In the summer of 2002, Tinker was busy at work entering each daylily into his online database by hand — a long and incredibly tedious work that seemingly would never end. My family often made trips into Texas to visit with Tinker and his mother, my aunt, who had moved from Southern Louisiana in the 1960s.
During one particular visit, Tinker was explaining to me his work with daylilies and what he was trying to accomplish for the daylily community. I sat and watched him work diligently for an hour or more. In that time he managed to add five cultivars to his website. At that time I didn’t know one tenth of what I know about internet technology today, but I knew that there had to be a better way.
Returning home, I took with me a copy of the late Mr. Bob Clary’s daylily database CD and set to work developing what would be Version 1 of TinkersGardens’ online database. It was simple — just a list with some pictures, but there was still one major problem. Every image had to be processed by hand thus insuring that the process would still take hours of valuable time away from family in the pursuit of a truly world class collection of images.
It was out of this frustration with the way we were handling images that Version 2 of the database was born. Version 2 of the TinkersGardens’ database provided the capacity to automatically resize images and generate thumbnails. This reduced the time we spent handling images by about 90%. The only thing we had to do now was, to the best of our ability, to make sure the images matched what their supplier claimed them to be and rename each file to insure that it matched our naming scheme. Still there was a major bottleneck in the whole process.
During the Version 2 stage of our project, images were coming in many different formats, from emails, from websites, CDs sent to us via snail mail, from images Tinker and I took ourselves as we visited numerous gardens collecting photos, and from shoe boxes full silver halide prints we had to scan in one at a time. All of this took a great deal of time — there had to be a better way.
With Version 3 of the Daylily Database came many improvements, but the greatest of these was the ability for our vast worldwide community of users and devotees to upload their own photos directly to the database server named perfectly according to our naming scheme and automatically resized. Our only task now — to verify that uploaded images matched the description of the cultivar its uploader claimed it to be.
The problem in each of these successive builds is that each has scavenged bits from the previous version, making a complete rewrite of the database’s front end very difficult and that each advancement we made was often my first encounter with that type of technology. Now after a decade, it’s time a for a complete rebuild, from the ground up, so to speak, of the database. All of those familiar features so loved will still be available, but completely rewritten for scalability and ease of use.
Our hope is that Version 4 of the database, finally hosted on its own domain, DaylilyDB.com, will continue to fill a need in the daylily community and show them things they didn’t know they needed and continue to help advance the development and new and ever more beautiful hybrids each bloom season.
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