Attachment files in Specify are not stored within the MySQL databases but as files either in a specified local filesystem (or mounted server) directory, or on an institutional computer running the Specify Attachment Server where they are accessed through web protocols.
The Specify Attachment/Asset Server offers a flexible option for storage of collection-data-related images and documents for institutions with multiple collections, a mix of workstation operating systems or those that want to use the Specify Web Portal to publish attachment files to the web. The Attachment Server is an optional module, it handles transactions involving files linked to Specify database records, i.e. uploads, downloads, and deletions of attachment files. It is typically installed on an institutional Linux server. The Attachment Server’s Python code is lightweight, it has been tested on Linux and should run on any platform supported by Python. Authentication allows document repository access only from Specify workstations and read-only access from the optional Specify Web Portal. The Attachment Server Python code is available from GitHub. The settings file includes documentation as comments. Installing the Specify Attachment/Asset Server requires the expertise of a system administrator or software engineer.
For collections that have are using Specify 6 and wish to publish their data on the internet, the Specify Web Portal is a full-featured web interface for public access to specimen data and images. It is an optional component of a Specify installation. Working from an exported copy of a Specify collection database, the Web Portal provides full-text indexed searches, structured, and spatial queries of specimen holdings. Express searches are fast with full-text indexing on every word in the database. Structured queries allow precise control of the search scope and multi-field queries can be constructed with AND or OR logic. Searches can be qualified to return only records with geo-coordinates or with attached images.
The Specify Web Portal displays specimen information in three views–Records, Images, and Map. On the “Records” tab specimen data are shown in a traditional grid view. The choice and number of data fields to display in the web interface is determined by each collection, and web users can sort and re-arrange data columns during a session. The search panel is customizable with an institutional logo or brand image, and the pages can be embedded into institutional content management systems or web platforms by a web programmer.
The Specify Web Portal is an effective tool for publishing specimen data–it is configurable and customizable. Specify’s Schema Mapper and Data Export tools make issuing updates from a Specify collection database easy. The Web Portal is intended for institutional web server computers; setup requires the technical expertise of a server or network administrator. Installation information is available on the Specify web site Documentation page in the file: Using the Specify Web Portal (PDF).