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.)

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.