Basic Users Guide to Tracy
Monique D. Reed
M. David Minnigerode
Before you begin
1. Make sure you have the proper system
requirements and have Tracy correctly installed. Refer to the
instructions for downloading
and installing the program.
2. Make sure your screen is set to the right size display: 1024
x 768 pixels. Under Win95/NT4, this can be changed by right-clicking on
the desktop. Select "Properties" from the menu, then "settings", then click
on the sliding bar to adjust the screen size; click "OK". It will then
ask you if the new setting is what you want. Tell it "Yes".
Loading up and logging in
1. Open Tracy from the Start->Programs menu.
2. As the program loads, watch the message under the grass graphic.
When it instructs you to hit a key or click on the image to enter, do so.
3. If you are a new user, click the "click here" button,
enter your name, your user ID (the name you you will log in with), and
the password you will use for each session. Note, that Tracy is NOT a secure
system, therefore do NOT enter in a password that you are using for any
other login. If you are an "old user", type in your user name
(the name you log in with) and your password. You are now ready to customize
Tracy to suit your needs.
Customizing your work environment
After the login you will be presented with two windows that will allow
you to select the families you will be working with and the default collection
id that you will be using. This will take only a few minutes each
time the system is started and you can change these settings at any time
while using Tracy.
1. Tracy will show the screen which allows you to Pick
Families for use in the Drop down Lists. You may choose any number
of families. You can pick a single family by double-clicking on it, dragging
and dropping it, or highlighting it and hitting the ">" button.
You can hold the shift key down and select a block of families to move,
or you can click the ">>" button to have all the families available
(this is often the easiest). Families may be removed from the loaded list
by double clicking on them, dragging and dropping them back in the "pick-from"
list, or highlighting them and hitting the "<" button. The "<<"
button will clear the loaded list. When you are satisfied with your list,
2. The screen now shows the Set Default Collection
ID screen. When you select a default collection by clicking it and
hitting "OK", Tracy will automatically add this to each record you
enter. You may chose not to specify a default collection, but then
you will have to add the collection ID to each record individually. At
this point, you may also specify a new default collection if the one you
want is not on the list. (It will be possible to change the collection
default during an input session, so don't feel you are committing yourself
At this point the application will start. You will see four windows
on the screen:
If you choose, you can now change settings via the Tracy window
(which will appear as a narrow horizontal bar at the top of the screen).
The operations the Tracy window provides are:
This is primarily a menu bar for accessing the configurable portions
of the system.
This window gives you a view of the current record.
The Find window allows you to set constraints for searching the database.
Results from Find operations are shown here. You may click on
any line in this window and the corresponding record will appear in the
1. Opening the System menu will give
you the option to exit or to go back to the log-in screen--this allows
a change of operators without shutting down the system.
2. The Options menu will let you do a
number of things.
3. The Export menu will let you dump your database to a delimited
ascii file or to a plain text file.
4. Finally the Windows menu will allow you to show and hide the
various windows that make up tracy as well as allow you to force the windows
to redraw themselves if needed. See the Edit
and Find displays section above.
You can load drop down lists with taxa--This
gives the same menu as at startup, so you can change your preferences at
You can select default collection ID--This
gives the same menu as at startup, so you can change your default at any
You can have the system automatically open the drop down lists-- So
as you move to each text box in each of the panels in the Edit Record and
Find windows the drop down list will open so you do not have to open them
with the mouse or with the Alt-DownArrow key combination..
You can change
the Edit and Find displays--This feature allows you to chose which
fields will be shown in the Edit window and the Find window. Check any
or all of the features you want, hit the update forms button, then
You can change the Results display--You
can select the fields you want shown as the result of a search and the
order in which they are displayed. To add a field, double-click on it,
drag and drop it, or highlight it and use the > key. Fields can
be removed from the "display" list by double-clicking them, dragging and
dropping them, or highlighting them and hitting the < arrow.
The >> key will cause all the fields to be shown in the results
display, and the << key will clear all items except the accession
number and collection ID (these are required). You can arrange the fields
by dragging and dropping them within the "display" list. When you are satisfied,
hit "OK". (You can come back and change this at any time.)
You can edit the lookup tables--This
choice will open a dialog box that give you access to the data tables used
for filling in the various drop down lists in the system. You can
edit the following lists via this option:
Be very careful with this control. Most changes cannot be undone
and if you delete something it is GONE. Generally, you should backup
your data before using this control.
Adding and editing records
A few notes about the Edit
window: Adding new records is done from the same window that edits existing
records. When the program loads, it will automatically bring up the first
record in the database. Be careful! You want to be sure you aren't
making changes to this record!
Across the bottom window is a row of buttons.
"|<" will take you to the first record in the table, ">|" will take
you to the last record, "<" will move you to the previous record,
and ">" will move you to the next record. The solid "^" (edit) puts the
current record in edit mode. "+" (insert) will insert a blank record and
put it in edit mode for you to modify. "-" (delete) deletes whatever record
is showing--be careful with this! The "check mark" (post) button posts
the record with its additions or changes to the table and makes the data
available to lookup tables and "use-last" functions. The "X" (cancel) button
cancels any changes made to the current record.
In most cases, you will move from field to field of the window with
the tab key. You may also use the mouse. Wherever a drop-down list is available,
it can be called up by clicking the little solid down-arrow button with
the mouse or by hitting ALT and the down arrow simultaneously. The drop-down
lists are type-ahead lists. Usually, it is only necessary to type a few
letters to get the entry you want to the top of the list. When this happens,
simply hit "enter" to put that item in the field.
Adding a new record
The Accession Panel
1. Use the "+" or the "New Record"
button to move to a new, empty record. (Look at the "Item total" figure
at the bottom of the Results window. This is the number of items
in your database, not counting the one you are about to make.)
2. Type in the accession number and hit TAB. If you TAB twice,
the Collection ID that you specified as default will be automatically
added to the record. (Notice that the "Item total" figure has increased
by one--you have made a record consisting of accession number and collection
The Taxon Panel
The "use last" button in the upper right of the Taxon section
is now highlighted. If you want this record to have exactly
the same information as the record previously displayed, hit enter, otherwise,
TAB to move to the Family field.
1. Enter the Family. Again, you may call up the type-ahead drop-down
list by hitting the ALT and down-arrow keys at the same time, or you can
click the solid down-arrow box. Typing a few letters is usually enough
to bring your selection to the top of the list--when it arrives there,
hit enter or highlight it with the mouse and click on it. If the family
name you want is not in the list, check to see that you have spelled it
correctly. Remember that only the families you loaded into your drop-down
lists will show up as options. (If you did not load all the families that
you will need into your lookup tables, now would be a good time to review
what you selected--it is the first item under Options
in the Tracy window.) When entering a completely new family (one
not in the BONAP table), be sure to use ALL CAPS so that it will match
your other records. TAB to get to the next field.
2. Genus and species are filled in in the same manner
as family. If adding a genus not in the BONAP list, use an initial capital
followed by lower-case. Specific epithets should be added in all lower-case
letters. "sp" can be entered for a specimen not identified to species.
3. Tri and Quad names can be added from drop-down lists in the
same fashion. Sometimes, you will encounter a subspecific taxon that is
not on the BONAP list. If you enter a new name, use ssp or var (no periods)
in front of the name to make it match the other subspecific entries. If
you have no Tri or Quad names, just TAB through these boxes.
4. BONAP Name ID and BONAP Taxon ID. If the name you entered
conforms to BONAP nomenclature, these numbers will be automatically added.
The Collector Panel
When you reach this panel, the "use last" button in the upper right corner
is highlighted. If you wish to use exactly the same information
as in the previous record, hit "enter" or click with the mouse. (NOTE:
You may want to do this even if just the collector is the same and you
need to change the collection number or the date; it is often easier to
change the last two items than it is to pick the collector from the drop
down list over again.) As with the Taxon panel, TAB to move between fields.
1. Full Name -- If you need to input a different name, the drop
down box works just like those in the Taxon panel.
If the name you start typing is not in the drop down list, the drop down
list resets to its top. Continue typing the name and hit "enter" and then
TAB if the drop down list is still open. If you type in a name without
consulting the drop down list, just TAB when finished to move to the next
NOTE: Each herbarium should choose a standard way to structure
collector names--Last, first or First Last, or Initial and
Last, etc. It is also useful to decide beforehand whether abbreviated names
will be expanded if the full name of the collector is confidently known
or whether the users will be inputting the names exactly as they
appear on the labels.
2. Collector specimen ID. This is the number the collector gave
to the plant. It can be typed in or edited if already filled in by the
"use last" button. A value of "s.n." [Latin: sine numero, without number]
can be used if no collection number was assigned.
3. Begin date. This is either the sole complete date appearing
on the label or the first day of a multi-day collecting effort. Dates are
entered MM/DD/YYYY, so that March 4, 1965 would be 03/04/1965. (Note: If
this field has been filled using the "use last" button and you want to
change it, you must type the whole field; the programs will not accept
4. End date. If the specimen bears a multi-day collecting date,
the last complete date is entered here.
5. Other date. This field is for dates that are incomplete, such
as "summer, 1996", "March 1945",
or "1963". If the label bears no date at all, "n.d." (no date) can
be entered here.
The Location Panel
When you reach this box, the "use last" button in the upper right corner
is highlighted. If you wish to enter exactly the same information
as the previous record, hit "enter" or click with the mouse. (Note: you
may want to do this even if you are planning to edit one or more of the
fields--for example, if the state and country are the same, it is faster
to "use last" if that much is the same and only the county is different.)
1. Place name. This drop down list functions like all the others.
If you are adding a new name, hit "enter" and TAB if the drop down list
is open, just TAB if the list is closed. If no concrete place name can
be gleaned from the label, TAB past to leave it blank.
NOTE: Experience has shown that it is most useful to restrict
this list to town names, names of parks, cemeteries, campgrounds, etc.,
and to exclude addresses, junctions, direction and distance info, and linear
markers such as rivers and roads. Each herbarium will develop its own set
of place names as data entry progresses--you will probably want to establish
some conventions. For example--how far outside a city can a location be
and still have the city recorded for the place name? (TAMU uses a 1 mile
2. County. This drop down list functions like all the others.
If adding a new county while the drop down list is open, type the name
, hit "enter", and then TAB to the next field; if the list is closed, just
type the name and TAB to the next field.
4. State. Two-letter U.S. postal codes come loaded into
the program and can be selected from the drop down list. Other states (from
non-U.S. countries) can be added in the same way information is added to
other lists. (Note: As silly as it sounds, users should review which abbreviations
go with which states--AL is not Alaska, and AK is not Arkansas.)
5. Country. Three-letter codes can be used in this drop
down list, or the full names of countries can be spelled out. Data entry
and list properties are the same as for all the other fields.
The Misc. Panel
This panel contains fields that the TAMU herbarium uses. Your institution
may choose to use some of them, all of them, or none of them. This is how
they work for TAMU:
1. Use last. This loads up all the information that was
in the preceding record, except for the cultivation status.
2. Cultivation. The default condition is a gray arrow designating
"no information available" or "uncertain". Hitting the spacebar (or clicking)
once yields a black arrow, indicating "definitely cultivated", hitting
the spacebar (or clicking) again, clears the box to indicate "definitely
not from cultivation." TAB takes you to the next field.
3. Local Collection ID. This field can be used to indicate
subdivisions of a collection. For example, TAMU has some some specimens
in the "teaching" collection, but most are in the "main" collection.
4. Place ID. TAMU has assigned two-digit codes for some
of our more specific, frequently collected areas. These codes predate the
use of Tracy, and many duplicate the information found in the Place Name
field, but they can still be useful. For example, we can code for wet parts
of Flynn Bog or the drier uplands around the bogs. TAMU also has a code
to indicate that the specimen is a voucher for rbcL sequence data. Default
for this field is 99.
5. Nomen. Short for "Nomenclator", this field can be used
to indicate the authority for the identity or for the name. In most cases,
names at TAMU match the BONAP accepted name (which is indicated by KZ for
Kartesz), but sometimes someone else's classification or nomenclature is
being followed. Examples of codes in use are BA= Hortus Third by
the Baily Hortorium Staff (for cultivated plants), FN= Flora of North America,
GL= Gould's Grasses of Texas, and so on.
6. Notes. This field is used for brief, unambiguous notes
such as, "sheet 1 of 2", "holotype", "collector probably so-and-so", "species
x also present on sheet". This field should be used sparingly.
Posting the completed Record to the database
When all the data has been entered exactly as desired, clicking the
button adds the record to the database and makes the data available for
the "use last" function in the next record. Or, you can TAB again, which
button at the top of the form. Hitting the space bar activates this button
which then posts the record to the table and allows you to start entering
data for a new record.
Editing a record uses the same features and the same functions as adding
a record. You can bring up a record to be edited in one of three ways.
You can use the FIND function and search for the accession number,
or you can use the "New Record" button, type the accession number, and
TAB twice to load the record into the editor. You can also click on any
record displayed in the Results window. After that, use the tab
and/or the mouse to move through the record, making corrections and using
the drop down lists as necessary. When finished, clicking the "check" button
or using TAB to go back up to "New Record" posts the changes to the table.
To locate records that are in the Tracy database you may use
the Find window. The Find window
is composed of the exact same panels that are present in the Edit
window with the addition of a sixth panel that contains field for the date
the record was entered (or last edited) and the username of the person
who entered (or last edited) the record. All of the fields that support
drop down lists in the Edit window also support drop down list in the Find
window. Using the Find window can be very simple or rather complex.
This section outlines the simple features of the Find window. More
advanced users should refer to the Tips section
of this web site, there they will find information about the use of the
"+Find!" and "SQL" menu items as well as how to use wild cards and search
for blank fields.
The typical find operation in Tracy is to locate all records that
have a particular field set to a particular value. To accomplish this you
simply enter the value you want to search for into the appropriate field
and then click on the "Find!" menu item. Tracy will then locate
the matching records and return a list of them in the Results
window. If you make a mistake entering the constraint values you can simply
delete the value or you can click the "Clear!" menu item and the entire
Find window will be cleared.
Options for setting the constraints
Rather than just typing the constraint values into the Find window by hand
you can drag-and-drop information from the Edit window on a panel by panel
basis. The Find window below shows the result of clicking on the Taxon
panel of the Edit window and dragging the panel information across the
screen and dropping it on the Taxon panel of the find window.
Here again, you can now just click the "Find!" menu item and all the records
that match the above constraints will be found and displayed in the Results
The Results window
All record returned from a find operation will be displayed in the Results
window. As noted above you can use the Select
Fields for Results window to determine the fields that will be
displayed. Remember that the fields are sorted in left to right
order, so if you want to resort the Results window you will need to open
the Select Fields for Results dialog and rearrange the items in
the right hand list.
Once you have a set of records displayed in the Results window you make
click on any given record and it will be brought up in the Edit
window. Changes may now be made to the record. Note, that these
changes will not be reflected in the Results window until the next "Find"
or "+Find" is done.
Find and Replace
The Results window contains two menu items. The "Clear!" item
simply clears the Results window of all data. It does not
affect data stored in the database itself. In contract the "Replace!" menu
item does affect data in the database.
The "Replace!" item is used to do "find and replace" operations on the
data set. It will only operate on data that is currently visible
in the Results window. For example, if you have 100 "candicans" records
in the Results window and you use the "Replace!" item to change the collector
name from "Bud Johnson" to "Bud R. Johnson" you will only be changing the
"Bud Johnson"s of the records that are in the Results window.
Using the Replace dialog
Once you fill out the dialog simply click the "Go" button. The system
will then step through the Results window changing the values indicated
in the given field to the new values. At the time of each change
it stamps the record with the UserID of the current user, and updates the
EntryDate and EntryTime fields. At any point durring the conversion
you may click the "STOP!" button and the replace function will stop.
It will not automatically undo these changes. To accomplish
an undo you may swap the values of fields one and four in the dialog box
and then click the "Go" button again.
Replace all occurrences of. Enter in exactly what you want
Ignore case. Check this to ignore the case of the data vs.
the case of the value you entered in field number one.
In the ____ column. This field take the column of the data
you want to search in. The drop down list contains all the valid
fields that are present in the current results set. Note, that you
cannot change data in any of the following fields with the replace function:
With. This field contains the value that you wish to replace the
first fields value with.