Background imagery

You can choose the application background imagery from your own image galleries or try Bing images of the day. This cycles through some wonderfully distracting images every 30 seconds or so.

Bing images cycle through the day's offerings - each day bringing a new selection. You need to be online to see these.

Botanic gardens

The living collections module manages data and images for botanic gardens, arboreta, estates and other horticultural projects. The module takes advantage of all the standard BRAHMS features to edit, query, report, map, export and publish online with additional features for garden accessions and plants. You can read more in the BRAHMS for Botanic Gardens section in the BRAHMS manual.

Advanced data grids provide searchable access to all tables. Combined with forms, you can explore and edit your data very efficiently.

Calculated Fields

Many tables have one or more calculated fields. These are handy fields that provide a range of numeric totals and calculated text strings. Examples are to total up the number of images or documents per record; the number of collections made by different collectors; and the number of genera and species per family. Calculated fields have multiple uses with viewing, reporting and error checking, as well as simply knowing what's in your database.

Here a field view has been created to show some of the calculated fields in the main species file. All calculated fields are updated using the Recalculate option. In this example, the table has a descending sort on the number of living plant records linked to each species.

An example showing some calculated fields in the main family table.

Column summaries

Column summaries are a powerful way to list all the different values in the current column. Moving to a different column updates the summary. Furthermore, you can use the column summary tool to quickly filter on one or more of the listed values.

The simple use of the column summary function to total up the number of collection events per month.

Column summaries can be opened with other features such as maps - here the map is updated to reflect the two selected values.

Spreadsheets and forms

By default, BRAHMS uses versatile data grids with context sensitive toolbar options to locate, select, sort, query and analyze your data.

A typical data grid with associated toolbar options. Data grids provide a powerful way to view and explore your data with options to tag, sort, analyse, calculate, query, export and report.

Data can be viewed and edited using grids or forms. Forms can be resized, docked or dragged to separate monitors.

Forms can include calculated summaries, here, a quick list of botanical records for the current species with a summary of collection details.

Opening and linking multiple tables

In BRAHMS v8, you can open as many tables as you wish at the same time. Table docking can be arranged as needed and using different monitors. Where tables are related, for example, [Family -> Genus -> Species -> Collection event -> Specimen] or ... [Species -> Garden Accession -> Garden Plant -> Plant Events], you can relate these tables to dynamically update as you select records on your data grids. This also applies to maps and external weblinks.

Multiple tables and features can remain open at the same time. In this example, the family, genus, species, garden accession and garden plant tables are opened and linked ensuring that they dynamically update as you browse.

Maps and web pages update as you move through your records.

Spread out on multiple monitors

Data grids, forms, images, weblinks, maps and calculation screens can all be undocked and used on separate monitors. Toolbar options always apply to the last selected window.

An example using a second monitor for the ArcGIS mapping. Maps are dynamically updated as you adjust your grid filters.

Find anything - anywhere

When you open any data grid, you can use the Find option to locate any text or a number in any grid cell. Cells that include your text are highlighted in yellow. Using the search box navigation arrows, you can move to the next or previous matching cell.

The find function is a quick way to locate text or a number anywhere in the data grid.

Explore, query, filter

BRAHMS v8 includes comprehensive search functionality. The top 'filter row' feature provides an extremely fast way to add multiple filters. You can also quickly filter to the value in any cell, adding further cell value filters using the Selection and +Selection toolbar options. Using the main Query tool form, you can design and save your own queries. These queries, which generate visible SQL commands, can mix and match fields of any type. Column summaries and Tree Views provide additional mechanism to quickly locate and query your data.

Data grids have a handy filter row where you can enter values to filter on multiple columns. This option allows the use of ranges as well as AND and OR clauses.

Using the Selection option, quickly set a filter on the current cell value, adding further filter selections using +Selection. In this example, Araucariaceae and Papua New Guinea have been selected.

Using the main query form, more complex queries can be built using data fields of any type. Queries can be selectively enabled and / or saved for future use.

Here, we are querying the living collections file with several fields selected including 'Needs a label'. Frequently used command combinations can be named and saved.

Sorting records

The ability to sort records, vital for reporting, is also useful to simply locate records and to find errors. Tables can be sorted on single or multiple columns by clicking and shift-clicking on the headers. Complex sorts are carried out and saved using the sorting tool.

Data in all tables can be sorted using single or multiple fields in ascending or descending order. Shift+click headers to combine columns.

Using the sort form, any combination of character, numeric, date and logical field can be selected to sort your records. Complex commands can be named and saved for future use.

Selecting visible columns

You can customise the visible columns from the Grid Tools menu. Multiple column views can be saved for each table and then selected from a drop down list. There are a number of ways to select or hide columns.

A view of the species file showing the publication details.

A view showing species names with text descriptions and the text opened in a separate window.

Design your own Tree Views

Tree Views provide an excellent way to locate, explore and filter data as well as tracking down spelling errors. The Tree View designer allows you to create and save your own views with up to 10 hierarchical levels, as many as you need per table. Once opened, you can then use the locate and filter options offered, for example 'filter on selection' when you click on any tree level.

You can design and save your own Tree Views for each table.

This example shows a single level view to explore by country. With 'Filter on selection' selected, clicking on a Tree View entry filters to that value and updates any linked data, in this case, the map.

A Tree View with 3 levels. Tree View windows can be docked to suit.

A example Tree View for botanic garden events, with the plant events organised by group.

Module specific tools

Module specific data processing tools help with many different tasks, for example, checking data quality and editing records in batches.

An example data processing tool, checking for possible spelling errors in the main species file.

Editing data

All data editing is initiated using the Edit toolbar. Context sensitive editing applies throughout BRAHMS. Thus, if you are in a date field, a date editor is used while with map points, the map point editor will be available. All changes are tracked and can be reversed in steps.

Record creation and modification details are stored in each table. Thus records are easily sorted by create or last edit date. Here a column summary shows the number of records created per date.

Context specific data editors are available to change your data, the example here for a map point.

Here editing the genus name in the main species table. The grid editor lists genus names matching the Search value entered. If the genus name is changed, this edit is auto recorded in the Edit History.

Changes to your data are tracked and can be reversed using the Undo option.

All additions, deletions and updates are registered in a central Edit History file, here filtered to show Updates and, taking advantage of the system-wide column summary tool, showing the number of updates per table.

Adding comments

Comments are easily added to any record using the data tools Comments option.

Adding a comment to a species record.

Custom fields

If BRAHMS does not have the storage fields you need, you can add your own 'custom fields'. These fields are fully integrated with your database and appear in your main data grids with equal status to BRAHMS default fields. Custom fields can be added to any table.

Here showing the addition of custom fields to a Rapid Data Entry file. The fields Shelf Number, Scanned and Spirit material available have been added to this RDE file.

Custom fields here viewed in the main collection event table. They are display in a different font to standard fields.

Taxon names in v8

BRAHMS has separate tables for Higher Classification, Families, Genera and Species. The first three of these store details from Kingdom through Phylum, Class and Sub Class down to the Order, family and genus. In each of these tables, you can define further taxonomic levels as needed for particular taxa groups, examples being suborder, superfamily, subgenus, tribe, section and series. Each name can be assigned an authority and be linked to publication details. Further standard fields are provided for commonly stored data and again, you can extend the tables by adding your own custom fields.

You can define further custom higher classification taxonomic levels as needed for particular taxa groups.

A large range of species fields is available to select from, drawing in others from all the higher level tables. The available list is designed for both botanical and zoological use. Further ranks can be added as needed as custom fields. Names are formatted to the calculated Fullname field wiith the appropriate rank prefixes.

Descriptive text for taxa

You can store descriptive text for all taxa levels, defining as many text categories as you need. For example, you may want to store details of recommended seed germination procedures at the species level, notes on species hardiness or preferred water requirement or sun tolerance, perhaps a technical description of a genus. All these texts are stored in a central table and can be viewed/edited there or when viewing the respective taxa records themselves.

All descriptions are held in a single table, here with a column summary showing the numbers of entries per text category.


Descriptive text can be added at all taxa levels and displayed from the main taxa files. Text categories can be defined as needed.

Permits and Permissions

The Legal option under Data Tools provides access to all details on permits, permissions and other issues related to the legal status of material and its movement. You can store details on permits of different types with links to material transfer agreements, notes on due diligence and other documents. Entries can be categorized as Nagoya (2014 onwards), CBD (1991 - 2014 ) or pre-CBD.

Permits and Permissions records can be linked to physical specimens, plants or seed collections.

Documents associated with the record can be dragged to the lower panel.

Plant propagation

When a garden accession arrives as seed or bulbs, a graft, a cutting, a living plant or other type of propagule, it is either planted directly into a collection in the garden or it is kept in production until it is moved to a permanent site in collections.

Specific tables and forms are available for production, cuttings, grafts and seed propagation

Menus and toolbars

Context sensitive ribbon toolbars similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications, offer all the features that long term v7 users have voted for. These include record tagging, two step deletion, zoom, column summaries and column selection. They also make BRAHMS v8 intuitive - easy to learn and use.

Some example ribbon menu toolbars.


You can add literature references to the main literature table, linking these to any record in your database. Typically, links will be to species but you may want to store reference entries for people, genera, seed collections, plants, etc.

An example list of literature references with a filter on 'magnolia'. A column summary is displayed for the literature category.

Importing data from Excel

Using the Excel Import Wizard, Excel tables can be opened and imported directly into Rapid Data Entry files and then, after checking/editing, transferred into BRAHMS itself. The Import Wizard is accessed when an RDE file is opened.

Step one is to locate the XLSX file you want to import.

The Wizard allows you to match columns in the Excel spreadsheet to the columns in your RDE file. This means that Excel tables with differently named fields, perhaps in foreign languages, can still be imported.

The data in the Excel table are then listed and you can opt to import all or a selection of records. Once in RDE, the data can be checked, edited as needed and then transferred to BRAHMS.

Matching data from Excel

Match records provided in an Excel table to records in BRAHMS using any combination of fields, tagging the matched records. Examples uses: match a list of species provided in Excel to your own species list; match a list of museum specimens or seed accessions based on a list of barcodes provided in Excel.

Here matching a list of seed accessions provided in Excel using the seed accession number and family name.

Matching a list of species names.


Export data to Excel or CSV formats respecting the sort order and visible column selection. Additional export options are being added.


Adding to the existing report features, we have connected BRAHMS v8 to a reporting suite that effectively replaces the functions of Text and Visual reporting in v7. As with the ArcGIS API, links to Stimulsoft Reporting have been fully embedded in BRAHMS v8. This new reporter, which comes licensed with BRAHMS, provides almost limitless power to generate lists, master detail reports, labels, charts, cross-tabs and more. You can print, send to documents, attach as email or publish online. Stimulsoft report wizards are provided and there are guides and videos available online for those wanting to stretch their report design legs. Some ready to use examples are provided with BRAHMS, together with some start up notes. For those familiar with v7 reporting, there are many familiar features such as a visual designer; report bands for headers, data, footers and summaries; and text formatting and style setting. Although not needed, you can refer to the full reporter user manual.

Designing report templates for almost any category of report is possible.

Report wizards help learn the ropes with the report designer.

Transactions - loans, gifts, exchanges and similar

Managing transactions is an important feature in BRAHMS v8 - be these for preserved or living material. Transactions are linked to the categories you choose to add to your database. After adding a transaction record, you can link or unlink items; print packing notes and correspondence; record material as returned; edit determinations; and review all transactions using any of the standard data grid features. Transactions, best managed using barcoded material, can be uploaded to BRAHMS onliine as Image based transactions..

The main transactions table records all details of incoming and outgoing material, both preserved and living.

The form also includes options to list linked specimens with barcoding features to link and unlink material or mark material as returned. Incoming determintations can be edited here directly.

Tagging records

By tagging a record in any table, you add a character or number to the TAG field. Tagging opens up numerous options for subsequent record selections, processing and analysis. A simple example would be to tag a selection of collection events or garden plants manually or using a function - and then when mapping, restrict to tagged. Tagged records are dynamically coloured. All tags are user specific. Thus, on networked systems, your tagging operations do not interfere with those of another user.

Tagging is used throughout BRAHMS for record selection, querying, grouping records and more.

Tag Group Manager

The Tag Group Manager allows you to save profiles of tagged records in any table. You can mark up records with any of the available tag characters/numbers and then save these tags to a named tag group. Examples are 'Medicinal species', 'My research taxa', 'Garden plants of special interest', and 'Localities of special interest'. Tags from your saved tag groups can be loaded/restored to the respective table.

Here, the three IUCN Red List categories CR, EN and VU have been tagged using the colour coded numbers 1, 2 and 3 respectively and saved as a tag group. The tags have been restored to the species table. The Manager also allows you to set quick filters on one or more of the saved tag categories.


Mapping options include dynamic links to the in-built ArcGIS and externally, by passing data to ArcGIS, Google Earth, DIVA, QGIS and GeoCAT. Any data with map references (collection events, botanic garden plants, etc.) can be mapped.

Map options are selected from the Maps toolbar which is enabled when mapping data are available.

ArcGIS is integrated with v8 and requires no installation. Dynamic links between grid and map allow point highlighting.

Mapping plants in a botanic garden. Here, the map is opened with a filter set to garden areas using a user-defined Tree View.

Combining maps with the query tool. The yellow point represents the current record. Clicking on any map point locates the grid record, a great way to pin down map errors.

ArcGIS map opened with a data grid, Tree View and Google images.

Mapping wild origin sites of seed accessions using a tree view to filter on seed supplier.

Combining maps and images online.

Map point editing

The map location editor can be used in RDE and in the main tables for collection events and botanic garden plant points. The editor opens an online map form which updates as you move through the data grid. Records with existing Latitude and Longitude points will be mapped using a single point on your selected base map. A right-click on the map resets the point position and either auto-saves this to the grid or awaits conformation with via the Save option.

The map location editor displaying the current point, set to Auto-save. In this mode, a right-click on the map will update the Latitude and Longitude values in the data grid without using the Save option.

The same point as above with a different zoom and base map.

Map search and analysis

The integrated ArcGIS is being extended in phases to provide search and analysis features.

Map searching updates the associated data in the data grid. Here a species list for the search area is created using the summary tool.

Map searching can be used with botanic garden maps, here again showing the different taxa located in the search area.

Useful mapping functions are being added. One example is calculating the Extent of Occurrence (EOO).

An example map connection to GeoCAT for conservation assessments.

BRAHMS online includes features to map richness and diversity with different scales and themes. One example is the conifer database published on The red areas have the highest numbers of different taxa.


Images can be linked to any record in BRAHMS and you can link multiple images to the same record. All images are listed in the central images table with their full pathname or web URL. Images may be located in any location including in media libraries and cloud servers. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS. You can store links to images using a URL - you do not need to have a copy of the image file. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS.

Images are easily dragged to the image viewer and stored in your central images library where they can be further organised and managed.

Viewing images from the main image library.

When viewing images in the main species table, the system assembles images of linked collection events and specimens. In this example, the species table is filtered to taxa with > 50 linked collections in the family Lecythidaceae. Taken from the Naturalis herbarium database.

Combining image viewing with a Tree View in the main specimen file. The data grid is showing the calculated field for image total per record.

The image viewer has various handy functions including zoom and copy.

Images of different categories can be published online. Visit the Flora of Namibia online.


Multiple documents of any type can be linked to any record in BRAHMS. This could be a PDF material transfer agreement or collection permit linked to a specimen, accession or transaction; a protologue description linked to a species; a sound file linked to an animal entry; or perhaps a video or slideshow linked to a botanic garden greenhouse record. You can link any category of media.

Linking pdf, docx, wav, pptx and xlsx documents to a species record. Media and documents can be opened using the Open option or double-clicking on the linked entry.

Linking a sound file to a bird record in the species table, here showing the document and image viewers opened at the same time.

Web links

Dynamic links to external websites. Web pages are updated as you scroll through your data, in this example, Kew Science Plants of the World Online (POWO).

Opening multiple websites.