The Flora North America Information System
The Flora North America (FNA) Information System, as designed, consists of a precisely defined set of data files, collectively referred to as the FNA Data Bank, and equally well defined processing strategy and operating procedures based on the use of IBM’s commercially marketed software known as the “Generalized Information System” (GIS). Each data file forms a module of the Data Bank and links by appropriate codes to related files. The files are designed to be used as parts of a whole or independently as authority files in their own right. The keystone of the Data Bank is the taxonomic name file to which every other file is referenced. During the initial development phase of FNA, the major file in terms of size and significance will be the one containing species-by-species summaries of morphological characteristics, habitats, and geographical distributions. The processing software, GIS, operates on System/360 and System/370 in batch mode under the supervision of IBM’s standard teleprocessing monitors. GIS calls for formatted records defined in the system by data description tables and performs all of the basic functions of a generalized information-processing system, including report generation. It can interface with preprocessing and other special programmes. Two of its features of great significance to the FNA Information System are its capability of handling hierarchical data structures and its capability of processing multifile queries.