Saturday, March 7, 2015

Scythebill 12.0 - better locations!

Scythebill 12 is here!  As always, download here, and please let me know if you have any problems, let me know either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  The big items this time around include:

  • Greatly improved location support
  • 24 newly reconciled checklists - the United States and West Indies are (almost) done!
  • Observado.org and Waarneming import support

Better locations

The big new feature is improved location entry.  Locations can now have latitude and longitude, and full text descriptions.  But since it's tedious to enter latitude and longitude, Scythebill will automatically search for those locations using Google and eBird's "hotspots"!  When it finds a result, it can:
  • Enter the latitude and longitude automatically
  • Show you a map of the location
  • Automatically find the state or even county, so you don't have to
Here's Keoladeo National Park in India - Scythebill (or, rather, Google) found it and automatically placed it inside Rajasthan State.


And here's Golden Gate Park, automatically located not just in the state of California but also into San Francisco County:


And, finally, Magoebaskloof in South Africa:



Latitudes and longitudes are now part of the Scythebill import and export format, and will also be grabbed out of eBird imports.

This is all new code, and there may be a few rough edges - please let me know if anything doesn't work.  (And in case you're wondering, no, Scythebill doesn't send any personal information - cookies, for example - to Google or eBird.)

More checklist improvements


A number of checklists have been reconciled for accuracy and rarity status:
  • The last of the states in the United States is done!  Kentucky was cleaned up by Bill D., and the wonderfully helpful Zack W. took care of Maine, Maryland, Hawaii, Florida, and the District of Colombia!
  • I've handled (almost all) of the West Indies - Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British and US Virgin Islands, Cayman Island, Cuba... you get the point.  (The Netherland Antilles and (French) St. Martin aren't done yet;  information on these is harder to come by.)
  • Abdel B. contributed a number of corrections - mostly southeast Asia, but also some African fixes too.

Observado.org and Waarneming imports

Scythebill now offers some experimental support for importing from observado.org files - which also supports waarneming.nl and waarneming.be.  Do let me know if you have a chance to try this out!

Other fixes and improvements

  • Western Whistler - a species newly available in the last IOC update - can now be entered.  (I invented a new Clements subspecies of Golden Whistler for those who want to enter this in Clements to be ready for the future.)
  • The "Domestic Form" of Rock Pigeon now imports cleanly into eBird.
  • Reports now show a family count next to the species count.  Thanks to Eric S. for the idea!
  • If you use the arrow keys to navigate while entering species, a few species of context at the top and bottom always stay visible - again, thanks to Eric S. for the suggestion.
  • You can now edit the "Complete list of sightings?" setting for a visit after initial entry.
  • An error message that could appear when creating a new .bsxm file - especially for first time users - has been fixed.
  • If you clicked the "Back" button while entering sightings, you lost all your work and had to re-enter everything.  (Ugh.) It's been fixed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scythebill 11 - eBird, international names, and IOC 5.1

Scythebill 11 is here!   As always, download here, and please let me know if you have any problems, let me know either on Google+Facebook, or by email.

Scythebill 11 adds three big new features:
  • Much better eBird support - Scythebill can store start times, duration, distance, etc. - and rapidly get that data to eBird.
  • International names!  Tired of seeing bird names in English?  There's now 20 different languages available.  And if you'd rather use scientific names, that's possible too.
  • Last, but not least, the IOC 5.1 upgrade, announced last week.
There's lots of smaller improvements too!

(If you've been beta testing, the big change in this release is the IOC 5.1 upgrade;  the notes below describe everything that's changed for those that didn't use the betas.)

Full eBird Data

First, eBird is now much better supported.  Previously, you could only enter “Incidental” sightings, with rather little data.  Now you can choose a protocol, attach checklist comments, set start times, durations, distances, and the “Complete checklist?” field, and it'll all be included as you export to and import from eBird.  All of this extra data makes its way into the now-enhanced Scythebill export files too.




You can also get an eBird file saved off as soon as you finish entering sightings, sparing you a series of extra steps.


International bird names


Another big new feature is international bird names!  If you use the IOC checklist, you can get bird names in 20 different languages (plus English, of course).  Most of these are 90-95% complete, though a few (Portuguese, Estonian, and Hungarian) are a bit sparser.

You can also choose, if you wish, to tell Scythebill that you prefer scientific names over common names.

Just click on the new Preferences button on the main page to edit these settings.

IOC 5.1 - and undescribed species

The latest version of the IOC taxonomy is now available, and all checklists have been upgraded to follow its latests splits.  (The checklist ranges for the four new Fox Sparrow species are the best I could do with the data I had;  please let me know if you see anything amiss.)

I've also added - to both Clements and IOC - 26 different undescribed species.  (Two of these are, in fact, already described and have full names in the IOC checklist.)

Better editing of existing data



There’s now a much smoother experience editing data from your old outings.  Before, if you realized you’d made a mistake - missed some species, added some others incorrectly, forgot to enter a count, and so forth - you had to tediously find sightings one-by-one.  Now, just go back to Enter sightings, enter the date and location, click Next - and you’ll be right back where you were, with a full list of sightings from that visit.

Even better, there’s a menu on the Enter sightings page with your 10 most recently entered visits, so you can quickly make fixes to recently entered data:



Checklist improvements


These 5 countries now have fully reconciled checklists, including rarities:
  • Costa Rica
  • Iceland
  • Panama
  • St. Lucia
  • Germany (thanks to Jochen B.)

Zack W. did a huge job, reconciling checklists for 11 US states!  Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin all are up-to-date with rarities set.  And Bill D. reconciled the checklists for Georgia and Indiana - we're down to just five US states that need touching up.

Also:
  • The 25th ABA Checklist update is applied (e.g. Purple Swamphen is now an “introduced” species in Florida)
  • The Water/Brown-cheeked Rail split is now correctly reflected in checklists.
  • Daniel H. found an error in the Panama checklist
  • Jochen B. pointed out mistakes in a number of countries
  • Paul H. saw problems in the Western Australia and Norfolk lists.
  • Niall P. provided some South African corrections.
  • Johan L. identified an issue with the Trinidad and Tobago list.

Smaller things

The "Clements" checklist is now listed as the "eBird/Clements" checklist - it was renamed that a couple of years ago.


Several users found a (Mac-only?) bug - if you started Scythebill by opening a .bsxm file, instead of opening the Scythebill application directly, you saw an error message that your file was corrupt.  Files weren’t corrupt, and everything worked, but it was scary all the same.

In Show reports, when you create a date-based report “is after” and “is before” were wrong - if you asked for “is before 2010”, you got everything before 2010 and 2010 itself.  Now it does what it says.  Thanks to Steve C. for that report.

A nasty bug (Windows only) that could show an error dialog and lock up Scythebill altogether (you had to kill it with Task Manager) has been fixed (most likely - I couldn't personally reproduce it).  Thanks to Penny V. for reporting this.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scythebill 11.1 - a quick beta update

Tonight, I've released another update for the Scythebill 11 beta.

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

This fixes a bug a few users encountered with the first beta - it failed to load if you had sightings without a location.  That's resolved here.

International bird names

There's also a big new feature - international bird names!  If you use the IOC checklist, you can get bird names in 20 different languages (plus English, of course).  Most of these are 90-95% complete, though a few (Portuguese, Estonian, and Hungarian) are a bit sparser.

You can also choose, if you wish, to tell Scythebill that you prefer scientific names over common names.

Just click on the new Preferences button on the main page to edit these settings.


And a few things more...

The Germany checklist now has full rarity data, courtesy of Jochen B. 
The Georgia (US state, not country) does as well, thanks to Bill D.
Browse by location now correctly omits escapees from species counts (a good catch from Jochen B.)

Coming next


The next update of Scythebill should emerge from beta, and include the (just-released) IOC 5.1 checklist.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Scythebill 11.0 - now in beta!

Scythebill 11 is here!  Or, rather, a beta version of Scythebill 11.  I’d love to get some early testing of this release before I announce it fully.  For one, the manual isn't yet updated;  for another, there's a couple of small things I'd like to improve.  So I'm not quite ready, but at the same time it’s got lots of new features and bug fixes.  (And it gives me the time to add one more big feature!)

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

Full eBird data


First, eBird is now much better supported.  Previously, you could only enter “Incidental” sightings, with rather little data.  Now you can choose a protocol, attach checklist comments, set start times, durations, distances, and the “Complete checklist?” field, and it'll all be included as you export to and import from eBird.  All of this extra data makes its way into the now-enhanced Scythebill export files too.



You can also get an eBird file saved off as soon as you finish entering sightings, sparing you a series of extra steps.

Better editing of existing data

Second, there’s a much smoother experience editing data from your old outings.  Before, if you realized you’d made a mistake - missed some species, added some others incorrectly, forgot to enter a count, and so forth - you had to tediously find sightings one-by-one.  Now, just go back to Enter sightings, enter the date and location, click Next - and you’ll be right back where you were, with a full list of sightings from that visit.

Even better, there’s a little dropdown menu in the first Enter sightings page with your 10 most recently entered visits, so you can make fixes to recently entered data fast:


How you can help


If you download this beta, I’d hugely appreciate feedback - positive or negative! - about these two features:

  • Do they work as you expect?  Is anything confusing?
  • If you’re an eBird user, do these changes make life better?  Does anything fail to work?
  • If you’re not an eBird user, are these changes too intrusive?  Do you wish you could hide any of it?


Checklist fixes

These 4 countries now have fully reconciled checklists, including rarities:

  • Costa Rica
  • Iceland
  • Panama
  • St. Lucia

Zack W. did a huge job, reconciling checklists for 11 US states!  Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennesse, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin all are up-to-date with rarities set.

Also:

  • The 25th ABA Checklist update is applied (e.g. Purple Swamphen is now an “introduced” species in Florida)
  • The Water/Brown-cheeked Rail split is now correctly reflected in checklists.
  • Daniel H. found an error in the Panama checklist
  • Jochen B. pointed out mistakes in a number of countries
  • Paul H. saw problems in the Western Australia and Norfolk lists.
  • Niall P. provided some South African corrections.
  • Johan L. identified an issue with the Trinidad and Tobago list.

Other bugs

Several users found a (Mac-only?) bug - if you started Scythebill by opening a .bsxm file, instead of opening the Scythebill application directly, you saw an error message that your file was corrupt.  Files weren’t corrupt, and everything worked, but it was scary all the same.

In Show reports, when you create a date-based report “is after” and “is before” were wrong - if you asked for “is before 2010”, you got everything before 2010 and 2010 itself.  Now it does what it says.  Thanks to Steve C. for that report.

A nasty bug (Windows only) that could show an error dialog and lock up Scythebill altogether (you had to kill it with Task Manager) has been fixed (most likely - I couldn't personally reproduce it).  Thanks to Penny V. for reporting this.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Scythebill 10.6.3 - IOC 4.4 checklist

Scythebill 10.6.3 is here!  Download it here, and please follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for updates.

This release includes the new IOC 4.4 world checklist, released just this week.  The taxonomic highlights are listed here.


Beyond that, there are a few small improvements to the checklists.  And MacOS users that have upgraded to Yosemite will find a font more consistent with the rest of the system.

Bigger features are in the works... but my day job has been a bit more hectic than usual.  Stay tuned!

As always, please let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+,Facebook, or by email.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Scythebill 10.6.2 - bug fixes

Scythebill 10.6.2 is here!  Download it here, and please follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for updates.

This release includes two important bug fixes.

First, a few users have seen errors when upgrading from 10.5 ("Taxa list too small for multiple").  If you've upgraded to 10.6.0 or 10.6.1 and haven't seen this, then you're entirely unaffected.  This was partly fixed in 10.6.1, but not all the way.  It should be fixed now - but if you're still having any problems, please get in touch with me!

Second, imports in the Scythebill format have been failing to read "Location 1", "Location 2", etc. columns.  This has been broken since 10.5.0.   Huge thanks to Keith M. and Stuart T. for the bug report.

There's also a few modest improvements to the checklists:

  • The Singapore checklist has been reconciled, and now includes rarities.
  • Massachusetts, South Carolina, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont checklists have been cleaned up by Scythebill users Zack W. and Bill D.

As always, please let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+,Facebook, or by email.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fast sighting count entry - new in Scythebill 10.6

Entering sightings counts in Scythebill has been a bit tedious, but a new feature in Scythebill 10.6 makes it easy and fast.

This quick video explains how it works: