I started to integrate my entomological database (before I used a custom made more or less complex FileMaker DB) into my Zettelkasten running with nvALT (and now testing a new app: The Archive. See below). And man, it works great!

From time to time my previous FileMaker solution has given me strange problems, since the database began to grow. So I started to search for a stable and reliable solution. I know, that many entomologists work with Excel sheets, which for me is much too inconvenient. Most museums use database programs. Many years ago there where different special database solutions available on the net, but meanwhile you can’t find them anymore (only a solution for MSACCESS (I don’t use Windows) and another one for FileMaker).

I was tired to rely on complex but fragile solutions (above you can see the DB structure of my previous FM solution). I needed a workhorse, simple and strong!

So I thought – maybe I can do it with .txt files only. And yes, it works great!

What do we need for an entomological data collection?
1.) Data for each taxon
2.) Ability to change a taxon to synonym status without changing the original file (to keep all links)
3.) Links to the place of storage for each specimen and back
4.) Links to hostplant data and back
5.) Images
6.) Easy way to copy data for label printing
7.) Ability to add data for detailed event decriptions, detailed locality descriptions, loan data, literature data etc. etc.

Everything can be done with simple .txt files. The main advantage is the beautiful simplicity and the speed – you can search and find data much faster than using a complex database program. You can store everything in one folder on your harddrive, and each file represents one specific datum (with database programs everything is hidden encrypted somewhere inside your program).

If you really want to break everything down to taxonomical steps, you can do so. What only means: much more files. I decided to use tags – so e.g.

Carabus (Acoptolabrus) constructicollis heilongjiangensis

will be tagged as #coleoptera #carabidae #carabus #acoptolabrus

that’s it. Everything will be available, regardless if you need subfamily, tribus, subtribus or what ever status in addition.

Maybe this can help other strange nerds like me, who have this inordinate fondness for beetles (or other insects)…

Ahoy –


P.S.: There is a new app The Archive which will come (still in Beta). The developpers are the guys from As far as I can see this app will provide some stunning advantages over nvALT. I’ll report on this later.

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