Saturday, January 25, 2020

Scythebill 14.8.0 - IOC 10.1, iNaturalist, editing improvements, and more!

Scythebill 14.8.0 is now available, with the just-released IOC 10.1 taxonomy, iNaturalist import and export support, and a lot of other smaller improvements and fixes  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Scythebill 14.8.1 was released on February 18 with a handful of fixes, and 14.8.2 on February 22 with a few more;  please scroll to the bottom section ("Other changes").

IOC 10.1 taxonomy

The IOC 10.1 taxonomy was just released, and is now supported.   As always, Scythebill will handle the process of upgrading automatically.  And you can visit the "Splits and lumps" special report after upgrading to see how you did!

This taxonomy includes the usual set of splits and lumps.  One likely to affect most people is the split of Whimbrel into Eurasian Whimbrel (Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia) and Hudsonian Whimbrel (the Americas).  There are a fair number of records of vagrants of each form into the range of the other, which will make it harder for Scythebill to automatically choose which half of the split you've seen.

Those who've birded in southeast Asia may also encounter a two-species turn into five-species split - Brown and Striated Prinia are now Himalayan, Deignan, Swinhoe's, Burmese, and Annam Prinias.

Editing improvements

First, the species table in Enter sightings. has two new columns.  One shows the Number (if any), and the other shows the sighting status (Introduced, Escapee, Dead, etc.): 

These columns should make it much easier to scan your entered data for important information without tediously expanding each row.

Second, there is now a "Delete all..." button when you've selected a visit in Browse by location.  This makes it much faster to clean up improperly entered or duplicate data.

Backups - please turn them on!

Scythebill has long had a feature to back up your data weekly or monthly, but I'd like to see a lot more users turn this on! Over the years, I've had messages from several users who've lost track of their .bsxm files, and while I've been able to help some of them find their data and get back on track, others have lost everything. This is painful to me.

Scythebill 14.8 will nag you to turn on backups if you haven't.  If you click "Ask me later", it won't nag you again for a week, and you can also tell Scythebill not to ask ever again.  But please do enable backups.  Your data is precious;  take care of it!

iNaturalist import and export

Scythebill can now import from and export to iNaturalist, a widely-used website supporting observations across the entire "tree of life".

To import from iNaturalist, visit  Choose a query - probably setting User to your iNaturalist user ID, and choosing a single group of taxa with "Show only", then "Create export". The imports will automatically link Scythebill to any photos you uploaded on iNaturalist.

To export from Scythebill to iNaturalist, go to Show reports, create a report with the sightings you want, then use Export... (at the bottom left) and iNaturalist.  This will give you a CSV file.  Visit, click Import from CSV, then choose the CSV file you just created. Note that these imports do not include any photos you have;  you'll have to upload those manually if needed.

Other import improvements

A long-standing bug is fixed;  Scythebill imported four "sp." imports to incorrect species.
  • Sitta sp. was imported as Sulphur-billed Nuthatch!
  • Pionus sp. was imported as Scaly-headed Parrot!
  • Dicaeum sp. was imported as Fire-breasted Flowerpecker!
  • Rhipidura sp. was imported as Mindanao Blue-Fantail!
The underlying cause is a bit embarrassing - it was code in Scythebill that was attempting to gracefully handle small typos interacting poorly with a few very particular three-letter subspecies names.  There's multiple layers of protection against this happening again.

eBird imports in general no longer ask you to import "sp." entries (e.g "Gull sp."), since these are not supported by Scythebill.  The eBird importer is also more successful at dealing with "eBird" files as generated by Wildlife Recorder.

As of 14.8.2, eBird checklists that have a latitude and longitude in the name should automatically extract that information for you (and often use it to automatically pick a country and state).

Wings imports should be successful much more often.

As of 14.8.1, BirdBase imports now can import to non-bird taxonomies.

Across all imports (and particularly important for imports of custom data), Scythebill's better at supporting country and state/province abbreviations in place of full names.

Other changes

  • 14.8.2: The "backup begging" code now pays attention to "Don't ask again", and will only ask once a week if you click "Ask me later".  (It was always supposed to work this way.)
  • 14.8.2: Saving a report as a spreadsheet with subspecies and both a common and scientific name column no longer shows the subspecies name twice.
  • 14.8.1: Family reports don't count undescribed species if that's disabled in Preferences
  • 14.8.1: The new "Number" and "Status" columns also appear for Checklist species entry
  • 14.8.1: The "copy-and-paste magic" way of building custom checklists had some glitches, especially around defaulting statuses, when using the IOC taxonomy.
  • 14.8.1: Checklists saved as spreadsheets would sometimes generate broken files;  this should be fixed.
  • Scythebill has fully incorporated the 2019 IUCN Red List updates.
  • For users with multiple observers, Scythebill 14.7.4 added an Observer field at the top of the window.  A bug with Observer fields and "Lifers"/"Species you've seen" in Browse by location has been fixed.
  • Some reports with a Sighting Status field would fail;  this is fixed.
  • Report spreadsheets used to replace the sighting status ("introduced") with "heard only" for such sightings.  That won't happen anymore:  heard only will either be appended, or put in its own column (when "Show notes" is enabled).
  • The folder you use for exports and imports and reports is now tracked separately from the folder for your .bsxm file.
  • For MacOS users, Scythebill is now fully "notarized" for MacOS Catalina. 
  • As always, there's the usual set of checklist updates.  Most notably, I think, I'd had omitted Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo from the Bhutan checklist - while Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo does appear to be present too, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo seems the far more commonly reported species.