Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scythebill 12.2: checklist questions, lifer map, and more

Scythebill 12.2 is now available!  This release has a variety of smaller features, and some important bug fixes.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  The news this time includes:
  • A quick and simple way to answer more checklist questions
  • An interactive map of country-by-country lifers around the world
  • Geographic cleanup of offshore islands for many countries, with a lot more "magic" locations to track full country lists.
  • Lots more checklist corrections and new checklists - all of the Americas are done!

Answer more checklist questions

The Scythebill checklists have made it easy to find out what lifers you can see in hundreds of areas of the world.  And you can always find out what would be new for your list right there - what Indian species would be new for your Indian list, for example.  But they haven't let you answer questions like:
  • What species in a US state would be new for an ABA list?
  • What rarities of the Canary Islands would be new for your Western Palearctic list?
  • What Australian birds would be new for your year list?
All these questions are easy to answer now!

Start with Browse by location, then:
  1. Find the checklist you want to examine.
  2. Change "Show everything" to New for a custom report...
  3. In the window, choose the report for which you'd like to find new species.  So if you wanted to find checklist entries that would be new for the Western Palearctic, choose "Location" "is in" "Western Palearctic", and click OK.
  4. That's it!  You'll now have a list of species that would be new for that report.
If you'd like to exclude rarities, just check the new Hide rarities? option.

Thanks to Jochen B. for the feature idea.

Interactive lifer maps

Scythebill's new Map of world lifers... menu item (in the File menu) brings up a map of the world with each country color-coded for how many lifers are waiting for you there.  Here's my map:



You can also zoom into a specific region of the world with a small menu in the upper left:




Geographic cleanup

Many countries around the world have offshore states or territories that do not fit into ordinary geographic bounds.  For example, the US state of Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean, not North America, so that needs to be separated to keep our "North America" lists in proper form.  I've cleaned this up for a number of other countries:
  • Australia has "lost" a number of offshore territories.  The Ashmore and Cartier Islands and the Coral Sea Islands have independent entries.  (Norfolk and Macquarie Islands already had their own entries.)
  • The Colombian department of "San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina" has been moved to the West Indies.
  • South Africa's "Prince Edward and Marion Islands" have their own entry in the Indian Ocean.
  • The Netherlands Antilles have been divided in two.  The West Indies portion comprises  Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.  The South American portion includes Bonaire and Curaçao.  (Aruba left the Netherlands Antilles in 1986, and is its own country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands).
  • Spain's "exclaves" of Ceuta and Melilla have been moved moved into Africa.
All of this is more geographically accurate, to be sure, but it made calculating a full country list much harder.  To fix this, I've added a slew of "magic" locations:
  • Australia (with dependent territories)
  • Chile (with offshore islands)
  • China (with administrative regions)
  • Colombia (with Caribbean islands)
  • United Kingdom (with dependent territories)
  • United States (with dependent territories)
  • Ecuador (with Galapagos)
  • France (with Overseas Territories)
  • New Zealand (with Tokelau)
  • Portugal (with Azores and Madeira)
  • Spain (with Canary Islands, Ceuta, and Melilla)
  • Norway (with Bouvet Island and Svalbard)
  • Finland (with Åland Islands)
  • Kingdom of Denmark
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • South Africa (with Prince Edward and Marion Islands)
You can find the full definition of each of these in the online manual.

Checklist improvements

Lots of checklists have been cleaned up in this release.  In particular, I've finished manually verifying and setting rarity status checklists for all of North America (including Central America and the West Indies), making this the third completed continent (after South America and Africa);  this required corrections to:
  • All of the Canadian provinces and territories
  • Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Greenland
(Whenever I tackle this, I tend to find some humorous mistakes.  This time the winner came from the El Salvador checklist, which was missing Great Blue Heron - and instead had Great-billed Heron, which would be an impressive range extension from southeast Asia!)

I've also reconciled the checklists (setting "rarity" status and adding/removing species as needed) for:
  • Portugal (removing birds recorded only on the Azores or Madeira)
  • Spain (removing birds found only recorded from the Canary Islands or Ceuta and Melilla)
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Greece
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Socotra Island
  • Seychelles
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Faroe Islands
  • Madeira
  • Azores
And there are brand new checklists for:
  • Heard Island and MacDonald Islands
  • Macquarie Island
  • Easter Island
  • Juan Fernandez Island (and its endemics removed from Chile)
  • Curaçao
  • Bonaire
  • Niue
  • Svalbard and Jan Mayen
  • Saint Pierre et Miquelon
  • Coral Sea Islands
  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands
There's additional, smaller fixes in southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, Costa Rica, and Peru.

Fixed bugs

I've fixed a couple of problems with the photos code added in the last release.
  1. If a photo was moved or deleted, and Scythebill couldn't find it, you'd get an unfriendly error message.  Now, you can relocate the photo and fix the problem.
  2. Under some circumstances, Scythebill might not save added photos.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Scythebill 12.1 - attach photos, IOC 5.2, better checklists, and more

Scythebill 12.1 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 features this time  include:
  • Attach photos - either from files or the web - to your sightings!
  • IOC 5.2 is available the very same day it's released!
  • Many, many improved checklists (including an entire continent!)
  • Some important "geocoding" and eBird bugs are fixed
Also, if you missed the announcement, Scythebill now has a real website!  Please visit http://www.scythebill.com/ and take a look.  Relatedly, the open-source repository has moved too, and is now available on Bitbucket, so if you'd like to follow Scythebill's development, that's where to go.

Photo attachments

Scythebill now lets you attach photos - both files and webpages - to your sightings.  This has been requested for a long time, and it's finally available.  The implementation here is a starting point, not a final destination, and I'm very curious what features you'd like to see added on top of this - please let me know!

When you're entering species, there's a new Photos column:


You can click on that camera icon - which will bring up a file chooser - or you can drag a file or a webpage onto that icon.  (Note: webpages don't seem to work in Linux.  I'll see if I can get this working in the near future.)  When you do either, that camera icon will change to a number;  and if you expand the sighting, you'll see the list of photos on the right side:


You can click on the photo name to open it - it'll open (outside of Scythebill) in whatever application typically displays photos or webpages on your computer.  You can also drag onto or click the "Drag a photo or click..." part of the page here to add more photos, or click the red X to remove a photo.

The same controls for adding and removing photos here are also everywhere you can edit sightings in Scythebill.

IOC 5.2 taxonomy

The IOC 5.2 taxonomy was just released today, and Scythebill's already up-to-date!  You can find the list of species-level changes here.  As always, the checklists have already been updated (though I admit I'm guessing a bit at the wintering range of Chinese vs. European Blackbird in southeast Asia).

I've also upgraded the IUCN Redlist status for all species (in both IOC and eBird/Clements) from 2012 to 2014.  (It will surprise no one that most changes are not for the better, though there's the occasional bright spot.)

Updated checklists - all of Africa!

IOC 5.2 came out a little bit later than I imagined, and I took advantage of this time by cleaning up all of the African checklists, including Atlantic and Indian Ocean islands near Africa.  They're definitely vastly better - with some embarrassing mistakes cleaned up (Broad-tailed Grassbird in Africa?!?) - but it's possible some errors have been introduced.  If you've travelled in Africa, please use Verify against checklists... in the File menu and let me know what you find.  (This might find mistakes in the checklists, or it might find mistakes in your data;  either way, I'm happy to hear.)

There's also brand-new checklists for:
  • Norfolk Island (with its endemics removed from the Australia checklist)
  • Mayotte (with its endemics removed from the Comoros checklist)
  • East Timor (also known as Timor-Leste), Nauru, and Clipperton Island
Finally, there've been some smaller fixes to checklists in East Asia and Great Britain.

Bugs fixed

Linux users should have a somewhat easier time of things with fonts.  Also, both Linux installs now come fully prepackaged, with no need for an extra Java install.

A few bugs were fixed with the "geocoding" support added in Scythebill 12.0 - automatically grabbing lat/long and county names from Google and eBird.  Most of the combinations are obscure - but particular thanks to Sara M. for finding and reporting the most conspicuous of them.

Three bugs were fixed when importing from eBird:
  • Some eBird exports are produced with 2 year dates - "1/1/15" instead of "1/1/2015". Scythebill parsed those as the year 15 - yes, just 15 - which is probably not what you wanted. That's fixed, and Scythebill will automatically clean up your sightings as soon as they're loaded if you've encountered this bug.
  • If eBird exported time in AM/PM format, Scythebill completely failed to parse any time starting with "12:".
  • Scythebill failed altogether to load eBird imports with some stranger "sp." combinations (in particular Merganser sp. - Mergus/Mergellus/Lophodytes sp.).

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.