When opened without data loaded from the command line, a blank spreadsheet like table is shown. Rows are numbered and columns are given letters.
If desired, the table can be used for manual data entry which can then be saved in the WinBasp, PAST or CSV formats. It is helpful to replace the row numbers (WinBasp units) and column letters (WinbBasp types) with meaningful short names first, and then to enter the frequency for abundance data or a 1 for presence of a type in a unit if presence/absence data is at hand.
When a PAST or WinBasp file is loaded, row numbers and column letters are automatically replaced with headers from those programmes if they differ. If colours have been chosen in PAST for rows these are shown appropriately. For WinBasp, attribute colours are shown for both rows (units) and columns (types).
If headers are present, these are shown with the background colour associated with the data, and the text shown in contrasting black or white for better visibility. The colour scheme may be chosen for either WinBasp or PAST only before loading the data. If coordinates are present, these will be shown either as decimal values of longitude, latitude and altitude, or as arbitrary values of X, Y and Z. Coordinates must always be entered or shown in the first three columns.
WinBasp attribute colours are also shown for columns (types). This is not available for PAST data.
If desired, colours can be turned off before loading. Colours may be changed by right-mouse button clicks on the row or column header. Holding down the Shift button on the keyboard will cause the colours to be cycled in the opposite order. The colour scheme must be chosen before loading the data. If no colours are present and none selected, this must be changed before saving the data.
The special colour attributes used for rows in PAST (_number_) are not visible when a PAST file is loaded. These are added when the data is saved in PAST format.
Presence-Absence data from a loaded WinBasp file shows only the present features and leaves out the zeroes where no data is present.
In Row-Column header edit mode, the table data is blanked out and a selected row or column may be changed as desired. Blank spaces are not permitted in row or column header names and an error message will be issued. The blank space must be removed before the editing change is accepted.
Clicking on row-column position in the table sets the cell active. It changes colour to darker gray, and a new value may be entered after erasing any current value if present with the Backspace key. Only numerical values are accepted with one decimal point and no blanks. If this is not adhered to, an error message results and the value must be corrected.
If a new row or column is inserted, data can be entered immediately, but it it is advisable to use the row-column header editor to insert an appropriate name.
If colour attributes for the rows were not set in the input data, these may be added with right or right-Shift mouse clicks for both WinBasp and PAST data.
Colour attributes may also be set for the columns when saved as WinBasp data.
If WinBasp data has been loaded, long 40 character labels for rows and columns (units and types) may be added or edited by holding down the Alt key and right clicking on a row or column header. The data must be saved in WinBasp format for any change to be made permanent.
Although coordinates may be entered by hand in the table, it is much easier to use the facilities in WinBasp which permit clicking at points on a scanned map that was calibrated in WinBasp in one of the coordinate systems available.
This is an example with real geographic data with longitudes and latitudes in south Germany.
WinBasp does not allow unit or type names to have more than 8 alpha-numeric characters. It also does not permit duplicate names. PAST does not have these restrictions. If PAST data is loaded and then WinBasp output is chosen, duplicate names will be made unique automatically by adding letters A-Z, AA-ZZ etc. and as many numbers as needed up to the 8 character limit. In the example above, the Y headers were all the same. Basp_Past has added A1 to make the header unique. If row and column names have been entered manually and exeed 8 characters in length, these will be automatically modified as stated.