Monday, January 23, 2017

Scythebill 13.5 is available - IOC 7.1 with automatic updates

Scythebill 13.5.0 is now available!  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This release includes the IOC 7.1 list, and (at long last), IOC users get the same easy resolution on upgrade that eBird/Clements users have come to expect.

IOC 7.1 list is now available

IOC includes a number of splits, mostly from South America, listed in full here.

Previously, upgrading to a new IOC list forced you to manually visit Show reports to track down any splits, and resolve them one-by-one (if you remembered!).

Now - if you have any affected sightings - you'll see a screen like this one:

If you click Not now (perhaps you don't really use IOC), you'll be done.  Otherwise, click Resolve now, and you'll get another screen:

Scythebill's used its checklists to automatically fix most of your sightings, and reduce the number of choices for most of what's left.  (In this case, for example, Scythebill doesn't have single island checklists for the Galapagos, so those splits can't be automated.)  If you don't trust the checklists, you can click No and do all the work yourself - or you can click Yes, and let Scythebill do most of the work for you;  if there's still some splits left, you'll get one last screen to manually resolve whatever Scythebill couldn't handle.

Hopefully, this will make things far simpler for IOC users to keep up with all the splits headed our way.

IOC 7.1 and "Eastern" Barn Owls

One change that is not automatically handled for IOC users this time around is a subtle change in the IOC's split between Eastern and Western Barn Owl.  In IOC 6.4, the boundary between the two forms was in the Lesser Sundas, in Eastern Indonesia.  In IOC 7.1, this has changed - everything west through Pakistan (subspecies stertens and javanica) is now part of Eastern Barn Owl.  So if you've got sightings in Western Barn Owl from South or Southeastern Asia, and did not assign those sightings to one of those subspecies, you'll have to move the sightings yourself to Eastern Barn Owl.

As part of this, I've introduced an artificial group to the eBird/Clements taxonomy - "Barn Owl (South Asian)".  This is not an actual eBird/Clements group - but don't worry, as any sightings you record for that group will automatically be reported to eBird as "Barn Owl (Eurasian)".  Hopefully, the 2017 eBird/Clements taxonomic update will clean this up.

Other changes and fixes

The Mozambique state of Maputo is now properly included in the "Southern Africa" report.

Scythebill has its usual suite of checklist improvements. In this release, I've finished comparing the Scythebill checklists against all the eBird checklists, handling all the countries from T(anzania) to Z(imbabwe).  A number of recent first country records have also been added.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Scythebill 13.4.1 is available

Scythebill 13.4.1 is now available!  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This release is largely a bug fix and cleanup release, with a number of small features and fixes recently requested by users.

Report improvements

There's a new "Family" report option, which lets you select sightings from a single family.  This is, perhaps, most useful in conjunction with "Special reports" - you can figure out in which country you've seen the most hummingbirds, or your best big day for waterfowl, and so forth.

The "IUCN Red List" report option was broken if you'd added any sightings in extended (non-bird) taxonomies.

The AOU region now properly includes Hawaii (as well as Midway, Clipperton Island, and Johnston Atoll).  The ABA region intentionally does not include Hawaii, yet - the rules committee has not yet codified this change, but will in 2017.

Remembered "total ticks" reports did not get saved properly;  they will now.

Import improvements

Scythebill has long detected duplicate entries when importing.  Previously, you only had the option of cancelling the entire import, or dropping the duplicates.  Scythebill now offers another option - overwriting existing sightings with the duplicates.  This is handy if you've improved the data in the original source.  However, note that Scythebill only considers a sighting a duplicate if it's on the same date and is exactly the same taxon!  So if you've updated a subspecies, for example, you'll end up with two sightings, since it won't look like a duplicate.

Ornitho imports should now properly handle Bean Goose imports.  Absent a subspecies, they will be imported as a Tundra/Taiga Bean-Goose "spuh";  with a subspecies, they will be assigned correctly.

Observado imports will automatically set the "Photographed" bit and attach the URL of the Observado sighting if any photographs are included with that sighting.

eBird imports of the "life list" and "checklist" formats should now be more successful when you are importing from some non-English languages.

Other changes

13.4.0 added a new keyboard shortcut in Enter sightings lets you navigate between the detail rows of a table when entering sightings - but it chose a keystroke on Windows (Control-Alt-Up/Down) that was already taken.  It now uses Shift-Alt-Up/Down.

As always, this version of Scythebill includes further checklist improvements.  In particular, I've been working through all the eBird data, looking for species omitted from Scythebill checklists.  As of this release, I've checked against every country (alphabetically) from Afghanistan to Syria.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Scythebill 13.4 - "Ornitho" imports and more

Scythebill 13.4 is now available!  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This release adds support for importing from the "Ornitho" platform (for European bird reports), as well as some small (but much desired) features and bug fixes.

Ornitho imports

The "Ornitho" platform encompasses a number of websites across Europe - Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and parts of France and Spain.  Scythebill now supports imports from this platform - the seventh different import format supported by Scythebill!

From the import screen, click the new "Import from Ornitho..." button, and choose a "TXT" format that you've extracted from Ornitho.  (Unlike with HBW, there are no limits on the number of sightings that can be imported in one go.)

Before importing, it is strongly recommended to set the "Species name in IOC" preference to your local language.  This will significantly improve the accuracy of your imports.

This support is early, and there may be glitches - especially since I've only been able to test against German and Swiss imports.  Let me know if you run into any problems!

More information in checklist spreadsheets

In Browse by location, you can use "Save as spreadsheet" to save checklists for field entry.  A new option - "Include one sighting?" - will add a new column to those spreadsheets, which will tell you where you've already seen a species.  This makes it possible - with a single checklist spreadsheet for a location - to figure out what species are potential lifers, which species have been seen in that location, and which species have been seen elsewhere.

"Sp." counts in Show Reports

The Show reports screen will now show, as a separate tally, the total number of "sp."'s that match that report.  This will - hopefully - allay some concerns users had when switching to IOC and seeing their species totals decline!

Faster data entry - a new shortcut

A new keyboard shortcut in Enter sightings lets you navigate between the detail rows of a table when entering sightings.   If you've got the cursor in a detail row - like entering a number - just press Control-Alt-Up/Down (or Command-Option-Up/Down on a Mac) and you'll move to the previous or next row, with the cursor in the very same field (like the number field) of that row.

This lets you rapidly edit sighting data, since you can edit one field for an entire visit without tediously opening each row in turn.

Other fixes

Report printing did not work for IOC reports with a location with a checklist.

Scythebill's CSVs have - until now - had issues when being opened in Excel.  In particular, if you had note fields containing double-quotes ("), those rows might not read correctly.  This should be fixed now - do let me know if you run into problems with other spreadsheet software.

Scythebill CSV files should do a better job of "round-tripping" - exporting, then importing back - for some locations.  In particular, Puerto Rico did not round-trip correctly (it was imported as a North American state, instead of into the West Indies).

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Scythebill 13.3 - new "special" reports!

UPDATE: Scythebill 13.3.1 and now 13.3.2 have each made improvements to the new Total Ticks code.

ORIGINAL POST: Scythebill 13.3 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This release adds two new "special reports", easy copy-and-paste from Scythebill species and sighting lists, and more.

Special reports

Scythebill's reporting is powerful, but there's some things it can't do.  Scythebill 13.3 adds the first "special" reports - pages that can give you fast answers to things some birders just need to know!  This release offers two new such reports:
  • Big days and years
  • Total ticks
(I've also moved the "Lifer map" out of the File menu and into the Special reports page.)

Big days and years report

The first of the new special reports is "Big days and years".  It'll let you quickly find your best birding days or years.  Just click the new Special reports button on the main page, then click "Big" days and years.  You'll immediately see your best big days anywhere.  You can quickly choose big years with the "Big day" vs. "Big year" menu in the upper left of the page, and you can add the usual report options to limit the possibilities;  below you can see what I get for my best "ABA region" big years (and no, I've never been much of a big year person myself):

(If you're wondering why some say "North America" and some say "California", etc., that's because in some of those years, all of my ABA birding was within California.)

And, of course, if you want to know what day you saw the most butterflies or mammals, etc. - this all works with extended taxonomies.

Total ticks report

Some birders have started working on (and competing on) "total ticks" listing.  A total ticks list adds up all of the totals from subregions into one big total.  So, for example, a "state" total ticks list for the ABA Region requires you to:
  1. Compute the list for every state (or province) in the US and Canada (plus Saint Pierre et Miquelon).
  2. Add all of those lists together - so if you had 150 in one state, 200 in another, that's 350 total, and so forth.
Pretty tedious, huh?  So now Scythebill can answer that question for you in a flash.  Click the new Special reports button on the main page, then click Total ticks.  You'll immediately see your world "country" total ticks list - the sum of each of your individual country lists.  And you can quickly switch to "state" or "county" total ticks, and limit to a location - so if you want your ABA state total ticks, that's easy, and if you want your California county total ticks, that's easy too!

But there's more!  You can Remember... your total ticks, which will let you have a total tick report immediately calculated and always up-to-date on the main Scythebill page.  And you can Save as spreadsheet..., which will save an .xslx file with one row per species, and one column per location, and formulas pre-added with totals:

Other changes

You can now use "Copy" - or drag - from Scythebill lists (like in Show reports or Browse by species or even the new Big day list) to get the text content into a document or your email.

The Print... option in Show reports now includes a more helpful page title describing your report.

Checklist improvements this time around include the standard batch of first country- or state-records, plus:

  • The Indonesian provinces of Maluku and Nusa Tenggara have been substantially augmented with a number of missing species.
  • The Hawaiian "northwestern islands" (Laysan, Midway, and the like) have been moved to a new "Midway" checklist which is part of the "United States Minor Outlying Islands" (these are not, in fact, administered by the state of Hawaii).  However, many Hawaiian listers do include these islands - so there's now a new "Hawaii (with Northwestern Islands)" location available when generating reports.

Bug fixes include:
  • The "world lifer" map was broken if you'd entered any extended taxonomy sightings.
  • The Cut and Copy menu items did not work correctly for taking text out of a Notes field.  (The keyboard shortcuts worked fine, but not the menu items).
  • Reports based on "IUCN Redlist" would - amusingly - treat "Rock Pigeon (Feral)" (and other feral and domestic forms) as beyond critically endangered!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Scythebill 13.2.5 - IOC 6.4, and a few fixes

Scythebill 13.2.5 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   This release includes the brand-new IOC 6.4 checklist, as well as a few bug fixes.

IOC 6.4 taxonomy

The IOC 6.4 taxonomy was just made available, and Scythebill already supports it!  This includes 4 splits and three lumps;  see the full list here.

Along with this taxonomy, Scythebill supports another two set of name translations for IOC - Icelandic and Indonesian (in each case, the species found in that country only).

Bugs fixed

Three report options could break if you used extended taxonomies - "First Records", "Subspecies", and "Sp/Hybrid".

The "Sp/Hybrid?" report option did not work entirely correctly with the IOC taxonomy;  it would sometimes show "spuh"s of eBird/Clements groups even when you only requested "species".

Checklist improvements

Phil T. contributed a series of checklist fixes.  Other improvements included:
  • Several species missing from each of the Sumatra and Java checklists.
  • The range of Large vs. Dark Hawk-Cuckoo was off.
  • Perija Tapaculo and Baliem Whistler were entirely missing from any checklists.
  • Several first country and state records are included, such as those from the Siberian Accentor invasion of Europe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Scythebill 13.2.4 - several small features

Scythebill 13.2.4 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 bug-fix release with a few small features.

Small features

If you find a visit in Browse by location, click Edit sightings..., and finish editing, Scythebill used to drop you back on the main menu.  It now takes you right back to that visit, which makes it much, much easier to quickly edit a series of visits!  Also, the list of visits is now inclusive of all taxonomies, which makes it easier to add extended taxonomy sightings (reptiles, butterflies, etc.) to existing visits with bird sightings.

When printing or exporting as a spreadsheet from Show reports, there's a new option - "Only countable sightings?".   By default, Scythebill will include uncountable sightings (escapees, identification-not-certain, heard-only or introduced if you don't count those, etc.) in the printout or spreadsheet, but omit them from any total count.  This will omit them altogether.  This is especially useful if you're trying to identify your 1000th lifer with "Sort by date", since you won't have the uncountable sightings clogging up the works.

Printing from Show reports will now include a family count and the possible number of families for the selected location (or the world), if you select "Show families?".  (That total includes extinct families, so if you think you've seen all 237 families, and are wondering what the 238th is, remember Mohoidae and feel sad.)

Extended taxonomies have a couple of new features:
  • A "Notes" column in your imports can attach taxonomic information about a species.
  • The subspecies column is a bit more forgiving - it can contain a full trinomial, instead of needing just the subspecies name.

Import improvements

Taxonomic vagaries sometimes mean that the common name in an import refers to one species today, and the scientific name to another.  Before, Scythebill would merely use the common name and stop.  Now, Scythebill will create a "spuh" of both - unless only one of the two is on the checklist for a given country.  (There's no easy answers, but this should reduce how often importing makes an undetected wrong guess.)

When Scythebill needs you to clarify a location name during import - because, for example, the import file just has a location name and no country, state, etc. - it will now let you choose a pre-existing location even if the location name isn't an exact match.

Scythebill is better at importing eBird checklists if you'd set your eBird preferences to use only a scientific name.

BirdLasser imports with a single failed row might fail the entire import.  As with other imports, it now imports the successful rows and dumps the unsuccessful rows into a separate file.  Also, the "LL:" notes added for per-sighting latitude and longitude in BirdLasser (and Observado) imports is now automatically stripped when re-exporting for eBird (as this seems a better privacy approach).

The eBird import format is a common export format for many birding apps;  Scythebill is now a bit more liberal in allowing import of those files.  This may smooth the process when importing from BirdJournal, in particular.

Other bugs

  • When entering species, dropping a photo on the "Photos" column did add the photo - but it did not set the "Photographed" checkbox.  It does now.
  • Earlier buggy imports would sometimes import Hawaiian sightings into "United States (North America)" instead of "United States (Pacific Ocean)".  This should now be fixed (and retroactively - locations should be cleaned up).
  • Likewise, some imports would import the Falkland Islands as a state of the United Kingdom.  They are now moved to the Falkland Islands "country" in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Several text panels used to start (inconveniently) scrolled to the bottom;  this should not happen anymore.
  • Some cases where Windows users were forced to run Scythebill as an administrator to successfully save should now be resolved.
  • Lat/long location choosing in Indonesia should be somewhat better.  (It's still not great.)
  • Checklist improvements were made several countries, including a couple dozen recent first records.

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.)