Sunday, December 27, 2015

Scythebill 12.7 - "Search nearby", BirdLasser, and more

Update: I've released Scythebill 12.7.1, with two small fixes.  The new BirdLasser import failed for some date formats;  it now should reliably import.  Also, location detection would sometimes fail to detect the state/province of a location (only finding the country);  it should now be more reliable.

Original note: Scythebill 12.7 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 a few relatively small features that you've been requesting:

  • Improvements in finding eBird hotspots
  • Easier access to visit data
  • "Domestic" forms of species
  • BirdLasser imports

Location entry improvements

When you were entering a new location, Scythebill previously would first show you a latitude and longitude from a Google service.  If you wanted to get information from eBird, you had to click another button ("Ignore Google result?") to get to it.   Now Scythebill will load from both simultaneously, so it's much easier to get to eBird results.

Also, once you have a latitude and longitude entered, Scythebill will show you a new Search nearby button.  This will look for eBird and Google results near that location.  This makes it much easier to pick eBird hotspots.

Easier access to visit data

Visit data - like comments, distance covered, duration, eBird protocol - used to be fairly buried, hidden away in Browse by location.  It's still there - but it's now much easier to get to.  Any time you're looking at a single sighting, you'll have a Visit data... button:

Click that button, and you'll get a dialog where you can see (and edit) the visit data for that visit.

Visit data's also more useful, as you can now create reports based on Visit comments text from Show reports:

Domestic forms

Scythebill now has explicit "domestic" forms of Mallard, Greylag Goose, Swan Goose, Muscovy Duck, Helmeted Guineafowl, Indian Peafowl, Red Junglefowl (aka "Chicken"), Wild Turkey, Budgerigar, African ("Ringed") Turtle Dove, and Cockatiel, as well as a feral form of Muscovy Duck (for the fully wild Florida population that is derived from domestic birds).

Domestic forms are never countable - they're used for those flocks of domestic ducks (and others) that might have some wild genes remaining, but are genetically not the same as wild individuals, even if they are established, breeding populations.  They are, nonetheless, very much part of the eBird taxonomy, and this will make it much easier to export to (and import from) eBird when you've recorded these individuals.

You can store domestic sightings of any other species as well, with the new Domestic sighting status option.

BirdLasser imports

Scythebill now supports imports from BirdLasser, an Android and iOS app for recording South African bird sightings.  This support is somewhat experimental, as BirdLasser has a very different location model (latitude/longitude for each sighting) from Scythebill;  Scythebill will do what it can to automatically find nearby locations using eBird and Google.   Let me know how this works if you can try it!

Other import improvements

Some eBird checklists wouldn't import (as they had a hitherto-unknown-to-me date format); that's now fixed.

Avisys exports now proceed smoothly even when most of the rightmost columns have been removed.

New features

There's a new Backup now... button on the preferences page, if you want to force an immediate backup after lots of data entry.

The "Complete list of sightings?" checkbox was far too easy to overlook when entering sightings.  I've added another place to select that option on the prior page, where the rest of the visit information is entered.

Scythebill now allows you to enter "Dead" as a sighting status, for those unfortunate occasions when you record a deceased bird.  Such sightings will never be counted as lifers or any other species totals, but will be included in eBird exports.

Finally, there's a new Location description field in Scythebill CSV exports and imports.

Checklist improvements

This time around, there's a number of small improvements to the checklists of the Azores, France, Sulawesi, Mauritania, Morocco, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and New Zealand, as well as a number of first country records from the Western Palearctic and first provincial records from Canada.

Bugs fixed

The built-in state checklists for Indonesian states will now be available even if you've rearranged the built-in locations a bit (moving Indonesia to an "Oriental Region" or something similar).

Bulk date editing would fail if you only entered a partial date (e.g. changing the year of a large number of records).  That's fixed.

If you dragged photos into Scythebill on MacOS, those photos might fail to display when later clicked-on.  That's fixed too.

A couple of uncommon (and harmless but annoying) cases where error dialogs would appear have been fixed.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Scythebill 12.6 - IOC 5.4 and more

Scythebill 12.6 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  

The highlight for the world taxonomy crowd will likely be the IOC 5.4 world list, released just a couple of days ago.  But there's more:

  • You can view species range maps with a single click.
  • Correcting the dates and locations of your visits is now much easier.
  • States now list their endemics - and multi-state generation has improved to go along with it.
  • There's new checklists for each of the seven main Indonesian regions, and one for the Åland Islands.
  • Some long-necessary cleanup for the Scythebill state and province lists has completed, most noticeably changing Ireland, the Philippines, and Sudan.

IOC 5.4

The new IOC 5.4 taxonomy is available, and Scythebill already supports it!   Taxonomic highlights include a swarm of kingfisher splits and a three-way Paradise Flycatcher split, but you can see the full list of changes on the IOC website.

Some smaller features

Scythebill now lets you view species range maps at a click.  When you see the word Range underlined - either entering species, or in Browse by taxon, click, and you'll get a map like this one, which not only show you the world range, country by country, but also let you zoom into regions of the world, and even the per-state maps in the United States, Canada, and Australia. (Look for the menu at the top-left of the map.)  These maps are limited - they only show distribution at the country (and sometimes state) level - but they do provide a very quick way to get a feel for a bird's range (and, sometimes, to spot mistakes in the Scythebill checklists).

When you select a single visit in Browse by location, you can now change the date and location of that visit right from that page without leaving it.

There's a new Save a copy as... menu item in the File menu, which will save a second copy of the Scythebill ".bsxm" file (especially useful for moving your list to a second machine or manually backing up).  Hopefully, this will make it a little clearer to users that "

State endemics

Scythebill has long identified the per-country endemics, but it now also identifies bird species that are globally endemic to a single state, like Yellow-billed Magpie in California or Rockwarbler in New South Wales, etc.

And the trivial multi-state-or-country checklist generation added in Scythebill 12.5 goes along for the ride.  So you can now even generate a checklist combining - for example - California and Mexico - and see the global endemics shared between them!

Indonesian improvements

Scythebill now has checklists for the seven main eBird regions of Indonesia:
  • Sumatera (Sumatra)
  • Jawa (Java, but not Bali)
  • Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo)
  • Nusa Tenggara (Bali and the Lesser Sundas)
  • Maluku (Moluccas, including Wetar and the Aru Islands)
  • Papua (the Indonesian half of New Guinea)
  • Sulawesi
Geolocation was also slightly tweaked so that Google-identified locations now will map to these regions.

Checklist improvements

  • As mentioned above, there's now checklists for each of the Indonesian states
  • There's also a new checklist for the Åland Islands.
  • I've done a lot of cleanup for the US state checklists.
  • The range of Caspian Gull had not followed taxonomic changes - it's now a monotypic form, with "barabensis" moved to Lesser Black-backed Gull, and "mongolicus" moved to Vega Gull (Herring Gull in eBird/Clements).  It's now changed accordingly - I'd recommend checking your records!
  • Abdel B. contributed some improvements for Tunisia and Hong Kong.

State and province cleanup

Scythebill tries to hold to the eBird location organization.  (It's fairly close to the standard ISO-3166 arrangement, for those who care about such details.)  But it's missed some of the changes made in the last few years.  In most cases, these were trivial (some simple name changes), but there were a few major issues that would have made eBird importing difficult.
  • eBird no longer uses the 26 counties of Ireland as "states", instead using the 4 Irish provinces.  Scythebill now puts all of the above in its proper place, automatically.
  • Scythebill still had the out-of-date Sudanese states prior to the split-off of South Sudan.  Those who bravely bird this part of the world will be happy that Scythebill automatically moves sightings from the old Sudanese provinces into South Sudan where necessary.
  • eBird (and now Scythebill) use the 82 provinces of the Philippines instead of the 15 regions.
  • Scythebill now includes the 23 districts of the Seychelles, 7 districts of the Cayman Islands, 5 divisions of French Polynesia, and 4 municipalties of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as multiple added regions of (deep breath now) Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Saint Lucia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Taiwan Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, and Yemen.   (Phew.)
  • Scythebill had the wrong codes for the Yukon Territory of Canada and Maluku province of Indonesia, which would have made importing into eBird unnecessarily difficult.

Other fixes

  • BirdBase imports now correctly import species counts.
  • eBird "geocoding" (finding latitude/longitude based on a location name) was broken for location names with accents.  (eBird changed their API's encoding, Scythebill had to change to match.)
  • eBird "life list" CSV files with accented characters will now be correctly imported.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Scythebill 12.5 - backups, multi-country checklists, and more!

Update (Sept. 22): I've released Scythebill 12.5.1, mostly to fix a bug when entering sightings for a new location.  Thanks to Robert M. for the report!  In addition, this version has further improvements for importing from and

Original note: Scythebill 12.5 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  I'd been planning on holding this release for the IOC 5.4 checklist update (which will likely come late in October), but there were just too many goodies to hold back:
  • Scythebill now supports automatic weekly or monthly backups of your sightings.
  • Scythebill can trivially generate checklists for multiple countries together.
  • and Birdbase importing is improved.
  • Clicking on maps makes it easy to tweak latitude and longitude.
  • Data entry is even faster!
  • And more...
A note, perhaps on the negative side for some.  With this release, I've stopped including the "Snow Leopard" version for MacOS.  MacOS Snow Leopard was last updated 4 years ago, and hasn't been getting security updates for almost two years.  The Snow Leopard version of Scythebill has been getting very few downloads, and at least some of those appear to be accidental.  This isn't an irrevocable decision, so if there's some of you out there who depend on the Snow Leopard version, please let me know.

Automatic backups

The preferences page now has a new option - you can choose whether you'd like weekly or monthly backups, and where you'd like those backups stored!

I strongly recommend that users choose a backup directory using a cloud provider like DropBox or Google Drive.  These services are free and will keep your data safe (and secure);  storing your backups on your local drive will not help you if your disk crashes or something worse happens.

Checklist for multiple countries

If you're taking a trip to more than one state or country, this is the feature for you.  Say you're visiting South Africa and Namibia.  You could print two checklists, and find out that South Africa has 18 endemics, and Namibia 1, but now just select both South Africa and Namibia (control-click on Windows/Linux, command-click on MacOS), and you get a combined checklist:

With that combined checklist, you get all the usual Scythebill features - saving as a spreadsheet, finding lifers, and so forth - and you can see that the combined region has 35 endemics.  And you can select as many locations as you want (add in Lesotho and Swaziland, and you're up to 61 shared endemics.)

Did you know that Africa has 1,606 endemics, and South America (only 60% as big) has an amazing 2,383 endemics?  I didn't before, but now it's easy to find out.

Even faster data entry

Here's an old feature you may not know about:  just after clicking "Add species" when entering sightings, try typing a number.  The cursor will immediately jump to the Number field for that species, and you can enter a count;  hit Enter, and you'll jump right back to the species name field.

Now, it's even better.  With Scythebill 12.5, after you've typed the number, hit any of the "h", "p", "i", "f", or "m" keys, and you'll immediately toggle:
  • Heard only
  • Photographed
  • Immature
  • Female
  • Male
That's all there is to it!

Import improvements (and imports are now a lot better, with a slew of improvements:
  • Location names will import more cleanly
  • Dutch column names are now supported (in addition to English)
  • "Plumage", "certain", and "exotic" settings are all successfully imported
  • "activity" will be imported as breeding bird codes, where possible (English only)
  • Sighting remarks no longer have bonus quotes around each entry
  • Numbers are imported correctly
I'd still describe the support here as beta-level;  in particular, seems to be a work-in-progress with changing values (the meaning of the "simple CSV" checkbox changed in the last week), but it's definitely useable now.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements or find any problems!

Birdbase imports got one tweak.  Birdbase sightings saved as "uncertain" will now be imported into Scythebill as "Uncertain ID".  (Scythebill supports a richer set of "uncertain" statuses, like "Not established" and "Not accepted", so you might want to edit after importing.)

Finally, Scythebill-style imports got an important bugfix.  For the last couple of releases, imports failed if they didn't have a "Location 1" column - it could be an empty column, but it had to be there.  That's a bug, which is now fixed.

Fine-tuning of latitude and longitude, made easy

Scythebill has been able to automatically find the latitude and longitude of your birding spots using Google and eBird since Scythebill 12.0.  But when that feature wasn't quite right, with the selected highlight not exactly where you meant, there wasn't an easy way to fix it.

Now, clicking anywhere the map will update the latitude/longitude, and there's a new Zoom In button (a plus sign) to let you fine-tune that location, and a Zoom Out button (a minus sign) to double-check the location for relatively featureless parts of the world.

Checklist improvements (and some removals too)

I've cleaned up the Australian state checklists to the extent possible with online resources (Victoria and Northern Territory are still a bit sketchy, as I could not find official checklists).

On the other hand, I have entirely removed all of the checklists for the counties of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  These checklists contained many errors, and I saw no straightforward way to clean them up with available resources.  My apologies to anyone who found these useful;  I'd rather limit the officially supported checklists to those whose accuracy I can vouch for.

Speaking of custom checklists - earlier versions refused to update custom checklists that had been saved with an old taxonomy.   Now, they'll get upgraded automatically when they're opened.

Other checklist improvements include:
  • East Asian corrections, courtesy of Yann M.
  • Southern African corrections, courtesy of Niall P.
  • Some cleanup of the Guadeloupe and Martinique checklists

Other improvements

Those are the big items, but there's a bunch of smaller items too:

  • In "Browse by location", when you've selected a single visit, there's a new "Edit species..." button.  Clicking that will take you right into the "Enter sightings" flow for that visit to the full list of species, so you quickly edit what you saw.
  • In "Enter sightings", there's been a "New for" column for a long while which tells you if a sighting is a lifer, or a new bird for your country, state, or county lists.  Now, it'll even tell you if it's new for the very location you're visiting (as long as you've been to that location at least twice before.)
  • eBird exports now include the start time in the default name, which makes it easier if you're visiting the same site multiple times in a day.
  • In "Browse by location", Scythebill will now tell you how many of a country (or multiple country) endemics you've seen.
  • The total count of families in "Show reports" did not pay attention to "Count heard only?" or "Count introduced?" preferences.
  • The "choose-your-own-abbreviation" feature had problems with apostrophes.  For example, "blyths" should have matched all the names starting with "Blyth's", but only matched "Blyth's Swift" and "Blyth's Shrike-Babbler".  That's fixed.
Nearly all of these smaller improvements (and some of the bigger ones) came from ideas that started with users.  Thank you, and keep those ideas coming!

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Scythebill 12.4.1 - some small fixes

    August 24 update: there was a glitch in Scythebill 12.4.1 that affected users that hadn't already upgraded to Scythebill 12.4.0 that showed an error screen right at startup.  I've released Scythebill 12.4.2 with a fix for that problem.  As always, please let me know if you have any problems, and thanks to the users who quickly reported this problem.

    (Original post follows)

    Since Scythebill 12.4.0 was released, I've had a few bug reports adding up to enough to justify a new release.  For most of you, if you've already downloaded 12.4.0, there's no particular reason to upgrade immediately (except, perhaps, on MacOS).

    Here's what's been fixed in 12.4.1, from most important to least:

    • MacOS only:  the names of files saved from Scythebill were missing file extensions (".csv", ".xls", etc.).
    • Scythebill 12.4.0 renamed the country of "Burma" to its official name, Myanmar.  If you had manually entered (or imported) Myanmar as a country, upgrading to 12.4.0 could result in having corrupted location data.  No sightings were lost, but location names could be lost.
    • Importing eBird checklists with very long names (anything over 5 words) would fail to find existing locations with matching names.
    • Avisys and Birdbase imports with note data containing a backslash ("\") could fail.
    • Finally, there's a few small checklist improvements.

    The one new feature is a small improvement to Avisys imports.  Scythebill will now correctly detect any use of the heard-only, male, female, immature, or photographed flags in Avisys exports.

    Huge thanks to all those that reported bug!  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Scythebill 12.4 - BirdBase imports and the new eBird/Clements taxonomy!

    Scythebill 12.4 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  There's two highlights this time around:

    • The eBird/Clements 2015 taxonomy is now available
    • You can import directly from BirdBase exports!

    eBird/Clements 2015 is now available

    Scythebill 12.4 includes the just released eBird/Clements 2015 taxonomy, with a mass of splits, like a 3-way split of Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, a 6-way split of Purple Swamphen, and a 15-way split of Variable Dwarf-Kingfisher!  There's also a few new undescribed forms, like "New Caledonian" Storm Petrel, "Bananal" Spinetail, and "Elgin" Buzzard.

    I've updated all the checklists to account for these splits, but I'd caution that some of the work here is necessarily tentative.  There is fairly little reliable information on some of these splits - if anyone reading this has solid data on the distribution of buzzards in southeast Asia, I'd certainly love to hear it!

    All users - whether they use the eBird/Clements checklist or the IOC checklist - may have a bit of work to do when they upgrade.  Scythebill does all it can, using the subspecies you've entered and its checklists, to minimize the work, and the process is described in detail here in the manual.  And you can always punt that work to later if there's splits you're not ready to resolve.

    Birdbase imports!

    BirdBase recently closed its doors after literally decades of supporting the birding community.  For all those users, Scythebill now supports directly importing BirdBase CSV exports!  Just visit the Import screen, click the new Import from Birdbase... button, and open up a BirdBase export, and Scythebill will have all your data imported in a flash.

    The Scythebill manual will (shortly) be updated to give some caveats and more details about the details of Birdbase imports, but generally it should work fairly simply.  A few details that might be interesting here:
    • The "S1" through "S4" custom flags will, when set, be added to your sighting notes. You can use Show reports to find all notes containing those strings and then bulk edit to set a Scythebill field like "Heard only".
    • Scythebill will add one of "BirdBase Home", "BirdBase Region", or "BirdBase Local" locations when those BirdBase flags are set.
    • BirdBase did not include a complete and modern set of countries, so a few liberties have been taken (all "Yugoslavia" sightings are placed in Serbia;  all Leeward Islands sightings end up in Montserrat; and so forth).
    As always, after you import, I'd recommend visiting "Verify against checklists..." to look for issues revealed during the import (in particular, any mistakes Scythebill made assigning sightings to species - it's generally pretty darn good, but not perfect).

    And if you have any problems with BirdBase imports, please let me know.  I'm more than happy to personally import your file to Scythebill so I can fix any problems that lurk in this new feature.

    I also think that I've improved Avisys imports - I suspect that locations will import more cleanly, and that files that did not import well (and took a long time to even report failure) will now import more cleanly.

    Other changes

    The last version of Scythebill added preferences to control what you consider a lifer - skipping introduced or heard-only birds.  But I missed several places in Scythebill where lifers are enumerated or listed (for example, in the "only lifers" view of a checklist).  These should all be working as expected now.

    The Canary Islands were a bit confused in Scythebill - available both in the Atlantic Ocean and as the Canarias province in Spain.  There's now just a single Canary Islands location, in the Atlantic Ocean (and the country code is fixed, so importing to eBird will work).

    There's also the usual set of checklist improvements, though this time it's only a few dozen fixes.  As always, thanks to the users reporting problems.

    The Browse by location screen would sometimes show "introduced" twice on a single line.  That's fixed.

    Printing was failing for Firefox users;  this should now work.

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Scythebill 12.3 is here!

    Scythebill 12.3 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+, Facebook, or by email.  There's two main highlights this time around:

    • The IOC 5.3 checklist - released 4 days ago - is now available.
    • Checklists have been massively improved, and are now globally cleaned up
    There's also a few small features added this time around, most importantly better support for those of you who don't "count" introduced or heard-only species.

    IOC 5.3 checklist

    The IOC 5.3 checklist was released on July 22nd, and Scythebill's already up-to-date.  For the world listers out there, the highlights will likely be:
    • Purple Swamphen is split 5 ways.
    • Silver and Red-billed Gulls are lumped.
    • Four-colored and Gorgeous Bushshrikes are lumped.
    ... but for the full list, see the IOC website's species updates.

    For compatibility with this update, I've proactively made two changes to the eBird/Clements taxonomy:
    • Added Sichuan Bush-Warbler as a full species
    • Added crassirostris as a subspecies of Blue-winged Parrotlet (which IOC splits as a full species - prematurely, perhaps)

    Checklist improvements

    Since the last release of Scythebill, I've been determined to finish cleaning up all the country checklists. And so I've gone through Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean, correcting every last country's checklists against official checklists (or as close to official as I could get), adding and removing species, setting rarity status, and filling in earlier blanks for Andorra, San Marino, and South Sudan. The effort resulted in over ten thousand improvements!

    Done, right? No! After that, I went through all 10,705 species of birds, eyeballing each checklist-built range map to see how it matches with an "official" range and to look for oddities.  That resulted in a few hundred more corrections and clarifications.

    Once again, I'd strongly recommend that with this release you try out the "Verify against checklists..." option in the File menu.  I suspect that at this point most of its findings will point out mistakes in your existing sightings, but I'm sure there are still some glitches in the checklists.

    There are also still areas where I could use your help.  I'm looking for anything resembling an official checklist for the following countries or regions (which have no checklists):
    • Kosovo
    • North Korea
    • Åland Islands
    ... and also for these countries, where the current checklists are largely guesswork based on surrounding countries:
    • Moldova
    • Macedonia
    • Bosnia
    • Albania
    • Jordan
    • Syria

    Finally, I should note that the county-level checklists in Great Britain and Ireland are not in great shape.  I don't have access to resources that would let me clean up the existing ones or add new counties to complete the set.  I'm strongly considering removing these from the program altogether.  Let me know if you feel strongly one way or the other.

    New (small) features and fixes

    Getting the checklists cleared up took the vast majority of my time in this release, but I did get a chance to squeeze in a few improvements.

    Scythebill's preference screen has two new checkboxes:

    If you are the sort of lister that doesn't count heard-only sightings, or doesn't want to consider introduced birds, you've had two choices until now.  Either you didn't enter those sightings at all, or you hand-tuned reports to exclude those sightings.  Now, just click one checkbox and you're done!  Those sightings will still show up in reports, but they won't count in numeric totals, and they won't show up as "lifers" when you're entering species.

    Scythebill will also now take advantage of the checklists to default a sighting's status to "introduced" or "not established".  I'd always wanted to do this, but didn't trust the checklist contents enough to do so.  Now I do!  Also, sightings of the feral form of Rock Pigeon will automatically be entered as "introduced".

    Also, I've gotten a few requests to allow entry of approximate counts - ">20", "~50", and so forth.  So the count field now lets you enter any one character before the number.  (eBird doesn't support approximate numbers, so when Scythebill exports to eBird, it'll drop that character and just send the number.)

    Finally, there's some small bug fixes:
    • Scythebill reported an error if you tried to bulk edit the date of sightings that didn't have any date.
    • Users sometimes got errors when adding new locations in Browse by location.

    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 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!
    • 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. and Waarneming imports

    Scythebill now offers some experimental support for importing from files - which also supports and  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.