Hello from the BirdSight developer

Subject: Hello from the BirdSight developer
From: Charles Mezak <>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 20:20:01 -0400
Hi all,

I meant to reply directly within one of the existing threads, but I couldn't quite figure out how.

Anyway, hi. I'm the developer of the BirdSight Australia application. Russell, the owner of this mailing list, contacted me the other day about the app. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it's been noticed by some birders in Australia, and I was delighted to receive some great feedback that I've already incorporated into a new version of the app. It's been submitted to Apple and should be available in a week. (approval times vary greatly, so there's no way to know for sure when it will be released.) I've addressed almost all of the concerns brought up here on the list, and the remaining ones will be addressed in further updates.

You can see a quick and dirty demo of the changes in the new version at:

Once important thing to note is that the sighting database has been substantially changed in this update, so the old database will no longer be valid. This means that you'll have to export your existing sightings before you upgrade if you wan to keep them. I'm glad to see that folks have been using the exporting feature.

Some thoughts on points that people have made:

- About importing data: I haven't worked on this, mainly because there really isn't an easy way to send arbitrary data to the iPhone. I think that the best way for the iPhone app to track a user's life list and other long-term data history stuff is for the app to connect to an existing online data system like or There are so many of those sites in existence, that I haven't tried to reproduce one. By the same token, I don't know which one to connect with. Some one at Wildiaries has contacted me recently, so that might lead to something. I've also developed an app for the Encyclopedia of Life and for a project called Nature Worm run by a Cornell professor. Many players in this game!

- About developing for other platforms: I'm actually a birder first and a developer second, so all of my development skills are the result of my attempts to create nature tools for the iPhone. Now, I have been able to start a company (NaturalGuides) around this work, but we're a relatively small operation at this point, still looking for a way to remain profitable so we can keep going. The BirdSight apps were just a shot in the dark, and I'm glad to find out that they might be worthwhile.

- About the new version of the app: I've addressed a lot of the basic usability issues: you can now delete individual sightings, and the "add sighting" button is at the top of the observation page for quick access. Also, new sightings have a blank bird count until you change it, and the observation's end date is incorporated into the export .csv file.

What I'm really excited about is the substantial upgrade to the wikipedia feature. Articles are now automatically cached on your device so that you can access them any time without needing an internet connection. Additionally, images from the articles can be viewed full screen and saved for display in the rest of the app. I plan to add the ability to have the app run through all of the articles and cache them. This will take a while, but if you run it once with a fast wifi connection then you'll have all of that wikipedia content at your fingertips wherever you are!

I've really appreciated all of the feedback that I've received by way of this. I hope that my posting here is acceptable as I'm trying to contributing to the existing conversation about the app. Just want to let everyone know that I'll be listening and considering all of the posts here regarding the app. Keep em coming!


 - Charlie Mezak

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