Saturday, August 20, 2016

Scythebill 13.2.3 - tweaks and bug fixes

Scythebill 13.2.3 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This is a fairly small bug-fix release.

Most notably, the "choose-your-own-abbreviations" feature now includes all common names and alternate names from groups and subspecies.  This is very helpful for extended taxonomies that assign common names to subspecies - this is very common practice for reptiles and butterflies, for example - but also makes it faster to enter some existing bird forms (e.g., "Cayenne Tern", which a subspecies of Sandwich/Cabot's Tern).

Other changes and fixes include:
  • The fix in 13.2 for export-as-spreadsheet with subspecies was only halfway there;  it should now be working for IOC users too.
  • Some users importing from Birdbase would have locations with empty names;  that's now fixed.
  • Users who imported content from sources with emoticons could have entirely broken sightings files!  They'll now be saved and read without issue.
  • Bulk deletes would sometimes produce an error message (though the bulk delete was correctly performed).
  • Courtesy of Steve Clark, the Australian state of Victoria now has a semi-official checklist.
(If you're wondering, 13.2.2 was never released.)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scythebill 13.2 - the 2016 eBird/Clements taxonomy is now available!

UPDATE: I've released 13.2.1 with two fixes for problems affecting some users during the upgrade:

  • An error if you had splits to resolve, and the last selected taxonomy before upgrading was an extended taxonomy.
  • An error if you had sightings for the UK - but not anything more specific (England, Scotland, etc.) - and those species were split in the latest eBird/Clements (e.g. Leach's Storm Petrel).

If you've already installed 13.2, and didn't have any problems, there's no particular reason to install the new version.


ORIGINAL POST: Scythebill 13.2 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   

Highlights of this release include:

  • The new eBird/Clements 2016 taxonomy
  • Some extended taxonomy fixes


eBird/Clements 2016 taxonomy

Just released this past week, and Scythebill already supports it!  You can read all about the changes on the Cornell website.

When you run the new version, Scythebill will automatically upgrade all of your sightings, taking advantage of the (also upgraded).

As part of this upgrade, Scythebill now supports 3 more translations for common names:
  • Swedish
  • Bulgarian (only for species found in Bulgaria)
  • Polish (only for species found in Poland)

Extended taxonomy fixes

Extended taxonomies had problems when a subspecies had a common name, but the species doesn't;  that's fixed.  The documentation in the manual's now clearer for how to enter subspecies in the first place!

People using checklist-entry-mode for their bird sightings saw errors when entering extended taxonomy sightings (in some cases).  These should be fixed.

Small changes and fixes

Scythebill uses per-location latitude and longitude;  BirdLasser and Observado use per-sighting latitude and longitude.  Scythebill now preserves the per-sighting latitude and longitude in the note field of each sighting, with the following format: "LL:-26.1713505,27.9699842".

As always, a number of first country and state records have been added to Scythebill, and the US records of Great-winged Petrel are now correctly identified as Grey-faced Petrel.

Other bugs fixed include:
  • Editing problems with "leap day" (February 29).
  • "Export as spreadsheet" was not correctly displaying common names for subspecies.
  • If your Internet connection was having problems during new location entry, potentially confusing errors were shown.

Scythebill 13.2 - the 2016 eBird/Clements taxonomy is now available!

Scythebill 13.2 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   

Highlights of this release include:

  • The new eBird/Clements 2016 taxonomy
  • Some extended taxonomy fixes


eBird/Clements 2016 taxonomy

Just released this past week, and Scythebill already supports it!  You can read all about the changes on the Cornell website.

When you run the new version, Scythebill will automatically upgrade all of your sightings, taking advantage of the (also upgraded).

As part of this upgrade, Scythebill now supports 3 more translations for common names:
  • Swedish
  • Bulgarian (only for species found in Bulgaria)
  • Polish (only for species found in Poland)

Extended taxonomy fixes

Extended taxonomies had problems when a subspecies had a common name, but the species doesn't;  that's fixed.  The documentation in the manual's now clearer for how to enter subspecies in the first place!

People using checklist-entry-mode for their bird sightings saw errors when entering extended taxonomy sightings (in some cases).  These should be fixed.

Small changes and fixes

Scythebill uses per-location latitude and longitude;  BirdLasser and Observado use per-sighting latitude and longitude.  Scythebill now preserves the per-sighting latitude and longitude in the note field of each sighting, with the following format: "LL:-26.1713505,27.9699842".

As always, a number of first country and state records have been added to Scythebill, and the US records of Great-winged Petrel are now correctly identified as Grey-faced Petrel.

Other bugs fixed include:
  • Editing problems with "leap day" (February 29).
  • "Export as spreadsheet" was not correctly displaying common names for subspecies.
  • If your Internet connection was having problems during new location entry, potentially confusing errors were shown.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Scythebill 13.1: IOC 6.3, extended taxonomy improvements, and more!

Scythebill 13.1 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   

Highlights of this release include:

  • The brand-new IOC 6.3 taxonomy
  • Improvements for extended taxonomies
  • Several smaller improvements



IOC 6.3 taxonomy

The IOC 6.3 - just finalized in the last day or two - is now available in Scythebill!  You can see all of the species-level changes on the IOC website.  Some of the highlights include:
  • Two-way splits of Green Violetear, Vilcabamba Thistletail, Great-winged Petrel, Black-rumped Flameback , and Grey-breasted Wood Wren
  • Three-way splits of Plain-backed Thrush, Plain Wren, and Leach's Storm-Petrel
  • And a 10-way split of Red-bellied Pitta.
  • Plus the long-needed disappearance of Caribbean Coot as a color morph of American Coot
As always, all built-in checklists have been updated to follow the new taxonomy.

IOC 6.3 also includes support for several new languages, and they're supported in Scythebill 13.1 for species names:

  • Afrikaans
  • Catalan
  • Slovenian
  • Thai

Extended taxonomy improvements

Extended taxonomies were just released in 13.0;  this release includes some much-needed improvements.

Most importantly, it's now possible to update an extended taxonomy in-place without the overcomplicated workaround needed before.  Just re-add the updated taxonomy, and Scythebill will automatically upgrade all your sightings to the new version.  (If there's some sightings that it can't upgrade - because the taxonomy has changed too much - you may get prompted to save some sightings off to a Scythebill CSV format, so they can be manually re-imported after the upgrade.)

Other improvements include:
  • Extended taxonomies were not honoring the "Common, then scientific" (etc.) preference.
  • Importing an extended taxonomy from a CSV file broke if any of the lines were missing entries.
  • Opening .btxm files directly (instead of via the "Manage taxonomies..." menu) produced some confusing errors.


Other improvements

  • When exporting a report to a spreadsheet, you can now get "Heard only", "Immature", "Adult", "Male", and "Female" columns (select "Show sighting notes, count, etc.?")
  • The IOC and eBird/Clements taxonomies both now have English names for the bird orders.
  • Scythebill now includes a United Kingdom checklist (generated by merging the England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales checklists).
  • There's a new "not by me" sighting status which the masochists among you can use to record times you've been gripped off.  (Scythebill will not consider these sightings countable for your life list.)
  • The "most-likely subspecies" feature broke in 13.0;  it should be working again.
  • A small set of checklist improvements were included;  in particular, Scythebill has aligned its India checklist with the recently released official checklist.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Scythebill 13.0 - Extended taxonomies are here!

Scythebill 13.0 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   (And apologies to triskaidekaphobics!)

The highlight of this release is a much-anticipated new feature:  extended taxonomies!  Now, you can keep track of your mammal sightings, your butterfly sightings, your bryophyte records - anything you want!


How extended taxonomies work

I've got my hands full keeping the eBird/Clements and IOC taxonomies up-to-date, so 
extended taxonomies are built by you, the users of Scythebill.

All of this is documented in full detail in the Scythebill manual, but a quick summary:
  • First, a Scythebill user creates a new extended taxonomy, by editing a spreadsheet to have the right columns and rows, then creating a CSV file, and importing that into Scythebill from the new Manage taxonomies... page (under the File menu).
  • Then, if they want to share that taxonomy with others, they export that new extended taxonomy as a ".btxm" file - a Scythebill taxonomy file.  These ".btxm" files are even easier to import.
  • And if they want to share that taxonomy with the entire Scythebill community, they'll share it with me, and I can make it available to everyone.  (I do need you to verify I have permission from the original authors to distribute the taxonomy - no copyright lawsuits, please!)
Once you've added an extended taxonomy to your sightings file, you can switch to that taxonomy at any time with the same Taxonomy menu used to switch between eBird/Clements and IOC.  Extended taxonomies are saved right inside your ".bsxm" sightings file, so there's no need to separately backup the taxonomy file or worry about transferring it between computers.

You can even import your existing sightings straight into an extended taxonomy.  Not only are Scythebill-format CSV files supported, but also Observado and Avisys!

To get you started, I've made available one extended taxonomy - a world checklist of mammal species, courtesy of Jon Hall at mammalwatching.com.

This is a first version, so I'd be surprised if there aren't some lingering bugs.  There's also a few limitations that I'll be working on.   The two most important limitations are:
  • There is currently no built-in support for upgrading an extended taxonomy to a new version.  This is an obvious hole, and one that will be closed soon with a coming Scythebill version.  (There's a workaround, explained in the manual.)
  • Extended taxonomies do not currently support checklists.  There certainly won’t be any built-in checklists - that’s inherent in the concept - but you also can’t write your own custom checklists.
Other limitations are mentioned in the manual.

Related changes

I've removed the Full Scythebill export… menu item.  This was never really the right way to backup or transfer your sightings - use Save as... for that, and with extended taxonomies, it was going to be a very poor choice, as it would only export one taxonomy at a time.  (If you really want exports in CSV format, they're still available inside Show reports.)

Scythebill's automatic backups are now stored as .zip files.  This makes them about 8 or 9 times smaller, which was useful before, but is very important now that extended taxonomies make sightings files even larger.

Import improvements

When an import contains some duplicates, Scythebill used to warn you, but only let you import everything or drop everything.  Now it'll let you drop the duplicates, and import the rest.

Avisys imports do a better job of importing Bonaire and CuraƧao sightings, and Scythebill should be generally better at getting your imported sightings into the right place for countries split across multiple regions (e.g. Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, etc.).

Avisys field note imports should also work more consistently.

Observado.org imports are better in a couple of ways.  Lat/long will be included (though one per location, not one per sighting).  Also, Observado "sp." sightings are supported - so "Phylloscopus collybita / trochilus" will be correctly imported into Scythebill as a "sp.".

Some instances were Scythebill would mistakenly import to a nominate subspecies instead of the parent species have been fixed.

Smaller changes

MacOS users should no longer see errors that Scythebill is "damaged".  Please do let me know if you're still seeing this.

Scythebill will now show the full path to a photo file as hover-text.  This is useful for resolving broken links.  And speaking of photo files, on Windows Scythebill should do a much better job of opening files in your desired photo viewer (and let you open PDFs or other non-image files).

Compact printing (still) does not work in Safari.  It's a Safari bug, not something I can fix, but Scythebill will now warn you.

Finally, there's the usual set of checklist tweaks, including improvements from the Seychelles, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, England, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, France, Armenia, Georgia, Nepal, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, United Arab Emirates, Guam, Canada as well as a few US states and Canadian provinces.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Scythebill 12.9 - IOC 6.2, Avisys field notes, and eBird/Clements international names

UPDATE (May 1, 2016): I released Scythebill 12.9.1 with a few additions and tweaks:

  • The "Print..." option in "Show Reports" has a new "Compact print?" option, which displays species lists in a much denser, 3 column form.  My life list required 131 pages the old way, but "only" takes 34 pages this way.  (I've seen a lot...)
  • County locations are more clearly marked throughout Scythebill, which helps disambiguate "Los Angeles" (the city) from "Los Angeles" (the county), and so forth.
  • I've fixed up a couple of IOC mappings, most particularly for the "poensis" subspecies of Western Barn Owl.
  • There's the usual batch of checklist tweaks, most particularly for Mauritania.
  • ... and some smaller things you might not notice.


ORIGINAL NOTE: Scythebill 12.9 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email

This version includes the just-released IOC 6.2 taxonomy, support for importing Avisys Field Notes, international names for the eBird/Clements taxonomy, and more!


IOC 6.2

The IOC 6.2 taxonomy was finalized yesterday, and Scythebill already supports it, including updates to all Scythebill checklists!  You can get a full list of species-level changes - mostly splits in Cuckoo-Doves and (Australasian) Catbirds.  They've also mercifully restored "Diademed Sandpiper-Plover" to its rightful full name and made a lot of passerine subspecies changes.

Avisys field notes

Avisys let users store "field notes" - free-form text like Scythebill's "Notes' field.  But those notes never made it to the exports file, so Scythebill has been blind to them.

New in 12.9, Scythebill lets you import Field Notes too.  The process is a bit more involved (five more steps than an import without them), since you need to make Avisys produce a second file containing the field notes, then give both files to Scythebill.  The Scythebill manual has already been updated.

Please let me know if you have any problems with this new feature, or if the directions are at all unclear!

eBird/Clements international names

Scythebill 11 added support for international names in the IOC taxonomy.  Scythebill 12.9 adds support for international names in the eBird/Clements taxonomy!  You can now pick from 42 different sets of international eBird/Clements names, including 6 different English options and 11 different Spanish options.  Visit the eBird page about Common Name Translations in eBird to find out more.  To set this, just visit the Preferences page and choose the new Species names (eBird/Clements) preference.

Smaller features

When entering sightings, you'll get a running total of the species count in the upper-right. (It ignores hybrids and "sp's" and only counts multiple subspecies once.)

There's now a checklist for Kosovo, courtesy of courtesy of Qenan Maxhuni!  There's also a bunch of first-country records, many courtesy of the new Facebook Global Rare Bird Alert group.

Scythebill will now detect and warn you if you've set the Scythebill font size large enough that critical parts of the page are offscreen.

Scythebill now has a number of additional "- in part" alternate names;  as a practical effect, this helps Scythebill do a better job importing some recent splits, e.g. it can automatically import "Common Kestrel" in South Africa as Rock Kestrel.

There's also now a new "magic" location in Show reports - "Ireland (Island of)" - which will include sightings in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Scythebill 12.8.3 - UK names, and better world support for lat/long


Scythebill 12.8.3 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email

This is largely a bug-fix release, though the specific bug is one that's lately been a thorn in the side of many of Scythebill's users.  If you write lat/long coordinates as "37.7833 -122.4167", you've been fine.  But if you write them as "37,7833 -122,4167" (with commas as decimal separators), you've likely run into any number of problems, with error dialogs, or location maps not loading, or "Search nearby" failing...  These should all be resolved, though (of course) let me know if you're still seeing problems.

Scythebill also now includes an "English (United Kingdom)" preference for IOC bird names.  When chosen, Scythebill will use names the Queen herself would approve of - Arctic Skua (not Parasitic Jaeger), Guillemot (not Common Murre), and a simple Robin, Wren, Swallow, Goldfinch, etc.  These alternate names are only available for species on the British list;  for the rest of the world, you'll have to put up with the standard IOC names.   Also, this only affects naming, not taxonomy.  So Bean Goose is still split, "Hudsonian Whimbrel" is still lumped, and so forth.

Other changes include:
  • The Western Australia checklist is now in agreement with an official one, thanks to Martin Cake.
  • A wide variety of first-country records from around the world have been added, as well as some simpler errors (like Spot-flanked Gallinule's presence in Bolivia).
  • When adding a "remembered" report, you can overwrite a report with an existing name instead of being forced to choose a different name.
  • BirdLasser imports are a bit more aggressive at merging sightings into a single "visit".
  • Scythebill gives a more informative error if saving should fail.