Greenboxes (Beta) is a Web-based system for organizing and freely distributing conservation software tools. Greenboxes works in a manner similar to node-based electronic manuscript repositories (e.g. ePrint). It is built off of the node-based file sharing software Sculpin, currently in development. A Greenbox node must be locally installed on a server, but has linking capabilities between all other nodes. Each node serves its local institution by providing a user-friendly code management system, and a centralized portal for sharing and collaborating on projects. Through the establishment of multiple nodes, the cross-linking capabilities of Greenboxes will facilitate a community-wide conservation code network that can be searched from any local node.
Why have we developed Greenboxes? The quality, quantity and availability of data suitable for informing conservation actions are growing much more rapidly than the availability of tools capable of capitalizing on such data. The cutting-edge of quantitative conservation biology is too often out of reach of conservation practitioners because software tools are typically not provided along with descriptions of new techniques. The conservation community would be well served by a program that allows quantitative conservation biologists to both collaborate and disseminate their tools and expertise to the greater community of conservation biologists. Moreover, as the network of Greenbox warehouses grows, we anticipate that connections and collaborations within and among participating institutions will spur a more rapid evolution of quantitative conservation tools.
As we continue to refine Greenboxes, we are paying close attention to ease of use in order to make Greenboxes more like Flickr (i.e. simple/minimalist interface) and less like many of the pre-existing code management solutions that are geared toward programmers.