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Sharing Data is easy..


 

Introduction

MapMate is all about 'sharing data' - it has built in data exchange that allows any user to share their records with any other user.  This short paper explains how this all works in simple terms and goes though a step by step example.


How data exchange works

To exchange data we use the 'Replicator' - so named because it creates a 'replica' of your data and sends this to another user.  Replication allows you to share records with other users. You can link with a local recording group or any other user with similar interests and exchange data.

One problem with exchanging records is knowing what you have sent.  MapMate handles this for you and sends only new records plus any data that you have changed or edited each time you exchange.  You don't have to worry about what to send.

When you exchange data with another user you are said to be 'Synchronising'.  After two users synchronise, both their databases are identical – all the records missing from one are copied to the other and vice versa. The Replicator keeps track of all users with whom you have Synchronised (or Sync'd for short - pronounced 'sink') and creates data files (called Sync Files) describing the data to be transferred.

The other big exchange issue facing programs in the past was how to get your data from 'A to B'.  Again this is handled for you by dedicated technology.  We have a Web Server (which is just a big computer on the internet) set up to transport files between users.  This investment means it has never been easier to share your data - or for groups to work together collecting records.

Starting with a single user, MapMate can evolve into a network of interconnected recorders.  Users can cluster by interest in species groups and by regional areas – making it ideal for local recording groups.  Many users can work together to capture data from paper or card index records – keeping each other up-to-date as they go.  Once established, a network of users can look at the latest records from each other and share in a complete resource of county or regional records.

Info! Each MapMate user has a CUK - or Centre Unique Key.  This is a unique identity given to each new user when they purchase the software.  Your CUK is invisibly 'stamped' on each record you create so when records are pooled everyone knows who 'owns' a particular record.  Once stamped with your identity, no other user can edit or alter you records.  CUK's are also used to identify other users - MapMate only needs to know the CUK of the person you wish to send data to in order to get your records to them.


The Replicator

The 'Replicator' manages all data exchange for you.  We'll go through an example here - step by step - to explain all parts of this process.

To open the Replicator click on 'Replication' in the toolbar.  Or, you can choose View > 'Replicator...' from the menu.

The Replicator Screen will open and look something like this...

A few points of interest:

Have a look at the screen..

Info! You may see the CUK 1z1 (as used in this example) crop up from time to time.  This is the CUK of the program's original author, Mark Yeates.  CUK's start at 010 and count up in letters and numbers.  CUK's from 000, 001...to 00z are reserved for 'test use only' and don't have a real user allocated - you can't use these to replicate!


Identify a Partner CUK

The next step is to identify the user with whom you wish to send or exchange records.  You need to know their CUK.

Choose Sync > 'Change Default Partner' from the menu

You will see the following dialog:

If you have a set of partners defined you could choose one from the list at the top.  If you are defining your first, or a new partner, then simply enter their CUK in the box at the bottom and click OK.  In this example I'll use CUK=5e4.

The Replicator will now show that it intends to 'synchronise' with your chosen centre.

Note that this say's 'Unknown' - indicating that MapMate currently has no idea who Centre 5e4 belongs to.  Once you have exchanged data, the owner of this CUK will be known and shown here.
  

Setting Filters

The next step is to set 'filters' for this partnership.  Filters allow you to restrict the flow of records between you and a partner.  If you record many species in different areas, you can set filters so a partner only receives the records of interest to them.  If you are in a group recording say 'birds in a particular area' then there is no need to filter - but if one individual also records dragonflies then all other users will receive these records unless filtered out!  As you form a MapMate exchange group you should think about how filters are best applied.  There are more discussions on this in the Replicator > 'Help on Replication' topics.

To set or change filters choose the Special > Set Filters menu.

To choose a filter just click on the down arrow at the left of each list.

Tip: Note that filters listed reflect the choices you make in your MapMate: View > 'My Configuration' setup.  If you require other restrictions not here listed then you need to close the Replicator, change your 'My Configuration' and then re-start the Replicator.

If you contribute to a local group or scheme you may be told what filter settings to use - if in doubt you should always ask the intended recipient of your data.

The records filter allows special set of records to be exchanged.  Special records filters are issued from time to time as patches, for example to define schemes like 'National Moth Night', allowing you to send records just for that occasion.  Tip: Choosing a record filter of 'My Records' is recommended.

The sites filter restricts the geographic area of the records to be sent.  You would generally choose your county or Vice County.

The taxa filter restricts the species included in exchange - again choose this to reflect the interest of the person receiving your data.  You would generally choose say 'Birds' or 'Macro-moths' etc.

Note that filters are applied to your data going out and not to any data coming in.  So it is your responsibility to ensure that the recipient gets what they want (and obviously they have the same responsibility sending data to you!).


Synchronise

OK - we are now ready to 'synchronise'.  Just click on the Synchronise button.

Whist the replicator is preparing data to send, progress is shown in the status bar:

The term 'spawning' reflects the fact that Replicator is creating a 'spawn' from which your records can be exactly replicated.

When your Sync File is ready, Replicator will show you it is done and say how many records are included in this sync.

The 'To Do' list will show - for now just Cancel this and go on to the 'Sending your Sync' step below.  The 'To Do' list is a list of reminders and can be accessed at any time from the Sync menu > 'Show To do List'.  If you send your file as described below it will be automatically removed from your 'To Do' list for you.  You can also double click an entry to go straight to the next step below (to send your sync).


Sending your Sync

You can now post this file to the intended recipient.  MapMate provide a web-server dedicated to fast transfer of sync files between users - this is a free service.  Each user has a 'post box' and you post your file to their box.  If both you and the recipient are registered at the website UserZone, a message is sent automatically informing them that you have just posted a file.  Otherwise, you will have to let them know by other means!

Note! An internet connection is required to use this service.

To post your file use the Sync > 'Send Sync File' > 'To Web' menu:

Tip! If you have a Firewall on your PC you will need to tell it that it is OK for Replicator (known as 'RepMan') to be allowed access to the internet (Unblock and set 'always allow' if this option is available).  Your firewall is designed to stop programs accessing the internet directly - you should only allow this action for trusted software.

To upload any file just tick the box beside the file name (or names) and then click on the Upload button.

When sent, your Partner centre (if Registered) will receive an automatic email message alerting them to your new sync file.

Info! Transfer uses FTP - or File Transfer Protocol - which is the fastest way to transport data over the web.  Note that upload and download speed is dependant on your particular internet connection.  Broadband is obviously much faster.  The concepts and directions of 'Upload' and 'Download' are often found confusing - think of this as the direction from MapMate to the internet - either data sent Upwards or received Downwards.


Receiving a Sync

If you receive a message saying a file is posted for you, or you just wish to check your post box anyway, do the following:

Sync > 'Get Sync File' > 'From Web'

The Replicator will go-online and check your post box.

To download any file just tick the box beside the file name (or names) and then click on the Download button.

Tip! It is always a good idea to check for any sync files and download them first before synchronising as this makes sure you are responding to contributions first.  Some central collections points (also called 'hubs') have a policy of only sending out records to those that send theirs in, this is also a good idea and encourages sharing.

Once you have downloaded a file (or files) you can click the synchronise button to extract the data.

After Synchronising, you will be asked:

  1. If you wish to create a return Sync file for this user - you can answer Yes or No.  You can choose to create a return file now - or do this later.  If you are only collecting data from contributors choose to synchronise 'Later'.
      

  2. If you don't create a return file, you can then choose to send an automatic message to confirm you have safely received and synchronised their file.  You and your partner centre must be Registered for this to work!  This provides valuable feedback to the contributing centre.

Info! Uploads and Downloads are both 'Resumable'.  This means that if you 'Cancel' - or your internet connection fails - the Replicator will resume from where it got to at the last attempt.  To resume, simply choose to Upload or Download the file again.


Quick Summary



Further reading:

Check out the help topics in Replicator: Help > 'Help on Replication'.

 

 

Issued: 23 Aug 2003, Revision to mention 'To Do' list in Synchronise section, 27 Aug 2003.  Revision to reflect changes at 2.0.7 release, 3 Oct 2003.  Revised 02 Nov 2004 to reflect changes at 2.1.1, Revised 28 Oct 2005 to remove IP Address which has now changed.  11 Apr 2006 Change to recommend 'My Records' filter.

 


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