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Choosing your approach

There are several ways to develop your online biological recording website:

You are starting from scratch

CrabIf you are starting from scratch you might like to consider using Instant Indicia to build your website, as it gives you a ready to configure installation which can be set up without any coding. Like Indicia, it is based on the Drupal content management system, which is free, open source and based on the PHP programming language. Instant Indicia provides a complete package for setting up online recording websites by providing everything you are likely to need in a single installation. Alternatively, if you already have a Drupal website, Drupal and Indicia already integrate well and this can be enabled by a simple installation. There are also already a number of sites using this combination of technology, so you won’t be on your own. Drupal not only provides a system for building and publishing the content of the website, but it can be extended with a choice of thousands of available modules. For example you can add a forum, online shopping and many other features just by using the modules. With Drupal installed, it is possible to use Indicia as a site editor without needing to understand any PHP code. If you do have PHP skills however, more possibilities will be available to you.


Another option when starting from scratch would be to develop a site using hand coded PHP. Although this approach gives you great flexibility, in most cases you will end up re- writing functionality that would have been provided for free by a content management system, so we do not recommend this approach for new developments. Don’t forget that even within Drupal you are not restricted to using particular recording forms and can still write your own customised forms using PHP directly.

Tip: An even easier way to set up online recording might be to use an existing website based on Instant Indicia to host your forms, such as iRecord in the UK or the MNHN Data Portal in Luxembourg. This makes setting up your recording survey potentially very simple indeed and if you want to host the forms on your website you can still do this using iframes. For more information see the NBN Online Recording Resources page.

You have an existing website which uses a content management system

Pond dipping

There are many different content management systems based on a variety of different technologies. Unless the content management system is Drupal (the only one which we provide an Indicia module for) you will need to find out if it is possible to embed your own PHP code into the web pages. This will depend both on the web server and the selected content management system. Fortunately all web servers are capable of running PHP as long as it is installed, and many content management systems are able to embed PHP into their web pages. If this is not possible, other solutions are available and advice can be found on the website.

You already have a website

IBat detectingf you have an existing website with static HTML pages then first, you need to check that your server has PHP installed so you can embed PHP code into your web pages. We offer advice on how to do this on the Indicia website. Velvet swimming crab, Necora puber © Paula Lightfoot If you do have an existing website, now may be the time to think about converting to a content management system. This will allow you to manage the site and create new content more simply.