A form definition file (also known as a view definition) in Specify is an XML file that defines the fields, columns, and query criteria for creating a view of data in the Specify database. These are alternatively referred to as “view sets” at the database level or “form sets” in some places in Specify 6.
These view definitions are shared between Specify 6 and Specify 7. Some functionality is available only in Specify 7, and you can learn more about the structure and supported components on the GitHub Wiki.
It also defines the data entry fields and their behavior, such as whether a field is a pick list or text entry. By creating an XML view definition file, users can customize the data entry fields and the way they interact with the database, allowing them to create custom views to facilitate their data entry and analysis.
We have comprehensive documentation about the form system in Specify available on our GitHub Wiki.
Hierarchy of View Definitions
See our full documentation on Importing/Exporting View Definitions
You can choose the level at which you wish the view definition to be imported into and accessed by:
User - only the person displayed at the top of the tool.
User Type - entire group the user belongs to within the current collection.
Collection - all users within the current collection.
Discipline - all users within the current discipline (including all collections within the discipline).
Institution - all Specify users currently active in Specify.
If a user has a view definition assigned to them at a lower level in the hiearachy, it will take precedence.
This means all users who have a view definition applied at the User Type will not be affected if a view definition is applied at the Collection, Discipline, or Institution level as the lower view definition takes precedence.