Computers & Iris
Carolyn Schaffner asked:
: does anyone have a program or simple system for keeping records in the
: Which will accept data on IRIS, IRIS, IRIS, of course.
Yes. My system includes computer programs, printed maps & lists, and photo
albums. This level of organization is an essential part of my hybridizing
program and, although it would undoubtedly be overkill for the average gardener
some elements would probably be useful.
Everything is keyed to my garden notebook. I assemble a new one each year
before bloom season, and add the previous year's notebook to the archives. That
book has _almost_ everything I'd want to know while in the garden and is the key
to looking up anything else in computer files or albums when I get the chance.
In terms of computer power, I use three generalized programs (a word processor,
a spreadsheat, and a database manager) and a special-purpose one for pedigree
With my word processor (WordPerfect), I prepare plans and reference lists for
the notebook. Anything I expect to need that's too important to entrust to
With my spreadsheet (Quattro), I prepare scaled maps. The lines define the bed
and each cell corresponds to a planting position. I have a template for each
standard bed layout, so all I have to do is load it, fill in the blanks, save it
with a new name, and print it out. Each bed goes on a separate page, which
leaves plenty of room for notes. What bloomed. What is to be tossed. What
should go on the "watch" list. And once in a while, a "TBR" for "To Be
Registered". So I can mark it up to my heart's content, knowing I can print
out a clean copy of the map whenever I need one. Yes, over 100 beds makes for
a pretty fat notebook. But each bed carries its own ID number and the book is
organized around that system so it's quite easy to use.
With my database manager (Alpha Four & Paradox), I handle my mailing list and
order processing as well as the detailed type of seedling records that I want to
be able to examine for trends. I'll spare you the details as I doubt they would
be of interest to many.
I think the system of organizing the information is actually more important than
the specific software used. For example, I use YEAR-CROSS-CLONE for seedling
numbers and YEAR-MONTH-DAY-FRAME for photograph numbers because they are easy to
sort in all three applications.
The special pedigree analysis program is not widely available. I list it in my
catalog, and it can be purchased directly from the author, but I don't know of
any other source. For many years, I used a program that I wrote myself. It was
fast and efficient, convenient for the computer literate but not for the
non-programmer. It proved the key, however, to several of my breeding
breakthroughs. For example: the pseudo-plicata arilbreds (like DREAMCATCHER
and ENGRAVED INVITATION). I'd probably have produced a few more with a
hit-or-miss approach, but the pedigree analysis program made it possible for me
to trace diverse lines back to their common ancestors and identify descendants
most likely to be carriers and therefore worth testing.
Ralph's program, OTOH, is menu-driven and requires no programming skills to use.
For those who use a checklist to look up an individual iris, who _may_ sometimes
go on to look up its parents, this is probably overkill. But if you like to
trace all the way back to species, a program like this can condense a long
evening's manual labor into a few easy minutes at the computer. But I don't
want to turn this into an ad . . . .
Sharon McAllister (firstname.lastname@example.org)