Data Form Structure

There are currently two types of data forms available in VGS: "Field" forms and "Office" forms. Field forms are designed to be used when recording data in the field, usually using repetitive sampling procedures. Office forms are more suited to entering data which has been previously recorded on paper data forms or electronic spreadsheets. For information about office forms see the Tabular View section of this manual.

Field Forms

A field data form consists of up to four sections:

  1. Header
  2. Navigation Control
  3. Display Panel
  4. Input Panel


The Header contains the following buttons:

Under the “Protocol Setting” button you may choose either:

  • Protocol Settings or

  • “Enable touch adjustment of spacing”. The size of individual panels in the “Display” section of a data form are adjustable by clicking and dragging on the margins with the mouse/stylus as shown below. However, making these adjustments on certain tablets or with a finger can be difficult. Clicking this option temporarily widens the space surrounding each panel to make it easier to make these changes. When finished adjusting the panels, click the same option to toggle the spacing between panels back to normal.

The various panels are adjustable by clicking and dragging on the margins with the mouse/stylus as shown below. This way any one data box can be made bigger or smaller depending on the needs of the user. Panel size can be adjusted vertically in a similar manner by clicking and dragging along the bottom margin.

By clicking the “Form information” button you can add/change the following parameters:

  • Event Date - This field defaults to current date which is almost always appropriate if using a field form. If using an office form to enter previously collected data, change the date to the date of the original events for which data will be entered. The date provided will apply to all events on the data form.
  • Observer/Recorder/Others - Here the names of those taking part in the event(s) may be entered. This is a free-form field so there is no particular format that must be used. It is somewhat limited in length, but it is longer than the size displayed. The names provided will apply to all events on the form.
  • Notes - Notes entered here should refer to the specific events for which the data form is being generated or to conditions and so forth that are pertinent only to the day of the event. Notes about the site (things that don't change over time) would better fit in the site notes on the Site Information Form. Event notes are propagated to every event on the form for consistency, even though specific comments may not apply to every event.

Click the "Apply" button to apply the changes to the particular transect or the "Apply All" button to apply changes to all the transects. Click "cancel" to undo changes.

The “Tabular View” button may be used if data needs to be manipulated manually. Refer to the Tabular View section of this manual for details regarding using tabular view to input data.

In the field, the "Close" button is often easier to use rather than the small Windows TM "x" button in the corner of the screen, though either will close the form.

Navigation Control

A panel with a navigation control is visible at the top of a data form whenever the sampling scheme for the data form involves repetitive sampling. The following navigation control is most common.

If the sampling scheme involves transects, a band is located at the top of the control sub-divided into equal portions representing each transect to be used in the sampling scheme. If the number of transects required varies among the events or studies for a particular data form, this band will show the largest number of transects required among the various events. The current transect actively receiving data input is highlighted in orange. The slider bar below the transect band indicates the number of individual samples to be recorded along each transect. The current sample for which data is being entered is indicated along the transect by a larger orange number. In the example above, the current position is sample 7 on Transect 1.

To move to the next sample during sampling, click on the "Forward" button. When the last sample in the current transect has been completed and the forward button is clicked, it moves on to the first sample of the next transect. The "Back" button moves backwards from sample to sample. The current transect can be changed manually by clicking on the desired transect in the transect band. When changing transects, the current sample indicator always jumps to sample number 1. The slider can be used to move to any sample within a transect by clicking and dragging the slider to the desired position.

Display Panel

The central panel on a field data form is called the "display" panel. Modules for each event or type of measurement or data input are shown sequentially in the order in which data input flows as set in the protocol. In the example below there are two modules, the first for point intercept and the second for plant height and shape.

A display module shows the data entered for the current sample unit (quadrat, point, point cluster, measurement, etc.) only and are not usually used for direct data entry. The currently active event, or the event currently receiving data, is highlighted. In the above example, the point intercept module is the active event and is highlighted orange. Any data entered applies to the active module only. The active module can be changed by clicking on the desired module. For those events or studies where it is possible to know when sampling has been completed for the current sample unit, the next module to the right is automatically made active and ready to sample.

Input Panel

The panel at the bottom of the form contains data input controls as they apply to the currently active event panel. Most data entry occurs here. The input panel displayed depends on which event form and tab is active. Examples of Input/Data Entry Panels Include a species and/or category input panel and a numeric input panel.

In this example the species/category input panel has includes two sections: the top section includes a list of categories that apply to the sampling scheme and the bottom section displays a list of species which are selected for input by clicking on the desired item.

More about how to use the species dialog to look up or add species see the Species Lookup and Creating and Editing Species Template Lists sections of the manual. To make corrections, click on the incorrect item i.e. the plant species code in “Plant Species” window and it will disappear from the recording form. The icons from left to right allow the user to define how the data entry labels are viewed.

The A icon allows the user to view the data labels as:

1. Species Codes (as in the example above)
2. As Common Names (that are listed in the plants database) or
3. As Latin Names

The A-Z icon allows the user to alphabetize the labels at any time.

Checking the "Site Species" check box allows the user to recall every species with data previously sampled on the site.

The dropdown menu is populated by the user’s species template lists. To set up species template lists, see Creating and Editing Species Template Lists.

See also

Species Lookup | Creating and Editing Species Template Lists | Other Data Input Lists and Templates | Tabular View

© Arizona Cooperative Rangeland Monitoring Program, 2018 • Updated: 01/18/18