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COMP228 Assignment 2 w/c 20th November 2023
Developing a visitor App for Ness Gardens.
Ness Botanical Gardens is located on the Wirral Peninsula (at 53.27566, -3.04122) and is owned by the
University of Liverpool. It features a wide variety of plants gathered from all over the world. Visitors may walk
around the gardens exploring the plants and scenery.
The Computer Science department worked with Ness in the 90’s to develop a mySQL database to hold it’s
thousands of plant records. This database does not record the GPS location of individual plants. Instead, plants
are allocated to “beds” and it is the geographic locations of these that are recorded in the database table
Plant records in the database are held in a simplified version of the itf2 format (International Transfer Format 2 -
an international standard for transferring plant data) in the table named “plants”,
Your Task:
You will design and develop a portrait orientation application written in Swift 5.7 or later, using UIkit and
Storyboard for iPhone 15. The application is designed to assist visitors to Ness Gardens. Your app includes a
map and table and uses the user’s current location. The project must be developed using the Git version control
system (i.e. you must make regular commits to the repository, stored locally in your project. Note: Do not move
your project to Windows systems without zipping it first. Doing so can lose the hidden Git repository folder).
In order to get information about the plants, an API has been created. You will need to retrieve data from a web
service (in the following URL’s the value for the record number, recnum, is just an example):
https://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~phil/Teaching/COMP228/ness/data.php?class=beds all bed data
https://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~phil/Teaching/COMP228/ness/data.php?class=plants all plant data
https://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~phil/Teaching/COMP228/ness/data.php?class=plants&recnum=4041 data on a specific plant
https://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~phil/Teaching/COMP228/ness/data.php?class=images all image data
https://cgi.csc.liv.ac.uk/~phil/Teaching/COMP228/ness/data.php?class=images&recnum=1129 image data on a specific plant
Note that:
• As can be seen in the example above, some plants have associated images referenced in an “images”
table. The actual jpeg images referred to in the table are located at the following base URL:
(Note: use secure URLs, otherwise your app will not load the data or images).
• Thumbnail (i.e. small) versions of the images will be available shortly from the following base URL:
• Some of the plant records have multiple images. You should deal with displaying these in a sensible fashion.
• The plant record is only valid if the accsta field has the value ‘C’. If it has any other value, that plant should
be ignored (such plants may have originally been present, but subsequently died, or been removed)
• A single plant record in the database, might reference a plant in multiple beds (some plants may be split or
propagated and grown as several different instances in different locations). You will need to take the bed
attribute and split it into an array of beds (split it based on whitespace - see hint at the end).
Your application is required to have the following basic features (worth 55%):
1. The user is initially presented with a map displaying a satellite view, centred on their current location and
at a reasonable level of zoom so that features can be seen clearly. (A user location based in Ness
Gardens is available for you to use in the simulator. A further gpx location file which simulates the user
going on a “walk” around part of the gardens is planned to be made available shortly.) (worth 15%)
2. A table below the map contains plant data, grouped by bed (each of which should be implemented as a
different table section) and ordered by distance from the user’s current location (which can, of course,
change as the app runs). The location file featuring a “walk” around the gardens can be used to test this
feature. Each cell should contain a thumbnail image of the plant (if available) and some textual details
(e.g.genus, species, infraspecific epithet, vernacular name and cultivar name). (worth 15%)
3. Tapping on a cell, displays an image (or images) where these exist in the database and other relevant
information about a specific plant (you might wish to use a TextView for this purpose). Plant records that
include a valid latitude and longitude of the original plant origin, should include a map showing this.
Don’t show the map for a plant that is missing this information. (worth 15%)
4. The App must feel like a good mobile application - no unnecessary transitions, popups or alerts etc.
Layout of the interface elements and navigation within the app must be appropriate and aesthetically
correct. (worth 10%)
The remaining 45% of the marks may be obtained by implementing useful features such as:
1. The user can, from time to time, mark as “favourite”, a plant that they really like (or unfavourite one). This
should be displayed in the relevant table cell by displaying some kind of symbol against that cell. The list
of favourites should be saved into persistent storage so that it is retrieved every time the app is run.
(worth 5%)
2. Caching the plant and other information (including your choice of favourite plants) in Core Data. This
would effectively allow the app to run if there was no network connection. Please note: You do not need
to cache the plant images. (worth 10%)
3. Your code should be reasonably well-written. Functions should be used where it helps improve clarity
and reduces repetitive code. Data structures should be appropriate and effective. (worth 10%)
4. Ensure that your code is appropriately commented and that meaningful class, variable and constant
names are used. (worth 10%)
5. Your project should include a Git archive, featuring commits that you have made during the whole period
of the development process. (worth 10%)
If you use any additional images or other materials, ensure that these are copied into the project – not just
referenced somewhere else in your filestore. The zipped folder that you submit should include everything
required to compile and run your App. You can test this by copying the folder to another Mac (with the same
version of Xcode) and trying to run your project on that.
Important - Please note:
This is real plant data, typed into the database by volunteers and so may contain errors (e.g. the bed field might
contain references to non-existent beds). You should handle such data gracefully (e.g. if a bed referred to in a
plant record, does not exist, then the plant shouldn’t be displayed in the table, since that is organised by valid
bed names - each of which have a recorded location).
Do not use any third-party frameworks in your App (e.g. Alamofire). Use Apple standard frameworks ONLY (i.e.
only frameworks provided with Xcode 15). Use of third-party frameworks will involve a penalty of 25%.
The App must be written using UIKit and Storyboard. Submissions written using SwiftUI will involve a penalty of
What to Submit
Your completed project (which includes the Git repository, stored automatically in an invisible folder in the project
folder) should be zipped up and submitted via the online submission system:
(In the Finder, right click the icon for the folder containing the project file and folder and choose “Compress”)
Also submit a short PDF document (maximum of 1-2 sides of A4) which describes how to use your app and any
notable features or limitations.
Deadline for submission: Monday December 11th at 5pm
Reminder: This is the second of two assignments, each of which is worth 15% of the total mark for COMP228.
Your second part of the portfolio of lab work will be worth another 6%.
Explore the API URLs on a web browser, copy the JSON data into a pretty printer program - such as https://
jsonformatter.org/json-pretty-print. This will show you the structure of the JSON data that you will need to
convert into Swift Codable classes (see
Carefully look at the JSON structure - this will give you information about the Swift structs that you’ll need to
create to hold the decoded JSON data. Remember that you’ll need an array of these (similar to the week 9
research papers lab exercise).
To use the gpx fie of a walk around Ness Gardens, you’ll need to refer to the guidance document “Obtaining the
user’s location” which will be published on the canvas site shortly.
Since each plant record’s bed field may contain a reference to multiple beds, you’ll need to take that bed string
and split it into an array of items. Here’s an example:
//This fixed string would actually be data from the plant record
let beds = "PW1 PW2 PW3 PW4"
let bedArray = beds.components(separatedBy: .whitespaces)
//bedArray is now an array of individual bed Strings
Ness Gardens map, showing the location of plant beds Draft
Important Tables:
plants Individual plant records
images References an individual jpeg image of a plant
beds Short and full-name and location of a plant bed
The plants table contains the following fields:
recnum record number (integer)
acid accession ID - plant instance String
accsta accession status - “C” means a plant that is still alive
family family name
genus genus name
species species name
infraspecific_epithet optional part of the species name of a plant
vernacular_name common name for the plant
cultivar_name name for a plant variation produced by selective breeding
donor name of the donor who supplied the plant
latitude latitude of origin
longitude longitude of origin
country full name of country of origin
iso ISO 2-letter code for country of origin
sgu specific geographical unit in country of origin
loc locality in country of origin
alt altitude of plant origin location
cnam Primary collector’s name
cid Collector’s identifier
cdat Collection date
bed Bed(s) in Ness gardens where plant is located
memoriam Plant is sponsored in memory of a deceased person
redlist Plant is endangered
last_modified Date and time of last change to this plant record Draft

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