Recorder 6 – The Start of a Brave New World

article written by Ellen Lee, Data Manager

TVERC currently holds 2.7 million records of flora and fauna for Berkshire and Oxfordshire and you may (or may not) have wondered where we store it all. The answer is in a very large database. One way of accessing the information held in this database, and currently our only way of adding to it is via a computer programme called “Recorder 6”. This programme was developed by a small consortium and supported financially by JNCC, and it has had a long and honourable history. When I first started working at TVERC in 2003, we were using Recorder 3 that was a DOS based product (anyone but me remember DOS???). Soon after, the first windows-based version of Recorder was introduced and TVERC transferred all its records to this. It was a big improvement, but still had its little idiosyncrasies. Despite this it was the best tool available as witnessed by the fact that today it is estimated that 75-80% of all Environmental Record Centres rely on it to store their biological records.

Fast forward to 2018 when we are all now using Recorder 6. JNCC announced that they were planning to stop their financial support and administration of the Recorder 6 software. You can imagine the panic that ensued because all of us in the Record Centre community realised that in the short to medium term, it was our only option for storing our large number of biological records. Happily, ALERC (the Association of Local Record Centres, our professional body) came to the rescue. Initially they concentrated on deciding the best and fairest funding model to guarantee that the software could be adequately supported and developed into the future. They factored into their calculations the need to increase the number of developers able to work on it so that its future is more robust. All this work came to fruition a few days ago with an announcement of a new Recorder 6 licensing system (find out more here). TVERC has already purchased their new licence and will be upgrading as and when new versions become available. In the meantime, I will be doing my best (with your help) to reach our next big milestone of 3 million records in the database!

Posted: October 30, 2019