MorphoBank provides many advantages over traditional desktop software for collaborative workgroups. As a web-based system, it is available to anyone with internet access and reasonably modern web browser software, including Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9, FireFox versions 5.0 or better and Safari 5.0 or better. There is no need for specialized software; virtually every modern operating system is supported (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux/Unix). Furthermore, because all project data are centrally stored in the MorphoBank database, collaborators are always using the most up-to-date data. This is in marked contrast to collaborative projects using traditional desktop software where versioning issues often quickly become frustrating and time-consuming. Upgrades and bug-fixes to the MorphoBank software are done on a central server ensuring that all users are always benefiting from the most up-to-date version of the software.
Up until the project is published, a project's creator (who is also known as its' "project administrator") may grant collaborators access. Any number of collaborators can be invited and they need not already be registered MorphoBank members to receive an invitation.
There are four types of project membership:
Full members may add, edit and delete project data, subject to access restrictions on individual data items discussed below.
Observers may view all project data but are not allowed to add or change data in any way.
Character annotaters may add, edit and delete all project data except characters and character states, subject to access restrictions discussed below.
Bibliography maintainers may only edit bibliographic entries. The can also view project data.
Project Administrators can enable an anonymous reviewer login for their project in the Project Info form accessed through the "Edit project info" link on the Project Overview page. Once enabled, reviewers can login by entering the project number in the email address field and the reviewer login password entered by the Project Administrator in the Project Info form. Don’t forget – you have to tell editors and reviewers your project number and reviewer password when you invite them to review your project.
MorphoBank adopts a streamlined approach to data access within a project. All primary data items (taxa, characters, specimens, media and matrices) are "owned" by the member who created them. The owner has the option of reserving editing access for themselves or allowing all full project members to edit. (Editing access includes the ability to delete an item.) By default all newly created items are editable by all; restricted access must be explicitly set by the creator.
Changes to all data items and their constituents (taxa, characters and states, specimens, media and matrices including cells, taxa and characters and states) are logged by MorphoBank. Detailed change histories for any item, including the nature of the change, the time and date and who executed the change, may be accessed by project members.