Please accept my apologies for the delayed reply rockbottom however I knew this post would take a long time to write and also wanted a few extra days to check the abilities of the new calculator.
I will try and write both the features and limitations below. The good news is that nearly all the features we had in the previous BIABAcus betas have been able to be written into the version PP is writing despite having the limitation of not being able to use any macros. Several new features have been added as well.
Because the following features have been able to be included, it is worthwhile spending the time to re-write the site and therefore we will be able to release this spreadsheet as BIABacus 1.0
We are trusting that the members here will over-look any limitations imposed by a spreadsheet format. They are not critical limitations and we firmly believe that the following more than makes up for them. Site Changes.
1. BIABrewer Essentails Re-Write - The new BIABrewer.info Essentials will be completely re-written so as all terminology and numbers will be the same as in the BIABAcus. A Terminology Chart and Definitions thread will be a feature of this.
2. We will allow files, such as the BIABacus, to be downloaded from the site by newly registered members. Posting on the forum though will still require a, "My First Post," to be written.BIABAcus Features
Here are some features, in no order of importance, that come to mind quickly...
1. Quality Calculations - Much research has been spent by the BIABacus team on ensuring that the formulas used in the BIABacus are of the highest quality.
2. Clickable Help - Each section of the BIABacus has a "?". Clicking on this will hyperlink the user to a thread containing basic, intermediate and advanced help on that section. So, we will have the equivalent of an online BIAB book.
3. Warnings - Red warnings pop up to advise the user of things such as a high or overflowing mash volume.
4. Auto-Efficiency - Efficiencies are automatically estimated depending on several factors. This is a feature that is so incredibly useful, it is impossible to detail here. However, like any default feature, it can be over-ridden.
5. Other Auto Estimates - Like the existing calculator, things like evaporation and trub losses have default estimates to guide brewers. Some of these defaults will be different from the existing calculator but all can be over-ridden. When any defaults is over-ridden a warning is displayed.
6. Optional Colour Input - The user can choose to input the colour of fermentables.
7. Optional Fermentable Extract Potential Input - The user can choose to input the extract potentials of the fermentables. If no input is made, the same defaults as in the existing "The Calculator" will be used.
8. Maxi-BIAB Adjustments - The BIABAcus allows the user to 'hold back' water from the mash and add it back in in four different ways and therefore supports Maxi-BIAB. This feature also means a traditional three-vessel brewer can also use the BIABacus.
8. Fill Heights and Headspace for Various Shaped Kettles - The BIABAcus will give fill heights and headspace for pots and
kegs. This feature, the auto-efficiency feature and several other features have never been seen before and were all developed by BIABrewer.info members.
9. Unit Conversion Tools - These are included in the BIABacus.
10. Simultaneous Metric and US Measurements - All units are displayed in metric and US units. A simultaneous view is actually surprisingly handy in many situations for all brewers regardless of their measurement system.
11. Numbers "Grow" as Inputs Are Made - The BIABacus starts blank. In other words there are no zeros. As inputs are made the sheet fills. This might seem unimportant but it makes the sheet far more engaging as the eye is drawn to the sudden filling of a blank space. A blank space also clearly tells the user they are missing an input.
12. Everything on the One Sheet - Besides reports, everything is on the one page of the BIABacus. Experienced software users will see this as a tremendous advantage. BIABAcus 1.0 has been laid out so as the result of a change can be instantly seen or, on smaller screens, quickly seen. The penalty to this is that a new user might find a first look at BIABacus 1.0 too 'vast'. Point 11 above, the associated help links and quality help from BIABrewer members will hopefully diminish this.
13. Recipe Report - Two Recipe Reports are planned. One for the user to print out and another to post to forums. We may choose to make this feature available in BIABacus 1.1 as there are over 1100 fields and labels to be considered.
PP has written these 1100 fields in three weeks whilst still working on his full-time job. All fields and labels have had to be placed in a logical order and an appealing layout. Many of the fields contain extremely long formulas to display the most simple thing in the best way possible under very limiting constraints.
PP is only one of the brewers who have actively worked on this "BIABAcus Project." Sigurdur and Kostass have also put a huge amount of effort in resulting in some excellent features we already have in BIABacus 1.0 or that will be enabled in later versions. Other people like stux and ianh have written calculators whose features we have stolen with their encouragement and tremendous assistance. Several beta testers have ploughed through the many versions we have thrown at them. Our first beta tester, smyrnaquince, would have had around 150 versions thrown at him and all of these had significant changes. There are many others that deserve a mention.
Hopefully the above will help enlist your understanding with...Limitations and Envisioned Solutions
The main cause of the following limitations is that they require macros or advanced programming to properly resolve. If macros are used, only users who own Excel would be able to use the spreadsheet so this option has been removed in BIABacus 1.0. Advanced programming has been worked on extensively by Kostass with similiar hours being put in by PP and BIABrewer. Lambert is also actively involved with this side offering new ideas and constant support which is extremely important.
Until we can find more people to help with advanced programming, we will have the following limitations...
1. Unit Input - Our "macro" version was able to instantly change the display and input from metric to US or vice versa thanks to work that stux instigated and sigurdur brought to fruition. Whilst BIABacus 1.0 displays both metric and US units, the input has to be metric. Conversion tools are easily accessible on the sheet though. We will write a reverse spreadsheet that allows US input if advanced programming looks too far off.
2. Saving Recipe as A File - In the macro version Sigurdur had written in some clever spreadsheet programming that would allow users to import and export recipes as a file. This had several more clever sub-features. Unfortunately we cannot do any of this in BIABacus 1.0. Users will have to post the whole file. The main limitation of this however is on websites rather than the user.
3. Report - Once again, in the macro version, Sigurdur had a button where you could copy the recipe and paste it straight into any forum. It is possible we can come up with something to replace it though it hasn't been thought through as yet.
4. What You See - In future BIABAcus versions (advanced programming), we envisage the user only seeing what they are interested in. For example, if you keg, then you would not see anything related to bottling. In BIABacus 1.0, you see everything.
5. Drop-Down Lists - Nearly all brewing software has drop-down lists. BIABacus 1.0 cannot include this feature as drop-down lists involve macro-type additions to the sheet. On a practical level, this just means a bit of extra typing by the user. It can be a problem however if a recipe contains a high sugar content. Experienced users should notify new users to use the "Potential Extract Adjustments" section if they see a recipe with a high sugar content.
Drop-down grain and hop lists lists are actually not easy to design to be user-friendly. For example, in most cases, it is actually quicker to type the grain than find it. We have been working, on and off, over the last year on this issue but fear there is a lot more we have to do. If you find a good drop-down list of grains or hops, please let us know.We Are Ready for More Betas
We will need some new betas in the next few weeks to take a first look at BIABacus 1.0. I had two requests today from members to join betas, silas and novaris. Thank you
. I will have to close the existing betas forum and write a new one before you join as the existing one has many sub-forums and threads that contain issues now resolved.
Betas need to be very enthusiastic before choosing to volunteer. A great beta needs to, firstly, say what's on their mind without fear. Secondly, they need to stay apprised of any developments. Thirdly, they must fuel the developers. BIABrewer does the best it can to fuel the developers but it is nowhere near enough
Basically, a good beta needs to be a very active and good communicator. Brewing experience is totally irrelevant. More often than not, it is new brewers who see the most important things.
Anyone interested in joining betas should PM me direct.
rockbottom, you would make an ideal beta