Sunday, July 10, 2016

Scythebill 13.0 - Extended taxonomies are here!

Scythebill 13.0 is here! As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.   (And apologies to triskaidekaphobics!)

The highlight of this release is a much-anticipated new feature:  extended taxonomies!  Now, you can keep track of your mammal sightings, your butterfly sightings, your bryophyte records - anything you want!


How extended taxonomies work

I've got my hands full keeping the eBird/Clements and IOC taxonomies up-to-date, so 
extended taxonomies are built by you, the users of Scythebill.

All of this is documented in full detail in the Scythebill manual, but a quick summary:
  • First, a Scythebill user creates a new extended taxonomy, by editing a spreadsheet to have the right columns and rows, then creating a CSV file, and importing that into Scythebill from the new Manage taxonomies... page (under the File menu).
  • Then, if they want to share that taxonomy with others, they export that new extended taxonomy as a ".btxm" file - a Scythebill taxonomy file.  These ".btxm" files are even easier to import.
  • And if they want to share that taxonomy with the entire Scythebill community, they'll share it with me, and I can make it available to everyone.  (I do need you to verify I have permission from the original authors to distribute the taxonomy - no copyright lawsuits, please!)
Once you've added an extended taxonomy to your sightings file, you can switch to that taxonomy at any time with the same Taxonomy menu used to switch between eBird/Clements and IOC.  Extended taxonomies are saved right inside your ".bsxm" sightings file, so there's no need to separately backup the taxonomy file or worry about transferring it between computers.

You can even import your existing sightings straight into an extended taxonomy.  Not only are Scythebill-format CSV files supported, but also Observado and Avisys!

To get you started, I've made available one extended taxonomy - a world checklist of mammal species, courtesy of Jon Hall at mammalwatching.com.

This is a first version, so I'd be surprised if there aren't some lingering bugs.  There's also a few limitations that I'll be working on.   The two most important limitations are:
  • There is currently no built-in support for upgrading an extended taxonomy to a new version.  This is an obvious hole, and one that will be closed soon with a coming Scythebill version.  (There's a workaround, explained in the manual.)
  • Extended taxonomies do not currently support checklists.  There certainly won’t be any built-in checklists - that’s inherent in the concept - but you also can’t write your own custom checklists.
Other limitations are mentioned in the manual.

Related changes

I've removed the Full Scythebill export… menu item.  This was never really the right way to backup or transfer your sightings - use Save as... for that, and with extended taxonomies, it was going to be a very poor choice, as it would only export one taxonomy at a time.  (If you really want exports in CSV format, they're still available inside Show reports.)

Scythebill's automatic backups are now stored as .zip files.  This makes them about 8 or 9 times smaller, which was useful before, but is very important now that extended taxonomies make sightings files even larger.

Import improvements

When an import contains some duplicates, Scythebill used to warn you, but only let you import everything or drop everything.  Now it'll let you drop the duplicates, and import the rest.

Avisys imports do a better job of importing Bonaire and CuraƧao sightings, and Scythebill should be generally better at getting your imported sightings into the right place for countries split across multiple regions (e.g. Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, etc.).

Avisys field note imports should also work more consistently.

Observado.org imports are better in a couple of ways.  Lat/long will be included (though one per location, not one per sighting).  Also, Observado "sp." sightings are supported - so "Phylloscopus collybita / trochilus" will be correctly imported into Scythebill as a "sp.".

Some instances were Scythebill would mistakenly import to a nominate subspecies instead of the parent species have been fixed.

Smaller changes

MacOS users should no longer see errors that Scythebill is "damaged".  Please do let me know if you're still seeing this.

Scythebill will now show the full path to a photo file as hover-text.  This is useful for resolving broken links.  And speaking of photo files, on Windows Scythebill should do a much better job of opening files in your desired photo viewer (and let you open PDFs or other non-image files).

Compact printing (still) does not work in Safari.  It's a Safari bug, not something I can fix, but Scythebill will now warn you.

Finally, there's the usual set of checklist tweaks, including improvements from the Seychelles, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, England, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, France, Armenia, Georgia, Nepal, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, United Arab Emirates, Guam, Canada as well as a few US states and Canadian provinces.