trends" might be determined for different strains, pests, methods, etc.
The problem is having a form or procedure so that pertinent data gets taken down in the field. Kind of goes hand in hand with a data sheet or checklist to take to the yard.......so newbees like me won't forget to look for important stuff.

Bob
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KES
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2008, 09:47:18 AM »

Welcome Bob, thanks for the comments.
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HAB
HEAVENLY BEEKEEPER
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2008, 11:11:55 AM »

Been working with computers since the days of Basic (20+ years) and have used more online apps than I would care to remember.  They can be very valuable and have a place.  But when it comes to working with data nothing beats having the program run in house (on your PC.)  Especially, if you have a slow or undependable ISP.  Using  the online side as a backup data storage works well IF you don't have a means of in house (CD, USB Drive, Second Internal HD, or even the old floppy disk) backup
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reinbeau
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2008, 07:34:11 PM »

It would be nifty if the offline program could upload the data (ONLY if the user chose to allow) to a central file....that way "trends" might be determined for different strains, pests, methods, etc.
The problem is having a form or procedure so that pertinent data gets taken down in the field. Kind of goes hand in hand with a data sheet or checklist to take to the yard.......so newbees like me won't forget to look for important stuff.

Bob
This would be my preference, too.  I want the data on my computer, but I have no problem sharing it via a website collection of data.
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- Ann, A Gardening Beek -  ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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KES
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2008, 11:57:07 AM »

It would be nifty if the offline program could upload the data (ONLY if the user chose to allow) to a central file....that way "trends" might be determined for different strains, pests, methods, etc.
The problem is having a form or procedure so that pertinent data gets taken down in the field. Kind of goes hand in hand with a data sheet or checklist to take to the yard.......so newbees like me won't forget to look for important stuff.

I'm really beginning to favor this kind of thinking.  Let's say there was a client-side app that allowed you to collect and view the data.  You could also keep it on your lappie and take it to the hives during inspection.  Then when you come back, you can sync that data with the online program.  This would allow you to access your hive management tools and data from anywhere in the world, provide a backup solution, collect local and regional data for trend tracking and create a community where the data could be reviewed (based on your privacy settings). 

Let me also add this to the mix.  One of the biggest issues with a complete client side app is distribution and keeping the program updated.  If we were to make CD's and mail them out to everyone, the distribution costs would drive up the cost of the app to a point where it was no longer worth buying.  On the other hand, if we had an online app, the program would always be easily updated and maintained.  I've always been someone who wanted only a client side solution for just about everything but the trend today is clearly moving to hosting everything online.  I think the above idea might go a long way to providing for both issues.  I look for this to be a hive management program that grows with the input from beekeepers.  In order to continue adding on functionality, it really needs to be an online app.

Thoughts?
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Bob Delp
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2008, 12:46:03 PM »

Ken,
The program and updates could be made available for download here?  Those on dial-up could snag the program from another broadband user. You could make it "shareware" to recoup any costs. I could see a whole new term "Queenware"...."Here's a couple plump Queens for your trouble"  grin

Random thoughts:
Client side data kept in XML.
User would pick or generate unique user ID.
Data to include geographic location.
I could send bobdelp.xml to another user and they could view my data.

Bob
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reinbeau
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2008, 01:02:47 PM »

If we're talking about a program that 'synchs' with an online data collection source, why couldn't the program check for updates when it connects?  I have many applications that do that, Firefox for one, and a little clipboard extender program I've used for years (and highly recommend to anyone and everyone, it's a great program) called Clipmate.  When the program starts up it checks the website for updates and let you know.  It's obviously not that hard to do, many do it. 
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- Ann, A Gardening Beek -  ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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KES
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 10:45:36 PM »

Video is now up:  http://www.cambrianhouse.com/blog/
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steveouk
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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2008, 11:26:16 PM »

I program every day using a multitude of online - offline methods. Personally i would consider writing an Off line application. The data stays with the client. I'm not sure why you would want to share your data online. If you plan to share everyones data online , graphing details of inspections etc etc then thats going to get costly as far as bandwidth . If you end up with 100,000 users then that data could be quite heavy especially for commercial bee keepers. You would then have to charge for that bandwidth use. You then have the added consideration of what platform and what database system, website design, yearly hosting fee's etc etc

The data is going to be pretty redundant unless it includes some sort of comment field / blog. I would know what the data meant for my hives as i am the one thats inspected them. but to any other person that data might be useless. For online data i'm more interested in peoples experience with working with bees hence most of my time online is spent reading blogs and forums
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KES
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2008, 12:21:42 PM »

Those are some great points steveouk.  A couple of things though; this is going to be aimed at the hobbyist beekeeper and not commercial.  They already have extreamly detailed programming that the average hobbyist doesn't require.  Also, for as much as I would like to see 100k users, I don't think we'll see those kinds of munbers.  There are roughly 80k hobbyists in the US, another 4 or 5 thousand sideliners, and about 1000 commercial companies.

I've been very surprised how few of the 80,000 hobbyist seem to be online or otherwise connected to the beekeeping community in general.  This forum has about 2600 members while Beesource hosts about 6000.  I would also guess that many are cross registered, as I am.  Bee Culture only has a subscribership of 12,000 with only 400 of those being international.  Even if we added all these numbers together and treated them as individuals, we're still short 60,000 beekeepers in the US.  Is there anyone that can shed some light on this for me?

You're right about redundant data.  Sharing data online has been discussed but without specific.  To me, it's secondary to what I'm trying to design.  During of conversations about online sharing, I was thinking in terms of things like being able to plot infestations of varroa mites on a map.  Same with confirmed cases of CCD.

First off, I just want to off a sound set of hive maintenance tool on the the computer.  We can always grow from there.

Thanks again for the input.  Hope to hear more.

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Understudy
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2008, 02:57:23 PM »

I am in favor of a client side app that can update to a server. It serves as a good form of backup and as  a way to share information if desired. Not everyone has lots of wifi or even dsl (How they survive I have no clue Wink ). But there are those blank spaces out there. I hear they are in Montana.

Also the client side app would need to be relatively simple a sql database on a client box is not very likely. Spreadsheets are fine but they are great for server side. What I would say is a javascript or html form that can be accessed locally and then create the information to be uploaded. The local db could translate to spreadsheet and for the server it could be stored in a table in mysql.

This may seem complicated but it is probably more tedious than complicated.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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TimLa
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2008, 05:28:29 PM »

Quite a lot of this architecture has already been implemented in other apps I use, and a few I designed and/or wrote at a Really Big Software Company  Wink .  Here's the brief version:

1)  Local app, local data, with 'standard' data elements plus the ability to add custom elements
2)  Ability to sync with an online data store.  Allow this to be automated if the user so chooses.  Don't sync custom elements.
3)  When the sync happens, check for client updates
4)  Make absolutely certain that you either don't collect, or allow users to 'opt in', to collect PID (Personally Identifiable Data).  There are legal issues (none of them good) if you don't address this correctly.
5)  Provide a web UI so users can see what's going on in the bee world

So basically, you have a local app and data store, and allow users to sync both the data and the app at the same time.  Being able to export the data is a Good Thing (for data analysis at the client, of the client's data).

As others have pointed out, having a totally online app has it's own issues, and if it's a local app, you loose the trend analysis capability.

If you want some help designing the thing, send me an email.

-T
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KES
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2008, 07:00:54 PM »

Tim, you have a PM

If anyone is interested in collaborating on the initial design phase of this project, Please PM me and I send you a link to get connected.
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