The greatest benefit of using Aquabase is the integrity of the databases it can use, which include PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, MSSQL Server and the default SQLite/Spatialite. All of them have built-in validation rules and triggers, which prevent users from entering invalid data and automatically update fields directly in the database taking away processing load from the Aquabase front-end.
Over and above that the Basic Information table is spatially enabled by storing the site coordinates in a Geometry column which allows direct display of the sites in GIS systems. These points are automatically updated when the coordinates change and the coordinates are changed automatically when the points are moved in the GIS. Coordinates can be entered in almost any coordinate system available for particular countries.
Data cannot only be entered manually into entry forms but there are a number of import routines that make the adding of data to the database a breeze. These include free form imports, which allow mapping of import table fields to Aquabase table fields, chemistry import routines from various sources and the combination of Aquabase Workspaces (which use different databases). There is also an online data import facility to import meteorology and surface water data from the South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), which works only for South African workspaces.
Aquabase also has various functions to export data to a number of popular formats, including CSV, Text and DBase, which can be easily processed in other applications. These functions include two powerful SQL Query tools that allow any combination of fields from different tables selected in a SQL (Structured Query Language) query to produce a spreadsheet-like output. Data can also be exported to KML files for direct display on Google Earth or Google MyMaps.
But there is also a simple mapping tool to view database Views on e.g. OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Bing and other maps, to see where the sites are and display simple thematic point of for example water levels, chemistry, yield or borehole depths. Ctrl-clicking on a point allows movement to the site record in the database allowing to quickly change data or the coordinates. This tool is not meant to be a GIS replacement but rather a quick way of getting a spatial impression of the sites in the database.
A couple of Search functions and the use of database Views make the navigation to specific data in the database easy. Various tools allow quick changes to single records or batch updates to data, while maintaining the integrity of the database with “checks and balances”.