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First peek...
Last Post 09/15/2019 9:55 AM by Jeff Jones. 6 Replies.
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Jeff Jones
Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl
Posts:8002


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09/03/2019 7:14 PM
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OK - drum roll please... 

Here's your first peek at the new Birder's Diary Mobile App.

DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY GOALS

  • Clean and fast; simple and intuitive. (yeah yeah, I know, everyone has that as a goal)
  • Field App for recording sightings of everything (not just birds) and using all the tools available in today's smart phones: GPS tracking, photos, audio recording, videos, auto-date/time on sightings, etc.
  • Companion to your desktop Birder's Diary program for all the reports, graphs, etc.
  • One-handed use during Sightings Entry in the field! 
  • No typing just to enter sightings.
  • No need for reading glasses for those of us that don't need another thing hanging around our necks in the field.
  • Speed of entry for clicking off sightings and setting the count.
  • Download as many checklists for as many regions and flora/fauna as you need for use in the field; ahead of time.

 

With that said, below is a basic screen flowchart and followed by some actual App screenshots. 

 

BASIC SCREEN FLOW



HOME SCREEN

Clean; simple. This is Beta, so some prettying up will occur on this page probably.


DOWNLOAD CHECKLISTS

Two Tabs: 1) for Bird Checklists from eBird and 2) Other Checklists which is all the Birder's Diary non-bird checklists currently available.

This Tab allows you to select any known eBird region by specifying Country, state/province/territory, and county/parish/etc. Of course you can choose just the whole state or country if your prefer. These fields are dropdowns dynamically populated with the relevant data from the previous level. Minimum typing; just select from the dropdown.

The Downloaded Checklists section displays all the previous checklists you have downloaded and are stored on your phone in the mobile app database. You can remove unused checklists via the Delete button.


This is the 2nd Download Checklists tab. It allows you to download any of the Birder's Diary checklists 24x7 and store them in your mobile app database.

The top section lists the checklists available and the bottom section lists those you have already downloaded.



CHECKLIST ENTRY

And here is a look at the Sightings Entry Checklist; swipe left/right for the next checklist you are using.

Things to Note:

  1. All checklists are in alphabetical order (you can choose to have sciName (not available with eBird checklists) or Common Name.
  2. The Thumb Index (right or left for right-handed or left-handed) quickly scrolls you to the first name in the checklist starting with that letter.
  3. Tapping anywhere on the row (not just the number column) increments the count. First to "X" (yellow) and then to 1 (green), 2, 3... and so on.
  4. Long-press on any row brings up the Sighting screen for editing, etc.
  5. I find this to be easier and faster than eBird's method of bird-code entry, and then tapping on the count-field only to increment count. And eBird forces you into the edit bird window to set the count to "X". Not everyone is out to count. With just my thumb, I can select the starting letter with the Thumb Index, scroll to the specific bird if still not in view, and then tap anywhere on the row. All with one hand and my thumb. With eBird's app, typing requires two-hands (for me) and tapping on the count field that is on the far left.
  6. Using the Volume Key on your phone (on my S9 it is conveniently located under my index finger) I can quickly increase/decrease the font size of any checklist immediately. No limits.



Well, there you go - your first peek. More posts to come.

Bear in mind, the first Beta version made available here will have just the basic functionality of 1) download checklists, 2) record sightings using the checklists. As each release comes out, it will include more and more of the functionality such as photos, GPS tracking, etc.

I've probably omitted as much as I have added here, but this is a start!

Please add your comments below; anything you can think of. 

Jeff

Birder's Diary Technical Support
RIP_BD
Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Posts:15


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09/04/2019 7:57 PM
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Jeff:

Everything looks great except for one thing: the checklists CAN'T be alphabetical. Example: I'm looking at a group of shorebirds and want to record my findings. I have to scroll from B for Baird's Sandpiper to W for White-rumped to A for American Avocet to S no I mean B for Black-necked Stilt...it's too cumbersome.

It makes sense to me to put the birds in taxonomic order. Clement's would fit the bill and cover every bird on the planet. Since you also have to use a standard in selecting the common names, why not use Clements. You could use the formerly alphabetic tabs for families, allowing much easier inputting.

Thanks for being willing to tackle such a tough project.
Jeff Jones
Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl
Posts:8002


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09/05/2019 8:43 AM
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Hi Neil,

Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.

These ARE eBird checklists, so it will be using Clements' naming, etc.

This is a tough project, and after a few years of stop and start on it, and a huge learning curve, I finally have enough base under me to efficiently develop Android (for now) apps as easy as I develop the main PC Birder's Diary program. This is a good feeling. 

Now, let's talk about the checklist entry style that we can use on Mobile. Most of this is just an off the cuff discussion with you where I am considering all the justifications that led me to this design. Sorry for the length, but I need to justify to myself and to all of you why I think you will use and like this more. Or hear why it is a bad idea.

First, the eBird app, it has two basic checklist entry modes; 1) one where the entire checklist is shown, and 2) where just the species seen/checked-off are shown. Both are always in taxonomic order. Most folks I talk to use the 2nd form; me also. This form always requires typing in the species code/name to get to the species in question and then checking it off. In the former (#1), the entire list is displayed and if the next species you want to check off happens to be on the same page as the last one you checked off, then you merely need to scan the list to find it without typing in the code/name. This less-than-often case is not that easy, taxonomic order continually changes and I don't know whether Purple Sandpiper comes before or after Red Knot. So the scanning is problematic and for me requires reading glasses to be able to do that at all. You mention one of the few actual cases that fit your argument as I can see it, fall shorebird birding. Where the next species you are about to check off is likely within a page or two of the last one you checked off. However, that has the problem I just mentioned. Where is that next species? Forward or backward? Ah, nevermind, I will just enter the code/name. That matches my use in the field. I would wager to guess that the likelihood of the next species to be checked off in 95% of all birding cases is not within the same page of names as the last one just checked off, year-round.

Let's also don't forget, that only a small percentage of birders using these apps are of the type that know whether Galliformes comes before or after Piciformes in the taxonomic order.

In summary, I believe that it is the rare case when your argument for taxonomic order might be considered beneficial.

Back to the new Birder's Diary app. I have been an avid user of the eBird mobile app for years. And I have used many of the others. eBird's is the cleanest and easiest to understand and use. The others offer neat additional features, but less intuitive and not as clean.

I wanted something that addressed my woes with eBird's and others' apps.

  • No typing in the field just to check off species and/or increment the counts
  • One handed use - I don't want to have to take my hands off my camera, binos, etc just to check off a species and get my binos back to my face to check off the next. I should be able to do this with one hand. Easily clicking anywhere on the entire row to increment the count. Not just the count field on the far left.
  • I need to have reading glasses around my neck (and I think this matches many birders) in addition to binos, camera, in order to type, read, see, edit sightings. I don't want that. The user should be able to set the font size comfortable to them that allows them to quickly and easily see and check-off sightings.
  • This needs to be at least as fast as using eBird mobile app.

For no typing in the field, you have to implement a method that allows you to find the species quickly and easily all with only using your thumb on one hand to scroll-to and click on the row. The alpha Thumb Index and an alphabetically ordered list is the only method I know that allows this.

I used species lists from my last several outings in Birder's Diary as real-world examples of species I encounter on various trips to the beach, estuaries, jungle, and urban areas. This generally included from between 15 and 40 species on each list. I entered that checklist using eBird (two hands and reading glasses with code/name typing and count incrementing) sitting at my desk, not in the field with equipment dangling around my neck, and using the Birder's Diary method (using one hand and NO reading glasses). In ever case, Birder's Diary app method outperformed eBird's app. Not worse, and not a tie, but always better. For example, if eBird's app took 40 seconds to enter 20 species using both hands and reading glasses, Birder's Diary app took 30-35 seconds with one hand and NO reading glasses. This is a WIN and meets the design criteria. Originally, I felt if I could just match eBird's speed or be only slightly longer, it would still be a WIN. I unexpected came out ahead on every test.

Ok - there is my justification for this design.

Now to backtrack and make those of you still in the taxonomic order camp feel a bit better...

  • I intend to offer an option to put the list in Taxonomic order; this necessarily removes the Thumb Index
  • Both taxonomic and alpha ordered lists will have a search feature that allow you to do substring searching on the entire list. You can search on 'bunting' to display all buntings, or 'sandp' for sandpipers in their name, etc.
  • The display will have options to show SciNames or CommonNames only, or both with one being in larger font on top and the other being in smaller font below. It's only a matter of personal preference and real-estate usage on the screen. For example, I want my botanical list in SciName (still sorted alphabetically, but that is how I know my plants), but bird lists in CommonName.

 

All righty then. That is enough for now. Thanks much for bringing this up and allowing me to explain my rationale in detail. Let me know what you think about this and anything else.

Back to coding...

Jeff

Birder's Diary Technical Support
RIP_BD
Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Posts:15


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09/15/2019 8:38 AM
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Jeff:

Thanks for the explanation. For those of us still in the taxonomic camp, how about this: when switching to taxonomic mode, how about converting the thumb list to taxonomic families, instead of inactivating it? It's too useful a sorting tool to not have available.

A separate question: any idea when the beta version will be available? Thanks in advance.

Neill
Jeff Jones
Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl
Posts:8002


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09/15/2019 9:00 AM
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Hi Neill,

In reverse order... 

I have been just a couple days away from releasing a beta for over a week now. My website crashed due to incompetent host provider and their failure to do backups cost me 5 days of constant work and reduced web site functionality. Then, I had set a deadline for starting on Clements 2019, and by then, that deadline had come. So I spent the last few days working on Clements 2019, now IOC 9.2 and ABA/AOS (if available). So it will be a few more days before I get back to the mobile app. Ugggg. 

What would be in this thumb index for families? I am not seeing the solution. Obviously, the alphabetical thumb index is A thru Z, simple. What would the Family index look like, or contain? I am all for this, but I am probably just missing what you are seeing. 

Thanks. 

Jeff

Birder's Diary Technical Support
RIP_BD
Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Posts:15


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09/15/2019 9:38 AM
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Ok for the time frame...thanks.

 

About the index...yeah, I guess I just didn't think it through! 

There would be way too many families to have a useful index. Orders might be more manageable, but then all the perching birds are lumped together. Perhaps having the ability to scroll a whole screen (page) at a time might be just as useful, to speed up navigating from ducks to blackbirds for example. Let me know if I'm hopelessly lost here. 

Jeff Jones
Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl
Posts:8002


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09/15/2019 9:55 AM
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You did just give me an idea Neill.

What if, the Thumb Index on the right had only 6 buttons... like this.

 

  • < O
  • < F
  • < G
  • G >
  • F >
  • O >

 

Translated to 

  • Prev Order
  • Prev Family
  • Prev Genus
  • Next Genus
  • Next Family
  • Next Order

This would allow you to quickly position to the previous/next Order/Family/Genus on the page.

Do you think this might be a valuable way to add thumb index functionality for taxonomic order?

Jeff

Birder's Diary Technical Support
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