Author Topic: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions  (Read 8120 times)

Offline cmbrougham

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Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« on: September 30, 2003, 02:15:58 AM »
I downloaded and purchased BeerSmith last night. I like it much better than the other programs I've tried. For me, it's organized in a much more useful way than any of the other programs. I'm definitely looking forward to delving into it even more.

That said, I do have a couple small issues with the program. Nothing big; most of them just might be perceived inconveniences.

  • When you create a new recipe, the date defaults to the beginning of the month. While it's not often that I'll be brewing a recipe on the day I create it, it seems to me that it would make more sense if the default date was the date that the recipe was created on. Not a huge issue, but just "one of those things"  ;D
  • It would be nice to be able to move ingredients in a recipe up or down in the recipe list, regardless of their boil times or amounts. Again, this might just be a personal preference thing, but I like having a recipe (or any set of instructions, for that matter) organized in a step-wise fashion. For instance, I created a partial mash recipe last night that insisted on putting the 1# of malted wheat ahead of the 1# of pale malt. I want pale malt first... it's a base grain. I know it ultimately doesn't make a difference where it would fall in the hierarchy of grains in a recipe, but from a mental organization standpoint, this bugs me.
  • This is similar to the previous comment. Hops seem to be organized by decreasing amounts, instead of by boil time. I wanted .5 oz at 60 minutes, and 1 oz at 30 minutes, and the 30-minute addition kept moving before the 60-minute addition. This one seems a little more important than the last, to me.
  • Finally, the most important one I've discovered. I'm a mini-mash brewer, and one of my techniques when it comes to using extract is to add it late in the boil. BeerSmith automatically assumes that you're going to boil the extract for the full amount of time. It wouldn't be a big deal, but this GREATLY affects hop utilization. The recipe I created last night, while calculating IBUs from a 60 minute boil of the extract, was 12.7 IBU. By clicking the "Add After Boil" checkbox in the ingredient pop-up, the utilization become 17.9 IBU. A pretty big difference, and this would indicate to me that a recipe wouldn't be that accurate if a brewer uses a late extract addition. Basically what I'm asking for here is a way to set the time of the extract addition, and hopefully have a way for the program to calculate hop extraction from that time change.

Some of these features may be in there, and I just didn't discover them... this is entirely possible. If so, forgive me ignorance and let me know how to go about them. If they're not there... well... we know where to go from here  ;)

Again, the program is great... I really do like it. Just a couple of things, though, to enrich the experience.

Thanks!

Offline BeerSmith

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2003, 04:46:23 PM »
Glad you like the program! Thanks!

I appreciate the thoughtful comments as well...

- Yes, the date defaults to the wrong date.  It apparently copies the date from the default recipe template.  I will have this fixed in version 1.2.

- The sorting of ingredients was a sore point during beta testing.  Some people wanted them sorted by weight, others by content, others by IBU, etc, etc...  The compromise was to sort grains by percent contribution and sort Hops by IBU contribution.  Its not perfect either, but I had to go with something...  I will look into what it would take to allow the user to set the order manually.  It may be possible in a future version.

- On the extract boiling, I would recommend using the "Add after boil" flag if you are really adding your extract at the end of the boil.  I agree that this might not be entirely accurate if you boil extract for a long time, but it will be more accurate than including the extract in the whole boil.  Another suggestion is to adjust the hop utilization down a bit to compensate for your late boil extract addition.  

Its a very rough approximation, but I did some quick calculations and I estimate you might lose about 10% utilization if you add your extract 10 minutes from the end of the boil on a 60 minute hop boil.  So if you use the "Add after boil" flag on your extract and then set your "Large Batch Hop Utilization" adjustment in your equipment to 90% you will probably be in the ball park for most recipes.

That is a workaround, of course.  A better way would be (as you point out) to include a boil time with the extract so the actual IBU effects could be calculated for each phase of the boil.  I will add it to the list of suggestions for future versions.

Cheers!
Brad
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cj_in_j

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2003, 08:25:05 PM »
Quote
- The sorting of ingredients was a sore point during beta testing.  Some people wanted them sorted by weight, others by content, others by IBU, etc, etc...  The compromise was to sort grains by percent contribution and sort Hops by IBU contribution.  Its not perfect either, but I had to go with something...  I will look into what it would take to allow the user to set the order manually.  It may be possible in a future version.

I can understand your thinking for the grains -- that's more or less how I do it when I make my recipes up manually. However, for hops, it would seem much more logical to have the hops listed according the time of boil than IBUs. When I'm brewing, I want to know when the hops need to go in, not how many IBUs they contribute. The IBU part comes much earlier, when I'm formulating the recipe, but on brew day if I'm working from the screen or a printout, I don't want to have to search through a list to see which hops come first, second, third, etc.

Just my thoughts.

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2003, 12:01:26 AM »
Hi,
 Well I can certainly see your reasoning for hops additions by time -- but I believe most people use the "brewsheet" feature which lists instructions step by step for brewing for the recipe.

 In "brewsheet" mode hops are listed properly by time of addition (at least in most cases - there is one intermittent bug that had to do with sorting that we have corrected in the beta for 1.2, but that's a separate issue).

 I don't know if you have seen it but the "Preview as Brewsheet" feature is really one of the coolest features of BeerSmith.

Cheers!
Brad
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Offline cmbrougham

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2003, 03:25:36 AM »
Thanks for hearing me out, Brad  :) Again, I really do like the program; I hedged on which one to purchase for a long time, until I decided that BeerSmith had the layout and operational qualities I liked best. These were just some suggestions for making my personal use of the program more merry!

I agree with cj on the hops issue. While the Brew Sheet is definitely cool, and I'm going to use it, the fact remains that you create your recipe in "the other mode" (I don't know what it's called!). When I'm tweaking the amounts of hops, it bothers me that they jump around in the recipe lineup, so it's difficult to take a quick glance at a recipe and know roughly where a hop addition is supposed to take place. Does this make sense? It would be nice if the hops were locked into the recipe by time... changing amounts prevents them from floating around willy-nilly.

I'll stave further argument on the grain issue in the recipe  ;D I see the logic behind both of your arguments. I'm just a "from the top down" thinker. Maybe a "Move Up" or "Move Down" button that would shift ingredients in the list? They could still default when you enter them into a recipe in regards to their percentage.

I'll use the workaround you illustrated for the late extract addition. It'll work well enough for now. I'm probably not going to be doing extract batches that much longer, but for new brewers or for brewers who are content with extracts, setting boil time would be excellent.

One other thing I noticed last night: I use Ctrl+C Copy and Control+V Paste like they're going out of style. I was calculating some weights in the calculator (which, by the way, is very cool, but would be even cooler if it was a little pop up window so you could continue to look at your recipe as you used it), and wanted to copy the amounts I calculated into my recipe. I Ctrl+C'ed from the calculator and then Ctrl+V'ed into the recipe... nothing. It pasted something I had copied from IE! However, if I right clicked and hit "Paste", it worked. Very weird. Does BeerSmith not share the Windows Clipboard? This may not affect many people, but keyboard shortcuts are a huge part of saving time in my industry (video editing), so it's a natural thing to me.

Thanks again Brad!

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2003, 01:15:06 PM »
Glad you like BeerSmith - please feel free to share the positive comments with your friends, local club, favorite newsgroup, favorite online forum, local beer store owner, etc...

I will take another look at the sorting issue.  There may be a better way to handle it.

I just spent a bit of time and I now have the keyboard shortcuts working on all of the recipe input screens and dialogs.  It took me a little longer - about 10 lines of code were added!

This will also go out in Version 1.2 (in a week or two) along with the "date default" issue you mentioned earlier (now fixed) and a new section for the Preview Brewsheet which now lists steeped specialty grains separately in a "Steep grains" step (extract recipes only).

I think you will be pleased!

Cheers!
Brad

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Offline cmbrougham

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Re: Cool program... a couple questions/suggestions
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2003, 02:28:55 AM »
Thanks Brad... it's great knowing that a software developer is listening to end users. If only some other software giants would do the same  ::)

I'm really starting to get a feel for the program... I honestly do like the way it's laid out. I'm anxiously awaiting the 1.2 update. BeerSmith is great already, and it's only going to get better.

Thanks!


 

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