Skip to content

Global Names Interface for Taxonomic Editing

GNITE – the Global Names Interface for Taxonomic Editing – embodies a number of neat design features that can be appropriated for a service that is perhaps still missing from the biodiversity informatics realm, i.e. an application that engages users to import and reconcile taxonomically related (yet partially incongruent) classifications and phylogenies. While GNITE – developed by David Shorthouse and Dmitry Mozzherin while at MBL (with David Patterson as Principal Investigator of the Global Names – North America team) – is presently at a working prototype stage, it is worth looking at the design in more detail. The GUI is pleasant and effective, having benefited from design work by thoughbot. The GNITE codebase is available on GitHub.

Here is a screenshot, courtesy of David Patterson, that shows a chat window interaction of two expert taxonomists jointly assembling a “working tree” (merge) of protozoan taxa while using the Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG) reference tree as the baseline data.


Here are some of the current GNITE capabilities.

  1. Related to entire (working) trees
    1. Create & delete trees
    2. Import trees from flat files
    3. In development: import/export via DwC-A, GBIF Registry
    4. Edit tree related metadata
    5. Create root nodes
    6. Bookmark nodes
    7. View editing history
    8. Search names of imported working trees
    9. User interface tree manipulation
      1. Undo & redo functions
      2. Restore deleted names & branches
      3. Open, close, and collapse all branches
      4. Deselect all branches
      5. Refresh tree user interface
    10. Publish to GNACLR (Global Names Classification and List Repository)
    11. GNITE merge tree function (in development, nearing completion)
  2. Related to selected tree nodes
    1. Add one or multiple child nodes to a parent node
    2. Delete & rename nodes
    3. Cut & paste nodes, drag & drop
    4. Display the number of immediate children
    5. Add & edit node attributes and associations
      1. Rank (auto-complete)
      2. Synonyms (with enumerated type)
      3. Vernacular names (with language)
  3. Related to users
    1. Edit profiles, tree access rights
    2. Multi-user chat window support

Some additional, simple screenshots. The GNITE URL leads to a login screen.


Multiple GNITE working trees can be imported through other GNA services such as PostBox.


GNITE has numerous characteristics that can be considered suitable for expansion to a full-fledged concept reconciliation tool; including the ability to explore the “same” or closely related trees in two separate windows. The working tree can be variously edited, cut, merged, rearranged, and so on. Name usages are in effect handled as unique in the context of each reference or working tree.


GNITE can represent nomenclatural information such as synonymy relationships, made available either through import or manual addition by expert users.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS