Here is part of Charles Mezak's reply to some suggestions I sent about
the iPhone app BIrdsight AU. It is great to get such detailed
responses from a developer, and even better that we are likely to see
some enhancements to the next update. Please feel free to send your
suggestions to Charles if you have ideas for the app.
Birding-Aus List Owner
Geelong Victoria Australia
Begin forwarded message:
From: Charles Mezak <>
Date: 12 August 2009 2:04:34 AM
Subject: Re: BIrdSight AU
I'm so glad to be hearing from you. Please share my happiness with
the birding-aus list, both for the fact that they are finding some
use in my app as well as for their willingness to share this
feedback with me.
We don't allow commercial messages on Birding-Aus, but we do debate
new birding resources, so you might like to read comments by
members who have used BirdSight AU. You can subscribe at
or read the messages online at http://www.birding-aus.org - click
the Archive link or search using the search box on that page.
Thanks, I'll look into this soon. If and when I do post, I'll try to
stay within the bounds of propriety vis-a-vis the commercial issue.
A couple of suggestions after just a few days of using the app:
1. Can the Add Sighting control be placed at the TOP of the
Observation, rather than the bottom?
Very good idea! I do try to think about making things quick and
easy, but this had not occurred to me. I'll have this change in the
2. There does not seem to be a way to delete a single species from
You're absolutely right. This was a tremendous oversight. It's
already fixed in the code, and will be in the next update.
3. A lot of other iphone apps have an alphabetic short cut (like in
the address book or Phone Contacts) - instead of clicking the
search box for every species, it would be good to be able to click
a letter and then scroll to the bird.
Can do. I'll get this done for the next update.
4. A lot of birders keep longer term lists for a favourite site -
such as a month list for home or work, or a trip list for a
holiday. Is there any way that Observations can be tagged as
multiday, not just for a single day?
Yes, I can make this happen.
5. I agree with David that it would be good to have no number as
the default for each species record. I know you are storing that as
a numeric field, but is there any way you could allow for species
to be tagged as Heard only? I suppose we can do that through the
notes - but another field of just a few alphanumerics might be
useful - H for Heard, J for Juvenile, M for Male, F for Female, N
for nesting etc
On the sighting count issue, yes I'll do that. (Technically, what
I'll do is have the default count be -1 in the database, which the
app will translate as "unspecified".
About the Heard, Juvenile, Male, etc. options, yes that is something
I should add. Perhaps at the bottom of the sighting details there
can be a row for each of these options that can be checked of
unchecked. So, if a birder sees a mated pair of finches, she can
check both the Male and Female rows to indicate that both male and
female birds were sighted. Does that make sense?
One question I have for you: In the latest version, when a user adds
a sighting for a bird, the app returns to the Observation page. I
chose this because it allows the user to quickly add a new sighting
for another bird (sometime one sights multiple species at once and
wants to enter both sightings in quick succession.) However, another
option would be for the app to immediately present the detail page
for a newly created sighting. This would allow the user to enter
details like count, etc. right away before they are forgotten. Which
do you think is the better way to go?
6. Links - I suggest you add the Birdlife INternational data sheets:
and perhaps a link to the IUCN Redlist
I think most people using this app would prefer this type of site
(as well as Flickr and Wikipedia) rather than the "popular press"
sites like Encyclopedia of Life (which doesn't have a lot of Aussie
birds!). The Cornell Lab site also fails to find some of the very
common Australian birds.
Good to know! I think I'll remove the EOL and Cornell links then so
as not to clutter up the interface. I'll see about adding these two.
7. A link to birdsong resources would be fantastic to have - but I
guess there are all sorts of copyright issues there!
Usually there are, yes. And when they are available for public use
they are usually not located in such a way that the app can
automatically find them. Wikipedia does have some bird sounds in
their articles, but I've yet to find a way to integrate them into
the application. That's something I intend to do in the near future.
With the next update, you'll be able to cache downloaded wikipedia
articles so that they are always available to you without an
internet connection. I may try to extend this caching to other
websites if it seems appropriate. It wouldn't work for flickr for
several reasons, but I have another idea for that one. With this
next update, you'll just need to have access to a fast connection
for the initial cache of the data, which will then be ready on your
device anytime you want to access it. Even if data usage were not an
issue, loading from the device is much quicker than from the web.
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