Why use mx

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Reasons for

  1. mx is completely web based. Your data goes with you wherever you have access to the web.
  2. The core object in mx is the OTU, not a taxon name. This means your can handle a virtually unlimited number of taxonomic concepts in one place. For instance you can track morphospecies along with described species, genera with manuscript names, groups of specimens, or whatever circumscription that you actually do work with.
  3. mx supports multiple projects, each with multiple users. Some components (taxonomic names, references, ontologies) are shared across projects. This is ideal for labs with members that study a range of different taxa with some overlap between groups.
  4. mx contains a cool matrix builder. Once you code an OTU for a character it is coded in all matrices that combination occurs in. This allows you to rapidly test data partitions, new characters, or the effect of adding or removing taxa.
  5. One-click matrix coding.
  6. mx has hip-new AJAX search functionality, just start typing and the database is automatically queried.
  7. You can attach images and tags to nearly every object in mx. This universality lets you group, annotate, or illustrate everything.
  8. mx is a Ruby on Rails application, so you can take advantage of all the cool AJAX and plugin code (like this) that community develops.
  9. The project is open source, and all the necessary components are free.
  10. Contributions made to the sourcecode benefit the taxonomic community as a whole. For instance if you create a new view or fancy search you're helping not just your own project, but everyone else's too.
  11. mx links to Morphbank, so you can store your images there, and attach them to your data in mx.
  12. Rails is a relatively straightforward environment for those looking to learn how to build interactive web-databases, or for those who want to hack and put their personal touch on a project.

Reasons against

  1. mx is rapidly evolving new features, this means that you need someone who can invest some time to learning the ins and outs of the system if you want to seriously consider using the software. If you do, however, have such a person, remember that this person can likely support multiple projects.
  2. There are lots of other really excellent software packages (e.g. Scratchpads, Biota, Specify, Morphbank, Mesquite, and Diversity Workbench) available. These may meet your needs and will likely be more straightforward to get going.
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