Breeding software – part one – my background

I am frustrated … again … the available pedigree/breeding programs/applications just don’t do enough for me.

In 2000 Australia introduced GST, and part of the sweeteners was to allow tax payers a subsidiary on a new accounting system, I was fortunate that the government allowed me to use this on Access 2000 as at the time even accounting packages weren’t meeting my needs, you would have thought they could offer receipts! So part of the accounting system I set up, well beside it, was a database for dogs, which worked well and the only reason I left it was because I had to manually upload the webpages to my website. So once, from the experience of working with ‘complex’ relational databases in Access 2000, I had developed the PHP code and mySQL databases online, I rarely used my Access 2000 dog database.

Then came the ‘era’ of Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding, developed in 1922, it had never achieved much general popularity until computers took over the counting and summing. The concept frazzled my own mind, so I investigate software available in 2010, which I think was basically Breedmate and Tenset’s products, and I opted for Breedmate mainly because I knew a few people who had it, and anyway the developer is an Australian, and it is quite often used to crunch pedigree data in scientific studies. I was tempted by Zooeasy but it really only looked like pedigrees and kennel business records, I need more than that and will explain later.

Breedmate has done what it does since then … keep pedigrees and quickly gives me a Co-efficient of Inbreeding; but TRYING to use the relational database as such and getting reports to work with that, even to formatting reports is even more frustrating than Access 2000 when you can’t recall the script language required!

So 2014, I looked about again, nothing much new, I did purchase and play with The Breeder’s Standard, and I did so without trialling it (my fault) and I chose to do that because I asked some in-depth questions pre-sale and had an excellent response. Whereas at the same time I asked Tenset a similar set of questions and still haven’t had a reply. However, when I sought after sales support from Pedfast … resounding silence. The advantages to my eye of The Breeder’s Standard over Breedmate were

  • ability to change the colour scheme (skins), it shipped with vibrant royal purple
  • an awesome array of options on the supplied MegaPed
  • an excellent quick fill in pedigree form, but you needed to trip the save before leaving the screen or lose your data

So there really weren’t a great deal of advantages to The Breeders Standard over Breedmate, perhaps a more user friendly interface, but I never even converted my data to TBS … which is a HUGE disadvantage in that you can’t just import CSV files.

I have seriously contemplated Stickdog software developed by Dr Carmen Battaglia of Breeding Better Dogs fame, it looks excellent, is reasonably priced, but the download/install instructions ‘worry’ me even with my experience, and from the online manual I cannot see if you can bulk import the pedigree information … no way am I re-entering even my moderate database and then have to use his fields to make the individual’s assessment notations. I would suggest really looking at this if you are only about to start with computers and pedigrees … and I should think bulk import will appear at some stage too

Tenset have a suite of software, Breeders Assistant and the standalone Pedscope could possibly fulfill my needs, but the lack of response to my pre-sales query makes me a shade wary… the software seems to be under active development, but again isn’t quite all I ‘plan’.

In 2015, I looked again, and there is a bit more activity ‘out there’ in the release of Breederzoo, which is a Filemaker based solution so natively runs straight away on Mac and Windows platforms. I only found this product because I had resorted to considering developing my own desktop database, but this time on Filemaker. The choice of desktop database utilities boils down to the giants of Access and Filemaker and general internet surveying and scrutiny suggests Filemaker is the easier to use and it certainly seems to be actively developed and evolved… to its own disadvantage as the format of the files at version 7 and 12 changed so conversions may need to be done.

There turn out to be two breeder options based on Filemaker: Flockfiler based on Filemaker 11 (so the developer may need to consider file conversion if he upgrades to a newer version of Filemaker) and Breederzoo based on Filemaker 12. Flockfiler is sheep orientated, Breederzoo dog orientated. Neither do much more than  contain the database for pedigrees, have flash pedigree forms, calculate Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding, and keep contacts and financial records … any breeding information of real depth isn’t covered in the samples I have seen. However, they solved one major problem in my mind, the proven ability within Filemaker to calculate Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding. So, I emailed both developers, frankly and honestly asking if they could help me build my own Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding calculation unit, sell me one, or point me to a developer. Neither responded, and so I am not going to recommend either of their products, even a ‘sorry I need to protect my commercial interests’ would have stopped me advising against purchasing their products. I was open with them, they could have had the courtesy to acknowledge and prove they had decent support.

So I am going to whip up my own basic breeder database in Filemaker 14 and add the following, and more, capabilities within it

  1. pedigree (basic level of database skills)
  2. Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding (mmmm … have a few options in mind still and a couple of contacts I can follow through)
  3. breeding records (basic level of database skills but a little complex)
  4. weight records (basic level of database skills)
  5. contacts (basic level of database skills, in fact Filemaker ships with a good solution anyway)
  6. contracts (basic level of database skills thanks to Filemaker features)
  7. relevant breeding record documents (basic level of database skills thanks to Filemaker features)
  8. comprehensive individual information that will be used in ‘trial breedings’ not merely looking at Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding (perhaps a little more advanced as more data is being compiled/compared)
  9. ability to import and export pedigree data as CSV files (durhh, that is so basic it is part of Filemaker’s structure!)
  10. contemplate how someone can bulk import associated but non-pedigree data, eg weights (which won’t be difficult)
  11. PERHAPS individual web bios too and perhaps WordPress friendly (highly plausible) (available solution for uploading from FM to WP US$249 as at 22 Jul 2015)

Some of the features advertised in commercially available packages and that make a database great to use are inherent in Filemaker, which will save me considerable development.

I will let some friends trial it for their own use and we can collaborate and tidy it up

Then it may be offered for sale at a nominal price*, depends on Filemaker’s restrictions etc

So, if you want to stay up to date, subscribe to this website, it isn’t high traffic, so you can ignore posts that don’t interest you.

If you have some

  • database skills, or
  • a wish list of what your pedigree software would do, or
  • use Filemaker, or
  • can offer help or pointers

PLEASE touch base with me!

Just to alleviate any cries of ‘you’re stark starring mad’, while I haven’t found a cure for there only being 24 hours in the day, 7 days in the week, or 52 weeks in a year, I have used databases since my teenage years (which wasn’t yesterday!) and have developed ‘solutions’ of various natures in dBase II, dBase III, dBase IV, Access 2000, PHP & mySQL

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footnote: * Breederzoo seems like a pricey option, but I could have this wrong. It currently retails for US$399 then an annual subscription fee of US$89pa after 12 months … this is a beautifully crafted piece of software with active development, but Filemaker itself costs US$329.00; Flockfiler Pro is US$295.90.

You are of course buying a developed and proven solution and while the developers are about and active you have development options and hopefully great support when you run  into ‘walls’. However if a developer retires without selling on the product there can be no further development/problem solving as the software would be ‘locked’ and inaccessible — same for any commercial product. Commercially independently developed or commissioned a Filemaker solution is probably going to cost a heap, which would be the pricing background to the prices these developers have placed on their product.

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