NZERN Pipi 2003 – 2005 Development Plan

NZERN Pipi 2003 – 2005 Development Plan 

Version 2.8 

9 October 2003 

“A way of providing really useful information to local communities protecting and restoring our native plant and animal ecosystems.” 


Mike Peters, Greg Comfort, Denise Ford Pipi Steering Committee 2003 

Pipi 2003-2005 Development Plan 

Published by the Bush Telly Trust for NZERN. October 2003.  

© NZERN 2003 

Printed by the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) Printery on a Xerox 6180. 

Version 2.8 

Permission is given to make copies if they will not be sold for a profit. Excerpts may be used as long as the source is acknowledged. 


Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information included in the plan. NZERN accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information. 


NZERN would like to especially thank the Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS) Programme for financial assistance towards the preparation of this development plan.  The TFBIS Programme is funded by the Government to help to achieve the goals of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, and is administered by the Department of Conservation. 

Document Locations 

NZERN intranet 


Publisher BushTelly:\Publications\report\PipiDevelopmentPlan0305ver2_8.doc 

Restoration Library 

Completed Projects > 122 Pipi 2003 – 2005 Development Plan 

NZERN website 

New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network Inc (NZERN) 

PO Box 9000 Christchurch New Zealand 

Web: Email: 

Phone:  64+ 03 338-5451 

Fax:  64+ 03 338-5481 

Contents at a Glance 

  • Summary          11 
  • Introduction          13 
  • Section A: Existing System       15 
  • Section B: What our Members Need and Want    35 
  • Section C: System Required       41 
  • Section D: Production System Hosting Options    47 
  • Section E: Action Plan        51 
  • Appendix          61 
  • Background Material        67 

Hosting Agreements   

Health & Safety Plan            


  • 1. Summary 
  • 1.1 The purpose of this report 
  • 1.2 A living document 
  • 1.3 Summary of recommendations 
  • 2. Introduction 


  • 3. NZERN organisational framework 
  • 3.1 NZERN members 
  • 3.2 NZERN structure 
  • 3.3 Pipi volunteers 
  • 3.4 Bush Telly Trust 
  • 4. Pipi operations 
  • 4.1 Hosting 
  • 4.2 Budget 
  • 4.3 Development system 
  • 4.4 Production system 
  • 5. Information management 
  • 5.1 NZERN information sources 
  • 5.1.1 Form input   
  • 5.1.2 Pipi Database 
  • 5.1.3 Restoration Library 
  • 5.1.4 Spatial data 
  • 5.1.5 Other databases 
  • 5.1.6 Email mailboxes 
  • 5.1.7 Expert knowledge 
  • 5.2 Member organisation information sources 
  • 5.2.1 New Zealand Trust for Conservation Volunteers (NZTCV)  
  • 5.2.2 Trees for Survival Trust 
  • 5.2.3 New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust 
  • 5.2.4 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NZ) 
  • 5.2.5 Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (QEII) 
  • 5.2.6 Iwi 
  • 5.2.7 Other groups 
  • 5.3 Department of Conservation (DoC) information sources 
  • 5.3.1 DoC Website 
  • 5.3.2 Bioweb 
  • 5.3.3 DOCgis 
  • 5.3.4 Publications 
  • 5.3.5 Biodiversity Information online 
  • 5.4 Landcare Research information sources 
  • 5.4.1 Landcare Research Website 
  • 5.4.2 NZ Plant Names Database 
  • 5.4.3 NVS database 
  • 5.4.4 Manaaki Whenua Press 
  • 5.5 Other information sources 
  • 5.5.1 NIWA 
  • 5.5.2 Ornithological Society of NZ 
  • 5.5.3 NZ Threatened Plant Conservation Network 
  • 5.5.4 NZ Landcare Trust 
  • 5.5.5 Forest & Bird 
  • 5.5.6 LENZ 
  • 5.5.7 LINZ 
  • 5.5.8 CommunityNet Aotearoa 
  • 5.5.9 Coastal Dune Vegetation Network (CDVN) 
  • 6. How system was developed 
  • 6.1  Resources 
  • 6.1.1 Volunteers 
  • 6.1.2 Software & hardware 
  • 6.1.3 Training & books 
  • 6.2 Methodology 
  • 6.3 What could go wrong? 


  • 7. Fast cheap simple access 
  • 8. One-stop-shop for very busy people 
  • 9. Data integration of Pipi’s Components 
  • 9.1 Group & Membership Management 
  • 9.2 Site Management 
  • 9.3 Nursery Management 
  • 9.4 EcoTrack 
  • 9.5 Financial & Project Management 
  • 9.6 Planter Guide 
  • 9.7 Online magazine 
  • 10. Accessibility 
  • 11. Localisation 
  • 12. Formats 
  • 12.1 HTML 4 
  • 12.2 XHTML 
  • 12.3 WML 
  • 12.4 Flash 6 
  • 12.5 Web Services 
  • 13. Computer literacy 
  • 14. Support available 
  • 15. Web hosting 
  • 16. Outsourcing for bigger groups 
  • 16.1 Messaging 
  • 16.2 Help Desk 
  • 16.3 Databases 
  • 16.4 Document store 
  • 17. Data sharing 


  • 18. Rapid Development 
  • 19. Content Management 
  • 20. Maps 
  • 21. Video & radio 


  • 22. Option 1: Hosting plan with ISP 
  • 23. Option 2: Use co-located leased servers 
  • 24. Option 3: Use co-located owned servers 
  • 25. Option 4: Use NZERN in-house servers 
  • 26. Option 5: Mixed environment 
  • 27: Cost benefit analysis of options 


  • 28.  Implementation 
  • 28.1 Option selected 
  • 28.2 Fix the obvious first 
  • 28.3 User driven 
  • 28.4 Development best practice 
  • 28.5 Action steps 
  • 29.  Requirements 
  • 29.1 Data requirements 
  • 29.2 Applications 
  • 29.3 Software 
  • 29.4 Hardware Platform 
  • 29.4.1 Development environment 
  • 29.4.2 Production environment 
  • 29.5 Spatial 
  • 29.6 Broadcast 
  • 29.7  Hosting 
  • 29.8 Books and training 
  • 29.9 Security 
  • 29.10 Documentation 
  • 29.11 Disaster recovery 
  • 30.  Timeline 
  • 31. Costs 
  • 31.1 Operational budget 
  • 31.2 Capital budget 
  • 31.3 Human resources 
  • 31.4 Management structure 
  • 31.5 Suppliers 


  • 32.1 Acknowledgements 
  • 32.2 Schedules 
  • 32.3 Hosting charges 
  • 32.4 Glossary 
  • 32.5 References 


Web Statistics September 2003 

Writing for the Web 



1. Summary 

1.1 The purpose of this report 

The scope of this report is to look at where we want to be in one to two years time with Pipi and the website it drives. Having a plan is important so work can be done without wasting volunteer effort, scarce resources or duplicating services. 

Pipi is the computer application that drives the website of the New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network (NZERN) at NZERN is dedicated to encouraging public involvement in conservation. The website was designed and built by volunteers from dozens of community groups. 12,000 hours was donated from 1997 - 2003 for this massive design task. Members of NZERN get a password to enter their own information into Pipi. All the information available at comes from Pipi.   Current challenges faced with the development of Pipi: 

  • The growing complexity of Pipi & growing number of users. 
  • Pipi needs to be quick and easy to use for most users. 
  • Pipi requires a well thought out plan to add new features. 
  • Greater code efficiency is required to prevent rework for volunteers. 
  • The volunteer skill requirements and training to meet any gaps. 
  • The scale of hardware & software purchases needs a clear migration path. 
  • The budget requirements for successful operation of Pipi. 

The authors are the members of the Pipi Steering Committee, a committee of NZERN  with information technology management expertise that has been delegated the control over the direction, development and day-to-day operation of Pipi.   

1.2 A Living Document 

This report will be available as a document at 
It will also form the basis of the online documentation of Pipi at and will evolve over time. 

1.3 Summary of recommendations 

  • Make Pipi a lot easier to use for members when logging on with passwords. 
  • Upgrade Pipi’s content management system to quickly collect, manage and publish information in any format required. This includes multiple languages and caters for different users. A magazine format shall be presented at the front of Maps, sound files and video will be introduced. 
  • Provide hosting for member groups including access to databases and maps over the Internet (GIS). 
  • Reorganise the volunteer teams who work on Pipi so that 24 hr production of services has priority over development of new services. This to be done within 6 months. 

2. Introduction 

NZERN is a non-profit community organisation founded in 1997. It has become a membership-based network of community groups, native plant nurseries, runanga, schools and farmers involved in the hands on protection and ecological restoration of native habitat in Aotearoa-New Zealand. 

NZERN also has the active support and membership of many agencies who support community lead conservation efforts, including DoC conservancies, regional & local councils, QEII, WWF-NZ, NZTCV etc. 

NZERN is organised into regional branches and is run by volunteers from 200 organisations when they are not busy knocking off possums or planting native trees. 

NZERN provides cooperatively owned support services to save duplication of scarce resources so more planting, weeding and pest control gets done including: 

  • Informal network to foster collaboration and the sharing of information 
  • Database driven public website at with free passwords for members to enter information using standard forms 
  • Free materials for school & community nurseries in some areas 
  • Funds for field days 
  • Print Publications 
  • National training program 
  • Help desk. 

Information is provided in different formats: 

  • Field days 
  • Print publications 
  • Video 
  • Web. 

Pipi, the computer application that supports the website, is highly cost effective in meeting these objectives. It can reach many more people, more cheaply, than any of the other information formats. Information can be found whenever it is needed and can be updated easily by members. 

NZERN has been financed since inception from membership fees, in-kind donations of labour, donated goods, use of homes and vehicles to the value of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

NZERN has won official recognition and so received significant government funding over the last 12 months. However a majority of NZERN services and projects continue to rely on private donations. 


3. NZERN organisational framework 

3.1 NZERN members 

Members are made up of a large range of people, from all walks of life, all interested in protecting and restoring the natural environment. NZERN is structured around group membership (family, non-profit, small business and corporate). Individuals usually get free membership simply by belonging to a group that is itself a member of NZERN. 

3.2 NZERN Structure 

NZERN has a national office, and three existing branches (Southern, Central, Northern). There is an Auckland organising committee, to form a branch there. Branches are added as NZERN grows. The elected National Council supported by an Advisory Panel leads NZERN. The day-to-day responsibility for project management is the responsibility of the National Management Committee. 

3.3 Pipi volunteers 

The Pipi computer system is managed and run by a volunteer subgroup of NZERN: 

  • Pipi Steering Committee 
  • Development & operations team. 

3.4 Bush Telly Trust 

A separate charitable trust to provide television, radio and print media services. 

4. Pipi operations 

4.1 Hosting 

Although the NZERN website is hosted in more than one place the user sees a single site.   Prior to 2000 the website was hosted at no cost to NZERN by Plain Communications and Converge.  

From 2000 – 2002 Landcare Research provided 100Mb of space at no cost to NZERN for 

Since 2002 a commercial ISP has hosted 

Since 2003 Landcare Research has generously provided 500Mb of space at no cost to NZERN for: 


This arrangement is secured by a 5-year hosting agreement covering 2003-2005 between Landcare Research and NZERN.

Frame hosted on Landcare Research web server 

Visitors to web site see this page Content from ISP hosted ColdFusion server 

Images hosted on Landcare Research server

Static map images hosted on Landcare Research server 

ISP hosted database server 

4.2 Budget 

Generalised annual operational costs 

Most of the other costs of maintaining this system are hidden as part of in-kind donations and sponsorship. 

4.3 Development system 

A development system is located at the NZERN office for the design and pre-testing of databases and additions to the website. Raw bulk data is massaged, compiled and uploaded to the production database. It comprises a database server and advanced database manipulation tools, test website, web, video and graphic design suites, office software, programming language tools and much more. 

4.4 Production system 

The production system is located on servers at Landcare Research and a commercial ISP. It comprises a Microsoft SQL 2000 database server, Microsoft IIS5 web server, Macromedia ColdFusion 5.0 server, and Macromedia ColdFusion MX server. 

5. Information management 

This section lists the sources of information that NZERN uses for Pipi. 

5.1 NZERN information sources 

NZERN has its own information resources. 

5.1.1 Form Input 

Members using standard forms, supply a regular stream of data directly into Pipi. There is a system of editors to check and approve much of this data. 

5.1.2 Pipi Database 

Data is stored on a Microsoft SQL2000 Database. It has 448 tables. Currently 20% of the data held in the database is accessible from the website to end-users.   

5.1.3 Restoration Library 

Information is stored in print publications. Much of the information has been deposited by member organisations of NZERN.  

The publishing unit of DoC Science and Research have been generous in providing copies of publications to be stored in the restoration library. Manaaki Whenua Press have also generously provided copies of publications for the restoration library. 

Formats include books, pamphlets, clippings, magazines, maps, badges, and photos. The information is organised by the NZERN reference number given to the “owning” or publishing organisation. An index of organisations can be found at The information is stored on wooden shelves and in cardboard file boxes. 

The library is used both as a resource by the NZERN help desk to answer user enquiries and as a resource for the projects of NZERN. 

5.1.4 Spatial data 

Valuable ESRI shape files, DEM files, coverage’s and raster imagery (air photos) are stored on a development server accessible to the GIS workstation. Copies of shape files exist on CD-ROM.  Various institutions have been generous in providing these data sets for use for conservation by a non-profit group and access for commercial use is prevented. 

5.1.5 Other databases 

Other smaller databases are regularly received (normally in Access format or Excel) and are stored while waiting to be integrated into Pipi’s central database. 

5.1.6 Email mailboxes 

NZERN has received a treasure trove of email since 1997 from active or informed people across New Zealand. Much of this email correspondence includes attachments or useful information in the body of messages and waits processing. 

5.1.7 Expert knowledge 

There is a vast wealth of knowledge and experience presently buried in the heads of NZERN members. Part of the mission of NZERN is to capture this information overtime and deposit it into Pipi where it can then become part of our collective knowledge. 

5.1.7 Project files 

A vast amount of information is stored in cardboard file wallets. Each wallet contains information for one project and is numbered and named. An index is found at The wallets are stored in metal filing cabinets. Information in electronic form is stored on a file server using a directory structure similar to the cardboard file wallets. 

5.2 Member organisation information sources 

Much valuable information is held by organisations that are members of NZERN. Most is in print format in archives and cardboard boxes. Some is in electronic format on workstations. An even smaller proportion is publicly available via websites. As develops into a major portal for public involvement in New Zealand conservation, bringing attention to these other data sources becomes very important. Being able to assist these conservation groups with their data management requirements and web hosting has been a priority. 

5.2.1 New Zealand Trust for Conservation Volunteers (NZTCV) 

The Trust acts as a national volunteer broker for local conservation groups, DoC and other agencies. Many NZERN members are grateful for the help from volunteers that NZTCV provides. The trust holds information about project providers and interested volunteers. Has a database driven website. 

5.2.2 Trees for Survival Trust 

Rotary NZ set up this trust some years back. Local service clubs find the resources to provide a school with a propagation unit for growing native plants for conservation projects. They also supply seedlings and growing materials each year to the school. The trust supports schools with 92 growing units nationwide. Holds information about schools, what they are propagating and the sites where the plants end up. 

5.2.3 New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust 

Campaigns tirelessly for the purchase of large blocks of land to restore back into native forest. There is a wealth of knowledge about land purchase and forest restoration. 

5.2.4 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NZ) 

“Since its establishment, WWF-New Zealand has worked with researchers, scientists, other conservationists, local communities, business and government to address pressing conservation issues. 

In New Zealand, WWF has made significant contributions to conservation through on-the-ground projects, advocacy and environmental education. 

WWF-New Zealand's Head Office is based at the Treehouse in Wellington's Botanic Gardens, and is governed by a Board of Trustees. It has a Conservation Advisory Panel, which provides specialist information to the Board on its conservation programme. The panel draws on a wider professional peer network.” - WWF 

WWF-NZ administers the Tindal Foundation funded Habitat Protection Fund (HPF) that has aided many schools and community groups to carry out restoration projects. 

WWF-NZ also provides educational resources and training to schools. 

5.2.5 Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (QEII) 

One of the National Trust's principal functions is to protect privately owned areas of open space, without jeopardising the rights of ownership. While private landowners may sell or gift land to the Crown or a local authority as a reserve, many wish to protect their land while retaining ownership: Open Space Covenants allow this to occur.  

A Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Open Space Covenant is a legal agreement between the National Trust and a landowner to protect a special open space feature in perpetuity (or, occasionally, for a specified time). Open space covenants are usually initiated by the landowner, as the National Trust recognises the importance of the landowners goodwill and commitment for the ongoing care and management of the covenanted area.  

To date, around 1,700 Open Space Covenants covering in excess of 62,000 hectares have been registered. These covenants protect a variety of open space, including forest and forest remnants, wetlands, lakes, peat lakes, coastline, tussock grasslands, tracts of rural landscape, archaeological sites, and geological formations. 

Open Space is the official publication of the QEII National Trust. It contains feature articles on Open Space Covenants, Land Management, Conservation and Biodiversity issues. National Trust members receive the 20+ page full colour magazine as part of their subscription. 

57 issues of Open Space have been published to date. 

The trust is currently integrating their information resources and migrating to a comprehensive database/GIS setup. 

5.2.6 Iwi 

Information relating to Mahinga Kai species, their cultural use and correct names for places has been supplied. 

5.2.7 Other groups 

Pipi is expected to handle other sources of information that will become available over time. 

5.3 Department of Conservation (DoC) information sources 

The Department of Conservation is the New Zealand government agency with responsibility for managing the publicly owned conservation estate. It has a lot of information of value to community lead conservation efforts. DoC has a legacy of 800 Access databases that are currently being moved to an integrated SQL server platform. This work will be in a ready state in 18 months. 

5.3.1 DoC website 

There is a wealth of information on DoC’s public website. 

  • Recreational opportunities, facilities and services available 
  • Natural, cultural and historic values, and their conservation 
  • Active conservation – the role of DoC in actively conserving managed areas, community involvement and education, etc. 

DoC also has a number of useful emailed publications including “What’s up Doc”. 

5.3.2 Bioweb 

“BioWeb is a system that allows DOC to record facts and figures about flora and fauna and archaeological sites of interest to the Department on a national basis. It allows DOC to see what New Zealand has, where it is, its condition, what DOC is doing about it and with what success in dealing with specific threats. When it is complete it will contain species, monitoring and management data on weeds, native/threatened plants, archaeological sites, birds, herpetofauna, invertebrates and casual field observations as well as links to complementary systems.  The various subsystems store the key information that is required to assist DoC staff at all levels. Species information captured includes descriptions, references, New Zealand threat status (or the status of the threat to NZ) and photographs. Observations made by DoC staff are entered into the system whose visible face is a web application that has many features. All species searches automatically search common names and synonyms in addition to scientific names. Pre-formatted reports provide data for the most common questions while an ad-hoc querying tool allows further interrogation of the data. All reports can be created as pdf, doc or xls files. The system is available read only to all DoC staff and Extranet users, and information can be added by DoC staff who have undergone training.” - DoC 

NZERN has access to some of BIP via an account. 

5.3.3 DoCgis 

GIS information is being made publicly available via DoC’s extranet. An updated version will be available any day. 

5.3.4 Publications 

The publishing unit of DoC Science and Research publishes results of research in printed form. These publications are available for purchase and through the public library system. Increasingly, these are being made available freely in downloadable PDF format. 

5.3.5 Biodiversity Information online 

“…provides information about Aotearoa New Zealand’s native biodiversity, what is being done to help conserve and manage it, and who is involved. The information and work programmes covered in this site are part of New Zealand’s long-term commitment to conserve its natural heritage under the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy. 

The site pulls together existing resources scattered across other websites and publications. 

It provides up-to-date information on the government programmes set up to help halt the decline of New Zealand’s native biodiversity, and it provides information and links to the valuable work of other agencies, organisations and individuals.” 

– Biodiversity Information online 

5.4 Landcare Research information sources 

Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research is New Zealand’s crown research institute charged with environmental research, sustainable management of land resources including conserving and restoring natural ecosystems. 

5.4.1 Landcare Research website 

This award winning website is an increasingly important resource to find out about the excellent environmental research being done by Landcare Research. 

5.4.2 NZ Plant Names Database 

This is a nationally significant database. It is a searchable website. Developing Web services. 

5.4.3 NVS database 

The National Vegetation Survey Databank (NVS) is a physical archive of sample plots.  NVS is a nationally significant database funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST). NVS is currently being remodelled. 

5.4.4 Land Resource Inventory 

A spatial database of polygons, each of which describes a parcel of land in terms of rock, soil, slope, erosion and vegetation. 

5.4.5 Manaaki Whenua Press 

Manaaki Whenua Press is the publisher of fruits of research by staff at Landcare Research. Produces and distribute New Zealand natural history and science publications. It has an online bookstore and an extensive backlist of titles going back 40 years. 

5.5 Other sources 

5.5.1 NIWA 

NIWA is a crown agency that specialises in research of freshwater and marine areas. It has a number of valuable resources coming on line. 

5.5.2 Ornithological Society of NZ 

Founded in 1939, the OSNZ now has about 1000 financial members worldwide. A feature of OSNZ is the diversity of its membership, which ranges from professional ornithologists and government institutions in New Zealand and overseas through secondary and tertiary students and experienced amateur observers to learners and beginners. No special qualifications are required for admission and membership is open to all who are interested in birds. OSNZ is the gatherer and holder of taxonomic and observational data about birds with the New Zealand Recognised Bird Names (NZRBN) Database and the long running Birds Distribution Atlas. 

5.5.3 NZ Threatened Plant Conservation Network 

The network distributes information about the conservation of threatened native plants and their threat status. It has an online database. 

5.5.4 NZ Landcare Trust 

The trust provides practical assistance to rural landcare groups in a wide range of areas of sustainable land management. Its website includes a great deal of useful information resources. For example, the SHMAK kit guide. 

5.5.5 Forest & Bird 

New Zealand’s oldest and largest conservation organisation. There is a lot of detailed information mainly from a web version of their excellent magazine. Also conservation campaigns to protect NZ biodiversity. 

5.5.6 LENZ 

LENZ (Land Environments of New Zealand) is an environmental classification intended to underpin a range of conservation and resource management issues. Data is available in GIS-system format (ESRI shape files) on CD-ROM 

5.5.7 LINZ 

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is responsible for providing New Zealand's authoritative land and seabed information. 

Data for download available includes Topo-online, Ortho photos, some free maps and the NZ Geographic Placenames Database. 

5.5.8 CommunityNet Aotearoa 

Dept of Internal Affairs sponsored website with loads of useful information about formally establishing a group, starting a community project and other resources. 

5.5.9 Coastal Dune Vegetation Network (CDVN) 

The Coastal Dune Vegetation Network is a collaborative research network involving Forest Research and coastal managing agencies and user groups. More than 200 organisations and individuals are involved in the Network, including Regional and District Councils, other CRIs, forestry companies, tertiary education institutes, iwi, consultants, nurseries, and community groups such as Beach Care and Coast Care. 

A high quality full colour technical bulletin series outlines practical guidelines and key information on different issues of interest to coastal managers and users. 

6. How system was developed 

Pipi was designed and built by volunteers from dozens of community groups. 12,000 hours were donated from 1997 - 2003 for this massive design task. 

6.1  Resources 

6.1.1 Volunteers 

Pipi Steering Committee 

Six volunteers with information technology management expertise act as the Pipi Steering Committee. The committee includes a voting nominee from Landcare Research. The committee have been delegated control by NZERN over the planning, development and day-to-day operation of Pipi. 

The committee members are: From Wellington - Parker Jones (MIRO). From Christchurch - Greg Comfort (Landcare Research Nominee), Denise Ford (Travis Wetland Trust), Dave Evans (Native Habitats), Mike Peters (Addington Bush Society), Crile Doescher (Otamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust) (till May 2003) and Harry Boufal (Bexley Wetland Trust) (since August 2003). 

Denise Ford is Operations manager. Jason Gleason (Tararu Valley Sanctuary and Conservation Trust) and Dave Evans are responsible for the System administration, security, and networking. Mike Peters is Development manager, System architect and reports to NZERN’s National Management Committee. 

Pipi Developer & Operations Team Twenty volunteers make up the “Pipi Developer & Operations” team. The team is spread from across NZ and overseas. The range of skills found among the team include: 

  • Visual Basic 
  • Java Script 
  • Cobol 
  • ColdFusion 
  • SQL 
  • Development of Access & SQL 7/2000 Server databases 
  • GIS (ESRI) 
  • Networking and system administration 
  • HTML, XML & WAP 
  • Flash 
  • Project management 

Some of the team are frequent contributors to Pipi’s development and operations. Others occasionally provide skilled advice or work on a short-term project. All contributions are valuable and appreciated. 

6.1.2 Software & hardware 


Software has been purchased or donated for NZERN with the generous assistance of the TFBIS Programme, Parker & Carol Jones Trust, ESRI US, Eagle Technology Group Ltd, WWF-NZ (Habitat Protection Fund) and Microsoft Software Foundation. 

This software includes: 

  • Adobe Photoshop 7, Premier 6.5 
  • Embarcadero 
  • ER Studio, DT Studio (both owned by supporter) 
  • ESRI 
  • Arc View 8.2 
  • Macromedia 
  • Cold Fusion Studio 4, Macromedia Cold Fusion Server 5.0, Studio MX (Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, FreeHand) 
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional IIS 5.0, Office 97 Professional, Office 2000 Professional, Office XP Professional, Project 2000, Visio Professional 2002, Visual Studio 6, SQL 2000 Server, Front Page 98, Publisher 2000 
  • Seagate Crystal Reports 8.5 


Workstations, Servers and network equipment have been purchased or donated. This has been possible due to the generous assistance of The Community Trust, Poneki area office of DoC, WWF – NZ, Redworks Ltd, the TFBIS Programme, The Court Theatre, Dave Evans, Edith Jones, Fujitsu New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, North Canterbury area office of DoC. 

6.13 Training & books 

Training Many volunteers are self-taught. NZERN organises learning opportunities for volunteers thru working on projects. Software books are made available and access is provided to workstations. On-line help forums have also been a critical means of up skilling. The NZ Computer Society, Project Management Institute (PMI) and ESRI User Group evening functions have proved invaluable. 


Volunteers have paid for and donated $4K books prior to 2002. Generous donations of $500 from Poneki DoC in 2001 and $3K from the TFBIS Programme in 2003 enabled the purchase of more software books. A generous discount has been provided by Dymocks – Wellington on all software book titles.  Many books come with content in PDF on a CD-ROM or companion website. 

Some of the software books currently found in the Pipi Library are listed here. 

Addison Wesley 

  • Broadband Internet Connections 0-201-73827-9 

Adobe Press 

  • Adobe Premier 6.0 User Guide 
  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0 User Guide 


  • Troubleshooting, Maintaining & Repairing PCs 0-07-213272-8 

Computer Step 

  • Photoshop 7 In Easy Steps 1-84078-218-8 
  • Flash MX in Easy Steps 1-84078-229-3 

ESRI Press 

  • Mapping Our World 1-58948-022-8 
  • Modelling Our World The ESRI Guide to Geodatabase Design 1-879102-62-5 
  • GIS for Everyone 1-58948-0560-2 
  • The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis 1-879102-06-4 
  • Geographic Information Systems and Science 0-471-89275-0 
  • Marine Geography GIS for the Oceans and Seas 1-58948-045-7 

Hentzenweke Publishing 

  • Essential Source Safe 1-930919-05-0 


  • Access 97 Bible 0-7645-3035-6 
  • Teach Yourself  Visual Basic 6 0-7645-7516-3 

Macromedia Press 

  • Macromedia Cold Fusion MX Web Application Construction Kit 0-321-12516-9 
  • Advanced Macromedia Cold Fusion MX Application Construction Kit 0-321-12710-2 
  • Macromedia Flash MX Production Techniques 0-321-12398-0 


  • Teach Yourself Visually Fireworks 4 0-7645-3566-8 
  • Master Visually Windows 2000 Server 0-7645-3426-2 


  • MSDE Developer’s Guide 0-7645-4698-8 
  • Microsoft Press 
  • Microsoft Visio 2002 Inside Out, Microsoft Press 0-7356-1285-4 
  • Microsoft Window 2000 Professional Resource Kit 1-57231-808-2 
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Operations Guide 0-7356-1796-1 
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Deployment Planning Guide 0-7356-1794-5 
  • Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2000 0-7356-0998-5 
  • Users Guide for Microsoft Project 98 
  • Users Guide for Microsoft Project 2000 

New Riders 

  • Inside Coldfusion MX 0-7357-1304-9 
  • SQL Server 7 Essential Reference 0-7357-0864-9 
  • Flash MX Audio Magic 0-7357-1194-1 
  • Photoshop 7 Magic 0-7357-1264-6 
  • Windows 2000 Server Professional Reference 0-7357-0952-1 


  • Pearl in a Nutshell 1-56592-286-7 


  • MCSE Lab Manual Windows 2000 Server 0-07-222301-4 
  • Visual Studio 6: The Complete Reference 0-07-882583-0 
  • SQL: A Beginners Guide 0-07-213096-2 


  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX for Windows and Macintosh 0-2018-4445-1 
  • Macromedia Flash MX: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-2017-9481-0 
  • Macromedia Flash MX Advanced: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-2017-5846-6 
  • HTML 4 for the World Wide Web Visual QuickStart Guide 0-2013-5493-4 
  • XML for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-201-71098-6 
  • Macromedia Flash MX Production Techniques 0-3211-2398-0 
  • Premiere 6.5 for Windows & Mackintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-321-13008-1 
  • Macromedia ColdFusion MX Development with Dreamweaver MX: Visual QuickPro Guide 0-321-15802-4 
  • SQL: Visual Quickstart Guide 0-201-11803-0 
  • Microsoft Powerpoint 2002/2001: Visual Quickstart Guide 0-201-77585-9 
  • PDF with Acrobat: Visual Quickstart Guide 0-201-74144-X 
  • FreeHand 9 for Windows & Mackintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-201-35489-6 

Premier Press 

  • Macromedia ColdFusion MX Professional Projects 1-59200-012-6 

Prentice Hill 

  • Advanced Macromedia Flash MX Action Script in Action 0-1303-8460-7 
  • The Streaming Media Handbook 0-13-035813-4 
  • Essential ColdFusion 4.5 for Web Professionals 0-13-040646-5 


  • Techtv Guide to Creating Digital Video Like a Pro 0-7897-2656-4 
  • Absolute Beginners Guide to Personal Firewalls 0-7897-2625-4 
  • The ColdFusion 4.0 Web Application Construction Kit 0-7897-1809-X 
  • Advanced ColdFusion 4.0 Application 0-7897-1810-3 
  • Special Edition Using Microsoft Project 98 0-7897-1252-0 


  • Teach Yourself ColdFusion Express in 24 Hours 0-672-31662-5 
  • Microsoft Access Developer Guide to SQL Server 0-672-31944-6 
  • Apache Server Survival Guide 1-57521-175-0 


  • Mastering Windows 2000 Server. 4th ed 0-7821-4043-2 Mastering ColdFusion 4.5 0-7821-2773-8 
  • Photoshop Savvy 0-7821-4110-2 


  • Adobe Premiere 6.5 Bible 0-7645-1830-5 
  • 50 Fast Adobe Premiere 6.5 Techniques 0-7465-2445-3 
  • The Data Model Resource Book 0-471-38023-7 
  • Complete Flash Remoting MX 0-7645-2586-7 
  • Content Management Bible 0-7645-4862-X 


  • SQL Server 2000 Stored Procedures Handbook 1-86100-825-2 

6.2 Methodology 

Pipi has been built iteratively, brick by brick with each component having to be immediately useful. This is similar to Extreme Programming in some respects. So each new feature is designed and built in a basic state. It then gets used and then added too (“tweaking”). This is a low risk strategy but not necessarily efficient use of human labour. 

Several times a year a new little database is contributed by a community group and ends up as a new module to Pipi. Examples include: 

  • Addington Bush Society nursery database added in 1997. 
  • Native Habitats “volunteer database for Christchurch” added in 1998. 

As Pipi has grown, crises occur every few years, leading to qualitative transformations to its inner workings to overcome a development roadblock. 

Pipi 1 


Multiple linked Access databases render static html pages. Pages are transferred to website. Input by 1 volunteer from paper forms mailed in. 

Pipi 2 


Access database using Visual Basic stored in tables, render static html pages. Pages are transferred to website. Input by 1 volunteer from email generated by forms on website. Members have passwords to access forms. 

Pipi 3 


The current system. A live MS SQL Server database and ColdFusion generated website. Input by many members who have passwords to access forms. System of editors approve changes using forms. 

6.3 What could go wrong? 

Security Any web site on the Internet is potentially threatened by a direct attack from hackers or "infection" by destructive computer programs. Computer sites connected to the Internet permanently, or for long periods of time, are commonly targeted by hackers looking for suitable bases for launching attacks on other organisations. The larger the number of computers making up Pipi the harder it is to make sure they are all secure. The first line of defence is a hardware firewall device between the Internet connection and all the computers making up the site. The firewall freely permits outgoing connections to the Internet, but allows incoming connections only for specified purposes and to defined machines. This makes it difficult for hackers to gain access to the Pipi computers. 

Each computer behind the firewall is also protected by firewall software that only allows Internet activity by software that has been approved by the user. This measure helps guard against the use of the computers by viruses and "Trojan horse" software. A security policy is in place to ensure that passwords are complex enough to be extremely difficult to discover by trial and error. Regular changes to passwords are also enforced. Accounts for the many users have privileges tailored to the requirements and level of trust accorded to the user. This protects against not only malicious damage, but also inadvertent destruction of files by an inexperienced user. 

Several of the databases hosted by Pipi are extremely valuable and access to them must be controlled scrupulously. Preventing unauthorised access to the computer directories where they are stored is a vital part of the security policy. Demonstrable security of these databases is necessary to ensure the ongoing privilege of hosting databases such as these. The need for privacy and security in the area of printed documents is also recognised and all sensitive papers are shredded before disposal. 

The web site and database software making up the publicly visible part of Pipi must also be secured against subversion. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for ways in which legitimate program operations can be redirected to compromise the security of publicly accessible computers. To guard against this necessitates keeping the software constantly updated with the latest security measures introduced as security holes are discovered. An automatic process ensures that all machines are updated with the latest updates from Microsoft without need for human intervention. NZERN is grateful to Kaon Technologies for a pro bono security audit of the web site.  This audit did not discover any unknown vulnerabilities, but pointed up the necessity for constant vigilance and a periodic audit process. 

Software is in place to scan incoming email and disks for viruses and other forms of destructive software. This software is also updated automatically to ensure up-to-the-minute protection against threats transmitted over the Internet. 

Hazards The computers are also vulnerable to physical damage. Being continuously connected to the mains they are susceptible to the destructive effects of lightning strikes on the power network. To guard against this the computers are connected to the mains via an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). The UPS not only provides protection against mains borne lightning energy, but also power surges due to other malfunctions in the power network. In the event of a power outage the UPS is able to sustain the computers for long enough to be shut down gracefully, hence protecting the validity of the databases. 

Fire is another significant hazard. Smoke detectors are in place. 

Earthquake damage is also possible to equipment and volunteers. The building is quite sturdy and timber framed, which minimizes this risk. 

Theft or break-in is a risk. However, having security monitoring in place minimizes this risk. Also, someone is always living at the location, even if the owners go on holiday.  

Water damage from leaking roofs is also a potential problem.  But, as it is in a modern, well-maintained building, the risk is minimised. 

The strongest feature of NZERN, and at the same time potentially the weakest link, is the community of volunteers that does all the work. Often the knowledge central to the contribution by a volunteer is not recorded on paper, or in a computer file, but resides solely within their brain. Should this volunteer suffer a fatal accident, or simply burn out through overwork, this knowledge could be impossible to recover. This would jeopardise the operation or efficient development of the systems for which that volunteer was responsible.  To protect against this risk, NZERN is in the process of documenting the computer system.  NZERN does have a large network of volunteers, and many of them share a growing knowledge base.


80 people participated in Pipi workshops held June-August 2003 in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin, and Auckland. The workshops were made possible for NZERN with funding from the TFBIS program. Regional council and DoC conservancy staff kindly provided venue hosting, equipment and a cup of tea for participants. The workshops generally lasted 3 hours. The main purposes of these workshops were to: 

  • Find out how useful was seen to be 
  • Discover what the needs and wants of NZERN’s users were 
  • Discuss the potential needs of agencies and national organisations 
  • Avoid duplication of services 
  • Sound people out on the main ideas in the Pipi Plan as it developed 

It was a collaborative planning process, leading to the development of this plan. During the discussions, participants generally thought was useful; the simple low bandwidth layouts was appreciated, and Pipi had enormous potential yet to be realised. Criticisms were made of NZERN’s apparent lack of formal consultation with agencies that had plans of their own. It was explained that NZERN had started from the grass roots, was until recently poorly resourced, and its volunteers were very busy working on Pipi or other services. These workshops were in fact the first opportunity since 1997 to discuss openly with a wider audience the hopes that many community groups had in meeting their own needs by wanting to run their own ecological restoration support services.  

As a result of the workshops, a number of groups joined NZERN, supporters in Auckland are now working to establish a local branch, and more volunteers have come forward to work on Pipi and other NZERN provided services. 

Staff at agencies also offered to host another round of report-back workshops in 2004 when the plan was completed and implementation was underway. 

7. Fast cheap simple access 

The information supplied by Pipi needs to remain very easy to access, fast to download with dial up access and an old computer, and be dirt cheap. Such access is required for farmers living in rural areas with poor line quality and low bandwidth. Simple layouts are a priority, with the optional use of more graphical formats (eg Flash). 

8. One stop shop for very busy people 

The website needs to be a place anyone can go to and quickly find useful information about conservation in general and ecological restoration in particular. Our target audience tend to be active busy people. One password should access all services, with a common interface except for server administration. 

9. Data integration of Pipi’s Components 

Databases are integrated with common fields. The data should only need to be changed once in one place to update that information throughout the system.  Eg. the name of a group or the maximum height attribute of a plant species. 

The main components of Pipi are listed here. 

9.1 Group & Membership Management 

 Pipi provides many features to support the management of an ecological restoration group. These features include membership management, allowing for online invitations and approval of membership applications. Contact details and roles for the principal members of the group may be recorded and contact details made available, along with a summary of the purposes of the group. An event calendar may also be created. This records regular and one-off events for advertisement on the NZERN noticeboard and via the weekly email newsletter Kereru and its derivatives. Relevant World Wide Web links may also be added to the group’s area on the web site. 

Forums and email lists can be created and used by a group. 

Once a user has become a member of a group a personalised account on the web site is available to them. If they wish they can make their personal details available and contribute articles and photographs to the site. They can control personal subscriptions to email newsletters, such as Kereru, and join online forums in order to share knowledge with the wider restoration community. 

9.2 Site Management 

Forms to record the protection, maintenance and ecological restoration of an area of land or water habitat need to be made available. 

9.3 Nursery Management 

A special web based application useful for the functions of a native plant nursery – seed collection, production and sale or distribution. 

9.4 EcoTrack 

A data entry and data storage area to record the biodiversity health of an ecosystem. Automated data analysis provided by Pipi. Import/export facility of data. User can send data on to NVS, DoC etc. 

9.5 Financial & Project Management 

Keep track of projects and budgets. Different user levels available, public and private. 

Reporting for funding applications, wages, volunteer hours, recording costs & income against projects. 

9.6 Planter Guide 

A web based tool for the selection of suitable plants for planting. Pipi will supply regular automated updates to Landcare Research for its green toolbox database. 

9.7 On–line magazine 

A page updated daily of news and items of interest to readers. This will mine the website for content and provide links to content on other useful websites. Eg: DoC, Landcare Research, NIWA, Forest & Bird and Landcare Trust, A national version needs to be located on the main home page. Regional versions need to be located at the regional home pages.  Examples of what could be included: 

  • “What’s up Doc” content linking to DoC website 
  • Weather maps 
  • Maps to add more information to a story 
  • Links to articles in newspapers 
  • Events for the day 
  • Features introducing a particular group or restoration project. 


Provide database driven PDF documents that can be downloaded and printed. Restoration Directories will be automatically updated monthly. 

9.9 Tool Box 

An integrated toolbox for conservation needs to be built. This is a place to go while carrying out a restoration project. It will be designed to work with popular printed texts including the QEII Revegetation Manual and DOC’s Protecting and Restoring our Natural Heritage – a Practical Guide. Worksheets, forums, step-by-step examples need to be available. This is another way to mine the website and other resources. 

10. Accessibility 

NZERN will adopt W3C accessibility and web standard guidelines. Special pages will be created for Braille readers. Linear layout for voice software needs to be provided. 

11. Localisation 

The website needs to have different languages, so that it is in the language of the user eg English, Maori, Chinese. There have also been requests for Pipi to drive similar websites for small island nations of the Pacific. 

12. Formats 

The information needs to be presented in different formats to maximise the usefulness to end-users. Some people have ancient computers that can only access the most basic of web pages. Others have modern machines that are built to work with all the bells and whistles. Some users prefer text to read, others want more graphical forms. Pipi can provide for all these options by enabling users to choose how they want to appear on their computer. 

12.1 HTML 4.0 

This is the current standard used on the website. No java script is used. 

12.2 XHTML 2.0 

This is the new international standard for the web. 

12.3 WML 

The Internet for cell phones and other portable devices. 

12.4 Flash 6 

There is an option of database driven flash version of website using Flash Remoting. NZERN plans to use small graphic files with Flash to enable fast downloads. This is for those who want a visually rich website. It should work well on slow lines but will require a modern machine capable of installing the Flash plug-in.  

According to research, Flash is installed on 90-95% of browsers using the Internet. 

12.5 Web Services 

This is a technology using XML for sharing information between servers, servers and clients. 

13. Computer literacy 

There are three skill levels found among users of the website. Each has specific requirements that are very different. Pipi needs to cater for each skill level, by providing alternative interfaces. Members will be able to choose and change their own personal interface. 


80% of Pipi users need simple interface with simplified menu –see only what is needed. Wizards are provided for entering information. 


15% of Pipi users are confident enough to use an interface with tree menu on left and forms on right. They can use a searchable FAQ. 


5% of Pipi users require an interface similar to Dreamweaver or Photoshop. This interface has advanced editing properties and a searchable knowledgebase. These people are often the administrators on the website and need to get a lot done fast. 

14. Web hosting 

Pipi needs to provide web hosting for member organisations. NZERN has decided to provide web hosting, access to databases, GIS mapping, and other services to financial member organisations of NZERN. We are able to do this because we have a large and growing team of volunteers skilled in computer systems, grants from DoC and support from the IT industry. This service will be provided on a cost share basis with the aim to keep costs as low as possible for everyone. 

15. Support available 

NZERN needs to provide hand holding by pool of volunteers, and provide a “club” for webmasters of conservation groups. We need to assist conservation groups to have reliable anti-virus and back up measures in place. 

16. Outsourcing for bigger groups 

Larger groups and national organisations have different needs. Pipi needs to provide extra services to assist these groups so they can focus on their conservation efforts. Pipi will effectively be acting as their computer department. 

16.1 Messaging 

Pipi needs to provide a central database to store email. 

16.2 Help Desk 

Pipi should include help desk facilities for groups that act as agencies by supporting others. Catering for various contact methods - phone, email, fax, postal, visit. 

16.3 Databases 

Databases need to be developed on request or links to sets of data contained in Pipi. 

16.4 Document store 

NZERN needs a central archive, containing all of NZERN’s information as well as member group documents. This will improve document security with the option of sharing of particular documents enabled. 

17. Data exchange 

NZERN will need to send and receive data by automatic processes with a number of mainly government agencies. DoC, Landcare Research and NIWA seem the most obvious. This will put a lot of information at the fingertips of the public in a way that’s useful. None of these government agencies are ready yet to undertake automatic data exchange with NZERN because they are all very busy sorting out their own systems. However very close contact is being maintained with key people to enable this to happen in the future. There is every reason to expect this to happen. The main thing to ensure now is that the respective systems are being built in a way that enables data exchange to take place in the easiest way possible. Methods could include web services, linked servers and transfer of database files. Automatic data exchange with regional and local government also seems very possible and interest has been expressed at recent presentations given about Pipi. Some early experimental examples can be built that will encourage other agencies to co-operate and exchange data with community driven conservation efforts. 


18. Rapid Development 

Elegant systems are required at the core for Pipi to provide new features in a flexible and rapid manner needed by the conservation movement. Reducing the dependence on hand coding of web page templates is required and increasing the role of automation will reduce the load on volunteers. 

Form Engine 

Forms are used to collect information. There are currently 200 forms. The form engine will create web page forms on the fly by way of a configuration page. This will make redundant many hundreds of pages of existing hand written code. The form engine will be a rebuild of the form engine in Pipi 2 that worked well. Publicly available open source code snippets can be successfully integrated with the form engine. The forms can automatically be provided in a format chosen by the user. Both HTML and Flash, choice of language and written script will be options. 

Source control 

Source control will enable different teams to work independently on developing different parts of Pipi at the same time. A web-based form can collect changes to the ColdFusion code. Changes can then be uploaded on an automated nightly build. This can be done using the existing Pipi render engine, and the resulting templates sent by FTP to the production website. Volunteer developers will book out code and version tracking will be standard. Access to FTP accounts is available for Pipi volunteers. 

Project Management  & Documentation 

The successful completion of Pipi’s complex projects involving remote volunteers will require strict project management. The project management website, documentation and diagramming will be available over the network to all team members. 

Object orientated architecture 

(This section borrows heavily on the writing of Benoit Hediard found at  

The objective of the latest web technologies and architectures is to avoid the syndrome of the "spaghetti" code usually found in the web applications developed few years ago and also found in Pipi. In a single ColdFusion page, there will be a direct SQL query to the database, some internal business logic to handle the data, all this mixed inside HTML in the middle of the page with some presentation logic! This is very fast to develop but impossible to maintain, to re-use or to display on a mobile device. 

Some examples of problems with such code structure: 

  • Impossible to re-use code (presentation or business or data access logic are completely mixed together) 
  • If the name of a field is modified in a table, all scripts will have to be checked and corrected 
  • It is nearly impossible to use another output than HTML, to output WML or connect to Flash. The application would likely have to be completely be rewritten.  

A new development methodology for Pipi is required. MCV (Model View Controller) teases the various components out into self-contained modular blocks of code sitting in layers. This will make it much easier for development work to be broken up amongst different volunteer teams – reducing backlogs. Security is enhanced especially protection of the database from hackers. 

The View Layer with ColdFusion Pages View pages call the model layer and output the content (HTML 4.0, XHTML 2.0 WML, Flash, XML). The pages can use simple scripts or more advanced XSL transformations if the model layer returns XML.   As in ASP.NET, it is a very good practice to organize code on the top of the page, put all the business/data calls and bind them to the rest of the page. 

The Controller Layer with ColdFusion Scripts Controller scripts handle the data submitted by a user, call the appropriate business/data access logic and redirect the user to the correct view page.  

The Model Layer with ColdFusion Components ColdFusion components encapsulate all the business logic and all the data access logic related to the application. 

 In a perfect world, each layer should be independent. But, most of the time, trying to apply a 100% pure MVC architecture to the web is pretty difficult. With current thin HTML client and HTTP protocol, the controller cannot call the view layer. Moreover MVC has been designed for application development, not web sites.  In the following guidelines, the ColdFusion controller layer is only used to handle data submitted through HTTP POST (through forms).   The most important thing in web application is to separate the content from the presentation and logic, because there may be many different View layer types (HTML, WML, Flash), many data sources (SGBD, XML ...) and it may be required to re-use or share presentation/business/model logic.  The main advantages of the MVC pattern: code-reuse, multi-channel capability and ease of maintenance.  In .NET web applications: 

  • View/controller layers are built with ASP.NET pages 
  • Model/business layer are built with .NET components and/or web services. 

In J2EE web applications: 

  • View/controller layers are built with JSP pages and servlets 
  • Model/business layer are built with beans/EJB (and in the next release web services) 

 In MX applications: 

  • View/controller layers are built with CFML pages and/or Flash applications 
  • Model/business layers are built with CFCs and/or beans/EJB and/or web services 

In many cases, CFML and CFCs are easier and more productive than JSP and java beans.   

JSP is a prehistoric language compared to the richness of CFML or ASP.NET.  And for many web applications, the complexity of java and EJBs is not required, except for very high-end distributed and transactional applications such as in financial institutions. 

19. Content Management 

A robust enterprise content management system (CMS) is able to collect, manage and publish information to any format required. Such a system will be required for all the text and image information flowing thru Pipi. 

It will include the following processes: administration and a workflow system to control work done on editing and publishing information. 

And these three systems: 


  • Creation by users (web forms, file uploads) or acquire information from an existing source (WebCrawler, XML feed, database). 
  • Conversion to master formats 
  • Aggregation of information into system 
  • Segmentation into components 
  • Add metadata 


  • Repository of database records and files to store content components and administrative data 


  • Extract components from repository 
  • Construct publications (websites, printable documents, faxes, CD-ROMS, syndicated material for other organisations and e-mail newsletters) using templates that integrate modular components, functionality, standard surrounding information and navigation 

Proper consistent collection of metadata or “data about data” will be key to ensuring the content management system delivers useful information to Pipi’s end users. 

The Bush Telly Trust will administer the content management system. 

20. Maps 

An integrated geographic information system (GIS) is able to edit, store and distribute spatial data. Such a system will be required to manage all of the spatial data flowing thru Pipi. 

It consists of 4 key parts. 

Desktop editing 

  • Integrated suite of applications able to perform any GIS task, simple to advanced including mapping, data management, geographic analysis, data editing and geoprocessing 
  • Desktop GIS is able to tap into spatial data and resources served over the internet via map services and spatial databases 
  • Using extensions, 3D visualisations and flybys can be generated for use on videos and CD-ROM 
  • Static map imagery can be created for use in print publications and web site 

Database management 

  • Storage of information in a geographic database (geodatabase) 
  • ESRI shape files, raster data (eg air photos) can be stored in a relational database and then be integrated in with other Pipi data 
  • Raster images can be seamlessly tiled

Internet based publishing 

  • Distribute data and services to a variety of clients 
  • Presenting information spatially using maps in a variety of formats 
  • Points, lines and polygons can be collected from registered users at the web site map interface and entered into the database 

Print publishing 

  • Map books 
  • Downloadable maps in PDF format  

The Pipi teams will administer the GIS system. 

21. Video & radio 

A modern broadcast system is capable of collecting, editing and storing audio and video content in digital format. Such a system will be required to manage all of the audio and video content flowing thru Pipi. The Bush Telly Trust will use this system: 


  • Recording or copying 
  • Digital and non digital 
  • Field based and studio 


  • Digital non-linear editing to DV Cam format 


  • Archive to DAT tape 


  • On-line web radio station broadcasting interviews and news 
  • Later short video clips 

Note: A separate planning document is being written by the Bush Telly Trust, which goes into more detail about video, radio and print media issues. 


There are five hosting options to cope with the growing complexity of Pipi and its website At one end of the spectrum, NZERN could continue with its existing arrangement of a shared hosting environment provided by an ISP.  At the other end of the spectrum, NZERN could host Pipi on its own servers and pay for bandwidth. Each of these 5 options has their advantages and disadvantages as outlined below.  It is highly probable that the hosting of Pipi will evolve over time as NZERN grows and develops.  The option that best suits NZERN’s needs today may not be the one that suits our needs in a year or two. 

22. Option 1: Hosting plan with ISP 


  • Fixed hosting cost 
  • Simplifies operations (somebody else’s worry) 


  • Poor integration potential of databases and formats – GIS, Broadcast servers 
  • Restrictive hard drive space due to cost 
  • No changes possible to server environment including applications. 

23. Option 2: Use co-located leased servers 


  • Plenty of hard drive space for members websites 
  • Fixed costs 


  • Costs of ISP technicians doing maintenance 
  • No changes can be made to server configuration – will void lease agreement. 

24. Option 3: Use co-located owned servers 


  • High control over operational environment 
  • Plenty of hard drive space for members websites 


  • Costs of ISP technicians doing maintenance. 

25. Option 4: Use NZERN in-house servers 


  • Makes maximum use of NZERN’s existing equipment 
  • Volunteers can do all work at no cost 
  • Total control over server operational environment 
  • Easy integration of GIS, Broadcast, Content management systems 
  • Plenty of hard drive space for members websites 


  • Bandwidth charges are main expense 
  • Something might go wrong with our equipment is the main risk 
  • Responsible for everything 24x7x52 
  • Volunteers have to sleep. 

26. Option 5: Mixed environment 

(Using mixture of NZERN in-house servers, ISP hosting and a co-located owned server, virtual account for hosting of NZERN member websites) 


  • Enables volunteers to gain experience of running a live system 
  • Bandwidth load on ISP hosted space with fixed cost 


  • Complexity by having everything spread out 
  • High costs to provide web hosting for member groups 

27. Cost benefit analysis of options 

The following analysis weighs up the relative benefits of the five proposed options for the total cost of ownership.  

1 = poor benefit, 5 = excellent benefit 


28.  Implementation 

NZERN has a plan, funds, books, software, computer equipment, volunteers with a passion for conservation, public support, and the window of opportunity. All that’s required is time. A forced march will be required to rapidly carry out this plan in the most efficient order. Excellent information and organisation will be key. 

We don’t want to disappoint the dreams of active conservation groups that have backed NZERN from day one. 

28.1 Option selected 

Option 5 is recommended – a “mixed environment”. Option 4 comes out with the maximum benefit to NZERN and conservation but it is the judgement of the authors that it is not possible yet to implement this option. Funding difficulties, training requirements of volunteers and the current need to focus on completing the building of Pipi’s systems quickly make Option 5 more realistic. However the situation may change unexpectedly, making Option 4 an immediate possibility. 

28.2 Fix the obvious first 

There are some obvious things to change first: 

  • Migrate to object orientated internal architecture for  
  • Reduce pages of code from 2000 to 200 
  • Reduce dependence on coding – shifting emphasis to operations. 

When those changes are made, we will then make an improvement in the usability of the website. People need to see progress. 

28.3 User driven 

A sense of reality will be required. Big things that need to be done must to be balanced against carrying out simple jobs that users request. 

Most of the underlying system changes required will make it easier in future to rapidly meet the wishes of users. However these system changes involve a lot of work. Running regular user feed back surveys and keeping good user statistics will be important for keeping a finger on the pulse. 

28.4 Development best practice 

  • Develop iteratively 
  • Manage requirements 
  • Use component architecture 
  • Model visually 
  • Continuously verify quality 
  • Manage change 

28.5 Action Steps 

Building Pipi 4 in the first 12 months requires these steps: 

1. Migrate existing website from Cold Fusion Server 5.0 to Cold Fusion MX server. This is to take advantage of new features provided by Macromedia including Flash remoting, which enables database driven Flash. 

2. Install a form engine that creates forms on the fly by way of a configuration page. This will reduce many hundreds of page of hand written code. The form engine will be a rebuild of the form engine in Pipi 2 that worked well.

3. Redesign the password protected user area to make it easier to use. This will include providing control to the individual user over the presentation of this area and wizards

4. Separate format from content by stripping out the presentation layers into a couple of standard templates that could produce HTML 4, XHTML 2.0, WAP, XML web services, Flash pages etc for users to access how they wish.  

5. Provide web hosting for member groups, with access to shared databases, GIS and other extras. 

6. Strip out the queries from the cold fusion code. These are to be recreated as reusable black box blocks of code in a data layer that accesses the SQL Server.

7. Install full source control. This is to include a web-based form for all cold fusion code that is uploaded on a nightly build using the existing Pipi render engine, and the resulting templates sent by ftp to the production website.  

8. Restructure what’s left into a "black box" logic layer.

9. Migrate all GIS data to Arc SDE and integrate into Pipi's existing data store.

10. Build the new multi browser formats. 

11. Provide integrated services by recombining many of the existing Pipi modules. 

12. Provide a simple Internet mapping service that presents geographical information in a familiar way to landowners and local groups. 

13. Begin web casting of audio content. 

14. Reorganise the volunteers working on Pipi around production requirements.  Building Pipi 5 in the second 12 months with these features. 

  • Pipi ‘thick client’ application 
  • Distributed by CD-ROM and DVD to public 
  • Free 
  • Highly visual 
  • Runs on the desktops of computers 
  • Will run on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems 
  • Designed to be occasionally connected to the Internet  
  • Will require a valid current password to connect to Pipi Server 

Pipi 5 is proposed as an alternative method for users to connect to the Pipi Server. Using well-known technology, a ‘Flash like’ program is installed on the users own computer. Pipi 5 would connect via the Internet to the Pipi server to send and get updates of data. The CD-ROM or DVD would contain a lot of extra video and sound files as well as GIS mapping information. This could be a way to get around the bandwidth roadblock. This feature is not discussed further in this plan, and will need to be worked up over the next 12 months by the Pipi Steering Committee. 

29.  Requirements  

29.1 Data requirements 

Government funded data that is currently difficult to access needs to be obtained. There are also other data sets required. Examples of useful data to obtain are: 

  • LENZ 
  • Catchment shape files 
  • Geology 
  • DEMs 

29.2 Applications 

Source Control 

  • Visual Source Safe Server set up on a server 
  • Server to be accessible by remote clients over network. 

Remote Access 

  • Secure IP address to access server administration using terminal services 
  • FTP accounts to access document store 
  • Run applications. 

29.3 Software 

Additional software required. 


  • Acrobat Distiller Server
  • Acrobat 6.0 Professional
  • PageMaker 7.0 


  • ER Studio
  • DT Studio


  • ArcINFO 9
  • ArcPad 6
  • ArcSDE 8.3 Server
  • ArcIMS 9 (2 CPU)
  • ArcGis Extensions including Spatial Analyst Spatial Analyst CU
  • 3D Analyst CU
  • Tracking Analyst CU
  • Survey Analyst CU
  • Geostatistical Analyst CU 


  • Macromedia Cold Fusion Server MX
  • Director MX 


  • SQL 2000 Server Standard (1 processor license) Charity 


  • IBM Informix Dynamic Server 9.30.TC1 


  • Shout Cast Server (free)  


  • Sonicfoundry
  • Sound Forge 6.0 

29.4 Hardware Platform 

29.4.1 Development Environment 

Servers 5 rack mounted servers in 48U rack. Intel processors. Twin drives, redundant power supplies, hot swap SCSI drives. 

  • Windows domain server 
  • Database server 
  • Web/FTP/source control 
  • File server or SANDS. Either option with plenty of big Raid 5 drives on 1000mb network and network capable backup device 
  • Mail server. 


  • 10/100/1000 network switch 
  • ADSL Router 250kb/s ADSL connection via Telecom/Xtra 
  • KVM switch and monitor 
  • Firewall. 


  • UPS 
  • ADSL line surge protector 
  • A standby generator will be required if option 4 is selected in future. 


6 workstations. Running Windows 2000/XP professional. 

  • GIS desktop 
  • Digital Video/audio editing 
  • Office admin 
  • Database admin 
  • Isolated email/downloads only workstation 
  • Laptop 

29.4.2 Production Environment 

Option 5 

Intel hot swap SCSI Raid Servers (1u) 

Option 4 

Intel hot swap SCSI Raid Servers housed in a second 48u rack. 2 web servers sharing the same IP address would be preferable with a load-balancing device. Single database Server. 

29.5 Spatial 

ArcIMS 9 coupled with ArcSDE to make available GIS spatial data over the Internet. 

29.6 Broadcast 


MP3 broadcast to Winamp, RealAudio, Media Player, and QuickTime players. 


Inclusion of video in Flash. 

29.7  Hosting 

NZERN will provide hosting accounts for its member organisations by allowing its content management system to store their web pages. This reduces web space but increases database storage. Many websites would benefit from having database driven pages. Control panel administration will be provided along with FTP access for account holders. ArcIMS provided GIS information can be generated with help from Pipi’s Help Desk staff. 

29.8 Books and training 

Purchasing of software books should be budgeted into every project. Other resources can be found on CD-ROM and PDF. User help forums and Goggle are essential sources of help. These books would be useful. 

Adobe Press 

  • Adobe Premiere 6.5 Classroom in a Book 0-321-15885-7 
  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0 Web Design 
  • Real World Adobe Photoshop 7 


  • Troubleshooting, Maintaining and Repairing Networks 

Computer Step 

  • Windows 2000 Professional In Easy Steps 2nd Edition  

ESRI Press 

  • Salton Sea Atlas  
  • Beyond Maps - GIS and Decision Making in Local Government  
  • ArcIMS Documentation 
  • ArcGIS Data Models 

Macromedia Press 

  • Documentation Set - ColdFusion MX 
  • Reality Macromedia Cold Fusion MX: Flash MX Integration 
  • Macromedia Cold Fusion MX: Intranets and Content Management 
  • Macromedia MX Developer Resource Kit Vol 1 
  • Macromedia MX Developer Resource Kit Vol 2 
  • Macromedia Flash MX Creative Web Animation and Interactivity 0-3211-1785-9 


  • Master Visually Dreamweaver MX and Flash MX 0-7645-3696-6 
  • Teach Yourself Visually Adobe Photoshop 7  0-7645-3682-6 

Microsoft Press 

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant. 2nd Ed 0-7356-1792-9 
  • Microsoft Computer Dictionary 5th Ed 0-7356-1495-4 
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit 1-57231-805-8 
  • Stupid Web Tricks  
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server Resource Kit 1-57231-638-1 
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reference Library 0-7356-1280-3 
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Administrators Companion 0-7356-1051-7 
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Performance Tuning 0-7356-1270-6 

New Riders 

  • Fireworks MX Fundamentals 
  • Dynamic Publishing with ColdFusion MX 0-7357-1312-X 


  • Creating Web Video with Adobe Premier 6.5: Visual QuickStart Guide 
  • Photoshop 7: Visual Quickstart Guide 
  • Pagemaker 7 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide 0-2017-7584-0 


  • Teach Yourself Extreme Programming 


  • ColdFusion MX Bible 
  • Dreamweaver MX Complete Course 0-7645-3686-9 
  • Fireworks MX Bible 


  • SQL Server 2000 Programming 1-861004-48-6 

29.9 Security 

Disposal of paper records 

Document shredder of all paper to preserve privacy and prevent accidental release of confidential information including passwords. 

Remote Access

Some of the volunteers working on the management and development of Pipi live outside Christchurch and sometimes outside New Zealand. Others, even though the live in or near Christchurch, wish to contribute without having to leave their home or workplace. In these cases a remote access facility is required. The Internet supports many protocols that allow for remote access, but security is a matter of concern. To guard against eavesdropping on the exchange of information and especially passwords, protocols that encrypt all data passing over the Internet will be used. Specifically this will be done by the provision of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) built on the Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) suite of protocols.  


Should NZERN decide to host its in-house, the firewall hardware will be reconfigured to provide a third level of security. The publicly accessible machines used to host the site and drive the databases will be attached to a third firewall port called the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). This small network of servers is physically isolated from the Pipi machines used for development and management so that if the security of the servers is breached the hacker will still not be able to easily access the private computers. 


Ideally the machine room should be smoke alarmed, with the alarms able to trigger a power shutdown. Cutting the power is frequently sufficient for controlling an electrical fire that is detected before it becomes established. Sprinkler systems are not advisable since they can be more destructive to computer equipment than a fire. 


Computer racks are to be secured so that they cannot topple and crush staff and equipment.  

Financial Transactions 

Industry standard secure server software (SSL) will be used for all financial transactions. This encrypts personal information, including credit card number, name and address. 

29.10 Documentation 

Expert Knowledge 

It is essential that each volunteer working on Pipi record his or her related knowledge so that someone else could relatively easily pick it up. Ideally the volunteers should share their knowledge with each other on a continuing basis. This not only helps with disaster recovery, but also makes it easier to cope with temporary absences. 

Code Documentation of the databases, network, processes and code is required. Visio diagrams will be kept on a project directory. The object-orientated structure of Cold Fusion part of Pipi will self document. Tables will be kept on the server of all objects, their methods and functions. 

Documentation guidelines 

Guidelines need to be developed or this will become a burden, and developers will skip it unless easy to do/comply with. 

29.11 Disaster recovery 

Data and software backed up onto tape and/or DVD and/or CD-ROM and stored at Landcare Research. A recovery plan shall be developed. 

30.  Timeline 

Time lines using Gant charts will be used on the Project Central web site. Project management plans need to be drawn up before work starts. A summary needs to be publicly available at 

31. Costs 

31.1 Operational budget 

Estimates range from $1000/month for option 5 to $2000/month for a full implementation of option 4. Detailed budgets need to be drawn up and reported against. 

31.2 Capital budget 

A lot of equipment and software is sought to implement this plan. Sponsorship, fundraising and in-kind donations will be required. 

31.3 Human resources 

More complex system requires higher skilled volunteers than in past. Some ways to deal with this include. 

  • Attract interns’ and recent graduates seeking work experience 
  • Provide for professional development including seminars 
  • Offer places for Royal Society teacher fellowships. 

31.4 Management structure 

The Pipi Steering Committee will oversee the implantation of this plan and report to the NZERN Management Committee. Responsible competent people need to be put in charge of different areas of work. The teams formed will need to be flexible as tasks change during the development phase. As the emphasis shifts to production changes will need to be made resulting in a mature structure for the long-term organisation of Pipi’s volunteers. As the working relationship with DoC develops, at a certain point – having a DoC nominee on the Pipi Steering Committee would be valuable. 

31.5 Suppliers 

NZERN purchases with invoices and has the following suppliers 

  • Big Byte  
  • Dick Smith Electrical 
  • Digiweb 
  • Dymocks Wellington 
  • Eaglenet 
  • MagnumMac 
  • Mastertrade 
  • PC Anytime 
  • Redpaths 
  • Redworks 
  • Telecom 
  • The Laptop Company 


32. Appendix 

32.1 Acknowledgements 

Joseph Arand (DoC), Greg Jones (Landcare Research Ltd), Hewlett Packard Development Centre staff, NZ Computer Society, Kaon Technologies, NZ Broadcasting School, Market Truths. Thanks to the 80 people who participated in Pipi workshops held June-August 2003 in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin, Auckland. A special thank you to Frances Sullivan (Environment Canterbury), Tony Charles (DoC Head Office), Marie Alpe (DoC Auckland Conservancy), Jan Simmons (Doc Waikato Conservancy), and Nicola McGrouther (Otago Regional Council) for hosting these workshops. 

NZERN would like to especially thank the Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS) Programme for financial assistance towards the preparation of this development plan.  The TFBIS Programme is funded by the Government to help to achieve the goals of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, and is administered by the Department of Conservation. 

Edith Jones (Home Creek) for editing this document, Parker Jones and Dave Evans for contributions on technical issues. 

32.2 Schedules 

Draft implantation schedules 

X indicates work underway 

32.3  Hosting charges 

These are the draft hosting charges to NZERN members if they would like their web sites/databases hosted by Pipi on the Internet. 

Stage 1 (till NZERN has its own servers co-located or other wise) 

These charges are based on cost share and are what the ISP charges NZERN. Domain name costs are additional. If NZERN’s content management system is used to store web pages the effective size is not limited by the disk space indicated. 

Stage 2 (NZERN has its own servers co-located or other wise) 

These costs are based on cost share and will drop to the levels indicated depending on the number of accounts NZERN is able to set up. It will get cheaper once the target of 100 websites hosted is reached because there is some fixed overhead costs. Domain name costs are additional. If NZERN’s content management system is used to store web pages the effective size is not limited by the disk space indicated. 

32.4 Glossary 


Programs designed for and used by end users ie: Word Processing, Spreadsheets.  


The amount of data which can be transmitted in a certain amount of time.  


A Browser is your interfaces to the World Wide Web. Examples of a browser are Netscape, Opera and Microsoft Internet Explorer.  


A client requests and receives information from a server. When you log onto a server the word client can refer to you, to your computer, or to the software running on your computer. When you access a web page from an Internet server you are the client.  


Software used to create web pages that access information from databases.  


A database is a collection of data. It can consist of text, graphics or even sound.  

Database software helps users to organize and retrieve such information.  


A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet.  


Software which allows web pages to include animations and other special features.  Flash is a plug-in that can be freely downloaded and installs as part of your browser.


File Transfer Protocol.  

FTP is used on the Internet for exchanging files. It is most commonly used to download or upload files from a server.  


Geographic Information Systems.  

GIS are tools used to gather, transfer, manipulate, analyse and produce information related to the surface of the Earth. This data may exist as maps, 3D virtual models, tables and/or lists. 


Hypertext Markup Language.  

HTML is a collection of commands that create Web Pages. When you point your Web browser to a URL, the browser interprets the HTML commands embedded in the page and uses them to format the page's text and graphic elements.  


A network based on the same protocols as an Internet belonging to an organization, which is only accessible to the organizations members, employees or others with authorization (ie user name and password). An intranet's web site looks and acts like any other Web sites. 


Internet Service Provider  

ISP is a company that provides access to the Internet. For a fee the service provider gives you a username, password that allows you to connect to the Internet and browse the World Wide Web and send and receive e-mails.  


A group of two or more computer systems linked together.  


Operating system  

An operating system manages the computer functions and provides an interface for the users.  

Eg: Windows 95, Linux, Mac OS, Unix. 


A protocol is an agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices.  

i.e.: a way of computers, printers etc communicating. 


Small Computer Systems Interface. 

Computer hard drives can be controlled by SCSI.  


A server is a computer that provides the information, files, Web pages, and other services to the client that logs on to it. (The word server is also used to describe the software and operating system designed to run server hardware.)  


A set of instructions that a computer follows to complete a task. These instructions are written in a computer language eg: ColdFusion, Visual Basic, PHP, Perl. 


A template can be the basis of a Web page layout. The information shown depends on what web page is being displayed. 


Uniform Resource Locator, Universal Resource Locator. 

URLs are the Internet equivalent of addresses. An example of a URL is: . This tells your browser where to look for the web pages of NZERN. 


Wireless Application Protocol  

Allows users to access information instantly by handheld wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers etc.  


Extensible Markup Language  

XML is a specification developed by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).  

It is designed especially for Web documents to allow easier transmission of data between applications and organizations.   

XML is not itself a markup language. Rather it's a metalanguage, a language used to create other specialized languages. 

Web Hosting  

Web Hosting is where space, bandwidth and email accounts are provided to a user on a web server allowing them run a website. 


A wizard is a step-by-step guide, which provides detailed procedures on how to accomplish a task. i.e.: installing a new printer on your computer.  

32.5 References 

  • MVCF Methodology – MVC pattern applied to CFMX By Benoit Hediard 
  • Advanced Macromedia ColdFusion MX Application Development by Ben Forta, Macromedia Press. 2002. 
  • Various articles about web content management by Gerry McGovern 
  • Content Management Bible by Bob Bako, Wiley Publishing. 2002. 
  • Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Spatial Information Management Strategy. June 2003 
  • DoC BIP documents 
  • Landcare Research NIVS PDF Documents 
  • WWF-NZ website 
  • OSNZ website 
  • QEII website 
  • CDVN website 
  • Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, Indianapolis: New Riders, 2003.