logo Calflora Group Observations Help
Updated December 6, 2022
The Group Observations application lets you search for plant observations associated with any group of which you are a member, and see them on a map.

This application is similar to Observation Search (see Observation Search Help for details), but has some additional features which are useful for managing the records of a single group. For instance, Group Observations will show unpublished records associated with a group, where Observation Search will only show published records.

If you have any questions about this application, please contact Calflora support.

Search Criteria
Start Date and End Date are inclusive. Dates are entered in the format YYYY-MM-DD so that February 20, 2019 is written as 2019-2-20. If you enter 2019-2-20 as the end date, the result will include records that were entered on or before 2019-2-20. If you put the same date in both Start Date and End Date, the results will only include records entered on that date.

Other search criteria in this application are largely similar to Observation Search. These additional criteria are available:

point Return only those records that have a point, but no line or polygon.
point + radius Return only those records that have a point and a radius, but no line or polygon.
shape Return only those records that have a line or polygon.
line Return only those records that have a line.
no treatment records Return only those records that do not concern treatment of a patch.
only treatment records Return only those records that concern treatment of a patch.
only herbicide records Return only those records that concern herbicide treatment of a patch.
under management Return only those records marked as under management. By default, all records that concern treatment are marked as under management.
History Filter A history stack is a way of organizing multiple records concerning the condition of a single patch over time. In a history stack, all of the records concerning the patch are linked back to the earliest, or root, record.
All records When this option is selected, all records will be returned for each stack.
Only the most recent When this option is selected, the most recent record will be returned for each stack.

When this option is selected, the column set automatically switches to Stack View, which begins with the columns ID and Root. When a history stack is available, the Root record number will be the oldest record, and the ID record number will be the newest.

Click on the purple crayon to view this stack in Plant Observation Entry.

When there is only one record describing a patch (no history stack), then the Root column will be empty.

Only root records When this option is selected, the oldest (root) record will be returned for each stack.
Only reference records When this option is selected, the search is limited to those records which have a population record with a reference polygon, chosen from one of the polygons in the associated history stack. The record associated with the reference polygon will be returned.
Project (Only applies to groups with projects.) Return only those records associated with the selected projects.
More Criteria
Observer Enter the name of a crew member to find observations made by that person.
Region Enter a region name to find only those observations that have been assigned to that region.
Survey ID Enter the ID of a survey record to find only those observations that are part of that survey.
Number of Plants
zero Return only those records that have a zero value in this field.
at least one Return only those records that have a non-zero value in this field.
Minimum Priority Ranking
number from 1 to 5 This criterion looks at the priority rating of a population record associated with observation record(s).
Calflora IDs Enter a record number to find just that record. Or enter a comma separated list of record numbers.
no surveys Surveys are not included in the results.
include surveys Surveys are included in the results.
only surveys Only surveys are included in the results; observation records are not included.
The results appear simultaneously as points on the map and in a table below the map. This application will display both published and unpublished records.

If you click on a point on the map, an InfoWindow opens at the point, the table scrolls down to the corresponding record, and the record ID is highlighted. If you click on a record ID in the table, an InfoWindow opens at the corresponding map point, and a short menu opens up under the record ID.

detail; Open the detail page for this record, including all photos and any comments that may have been made by other users on this record.

editor; Open Plant Observation Entry on this record.

The results can viewed through one of several column sets, such as Basic Data and Weed Data Export. You can also make up a custom column set: open customize, and choose the columns you want. (If you want to use the column set again, save it by name.) Most of the available columns are described in this data dictionary.

If you are part of a Weed Manager group, additional column sets are available, one for each of the data collection forms that your group uses.

Population Records
When a history stack has polygons. a population record is automatically created for it. A population record has four fields:

  • Reference Polygon
  • Priority
  • Access to the Site
  • Plant Count
These fields are available in the customize panel.
Custom Column Sets
Open customize to choose exactly the columns you want to see.

If you would like your chosen set of columns to appear by default whenever you use this application, check

    make this my default column set
Once you have done this, your column set will be available in the Column Set drop down as default.
Saved Column Sets
Once you have used customize to choose exactly the right set of columns, you can save it by name, use it again later, and share it with other member of your group. Open TOOLS / SAVED COLUMN SETS, choose a name for the column set, and press . Any column set you save will be available to other members of your group.

To bring back a previously saved column set, open TOOLS / SAVED COLUMN SETS, and choose a column set by name from the drop down.

Use the Symbology section to control which colored icons are used to represent observations on the map
If you check one icon per point, then if there more than one record in the results with exactly the same point location, an icon will be drawn on the map for only the first record. You can control the order of records by sorting the results by column. Checking this box ensures that icons for later records will not overprint icons for earlier records, and thereby simplifies the map display.

If you check lines / polygons, then a line or polygon will be drawn on the map for each matching observation that has one.

If you also check use reference polygon, then the reference polygon will be drawn for each matching observation that has one (eg. that is part of history stack with an assigned reference polygon). This display option works well in combination with the History search criterion Only the most recent -- you will see the most recent record for each stack with the reference polygon for that stack. If you include this option in a saved search, and use the saved search to get historical records into Observer Pro (the phone application), then you will see the reference polygon when viewing historical records in Observer Pro.

If a polygon is available for a particular observation, it will be displayed in a color that matches the icon. When you click on the colored icon, the polygon boundary is draw with a thicker line, indicating it is selected.

If no theme is selected, points and polygons appear in the default violet color. There are five themes available: Plant Name, Management Status, Plant Count, Population Plant Count, and Population Priority.

The Plant Name Theme

Once this theme is selected, open Plants with Icons and press . Enter the name of a plant, choose an icon, and press accept. For instance, you might pick the red square icon to represent Rubus armeniacus.

Here is an example showing eight weeds recently mapped by Marin County Parks in the Roy's Redwoods Open Space Preserve:

If you choose the large white square as an icon for a plant, then no icon will be displayed on the map.

Once you have assigned colored icons to particular plants, you can save your choices as color scheme, and use it again later. Color schemes are associated with a group -- any color scheme you save will be available to other members of the group.

The Management Status Theme

You can view observations acording to their management status using the following icons:

Note that "reported" (the yellow point) indicates records for which the value of Management Status is empty.

The Plant Count Theme

You can view observations acording to the value of Number of Plants using the following icons:

The Population Plant Count Theme

This value is typically calculated based on a summary of the previous year's plant count values for all observations of this population. You can view it and change it in POE.

The Population Priority Theme

To use this theme, you need to add a population priority value to each population record using POE.

The Stack Theme

To use this theme, you need to be using the Stack View column set. represents a singleton (an observation that is not connected to any other observations in a stack). See also Stack Editor Example.

To download the result data onto your local computer, open TOOLS / DOWNLOAD RESULTS, and choose a format. Supported formats include various kinds of flat files, and three kinds of shapefiles.

Shapefile Formats
With respect to shapefiles, if you choose Shapefile: polygon, the shapefile will include only those records that have a polygon. If you choose Shapefile: point, the shapefile will include all records.

    Shapefiles suffer from the limitation that an attribute name cannot be longer than ten characters. (The other available formats are not limited in this way.) When you extract a shapefile with this application, attribute names are deliberately shortened, The meaning of the shortened names is explained in this Data Dictionary.
When you download, the downloaded results will include the same fields that are displayed in the current column set.
    If you want to include the polygon or line from each record, open customize, and add geometry to your column set.

    If you want to include the reference polygon from the associated population record, add Reference Polygon to your column set. Note that when Reference Polygon is included in the column set, and a particular record does not have a population record, but does have its own polygon, that polygon will be included in the results.

Data into Excel
To get data into Excel, choose the CSV-Excel format. There is some extra formatting that happens with this format to ensure that the data appears properly in Excel.

The Number of Plants field might have a range value such as 51 - 100. Excel will try to interpret this value as a date. If you choose the CSV-Excel format, it will prevent this from happening.

Saved Searches
You can save a Group Observations search and run it again later. To save the current search, open TOOLS / SAVED SEARCHES. Choose a name for the search, and press . (You can also restore a previously saved search from here.)

To see all of your saved searches go to MyCalflora / Searches. For Weed Manager groups, to see all searches associated with your group, go to Group Options / Searches.

To set up an email alert from a saved search, go to MyCalflora / Alerts.

Batch Editor
The Batch Editor is a feature of this application which can make changes to many of your group's records at the same time. It is a powerful and potentially dangerous tool, in that changes are not easily recoverable.

To open the editor, enter some search criteria, and press .
Then open TOOLS and press .

In the editor panel, you can specify changes to the records that match your search. Once you have entered the changes you want to make, press . This action will ask you to confirm, and then apply the changes to all of the records that match your search, even if you cannot see them in the result table.

For instance, to publish all matching records, set Access by other users to published.

To cause a particular field to be empty (have no text in it), enter null.

Convert Lines to Polygons
For every record that has a line and a value of Buffer (Radius), the line will be converted to a polygon.

Calculate Infested Area
Infested area will be (re)calculated for every record that has both a value for Gross Area and a value for Percent Cover. As an example, if a record has a Gross Area of 1000 square meters and a percent cover of 50%, the Infested Area will be calculated as 500 square meters.

Calculate Percent Cover
Percent cover will be (re)calculated for every record that has both a value for Gross Area and a value for Infested Area. As an example, if a record has a Gross Area of 1000 square meters and an Infested Area of 200 square meters, Percent Cover will be calculated as 20 %.

Calculate Gross Area from Radius
Gross area will be (re)calculated for every record that has a point and a radius, but no polygon. As an example, if a record has a radius of 50 meters, the Gross Area will be calculated as πR2 = 7854 square meters.

Priority Ranking
The priority ranking of the population record associated with each matching observation will be set to the chosen value. If no population record is defined for a matching observation, one will be created.

Recalculate Gross Area
Gross Area is typically calculated when a record with a polygon is first uploaded into the database. It may also be calculated explicitly (for instance, after editing the polygon) in Plant Observation Entry. This command will recalculate the size of the polygon for all matching records.

To run this command, enter some search criteria, and press .
Then open TOOLS and press .

Because it relies on the area function in the Google Maps API, this command is interactive. For each matching record, you will see the polygon on the map, and see the calculated gross area in square meters. Press to proceed to the next matching record. If the command is unable to calculate the gross area of a polygon for some reason, you will see an error message.

After the command has finished, search again for the same records to see the newly calculated value of Gross Area.

More Information
For more information about background layers, see Layer Help.

For more about data collection forms and other fields, see Plant Observation Entry Help

For a step-by-step explanation of the process of drawing your own search polygon, see Drawing a Polygon.

Release notes
• January, 2021: v. 2.82:
An Hours field is available which shows the sum of all Work Session records associated with this observation.

• September, 2020: v. 2.78:
You can save your own default custom column set.

• July, 2020: v. 2.70:
More Criteria opens in line, and has additional search criteria, such as Calflora IDs.

• May, 2020: v. 2.58:
Symbology has a new polygon display option: use reference polygon,

• August, 2019:   v. 2.46: A new function, Convert Lines to Polygons, is available in the Batch Editor.

• July, 2019:   v. 2.42: The symbology themes Population Plant Count and Population Priority are now available to all groups.

• April, 2019:   v. 2.37: When you are using symbology, and you select a record by clicking on a colored icon on the map, an InfoWindow pops up from the point, and the boundary of the associated polygon is drawn with a thicker line. As of this version, the boundary stays in this thick state after you dismiss the InfoWindow.

• December, 2018:   v. 2.35: Symbology now has four themes. Management Status in Batch Edit now has the value "reported", indicating an empty value for Management Status.

• August, 2018:   v. 2.16: Minimum priority ranking added to More Criteria. Priority Ranking added to the Batch Editor.

• July, 2018:   v. 2.15: All columns are sortable.

• June, 2018:   v. 2.10: Symbology. Polygons of matching records can be displayed on the map.

• October, 2017:   v. 1.85: In the results table, when you scroll down so that the column names are no longer visible, a pane opens at the top of the page showing the column names.

With the Geometry search criterion, you can search for records with a line, or records with a point and a radius.

• September, 2017:   v. 1.76: Two new features:
Calculate Infested Area (from Gross Area and Percent Cover).

Calculate Gross Area from Radius -- this applies to records that have a point and a radius, but no polygon.

• January, 2017:   v. 1.65: Three new columns are available: Gross Area Count, Gross Area Units, and Organization (AKA Group Name).

When there is a value of Gross Area such as "100 square meters", the value Gross Area Count will be "100" and the value of Gross Area Units will be "square meters";

• September, 2016:   v. 1.60: Column sets can be saved by name.

• March, 2015:   v. 1.29: The History Filter selection criterion is available, capable of returning only the most recent record when there is more than one record of a single patch.

• January, 2015:   v. 1.19: Searches can be saved by name. Open TOOLS, then open SAVED SEARCHES to save the current search, or to restore a previously saved search. (For more information, see Weed Manager Techniques / Saved Searches.)

• December, 2014:   v. 1.18: It is now possible to select more than one project in a single search. Open Projects, then check all of the project you want to include.

• December, 2014:   v. 1.16: New selection criteria: Access by others (published, unpublished or private) and Treatment. The Basic Data column set now includes Access, to make it easy to distinguish published from unpublished records.

• August, 2014:   Group Observations v. 1.06 (beta) released.