Latest Identikit developments

Screenshots of Identikit's mobile-first interface

FSC Identikit is an open-source platform for building online ID resources, including multi-access keys, driven by spreadsheets of taxonomic/morphological knowledge. 

Identikit’s roots are in FSC’s Tomorrow’s Biodiversity project (where it was called the ‘ID Framework’) but when that project completed at the end of 2017, Esmée Fairbairn agreed to fund development for a further year, enabling us to roll it forward into FSC’s BioLinks project.

2018 has been a year of intensive development of Identikit and Esmée Fairbairn’s support has enabled us to completely restructure the software ‘under the hood’ to add the capacity to deliver ID resources on mobile devices in the field – even where an internet connection is not available.

We published these ‘mobile-first’ features in November 2018 with the release of version 1.8.0 and have showcased the developments by publishing mobile-first implementations of our resources Harvestman of Britain and Ireland (https://harvestmen.fscbiodiversity.uk/) and The Conifers of Britain (https://conifers.fscbiodiversity.uk/). Other people have already taken advantages of the new features to publish mobile resources, including Nia Howells who has created a mobile-first multi-access key for British Froghoppers - https://identikit.fscbiodiversity.uk/howells/fh/m/.

The screenshots give a flavour for how the harvestmen resources look and feel in the new mobile-first implementation.

Screenshots of Identikit's mobile-first interface

A feature of the Identikit software is that it is web-based which means that it can run on any mobile device that supports a ‘modern browser’ – we don’t have to create a version for Android, a version for Apple and so on. We’ve taken advantage of new (and developing) technologies to create a ‘Progressive Web App’ (PWA). As well as looking more like a native app than a website, once installed, a PWA can be invoked from an icon on your phones home screen – just like a standard app.

The PWA technologies enable the app to download all necessary images, knowledge-base files and so on, whilst within range of wifi and then use these in the field where no wifi or data are available.

Anyone can use FSC Identikit on their computer to develop a new ID resource just by creating a spreadsheet of taxonomic/morphological knowledge which Identikit then reads to generate the ID resources like the one shown above. No programming is required. The multi-access keys and other ID resources are driven by the content of the knowledge-base spreadsheets.

Just creating a resource for personal use can be a great learning experience that helps you get under the skin of a taxonomic group. For those who wish to take their resources further and make them available for other people to use, it isn’t complicated to publish an FSC Identikit resource on almost any website. For those without access to a hosting website, we may well be able to host their resources on our FSC Biodiversity projects website (as we did for Nia Howell's Froghopper key referred to above).

Screenshots of Identikit's mobile-first interface

If you want to keep abreast of developments with FSC Identikit, the best way is to sign up to our dedicated Identikit email newsletter here: https://www.biodiversity.uk/identikit-signup. We've just published a new edition of the newsletter which discusses, amongst other things, features planned for the next release of the software.

If you just want to get started right away, then look here: /?q=fullscreen/identikit

To explore some resources created with Identikit, look here: /id-resources-built-fsc-identikit

As an important element of FSC BioLink’s digital outputs, FSC development and support for Identikit is planned until the end of 2022. We know of some exciting new ID resources being built by people using the FSC Identikit. We very much hope and expect that many more will become available over the course of the BioLinks project.