Species Database - SppDb - a Personal Plant Data File Application
Plant knowledge is one of the most valuable skills a landscape designer has to sell. This software application, SppDb (aka Species Database), helps you encapsulate that knowledge and makes it easily available for use while designing. The software database stores comprehensive and detailed information about the characteristics of individual plant species - those that you actually know and work with in your practice. It is not a replacement for massive online plant databases that keep information on a species that you have never worked with. In essence, the software enables the creation of a searchable, personal plant file that you use to filter your own information about familiar plants. It can work as a 'memory jogger' to find species that solve particular landscape design problems. The image below shows the database user interface with a small sample set of species.
Download a trial version of SppDB - it's quick and easy and we do not hassle you to purchase.
SppDb dramatically cuts CAD drafting time because information and images from it can be cut and pasted into CAD software such as gCADPlus, AutoCAD, DraftSight and MicroStation to build layout pages complete with images of species used in the design as shown in the figure below.
SppDb is also a great tool for building plant knowledge. Photographing and entering data about a species into SppDb helps you learn about new species, expanding and consolidating knowledge.
In addition to storing information about species, the database can also be used to store images and details about 'hardspace' elements (such as construction details, furniture, artwork etc.). If you take SppDb with you to site meetings, images can be used to explain design concepts to prospective clients - a picture is worth a thousand words! SppDb also stores information and links to CAD designs, CAD symbols (blocks) and text notes to stamp in CAD drawings.
SppDb runs happily under CrossOver or Parallels on Macs as well as on Windows PC's.
Tip: SppDb is supplied with a small set of species data. You will create your own database and add information about favorite plants that do well in your area and refine it as you gain more experience. It is a good idea to start with our sample database and remove unwanted species and add new ones.
SppDb Interface ~ a quick overview
The image below shows the SppDb interface. Comprehensive information about the species can be stored, simply by selecting categories (fields) and filling the fields with options using drop down lists. These options are completely configurable. If you do not like our terminology, you can edit or delete them.
Note that in the figure above, the location of the image file (path) in your computer is stored and is ready to be pasted into a CAD drawing. Other information including text in the comments field or the Notes table can easily be copied and pasted into MTEXT entities in CAD drawings.
Tip: It is useful to store multiple images of species used in a landscape setting. The figure below shows a Japanese Maple in use in a designed setting. It is record 2 of three of Acer palmatum in this particular (sample) database.
The buttons on the left of the screen are used to navigate to different tables in SppDb. The second 'Hardscape' table is shown below. This table is used to hold images and information about hard landscape design elements - bollards, pavers, seating, irrigation equipment, water features etc. The sample database file contains 31 images, but your file will certainly build to many more entries. Photographs of constructed and specified hardscape elements is by far the most efficient method of communicating hardscape design ideas.
The third 'designs' table is shown below. This table is used to hold details of previous landscape jobs that you have stored on your computer hard disk. CAD drafting is made much more efficient if you can find a past job and paste it into a new landscape plan. The file type can be lcd (from gCADPlus), but could be in other CAD formats. We have added a number of 'contents' buttons to help quickly categorize designs.
Tip: Unlike species data, you cannot use SppDb to download CAD designs from the net. No one gives those away!
The Blocks menu item (and table) serves as a store to landscape CAD blocks (plant symbols or other grouped entities) that you may have developed for your own use.
Finally, the Notes table holds text information ready to copy and paste standard text into CAD drawings. The text in example below covers the design philosophy of a landscape firm. The text will be copied into a CAD MTEXT entity. The information is typed once in SppDb and used over and over again.
SppDb has been designed to be completely flexible. Not only is it easy to add data about new plants, it is also possible add new lists of options within categories. As an example, if you prefer the term vine to climber in a plant type category, simply change it. In short, you customize and adjust SppDb to work the way you work using your very own terms.
Call SppDb from gCADPlus
The figure below shows that SppDb can be called from a drop menu item while working inside our companion landscape CAD application gCADPlus.
SppDb runs in the Windows environment in a separate window while working on landscape plans.
We also run SppDb on our Apple iMac quite happily using CrossOver or Parallels.
Why use SppDB?
Many plant databases are available both online and as standalone applications, but they often contain information not relevant to practical landscape use. Most designers work with a palette containing relatively few plants, but extracting from that palette the names of plants with particular characteristics is sometimes challenging. Queries such as "give me a list of medium sized native shrubs that flower in winter with showy yellow flowers" are difficult to run from memory or paper records. Not everyone can quickly recall Acacia iteaphylla - a species that meets those criteria [in the Southern Australian landscape setting].
Use SppDb while CAD drafting
SppDb can be running while you work and is a valuable companion while drafting with CAD software such as gCADPlus. SppDb can be called inside gCADPlus and used to produce lists (say) of plants suited to coastal planting or lists with such narrow characteristics "all small shrubs that flower in winter with showy red flowers and encourage native bird life". Sorted lists such as these can be great memory joggers and help solve difficult plant selection puzzles while you are drafting. The figure below shows a query such as the above offered Calothamnus villosus as a possible species.
As mentioned, SppDb is particularly well suited as a companion for landscape CAD drafting software such as gCADPlus. The figure below shows SppDb open in its own window on top of GCADPlus landscape design software running in a separate window.
'Dressing up' landscape CAD plans
If you were creating a CAD layout showing photos of the species used in the design, it is a simple matter to copy the path to the file location and use the Draw>Insert Raster tool.
Plant schedule data files can now be exported from gCADPlus and will after import to SppDb, tag those species used in a design. This enables rapid generation of PDF print files showing details of species used in a design.
You will find a more comprehensive movie that includes comment on how to use the database with CAD software in the "Using SppDb" menu tab.
SppDb is a product of Design Cad, a software development house based in Adelaide, South Australia and with offices in Melbourne, Australia.