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.

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