BRAHMS8 - a flexible database management system for botanical researchers and herbaria.

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Department Name: Seed Conservation Department


Oxford University's Plant Sciences Department will be commissioned to redevelop the BRAHMS7 software package (capital asset) to ensure it is sustainable, scalable and extensible to support the proposed data management and dissemination needs of RBG Kew and its partners in the environmental science community.

Planned Impact

RBG Kew has plans to digitise all UK specimens held at Kew. The BRAHMS8 software will be vital to enabling that project to succeed. By integrating the historical and currently known distribution of UK species (especially through working with our currently held seed collections) we will be better able to deliver genetically appropriate material for restoration and recovery. Cross-border data gathering initiatives in many of our partner countries (such as in East Africa) are dependent on strengthening a more collaborative approach to central data storage, data editing and repatriation. BRAHMS8 will facilitate the use of terminal services to allow for site-based and remote data gathering whilst encouraging direct access to central data storage through remote terminal services. The development of these "virtual herbaria" is vital to allow the "on-demand" compilation of data for species and habitat types across their range. BRAHMS8 will help to create and support vibrant and integrated research communities through the addition of core datasets such as The Plant List (working list of all known plant species) to help reconcile synonymy and thus improve data quality. In addition, it will help to standard the handling of specimen data, paving the way for handling unique specimen identifiers and will enable tracking to support implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.


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Description This grant was award to upgrade the BRAHMS (Botanical Research And Herbarium Management System) database to a new and more sustainable platform. BRAHMS ( is a flexible database management system for botanical researchers and herbaria. Developed at Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, it provides wide-ranging and innovative functionality to gather, edit, analyse and publish botanical data, optimizing its use for the widest possible range of curation services and research outputs.

As a result of this project, we have developed a new framework to underpin the future development of the database. This migrates the entire system from Microsoft Visual FoxPro (no longer supported by Microsoft) to a highly flexible, modular system using the .NET framework. The new system is constructed with 9 infrastructure projects dealing with data management, core services and user interface. Collectively, these constitute the core system.
A majority of coding thus far is in C# although different languages may be used; data storage is flexible but defaults to PostgreSQL; the system can be installed and scaled for personal use through to full Enterprise systems. The infrastructure is in place to support globalization, for example by using language resource files.

Data in all existing BRAHMS systems are transferable to the new system
Exploitation Route The new system, when completed, will replace all existing BRAHMS installations in approximately 60 countries. Existing modules can be customized and the entire system can be extended by user institutions who can plug-in their own modules.

To expedite the development of BRAHMS and to increase the sustainability of the project, development is being contributed to by a number of institutions who may join a formal 'consortium'. The source code is held in a sub-versioned repository and will be made available to developers.

The BRAHMS system, developed over the last 25 years, will be upgraded and modularized in stages, building mostly on the functionality of the existing system. Work is now underway to migrate all existing tools and functionality to the new framework.

See url above. The work on core BRAHMS funded by the grant has been central to the latest version of BRAHMS software, and its continuing convergence with BRAHMS Online
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other

Description While the grant has allowed the core elements of the BRAHMS software to be developed (BRAHMS8) and tested, both at RBG Kew and at Oxford University, where most of the development has taken place; the new version has not yet been rolled out to the wider user base. They are many in number, both in the UK and worldwide, currently using BRAHMS7 (outdated); and they will be able to migrate to BRAHMS8 upon roll-out. This award was projected to deliver the prptotype core of the BRAHMS 8 system only. Additional modules and preparation for rollout to other users awaits further input. Nothing to add, except that the planned consortium has not materialised. Rather, bilateral work with Naturalis and with Kew's Millennium seed Bank Partnership have continued, with the latest developments being available at
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other
Impact Types Societal