Thursday, November 22, 2018

Scythebill 14.2 - Birder's Diary imports, Year Comparison reports, and more

Scythebill 14.2 is now available, with support for importing from Birder's Diary, a new "Year Comparison" report, and a variety of smaller fixes and improvements.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email

If you're using Windows, and updating from a version earlier than 14.1, you may run into a "Could not create the Java virtual machine" error after updating.  If so, please re-run the installer as an administrator (by right-clicking on the installer .exe file).  (And if that doesn't work, please get in touch with me.)

(14.2.1 was released - it added a few bug fixes, in particular one affecting first-time users.  If you've updated to 14.2.0 and all is well, you're fine.)

Import improvements

Scythebill 14.2 adds support for importing from Birder's Diary native CSV exports, which should be far easier than using Birder's Diary's eBird exports as an intermediate step.  If you have Birder's Diary (I do not), and give this a try, please let me know how it goes!

With that addition, the "one big button for each type of import" has gotten too big, and the UI will now have a few types up top with a drop-down menu for all the other types.  Scythebill will remember which types of imports you use and add buttons for those, so you'll have an easier time seeing only the imports you care about.

Also, imports will now automatically detect if one of Scythebill's many internationalized name sets (42 options for eBird/Clements, 26 for IOC) would be a better fit for the import.  For example, if your import contains "White Heron", Scythebill might automatically suggest switching to "English (New Zealand)" names - what's known as "Great Egret" in much of the world is called "White Heron" there.

  • eBird checklists with location names containing non-English characters should import better.
  • Scythebill will do a better job of preventing duplicates when importing against the IOC taxonomy.
  • BirdBase imports that put records in the United States but without a state were getting added to United States (West Indies) instead of United States (North America).  This is fixed.
  • BirdBase and Avisys imports for Quebec and the Netherlands Antilles weren't being handled correctly.
  • BirdBase imports no longer (typically) add "BirdBase Region" and "BirdBase Local" locations.

Year comparison reports

Scythebill's "Special reports" page has a new option - "Year comparisons".  These reports let you look at how things have changed year-by-year at a location, so you can see:
  • How many species you've recorded, in total, year by year
  • Which species you've recorded (or missed) in each year
  • First and last recorded dates within each year (and overall) for each species
  • Frequency of observations

Excluding "undescribed species"

Scythebill includes 44 undescribed species - ones that do not yet have a scientific name.  If you're reporting species totals to the ABA, you may not want to include these.  Towards that end, the "Preferences" page now has an option to disable "Count undescribed species".  A small feature, but if you're a stickler for rules, a useful one!

Smaller changes

  • "Browse by location..." is now "sticky" - it will keep the selected location as you leave and return.
  • One user reported a failure to Print, display range maps, etc... - everything where Scythebill uses a web browser.  This release has a possible fix.
  • During taxonomic upgrades, Scythebill will create a backup file automatically.  If the backup can't be created, Scythebill was dead in the water, and the user couldn't open their file at all!  This is fixed.
  • As always, a variety of checklist corrections and updates are included.