Most simple app development for Friends of the Earth counting amphibians

Hi there!

I am so happy to have finally convinced (and am still convincing) many people from the German Friends of the Earth (Bund Naturschutz) to move to nextcloud. One step to bring them closer to collaborative working with open source tools, because environmental protection is imho of the same essence as open source development.

Now it would be most amazing if we could document some of our projects via nextcloud. There are many ideas, but one that jumps to my mind first is about the amphibian collection project:

All over Germany BUND-Volunteers gather amphibians from one side of the street and carry them over to the other side of the street, in order for them to not get run over during their march from the forest to the waters. Right now, this is documented on paper, which is a real mess, because everybody is doing it differently and it takes ages to gather all the data.

What I would like to see instead, is the possibility of counting the frogs directly on my smartphone and have it stored right in the cloud. The information necessary is fairly simple:

  • who are you? (logged in user)
  • date
  • location (select from list, maybe multiple levels: state, province, city etc.)
  • start button (logs time) with two options:
  • log time only (for preparation purposes etc)
  • start collecting animals

next screen:

  • a counter for each species with big +1, +5, +10 buttons with option to enter a number manually
  • it would be cool to divide it into the 5 common species plus an extra page for special species.
  • optional pop-up info on each species to help identify it
  • send button for end of day (logs end time and sends data)


  • review and edit your own data
  • review stats about your data
  • review stats about location

The important bit is, that the data of all users should be collected in one database which can then be accessed, manipulated and exported by a person in the office (managing all the hours and amphibian data). It would be amazing, if it was just an .ods-spreadsheet, but export to .csv would be fine, too.

I do have very basic programming and database skills, but no experience in app-development.

What I could provide is the basic table layouts with fields, primary keys and relationships as well as a layout for a basic GUI.

Any chance you can help with the rest?

I would be very happy to pay a few hundred bucks myself, if you are willing to answer basic questions about app-development for NC (in order to see if I could get into it myself).
If this app works and thousands of volunteers can easily use it, I am sure I can create job opportunities within friends of the earth to support this app and also develope further apps for other topics.

I would be very happy to hear from you!
Also to just hear, what you think would be an adequate salary for an app like this.

1 Like

I don’t know about the work itself but for me sounds like a mess to keep using an app while you are “at work”. If you start with a simple approach “every participant logs the final/intermediate result” from time to time you can simply setup a form multiple answers allowed so every user could log the number of transferred animals at the end… This is not as fancy as you described but has advantages: no new app required, immediately available, usable as CSV…

Thank you for the reply!
I did look into the capabilities of forms and would love to do it with those. I even did a couple of testruns with it, but I feel it does not suit the project well enough. I will have a look again though.
The volunteers are not as convinced as I am, and often are not even comfortable with phone apps. But it essential that they feel comfortable using it right away.

I’m a bit late.
Just my few cents.

  • Don’t forget that a normal webapplication won’t work if the devices are offline. So if they are counting amphibians somewhere without mobile internet connection, the whole app won’t work. If this happens a lot your users won’t be happy.
    This can be circumvented creating a PWA (using service workers, local storage, etc.). But that needs more experience and I’m not sure how good that would integrate with nextcloud.
  • You can also integrate webapplication over a frame into nextcloud, there’s an app for it. So maybe it would be easier for you to develop a webapp independendly from nextcloud. From your description, the only function you would use from nextcloud, would be the authentication anyway.

Thank you so much for your replies, it made me rethink the whole setup again and you are right. A simple counter app (which is freely available on any appstore) and a form will do the trick most nicely.