An updated version of Plant Base has been released and is available on the Download page. This is for desktop/laptop editions – Windows, MacOS and Linux.

It is another maintenance update with a few small bug fixes plus some other little changes.

On the Plant List Details tab, the records can now be sorted by almost any of the fields (all except the GPS co-ords). This can be useful when doing project planning and was requested by several users.

There is also an enhancement to the local language selection, which has an additional option to replace common data records with translations, that is for things like colour names and plant types.  It’s important to understand that this updates the database, so “power” users who make a lot of changes might need to consider this. Just like the text translation files, these new common data translation files can be created or amended by end-users – information is in the Help.

The Linux edition is now at Beta 11 and a free life-time licence is still available on request. This version has a few tweaks to the user interface to improve appearance for some desktop environments and themes. Certainly will not be perfect on every system, but looks very good on many!  The more traditional DE’s such as Xcfe, MATE and Cinnamon tend to give the best appearance out of the box, but it’s often worth experimenting with the theme settings.

A revision of the plant data is included, bringing the database release to 31.  There are some new plant records and pictures along with a large number of updates.  Many of these are for plant name changes and plant family classifications. Some familiar plants now have different names – please don’t blame us for these, we are just trying to follow the main taxonomic authorities who make changes according to the latest scientific research (there are even more in the pipeline!). Of course we always include the older names as synonyms, so they can still be found in the database!

We recommend that all existing users update the new program version – easy, quick and safe.  Loading the new database files is an optional choice, as usual all recent database releases are compatible with all program versions.  Instructions to merge personal data are in the support section of the website.

I’ve decided to remove 3rd party advertising from the website. All external content ad-spaces (Google Ads) have already gone and also most affiliate scheme banner ads. A few direct referral text links remain, almost all on the Links page or in the picture gallery pages. These are relatively unproblematic but will be reviewed in the near future.

This is largely in response to the recent well publicised discussions about online privacy. 3rd party web adverts are known to give the possibility of tracking user’s behaviour. I’m uncomfortable about the fact that I have little direct control of 3rd party content and also aware that unwanted adverts can simply be annoying. It goes without saying that I’ve always been totally respectful of our user’s privacy.

Like the majority of websites, we have used adverts as a source of much needed income in order to pay for the website running costs. They have always been used with moderation and restraint. Although I don’t believe any there has been any significant problem in the past, I think the site is better without them.

This does mean a significant loss of revenue needed to keep the site going. Since the business has been substantially downscaled, this may be a real problem. In the hope (possibly over-optimistic!) of compensating a little there will be some new PayPal Donate buttons added to certain pages. A few small donations could go a long way towards keeping things running.

Our web database, Plant Base Online, has now been updated to the same data release level as the software products.

As well as the website plant search forms this same data is also available to the Android PBO viewer apps.

It’s taken a little longer than usual – been busy with other things!

An updated version of Plant Base is released and available on the downloads page – 2.1.7.

This is essentially another maintenance release and there are no really big changes. It does contain some important bug fixes, so it is a recommended update for all existing users.

A handy small feature has been added – searches on the Plant Selector form are now remembered as a history. The criteria for the previous 200 searches are stored and can be retrieved by date and time, or just scanning back through.

There are also a few other minor changes to the program and a new release of the database is included – we are now on Release 27.

For new users, the trial period has been extended to 20 days.

For Mac users who run Plant Base from the normal Applications folder, the configuration settings file, PlantBase.prefs, has be relocated to the ~/Library/Application Support folder. Hopefully this will avoid any confusions with Mac’s plist files in the previously used Preferences folder. Our testing for the MacOS edition is much more limited than for Windows as we only have one machine. That system must necessarily remain on an old release of the operating system, so we cannot test on later ones.

Testing for the Windows edition has been done on XP, Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

We have reduced the purchase price of a Plant Base license by £5 to just £20.

This is to coincide with the release of version 2.1.7

There is no definite plan about whether this will be a permanent price change or not, we will see how things go!

The price of the Android mobile app has also been reduced.

We feel that this makes Plant Base extremely good value (it always has been!) and easily competitive against any similar garden or plant software.

But the main reason for the change is related to fact that we are further down-scaling the software business, for various reasons. I already operate part-time and the hours spent at the computer will be further reduced and irregular. So for the time being at least, development progress will be slow and support done on a best effort basis only. However, regardless of this – the Plant Base project will continue for the foreseeable the future.

Due to the ridiculously high number of attempted spammer registrations, the ability to self-register a username for this blog has been removed.

An approval system for new registration was already in place, and very effective. However, the huge volume combined with my limited time means that I can no longer deal with the administration for the approvals and/or rejections.

If genuine users wish to register for a blog login, then they can send me an email message. If everything looks reasonable, I will happily do a manual registration.

A new version of Plant Base is released – 2.1.6. This time it includes updated database contents, which is at Release 26.

The program version is basically a minor maintenance release, with no obvious big changes.  The main incentive for the release was to bring the executable build up to the latest available code complier and database engine.  This gave opportunities to improve the code efficiency and possibly program stability.  This resulted in a lot of internal code changes and the work kept me busy for the last couple of months.

A number of small improvements were made along way – most noticeable are some further enhancements to the HTML Reporting function. This feature continues to be of considerable interest to certain users, predominately professionals, and accounts for a large part of my email queries.  There are a couple of other small interface changes and just a few bug fixes.  So this update is probably worth installing for most users.

As always, it is difficult to know when to issue an update to the plant data itself, but it seemed appropriate to include it now as it has been some time since the last one. There are a considerable number of updates to existing plants, some of which are name changes that have been introduced recently.  There are also new plant and pictures, which means that the database file size (and install size) is gradually increasing. The database now has just under 12,000 plants and over 6,000 pictures.

As usual the program can be updated separately from the database.  Existing users may prefer to delay updating the database to a convenient time.

The version is the same for all editions,  Windows X86, X64 and Mac OSX.  I’ve dropped the Beta designation from the Mac program as it has been in use for some while with no serious problems reported.  Unfortunately in-house testing is still rather limited for us because we only have one system, but feedback has been generally good.

Online users of the free web database have not been forgotten – it was updated to the same data release content even before the software products were released.

I’m a bit of a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to web design – I like simple informative web pages that just “do the job” and don’t tend to follow the latest design fashions.  So our site has not changed overall for a long time.  However, there is a specific issue that clearly needs improvement, which is accessibly for mobile devices. Our old method of having a small set of pages specifically for mobiles is simply not good enough nowadays.

I am therefore in the process of re-writing all the pages to use a ‘responsive’ design method that should adapt to all screen sizes, including smart-phones and tablets.  The pages will be replaced progressively, so for a time there will be a mixture of old and new designs (please bear with me on that!).  For the most part the actual content and site organisation will remain unchanged, so book-marked pages will generally still work.  I dare say there will be some modification along the way though!

The new design aims to be simple, clear and minimalistic.  It is based on the very popular Bootstrap Framework, version 3.  All pages are HTML5 and CSS3 which are the latest web standards.

However, all this means that old versions of browsers will not format the content correctly. This is especially an issue for MS Internet Explorer versions older than 9.  This was a decision that we had to face, because our previous website design allowed for very old browser versions. But it is time that we moved forward!