Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scythebill 10.1.0 - Custom checklists and more

Scythebill 10.1.0 is now available!  Download it here, and please follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for updates.

Custom checklists

Scythebill now lets you build your own checklists, and share them with your fellow Scythebill users.  I'll tell you more about it in another post (I'm rushing a bit to get this out before the new year), but here's a quick teaser.  All you need to do to build a checklist for a location is:
  • Click "Create checklist..."
  • Choose "Use copy-and-paste auto-magic?"
  • Find a webpage or PDF anywhere on the web - think checklists or trip reports - and paste its text in
  • Click "Start"
That's it!  Scythebill will find all the species named in the text (common or scientific).

Once you've created checklists, you can save them as a .csv file and share them with other users.

If you'd like to play around with an example, you can download a checklist for San Francisco city and open it using "Import checklists..." in the File menu.

An important bugfix

In some unusual circumstances, Scythebill could "forget' some of its entered locations.  This resulted in a scary warning about corrupted files.  If you haven't seen this error message, you are not affected, don't worry.

The underlying issue has been fixed, and Scythebill gracefully handles loading such corrupted files.  (You'd lose some location names, but none of the underlying sightings, and Scythebill will tell you if this happens.)

More checklist corrections

Scythebill has another 375 corrections (42 removals, and 333 additions).  Please keep the corrections coming ("Verify against checklists...") in the File menu, they're invaluable.

Easier importing (MacOS only)

One for the Mac users:  if you've got an eBird .csv file or one of the new shared checklists, you can just drop that file on the Scythebill application (in the Finder or the dock), and it'll be automatically imported.

I try to keep all the features cross-platform, but this one was just easier to implement on Macs (sorry).  

Other fixes

  • The "New location..." button was broken. (Reported by Richard A.)
  • "Verify against checklists..." properly ignores sightings that are marked as "Uncertain identification" or "Not accepted".
  • The "Import" and "Export" menu items have shortcut keys now.  (Thanks to Tim B. for the suggestion)
  • Imports from eBird containing things like "Crow sp." would fail, fixed.  (Thanks also to Tim. B for that one)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Scythebill 10.0.1 - important bug fixes

Scythebill 10.0.1 is now available!   Download it here, and please follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for updates.

This release fixes a few significant bugs introduced in Scythebill 10.0, in particular a bug that could cause problems when entering complex location hierarchies.

Scythebill 10.0.1 also fixes the import of eBird "Checklist" export files (exports from a single sighting), greatly improves the behavior when importing Birder's Diary-generated eBird imports, and does a much better job of automatically preserving groups and subspecies in eBird imports.

This release also includes lots of checklist improvements, especially in Bolivia and New Mexico, as well as fixing the ranges of Long-tailed vs. Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Whiskered vs. Sulphur-rumped Myiobius, as well as Mongolian Finch and Sunda Scops Owl.

Please continue to send in your results from the "Verify against checklists..." menu!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Scythebill 10.0 - Checklists! (and a whole lot more)

Scythebill 10.0 is here!   Download it here, and please follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for updates.


This is a feature-packed release, but the biggest of the new features is checklist support!  Scythebill 10.0 includes checklists for over 200 countries and over 150 states, provinces, and counties - including all the states of the US and Australia, all the provinces of Canada, and many British counties.

I started with the checklists from Printable Bird Checklists, courtesy of Mal Jenkins, then added over 7,000 changes on top of those.

The checklists identify species endemic to an area, as well as introduced or escaped.  The Browse by location screen now automatically shows all species from an area mixed in with your sightings, and you can instantly see what species would be lifers or are endemic to a country.  You can even create checklist spreadsheets, viewable in Excel, Numbers, OpenOffice, LibreOffice or Google Drive, with your lifers conveniently marked in bold.

Checklists also make data entry better - "choose-your-own-abbreviation" data entry now automatically prioritizes those species found in the area of your sighting.

Here's a quick video overview of this feature:

As the video shows, you can cross-check your sightings against the checklists instantly with the "Verify against checklists..." menu item.  Please, do so, and send me any errors in the checklists you find!  I'd like to make the checklists rock solid.

Finally, I'm planning more features for checklists in the future - in particular, I'd really like to let you create your own checklists and share them, so your local patch can have its own list.

One-off sighting entry and deletion!

Both the Browse by species and Browse by location screens now have a button at the bottom-right.  It's either "Add sighting" or "Remove sighting" depending on what you've got selected, and:
  • On Browse by species, "Add sighting" will add a sighting of a species (or subspecies) with no date or location (though you can immediately add either or both).  This is oh so much simpler than going back through Enter sightings!
  • On Browse by location, "Add sighting" will add a sighting of a species at the currently location.   It nicely dovetails with checklists, as you can use this to go through a list of species on a checklist and mark which ones you've seen.
  • In either screen, if you've got one or more sightings selected, you can easily delete them.
A simple feature, but much needed.  

Easier access to all locations!

Scythebill 9.4.0 added all the states/provinces of the world, as well as all the counties of the United States and Great Britain.  But, alas, these were rather buried.  They're not anymore. You can get to all those locations immediately from any location box.  And, better, when you're picking a location (say, Brazil), Scythebill will show you Brazil followed by all the states of Brazil.

There's a variety of more subtle location improvements:
  • Forget whether you entered a location as "Mount Fuji" or "Mt. Fuji"?  "Saint Thomas" or "St. Thomas"?  Doesn't matter anymore - "mtfu" or "mofu", "sath" or "stth" will work no matter which you entered.
  • The countries of the Caucasus are now correctly in Asia.
  • The Azores was missing...  it's not anymore.
  • A variety of country codes have been fixed behind the scenes.  (This will make things a bit easier if you're uploading data to eBird)

Western Palearctic report!

Scythebill has long supported reporting on your ABA and AOU lists.  It now supports a Western Palearctic list as well!  Thanks to Jochen B. for the idea (and for finding glitches in my first implementation).  Just go to Show reports, and choose "Western Palearctic" as a location.

Customize your reports

Report output is far more customizable now.  Reports can be saved as "Excel" spreadsheets (though, really, you can open these up with far more - Numbers, Google Docs, LibreOffice and OpenOffice, and so on).  You can choose:
  • How many (maximum) sightings you want per species in the report
  • Whether to include the scientific name?
  • Whether to include family names?
  • Whether to show threatened status?
  • Whether to include sighting notes?
And HTML printouts can also be customized in much the same way.

But wait, there's more!

Every time you enter a sighting in Enter sightings, Scythebill will tell you if that species is new for your world list, country list, state list, or county list!  (And it'll also warn you if it's not on the checklist for that location.)

Small stuff

Scythebill will now warn you if you haven't saved your reports in awhile.  (Thanks to Yann M. for the idea).

IOC mappings for Chinese Wren-Babbler (a split off Scaly-breasted) were missing;  that's now fixed.

The MacOS Lion version was missing little right-facing arrows in a few screens.

When you selected a sighting in Browse by location, the species name wasn't always present in the sighting editor.  It now is.  (Thanks to Yann M. for the report.)

Scythebill imports with the Clements taxonomy would sometimes drop subspecies in favor of groups.    (Thanks to Jochen B. for the excellent catch.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Scythebill 9.4.0 - IOC 3.5, a world of states, and more

Scythebill 9.4.0 is available!  Download it here, and follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for more updates.

For many, the highlight of this version will be IOC version 3.5 - made available just a few days ago.  There also were some specific issues in Scythebill's IOC 3.4 support that have been resolved - Loggerhead Shrike, Grey-backed Fiscal, and East Andean Antbird are specifically fixed.

My personal favorite new feature is a small one that massively simplifies entering subspecies or eBird groups.  It takes more words to explain than it does to show:

Whenever entering a species, Scythebill will see if you've previously chosen a subspecies for that location (or a nearby one).  If you have, it'll show up automatically in the drop-down list.  

Scythebill 9.4.0 is also much less US-centric than earlier versions.  Scythebill previously created lists with all the countries of the world, but only the states of the United States.  Now, Scythebill has:

  • The states of all the countries in the world
  • The major subdivisions of the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man
  • The counties of the United States
  • The counties of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.  (These are, as I understand it, ceremonial counties for England, council areas in Scotland, and counties or boroughs in Northern Ireland and Wales)
Here's how this feature works:

Scythebill 9.4.0 includes a number of smaller features:
  • You can now rearrange built-in locations to your heart's content.  For example, if you want to build an "East Asia" location for reporting, go to "Browse by Location", create a new location inside Asia, then drag-and-drop China, Japan, South Korea, etc. into East Asia.  Think Texas should be part of Mexico?  It's your call now.  Thanks to Yann M. for the idea.
  • The UI for entering new locations has been cleaned up a bit, and should hopefully be clearer when entering deep hierarchies of locations.
  • You can now enter sightings with no date at all.  Thanks to Keith M. and and Ronald O. for the suggestion.
  • The country codes of Guam and the Canary Islands have been fixed.  (This would have caused issues when importing to eBird.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Scythebill 9.3.0 - eBird/Clements 6.8 checklist is now available!

Scythebill 9.3.0 is now available!  The highlight of this version is the new eBird/Clements 6.8 checklist.  Download it here, and follow Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook for more updates.

If you're wondering what happened in Clements 6.8, I've written a summary in the previous Scythebill blog post.

Along with that checklist, there's a new taxonomy upgrade screen that will let you quickly resolve any splits or other taxonomic conundrums this revision of Clements introduces.  This screen is also the subject of the first How-To video for Scythebill.  Let me know how this format works for you - I'll make more if this is useful.

One other notable feature new to 9.3.0:  eBird import supports importing eBird import files.  This is especially useful because a lot of other bird software programs support generating those import files, so this is a reasonable way to get data from another program (like BirdBase) into Scythebill.

Scythebill 9.3.0 includes a number of smaller features and fixes:

  • eBird export now includes scientific names.
  • Popup performance on the MacOS Lion/Mountain Lion version of Scythebill was often terrible.  This should be much better. Thanks to Yann M. for the report.
  • Earlier versions gave a lousy error message if you tried to save into a non-writable directory;  this should be better now.  Thanks to Elena V. for the report.
  • There's a now a "day" and "year" hint to make date entry a little more obvious.
  • Fixed an error that appeared after Scythebill failed to open a file.  Thanks to Mark C. for the report.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Clements 6.8 - what's changed?

Update: Scythebill 9.3.0 was released with the eBird/Clements 6.8 checklist.

Cornell just published the August 2013 update to what's now known as "The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world".  As of today, there's a downloadable spreadsheet, but not yet a summary of the changes involved.  (I much prefer this to last year's state of affairs, where the summary was published well before the spreadsheet was made available.)

This is, accordingly, a moderately quick analysis of the species and subspecies of Clements 6.7 versus 6.8.  

In addition to the changes included here, there's quite a bit of subspecific cleanup - many subspecies have been removed due to synonymization, and several have moved from one species or group to another (e.g.:  Golden Parrotbill ssp. beaulieu from n Laos is now in Black-throated Parrotbill, Painted Parakeet ssp. microtera is synonymized with Santarem Parakeet ssp. amazonum, and so forth).


  1. Speckled Chachalaca to Speckled/East Brazilian/Scaled Chachalaca
  2. Horned Curassow to Sira/Horned Curassow
  3. Changeable Hawk-Eagle to Changeable/Crested Hawk-Eagle
  4. Mountain Hawk-Eagle to Mountain/Legge's Hawk-Eagle
  5. Sapphire Quail-Dove to Purple/Sapphire Quail-Dove
  6. Green Imperial-Pigeon to Green/Nicobar Imperial-Pigeon
  7. Plaintive Cuckoo to Plaintive/Gray-bellied Cuckoo
  8. Asian Drongo-Cuckoo to Square-tailed/Fork-tailed/Moluccan Drongo-Cuckoo
  9. Barn Owl to Barn Owl/Andaman Masked-Owl
  10. Brown Hawk-Owl to Brown/Hume's Boobook
  11. Philippine Hawk-Owl to Luzon/Mindanao/Mindoro/Cebu/Sulu Boobook
  12. Barred Owlet-Nightjar to Vogelkop/Barred Owlet-Nightjar
  13. Blue-headed Bee-eater to Blue-moustached/Blue-headed Bee-eater
  14. Crimson-fronted Barbet to Malabar/Crimson-fronted Barbet
  15. Chestnut-tipped Toucanet to Chestnut-tipped/Tepui Toucanet
  16. Philippine Woodpecker to Philippine/Sulu Woodpecker
  17. Brown-capped Woodpecker to Brown-capped/Sunda Woodpecker
  18. Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker to Fulvous-breasted/Freckle-breasted Woodpecker
  19. Long-tailed Antbird to East Andean/Klages's/Santa Marta/Streak-headed Antbird
  20. Immaculate Antbird to Zeledon's/Blue-lored Antbird
  21. Plain-brown Woodcreeper to Plain-brown/Plain-winged Woodcreeper
  22. Curve-billed Scythebill to Red-billed/Curve-billed Scythebill
  23. Chestnut Wattle-eye to Chestnut/West African Wattle-eye
  24. Scarlet Minivet to Orange/Scarlet Minivet
  25. Rufous-tailed Shrike to Red-tailed/Isabelline Shrike
  26. Pied Fantail to Malaysian/Philippine Pied-Fantail
  27. Azure-winged Magpie to Iberian/Azure-winged Magpie
  28. Short-tailed Magpie to Javan/Bornean Green-Magpie
  29. Torresian Crow to Torresian/Bismarck Crow
  30. Pacific Swallow to Hill/Pacific Swallow
  31. Great Tit to Great/Cinereous/Japanese Tit
  32. Long-tailed Tit to Long-tailed/Silver-throated Tit
  33. Eurasian Treecreeper to Eurasian/Hodgson's Treecreeper
  34. Brown-throated Treecreeper to Sikkim/Hume's Treecreeper
  35. Spotted Creeper to African/Indian Spotted-Creeper
  36. House Wren to House/Cobb's Wren
  37. Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler to Hume's/Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler
  38. Nightingale Reed-Warbler to Nightingale/Aguiguan/Pagan Reed-Warbler
  39. Tahiti Reed-Warbler to Society Islands/Tahiti Reed-Warbler
  40. Marquesan Reed-Warbler to Southern/Northern Marquesan Reed-Warbler
  41. Spotted Bush-Warbler to Baikal/West Himalayan/Spotted Bush-Warbler
  42. Philippine Tailorbird to Philippine/Green-backed Tailorbird
  43. Rufous-headed Parrotbill to White-breasted/Rufous-headed Parrotbill
  44. Gray-cheeked Fulvetta to Gray-cheeked/Yunnan/David's/Huet's Fulvetta
  45. Rufous-rumped Grassbird to Indian/Chinese Grassbird
  46. Gray-breasted Laughingthrush to Black-chinned/Kerala Laughingthrush
  47. Common Babbler to Afghan/Common Babbler
  48. Mount Apo Sunbird to Apo/Tboli Sunbird
  49. Flaming Sunbird to Flaming/Maroon-naped Sunbird
  50. Metallic-winged Sunbird to Metallic-winged/Mountain/Bohol Sunbird
  51. Eastern Crimson Sunbird to Crimson/Magnificent Sunbird
  52. Greenish Yellow-Finch to Greenish/Monte Yellow-Finch
  53. Sage Sparrow to Bell's/Sagebrush Sparrow
  54. Royal Parrotfinch to Red-headed/Royal Parrotfinch


  1. Indochinese Swiftlet into Himalayan Swiftlet
  2. Green-crowned Woodnymph into Crowned Woodnymph
  3. Sira Barbet into Scarlet-banded Barbet
  4. Black-crested Tit into Coal Tit
  5. Turkestan Tit into Great Tit
  6. Yellow-breasted Tit into Azure Tit 

New species

This list largely consists of newly discovered species, 15 of which are from Brazil but have not yet been vetted at all by the SACC (as Cornell did a year ago with "Sira" Barbet, now a group within Scarlet-banded Barbet).  One (Kangaroo Island Emu) is a long-extinct form. 

  1. Kangaroo Island Emu
  2. Pincoya Storm-Petrel
  3. Seram Masked-Owl
  4. Rinjani Scops-Owl
  5. Romblon Boobook
  6. Camiguin Boobook
  7. Western Puffbird
  8. Roosevelt Antwren
  9. Bamboo Antwren
  10. Predicted Antwren
  11. Aripuana Antwren
  12. Manicore Warbling-Antbird
  13. Junin Tapaculo
  14. Xingu Woodcreeper
  15. Tupana Scythebill
  16. Tapajos Scythebill
  17. Inambari Woodcreeper
  18. Delta Amacuro Softtail
  19. Chico's Tyrannulet
  20. Acre Tody-Tyrant
  21. Sucunduri Flycatcher
  22. Campina Jay
  23. Inambari Gnatcatcher
  24. Saipan Reed-Warbler
  25. Mangareva Reed-Warbler
  26. Cambodian Tailorbird

New subspecies

  1. Wilson's Plover (C.w.crassirostris)
  2. Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo (S.d.stewarti)
  3. Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo (S.v.chalybaeus)
  4. Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo (S.v.velutinus)
  5. Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo (S.v.suluensis)
  6. Romblon Boobook (N.s.spilonotus)
  7. Romblon Boobook (N.s.fisheri)
  8. Black-spotted Barbet (C.n.aurantiicinctus)
  9. Rose-fronted Parakeet (Wavy-breasted) (P.r.peruviana)
  10. Rose-fronted Parakeet (Wavy-breasted) (P.r.dilutissima)
  11. Spot-winged Antshrike (P.s.maculipennis)
  12. Spot-winged Antshrike (P.s.purusiana)
  13. Streak-headed Antbird (D.s.striaticeps)
  14. Streak-headed Antbird (D.s.occidentalis)
  15. Streak-headed Antbird (D.s.peruviana)
  16. Streak-headed Antbird (D.s.boliviana)
  17. Brown-banded Antpitta (G.m.gilesi)
  18. Brown-banded Antpitta (G.m.milleri)
  19. Sharp-billed Treehunter (H.c.camargoi)
  20. Sharp-billed Treehunter (H.c.contaminatus)
  21. Goldenface (P.f.lecroyae)
  22. Mountain Mouse-Warbler (C.r.diamondi)
  23. Green Shrike-Vireo (V.p.ramosi)
  24. African Blue Tit (C.t.hedwigae)
  25. Clamorous Reed-Warbler (Clamorous) (A.s.levantinus)
  26. Clamorous Reed-Warbler (Brown) (A.s.brunnescens)
  27. Society Islands Reed-Warbler (A.m.musae)
  28. Western Orphean Warbler (S.h.hortensis)
  29. Western Orphean Warbler (S.h.cyrenaicae)
  30. Brown-streaked Flycatcher (M.w.williamsoni)
  31. Glossy-black Thrush (T.s.continoi)
  32. Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager (A.l.yariguierum)
  33. Black-and-yellow Tanager (C.c.titanota)
  34. Black-striped Sparrow (A.c.pastazae)
  35. Socotra Sparrow (P.i.hemileucus)
  36. Socotra Sparrow (P.i.insularis)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Scythebill 9.2.2 - a bug fix release

Scythebill 9.2.2 is now available!  Unlike the feature-ific recent releases, this one fixes some small bugs that have crept in over the past couple of releases.

Get it here from the new download page.

And you can get more updates by following Scythebill on Google+ or Facebook.


  • You no longer have to click the "Save" button when editing existing sightings - sightings are automatically saved when you click away.
  • (Windows only)  Print... now works if your default browser is Internet Explorer.
  • (MacOS only) A separate release for MacOS Lion (10.7) or newer is available.  For at least one user, this resolved a problem where keyboard input was ignored. (Thanks to Philip S. for the report, and for sticking around for the lengthy diagnosis!)
  • Lifers once again appear in bold when entered.
  • Dragging around locations in "Browse by locations" no longer snaps the scrollbar up to the top.
  • Error windows that appeared when entering sightings at a continent or ocean level (like "Atlantic Ocean") are fixed. (Thanks to Shelley R. for the report.)
  • Error windows that appeared when editing sightings that had no date are fixed. (Thanks to Howard W. for the report.)


  • The "choose-your-own-abbreviation" list of species now takes time-of-year into account when sorting!  Species that you've only seen at a location in the winter will move to the top in the winter, and lower in the summer, and so forth.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Editing everywhere, IOC 3.4, new installers, and more: Scythebill 9.2.1 is available

Well, phew.  It's been a couple of months since the last release.  They've been busy months, and there's lots of improvements.

Get it here (it's a new download page, with better instructions).

New installers

If you're a Windows or Linux users, the first thing you'll notice is a new installer, courtesy of Bitrock Installbuilder (thanks for their free support of open source software).  If you're a Windows user, you get:

  • No need to install Java.
  • .bsxm files (where sightings are stored) now have an icon, and you can double-click them to start up Scythebill

This product is new to me, so the old standalone .exe is still available for download if the installer doesn't work, but I recommend using the installer if possible.

The Linux installer doesn't do as much, but should still make it easier to get started.  (Linux users will still need a separate installation of Java.)

For MacOS users, there's no installer (they're just not that necessary on MacOS), but the application is finally signed  - so Mountain Lion users shouldn't see "Scythebill is damaged and can't be opened" ever again.  There's a nice explanation of Mountain Lion and it's Gatekeeper feature here.

A picture of a Scythebill!

Once installed, you might notice is that Scythebill now has a new icon and splash screen!  It's of an actual Red-billed Scythebill, and is far higher quality than that old Yellow Cardinal shot of mine.  The MacOS and Windows icons now also scale much better.  Thanks and credit go to Alan Smith for the donation.

IOC 3.4 - just released, already supported

The IOC 3.4 list update was released yesterday morning, and is already supported in Scythebill.

A lot more ways to edit

I've gotten consistent feedback from users that it's hard to edit existing sightings in Scythebill.  It got quite a bit better in 9.2.0, and is even better in 9.2.1.

Most notably, you can now edit right from "Show reports".  Issue any report you want, select a sighting, and you can edit that sighting.  Or, even better:  you can generate a report, and click the new "Bulk edit..." button, which will let you edit all matched sightings at once!  If you accidentally entered 500 sightings in Peru for 2003 when it should have been 2004, just:
  1. Go to Show reports.
  2. Search for <Location> <is in> Peru (and if you need to limit it to just one trip, add <Date> <is During> 2003)
  3. Click Bulk Edit... at the bottom
  4. Change 2003 to 2004.
  5. Click "OK".
(Thanks to user dfoxmi for the inspiration.)

You can also edit dates (one-by-one, or in bulk) everywhere.

New data fields and report generation options

Two data fields have been added.

First, you can set an "Adult" checkbox for sightings that aren't specifically male or female, but are definitely not immatures.

More interestingly - and hopefully in time for a few sightings this summer - is the addition of Breeding Bird Codes.  Scythebill supports the full set of eBird breeding bird codes, and you can issue reports against breeding bird categories (e.g. "Confirmed" breeding).

Also, you can now issue reports against the Description field - if you're trying to find that raptor sighting where a Red-shouldered Blackbird was dive-bombing it, it's now much easier to track it down quickly.

Smaller features

There's also a new View menu to change font sizes, so if you've got a huge monitor you can expand the font size to be easier on the eyes.  And if you've got a small monitor, you can shrink the font size down.  (Large fonts and small monitors may not work well together.) Thanks to user "chkmypc" for the idea.

There's some smaller things too:

  • You can now enter Italian Sparrow on the IOC list (should've been able to even in IOC 3.3).  Thanks to Peter W. for the report.
  • eBird import now supports importing single-day checklists.  Thanks to user "righttoreason" for the report.
  • Drag-and-drop of locations in "Browse by locations" (for re-arranging) now works better.  When you hover over a collapsed location, it'll automatically expand.  And you properly get feedback on MacOS as you drag over other items.
  • Total sighting counts in HTML reports and printouts were missing "sp." sightings.
  • Scythebill fonts won't be fuzzy on MacOS displays that are "Retina" capable.


As always, if you have any issues with Scythebill, please let me know, either by email or on the issue tracker.  Cheers!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Scythebill 9.2.0 - better editing and (some big) bug fixes

Scythebill 9.2.0 is now available!

It's available a bit earlier than I intended (and so with a few less features), but it includes a fix for a fairly unpleasant bug.  If you entered sightings with the IOC taxonomy, additional sighting details (comments, heard-only, etc.) were dropped - only the species, location, and date were getting saved.  (The bug didn't affect data entry with Clements.)  Thanks enormously to Kev for the bug report!

That fix aside, Scythebill 9.2.0 includes a bunch of new features, mostly around improved editing support.

Full IOC subspecies support (almost)

Prior versions of Scythebill did not let you enter IOC subspecies where there was no corresponding Clements subspecies - this affected somewhere over 1000 IOC subspecies!  You can now enter almost all of these - there's about a dozen or so that are not yet supported.

Bulk editing

In both "Browse by species" and "Browse by location", you can select a slew of sightings (of a single species) and edit fields en masse.  This is especially handy, for example, in setting "Introduced" status correctly - for the "NIB" listers (No Introduced Birds) among us.

Browse by location improvements

  • You can now enter new locations right from Browse by location.  Select the existing location where you want to add a sub-location first, and click "New..." at the bottom
  • You can select multiple locations and drag-and-drop them onto another location (for example, if you entered several locations as directly in the United Kingdom, and wanted to move them into England, inside the UK).
  • You can now use the Cut/Copy/Paste menu items to move sightings to an alternate location. (Before, you could only drag-and-drop)

Easier "Sp." resolution

You can now select "Sp." sightings in "Browse by species" and "Browse by location" and resolve them to a single taxon (one at a time, or en masse).  This is especially handy if you're switching between Clements and IOC - is that Osprey you entered in Clements an IOC Western Osprey or Eastern Osprey?

Smaller fixes

  • Selection was sometimes incorrect after pasting sightings.  Most of these problems have been resolved.
  • While entering sightings, changing the subspecies by the keyboard would move the keyboard focus onto the Cancel button... and selecting Cancel would drop all your sightings without any warning!  Both halves are fixed - focus moves to the table, and clicking Cancel will always warn you that sightings will be lost.
  • Some small UI glitches displaying and editing "sp." sightings have been fixed.
  • A few alternate names now say "- in part" (for example "Capped Seedeater", which was split to Copper Seedeater and Pearly-bellied Seedeater).  More will come in the future.
As always, if you have any issues with Scythebill, please let me know, either by email or on the issue tracker.  Cheers!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scythebill 9.1.0 - imports and alternate names

Scythebill 9.1.0 is now available.

There's two major new features - but perhaps more important are some significant bug fixes.  On Windows and Linux, the Cut/Copy/Paste menu items have been quite broken - they've always appeared as disabled.  (The Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V shortcuts have always worked, but it was hard to know.)  This should be resolved.  If you're still having any problems, please let me know.   Thanks to Elena V. for the bug report!

Now, for the fun stuff...

Scythebill has long been missing any way to import data - I've done some one-offs for those bold enough to ask (and thank you to those who did!).  Now, at last, there's an Import menu option (in the File menu).  Scythebill 9.1.0 can import from the following formats:

  • Avisys CSV export
  • eBird CSV export
  • Scythebill's own CSV export
I'd like to add more, but I need samples!  If you have any examples of different formats, please let me know.

Also, Scythebill now has a wealth of alternate names - over 7400 alternate common names, and a couple of hundred alternate scientific names - that you can use while entering species in either IOC or Clements.  So if you know Gavia immer as Great Northern Diver, go ahead and type "grnd" or whatever abbreviation you want - Scythebill will find it.  It'll still show up on your list as the IOC - Great Northern Loon - or Clements - Common Loon - name, though - this just makes it much easier to enter your sightings or browse the species list.

Smaller fixes and changes:
  • The MacOS version failed to start altogether if it was in a directory or drive containing a space!  Ugh.  (This also meant that Scythebill would not start if it was launched from the downloaded disk image, and has been broken since 9.0.2.)
  • The Export... option now includes Index and City columns, and a glitch with backslash characters in descriptions has been fixed.
  • Pasting text into fields was generally broken.
  • Some additional corrections have been made to the Clements taxonomy, all reassigning subspecies to more closely adhere to IOC - all appears to be errors by Cornell.

As always, if you have any issues with Scythebill, please let me know, either by email or on the issue tracker.  Cheers!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

IOC 3.3 upgrade now available

Version 3.3 of the IOC taxonomy was released on January 28th, 2013.

On January 29th, 2013, Scythebill 9.0.4 was released, including IOC 3.3.  (Sadly, it was released 30 minutes too late to qualify as a "same day" upgrade, at least in Pacific Standard Time.)  No other changes this time around.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Scythebill 9.0.3 released!

Scythebill 9.0.3 is now available!

If you're coming to Scythebill 9 from 0.8.6, there's two new big features.

First, Scythebill supports entering "sp." sightings and hybrids.   So, finally there's some way to record that Eurasian x Short-toed Treecreeper you couldn't quite identify, or that Western x Glaucous-winged Gull that no one should ever identify (to just one species).

More interestingly, Scythebill now supports the International Ornithologists’ Union checklist (version 3.2), hereafter known as the "IOC list".  You can enter, or display, or generate reports with either checklist, and it's just a quick flip of the taxonomy chooser at the top of the window to do so.  (EBird exports are always generated with the Clements taxonomy, so you can now use the IOC list to keep your own sightings, but still export to EBird.)

To make this mapping a bit simpler, I've corrected a variety of (seeming) errors in the Clements checklist.

There's also a number of smaller features, like:

  • An "Export..." menu option to get all your data out of Scythebill into one flat file.
  • "Report an issue" and "Open containing" folder menu items
  • "Town" and "park" location types
  • Fixes for window sizing on Windows operating systems
  • A number of performance improvements

If you're coming to this version from an earlier beta, this adds (relative to 9.0.2):

  • A new "Export..." menu option that fully exports all your sightings into a flat file, all data preserved. (Do let me know if the format here suffices, especially for import into other software.)
  • A number of fixes to the mapping to the IOC taxonomy - about 30+ splits properly identified, and 70 odd renamed subspecies that had not been addressed before.
  • An "Open containing window" menu option that will get you to the folder where your Scythebill data is stored, in case you've forgotten.
  • Species entry by scientific name was broken in an earlier revision;  it's now working again.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Scythebill 9.0.2 released (beta)

Scythebill 9.0.2 is now available for download!  This version - still a beta of Scythebill 9 - includes some fixes and refinements to the IOC support made available in Scythebill 9.0.1.

The most important fix should make Windows users much happier, especially those with small displays.  Scythebill could size itself so that the bottom of its windows were hidden by the Windows taskbar, making some windows difficult-to-impossible to use.

Some of the small features added in this release:

  • Locations can now be classified as "towns" or "parks".
  • In Show Reports, you can get a list of just "sp."s or "hybrids".  This is especially useful when adapting to the IOC list (as this make it easier to find, say, that your Clements Ospreys are IOC Eastern/Western Osprey).
  • Added a "Report an issue..." link to the Help menu.
For a full list of changes, see the Change log.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IOC 3.2 support now available (beta)!

Scythebill 9.0.1 is now available for download!  This version - please think of it as a beta - includes two major new features.

First, Scythebill supports entering "sp." sightings and hybrids.   So, finally there's some way to record that Eurasian x Short-toed Treecreeper you couldn't quite identify, or that Western x Glaucous-winged Gull that no one should ever identify (to just one species).

More interestingly, Scythebill now supports the International Ornithologists’ Union checklist (version 3.2), hereafter known as the "IOC list".  You can enter, or display, or generate reports with either checklist, and it's just a quick flip of the taxonomy chooser at the top of the window to do so.  (EBird exports are always generated with the Clements taxonomy, so you can now use the IOC list to keep your own sightings, but still export to EBird.)

More details on both features to come.  For now, please do use the comment area to let me know if you see any problems with either feature, and especially if you find any problems with IOC list entry.  There are some known issues:

  • I've made some modifications to the Clements list to make alignment far simpler.  In (nearly) all such cases, I'm quite confident the modifications correct errors in Clements, but feedback is highly appreciated!
  • There are quite a few subspecies in the IOC list that are not included in Clements (and a handful of newly described species).  In all these cases, you can't enter those subspecies;  if you open "Browse by species" and wander around, you'll see such subspecies struck through like this.  Supporting those subspecies would be quite nasty, so there's no immediate plans to fix this.  I suspect, though, that some of these are just renamed subspecies (which I'll happily fix).
  • In general, flipping back and forth between the two taxonomies works really well.  But there's some issues with this process when entering sightings - sometimes flipping from Clements to IOC and back to Clements doesn't give you quite what you started with (generally, a "sp." comes out the other end.)
And if you're wondering:  yes, the version jumped from 0.8.7 to 9.0.1.   That's intentional.  I think the old versioning scheme made Scythebill look less ready-for-prime-time than was deserved.