This is an old version of Visual Key. Please, visit the new version of the program

Visual Key

Visual Key©

Visual key (VK) is a cross-platform, interactive, rich-graphic web application for identification of organisms. It was written on Java Script 1.2, which allows creation of fast and small programs simultaneously. It has a browser detection function and special branches for Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. The program will work without Internet connections once downloaded. VK uses an original approach of dynamic optimization for identification and has an algorithm for removal of redundant characters/character states, unlike other web keys. A graphical and text interface allows use of VK without knowledge of special terminology and makes learning of the latter easier. These features sufficiently decrease time and increase quality of identification. The program handles data in the Nexus format, supports missing, multistate, and polymorphic characters, and includes an interleave option for data sets. VK can generate descriptions of given taxa at any time during identification. VK also has subroutine that allows import of external data and has a developed error handler to ensure proper data format. Anyone that has their own data set in Nexus format can publish it on the Internet in few minutes using the VK program as a shell.

Data Format

All data matrices must be in the Nexus format. The character state list should be formatted so that each character is separated from the next by a paragraph mark. See example in any key listed below (push Edit button).


Any platform. Netscape Navigator 4.0x and MS Internet Explorer 4.0x, 5.0x (compatibility with Netscape Navigator 6.0 will be available in near future). Java script must be enabled (Edit-Preferences-Advanced). 1024x768 screen resolution is desirable for keys with images on 14'-15' monitors.
Tested with Navigator 4.7 and IE 5.0 on iMac PowerPC G3 350 Mhz and PIII 800 Mhz PC computers. Netscape or Internet Explorer?


To begin an identification of a specimen, choose a character and character state from the corresponding boxes beneath the image. Likewise, a character may be selected directly from the image. After selecting a character, an image of the specific character state will appear. To include that charter state press "Yes" button. An abbreviated taxa list will appear, including any those taxa that posses the chosen character state. Continue this procedure until only one taxon remains.
Click on any taxa in taxa list and the program will show autogenerated description. More help.

Check the following original keys


Create your own key

You can create your own key and publish it in the Internet. Go to Visual Key database and select Edit to get further instructions.

Compare with other web keys

(listed on official DELTA page):

Copyright © P. Klimov & Museum of Zoology, Ann Arbor, USA 2001