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Swift Birder Listing Software

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  • Swift Birder Listing Software

    There are many choices of birding software available on the market, many of which are quite intricate and allow the user to log detailed information of every sightings and make detailed trip reports. Some people however, really only want to keep track of their frequently-changing lists and for this SWIFT is perfect for both the world lister and those who keep more modest lists.
    At $59.99 SWIFT is about the cheapest option that I've reviewed for list-only software and well worth the price.
    The SWIFT birding software is predominantly a list-based application that runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows (64-bit is found in many new Windows7 machines) and can be run on a Mac OS X 10.5 and later using the Boot Camp windows partitioner.
    SWIFT is available to download from the internet, or as a mail-order DVD and is easy to install. It also comes with a 40-page pdf users guide which acts both as a manual and tutorial.
    The software is well supported by the developers and updates for any minor bugs are produced, tested and released quickly.
    SWIFT is not a single-user application. After installation, any number of birders may use the software on the one computer by creating their own accounts. Lists can be updated privately and then compared to each other 'publicly' (within the bounds of those on the computer).

    The list structure in SWIFT is tree-based, in that at the top of the tree is ones life-list and all other lists are branches off that, so one might have a British list, a county list and a patch list, all of which would be a single branch on the SWIFT list-tree. If a user sees a life tick on their patch and adds the species to their patch list, the species is automatically added to the lists further up the tree - to the county, British and life lists in this case. By simply hovering over the list on the 'Home' page the number of species on that list, plus those that have been dated as being seen in the current year, are displayed to the user.

    One feature that I've grown to detest in birding software is the amount of initial time and effort it takes to input your lists when you start using the software. Many birding software tools insist on dates and locations of every species, and if it's just lists you want to keep, you might not be all that bothered about keeping such details. In SWIFT, inputting long lists is quick and easy using the 'simple sightings' function. The user creates the lists they want, goes to the preferences and selects which regional lists they want to use (from North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Oceania, Europe, Africa and Antarctica) and then simply tick off the species they've seen. The user also has the option to view bird names as Latin names or Common names and also name them by Clements, British Vernacular or British Vernacular UK.

    If the user wishes, they can still put dates with their sightings, either initially, or on an individual basis after they have input their initial sightings. If I had one complaint here is that there are still a lot of birds to go through to get some country lists (e.g. inputting a Hong Kong list requires one to trawl through a list of all the bird in Asia), so being able to restrict the lists further would be nice (although obviously not essential). You can also add lists into the middle of the tree, so for example if you had an ABA list and a state list that you had populated with birds and you decided that you wanted to add a lower-48 list, then you can just create the list, stipulate that it's a sub-list of ABA and that your state list is a sub-list of the lower-48 list. The lower-48 list will then appear between the ABA and state list.

    Another feature of the lists is that you can date restricted lists, so for example if you were going for an ABA year list, you could make an new sub-list of your ABA list called ABA 2011 and restrict all sightings between 1 Jan 11 to 31 Dec 11.
    SWIFT is not all just about lists. A user may enter more detailed sightings, such as daily records from various sights (for example the list of birds seen one day at your local patch), add information about the sightings, export your sightings to eBird, spreadsheet and produce various reports of lists in pdf).

    For the detailed sightings a user might create a dated list (e.g. 7 Dec 2010) under one of their lists and then add sightings for that day. Before adding the species to the day the user can click on 'notes' and put in any notes that one might want to include about the day (weather, time spent in the field, notes on some of the species seen, etc). The only problem with this feature is that if you went back to add some species to your list and you wanted to add more information, you can't do it when you update your list of species, as a blank notes page will be presented and this will replace your original notes. To update your notes you must go to the sightings screen and edit them from there.

    A number of checklists can be produced with SWIFT and exported in pdf or xls. You can pick from a number of different types of lists to produce, list-based lists (i.e. sighted species on a certain list), a sub-list-based list (i.e. sighted species on a certain list plus all sub-lists below it), date-specific lists, a list of new birds for every previous year, plus a number of other lists. So if you want to view all the species from all the various lists you have in your Norfolk list, then you just click on 'Listed Species by List (including sublists)', then click on 'Norfolk List' from the 'List' field and you will be presented with all your Norfolk-based lists, each one starting on a new page. You can add your favourite checklists to a 'Favourite checklists' tab. Unfortunately, this only adds the type of list you want to make, rather than the drilled down version with the data in, which seems a bit pointless as there are only 8 types of checklist to choose from in the first place. A better way to handle this would be to make the favourites list an actual list with given rules (e.g. all the sub-lists of my Norfolk-based lists).

    You can also create charts and graphs of species, such as how many species from various families you have seen vs species in those families that you haven't seen, or a graph of how many new species you saw each year.

    For those of us who worry about keeping our lists safe, there is a backup feature in SWIFT where the user can make a copy of their data and store it wherever they like (e.g. in a separate folder on your computer or a memory card for storage at a physically remote location).

    There are a number of other features in SWIFT that make it a very useful tool for not only maintaining your lists but also for displaying the information within those lists.

    Currently there is only one major drawback with SWIFT, which is that it currently doesn't handle splits and lumps. The developers assure me though that they aim to address this issue and it will be included in SWIFT by early Jan 2011. They aim to introduce a Taxonomy modifications screen which will bring down taxonomy updates and allow the user to allocate sightings of old lumped species to the new split species.
    Another feature that would be great would be to list all the unique species seen on a certain list. For example if you use the example earlier where you added a lower-48 list in between your ABA and state list, you can currently only list the species you have entered in the list directly, or every sub-list of that list, so if you had a New York list and and a California list which are both sub-lists of your ABA list, if you added a 'lower-48' list between the ABA list and CA/NY lists, you can not click on lower-48 and ask for all the unique species between your CA and NY lists (although you will get a count of species on the home page). This would be a really nice feature to be seen as an addition to the 'checklists' page (i.e. 'List unique species by list').

    Once the taxonomy update is brought into use, SWIFT will probably be the best list-based birding software available on the market. It is well supported and I definitely get the impression that the developers of SWIFT genuinely want to know how they can make it better for users and act on features that can be improved or that don't work after major releases. In the few months I've used the software, I've noticed that any bugs reported were quickly addressed and new updates released after testing.

    You can find out more about SWIFT from their website at:

    All the best,

    P.S. If you'd like the chance to win a copy of SWIFT, you can enter the Christmas Mystery Photo challenge, where we have 10 copies of SWIFT to give away.
    Last edited by Graham Etherington; December 13th, 2010, 02:13 PM.

  • #2

    Hello Everyone!

    I remembered this great review written by Graham a couple of years ago, (how time flies) and thought a quick update from us at SWIFT was in order.

    This year we are celebrating our tenth anniversary here at SWIFT. The software has come a long way in those ten years, I am especially reminded of this when reading through Graham's review again. Not only are all of the items he mentions as minor issues with SWIFT now a thing of the distant past, but we have continued to offer great new features in the software, such as:

    - Display of your photos alongside your sightings
    - Import your sightings from any older birding software that can produce a text file (we have successfully imported 1980s DOS-type data for some users!)
    - Regular taxonomy updates
    - Choice of two main screen displays (hierarchical top-down tree, or Windows-explorer style tree)
    - Fast checklist entry using your mouse or keyboard, no need to enter bird species as in other birding software
    - and much more ..

    The SWIFT user family has grown exponentially since this review was published, and we owe thanks to Surfbirds for helping get the word out about SWIFT. We just wanted folks who may be reading this rather old review to know that after ten years, SWIFT is still the world's most widely used listing software.

    For more information, you can visit our website at ...

    SWIFT Product Team

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    Last edited by swiftbirder; July 7th, 2013, 09:12 PM.


    • #3
      I wanted to download the trial version but seems to require a user name and password?


      • #4
        Originally posted by bill View Post
        I wanted to download the trial version but seems to require a user name and password?
        Hi Bill,

        Sorry for this issue. Our webserver was undergoing brief maintenance over the weekend and was temporarily unavailable. That's the reason the password prompt came up.

        If you try it again you should be good to go. If you have any questions or issues, please do not hesitate to contact us at the emails on the website.



        • #5
          Hello everyone,

          Been a long time since we here at SWIFT have put any updates here, but if anyone is reading Graham's review above (from many years ago now..) I wanted to share a recent post from our Facebook page.

          If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them here or contact us via the website.


          Facebook Post - November 2014

          We promised big news at the beginning of November and this morning we delivered.

          Version 2.0 of SWIFT has been released! Here are the headlines of this new version:

          The full SWIFT Life List Edition is now completely free!

          Yes you read that right. SWIFT is now the only birder listing software on the market offering a fully-featured product, including all birds of the world, completely free. We see that one of our competitors recently released an 'upgrade' to their software that asks you to pay ~$50 EACH YEAR to use it. That's not our style, the Premium Edition price remains unchanged at $79 USD. Life List Edition owners (prior to v2.0) will get notified of an offer for a generous discount should they wish to upgrade to Premium Edition 2.0.

          Windows XP is no longer supported.

          As we announced back in September, version 2.0 of SWIFT no longer supports XP. Windows XP is a 12 year-old operating system and THREE new versions of Windows have passed by since it was released in 2001. Microsoft ended support for XP this past April and it has come time for SWIFT to move on as well. Our goal with SWIFT is to offer our users the fastest, easiest way to keep track of their birding sightings. By continuing to build SWIFT for XP as well as the newer versions of Windows, this has become more and more difficult. New technology just does not work well with a system that is 12 years old. Goodbye XP, it's been a great run!

          An all-new installation is required.

          Due to the massive 'behind the scenes' changes to help speed up SWIFT and modernize its technology, if you are a current user of SWIFT, you will need to do an all-new installation for version 2.0. Don't worry, you will be walked through moving your birding records and photos from your old copy of SWIFT to the new version.

          We hope you enjoy the new version, whichever edition you choose or currently use! Please feel free to comment here and our team will answer each and every one.


          • #6
            I can not run the installer was not due to the reasons why