Version 1 of the field manual package was released in February 2018, and Version 2 was released two years later in July 2020.
All original chapters were updated in Version 2 with stakeholder feedback, corrections, and updates where applicable. The chapter ‘Seafloor Mapping Field Manual for Multibeam Sonar’ was substantially changed in Version 2 to amalgamate it with the Australian Multibeam Guidelines which were released in June 2018 by AusSeabed, a nationally seabed mapping coordination program. The unified multibeam manual in Version 2 addresses stakeholder concerns about maintaining two separate SOPs for multibeam sonar. In addition, a new manual on ROVs was developed for the Version 2 package. The ROV was chosen based on findings from a report titled Scoping of new field manuals for marine sampling in Australian waters (Przeslawski et al. 2019b).
All major changes related to a given sampling platform are logged in a version control table at the end of the relevant manual.
One of the most notable changes for Version 2 was the development of an online portal for the field manuals (https://marine-sampling-field-manual.github.io). While Version 1 was released as static pdfs through the NESP Marine Hub website, Version 2 was released through GitHub. This digital delivery system has the following benefits:
- The manuals are easily accessible in online or pdf formats, increasing the flexibility of user experiences and needs.
- The online system readily reflects minor corrections by harvesting through the source document maintained on Google docs.
- Updates and version control are easier to manage through permissions on GitHub and GoogleDocs.
- Analytics are easily generated to track downloads which can then be incorporated into impact assessments.
- A clearly documented user-friendly workflow (Figure 5) will help future contributors to maintain and update existing SOPs and to develop new ones.
- The online system will have more flexibility to embed imagery and other media (e.g. video tutorials) in future versions, thereby taking a much more modern approach than only static pdfs allow.
Figure 5: Workflow of version control and governance for the digital field manuals of Version 2 and future versions.