YummySoup! - Version 2

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YummySoup! is a recipe database program for the Mac. I’ve already written about it in the 2008 blog entry YUMMYSOUP!, which is where to turn for a description of the basic features. This blog entry will describe some of what’s new in Version 2. If you aren’t interested in recipe software for a Mac, this blog entry will not be for you. If you want to learn about improvements made to a great recipe database program, read on. If you aren’t familiar with Version 1, you might want to read YUMMYSOUP! first, then return here.

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The recipe importer allows you to highlight the various portions of a recipe such as ingredients, description etc. which the recipe importer highlight in various colors showing you what is what (left). When you are done YummySoup! sorts it all out and brings the information into the Editor window where you can make any adjustments you want (right).

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If the website is one of the 10 sites supported via the automatic importer, you can simply hit the import button & YummySoup! brings the information straight into the editor, including the picture.

YummySoup! allows you to catalogue recipes and view or print them. But that description doesn’t do it justice. It is an elegant program that like the best Mac software programs is easy and fun to use. The interface that will be familiar anyone who has used Mac OSX, since it is like some of the iLife programs such as iTunes or iPhoto. There are basically two ways of getting a recipe into YummySoup!: Manually typing it in or if it is a web based recipe via a web importer interface. The web based importer was one of the best features in Version 1 and it has been improved in Version 2 to make it even easier to use. In Version 1 you would launch your web browser and navigate to your recipe. You would drag the icon next to the url (called the favicon) from the browser into YummySoup!. If it was from a site such as FoodNetwork.com where there were built in translators, the information would be automatically be imported and you would be taken straight into the editing window. Here you could make any tweaks desired. Otherwise an importer interface window would be launched where you would tell the importer what information you wanted to import and what it was. You highlight the title and then click on a button called title. The highlighted info is now highlighted in a unique color. When you’d identified the info to import you’d be brought to the editor window. So what is new for Version 2? Well the developer took advantage to the WebKit engine built into Mac OSX to build a web browser right into YummySoup 2. The interface is similar to what you are used to with Safari. There is a Google search bar for your use. The bookmarks bar has listings for the 10 sites you can automatically import from. This makes it more convenient, since you can do all your work right within YummySoup! You can still do it the old way, from Safari, but you don’t have to.

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Now that YummySoup! 2 is written in XML it makes it far more open in terms of both importing and exporting data.

Some of the other big news about Version 2 is in the import/export department. Version 1 of YummySoup! was written in a proprietary data format unique to YummySoup!. The data could be shared only with other YummySoup users. The program has been rewritten from the ground up and now uses XML, an open standard, as it’s language. This means your data can be exchanged with other recipe programs such as MacGourmet and MasterCook. This is a big plus for the user since it means they can exchange data with other programs or switch entirely to another program and take their data with them. Using XML is a double-edged sword for the developer: It gives the user more flexibility in that they can import information from other popular programs, but it also means they can jump ship if they feel their current program does not measure up to the competition. Another potential plus for the developer is there are also some folks who may be more likely to buy the program knowing they are not stuck for life.
 

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Themes allow you to have various looks for your recipe interface. You can also rearrange the placement of some of the interface elements.



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Printing now has 3 modes: 4x6 (10x15 cm) Index card which puts the info on a 4x6 (10x15 cm) sheet with a white background, 4x6 (10x15 cm) photo which captures the theme look including any colored backgrounds, & letter which like 4x6 (10x15 cm) removes the colored background. You can apply any theme to your printed output & pick which item from the recipe you want to export: Photos, Notes, Private Notes etc.



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Mousing over a recipe picture thumbnail in the visual browser shows the star rating, degree of difficulty & keywords you’ve assigned to the recipe.

YummySoup! now has themes which allow you to change the look of the interface. Some other programs may refer to this feature a “skins”. A nice feature of YummySoup! 2 themes is you can work in one theme and make printouts in other themes. The themes themselves have variations where you can change the positions of some of the interface elements. Unlike many programs with themes or skins, most of these themes are tastefully done and attractive. There aren’t any that hurt my eyes or make me want to cringe. When you print out a recipe, in addition to choosing a theme you have a choice of 3 formats: a 4x6 (10x15 cm) index card, a 4x6 (10x15 cm) photo style and letter size. In addition you can choose whether to include the main photo and additional photos, the metrics (prep time, cooing time, source etc.), your notes and private notes. You can also enlarge or shrink the size of the text. You are also able to easily increase or decrease the text size in the description field and change the text to bold or italics. Another small improvement to the interface is in the visual browser: When you pass your mouse over the picture of a recipe the picture darkens and you are shown the rating you gave the recipe, the difficulty rating and the keywords you’ve assigned to it. The developer is constantly making little improvements like this which to me shows his commitment to the program.

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In Version 2’s full screen mode mousing to the left side or top causes the side bar and visual browser to slide onto the screen. This allows you to switch to any other recipe without leaving full screen mode.

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Mousing to the bottom of the screen pops up a menu that allows you to bring up the Editor Window.

The program had a full screen interface in Version 1. The primary use was viewing a recipe from afar. It was nice in that you could put your laptop on a counter, away from where you were working and view the recipe from a safe distance. It was a bit of a one trick pony in that you could view your recipe, but had to leave the full screen mode to edit the recipe or switch to another recipe in your library. This has all changed in Version 2. You can now access the editor via a popup menu at the bottom of the screen. If you move your mouse to the side or top of the screen the sidebar with the library and the visual browser slide onto the screen allowing you to navigate to anywhere within your library. The popup menu at the bottom also displays icons for a couple more new features. The program has integration with some social networking programs like: Twitter, Facebook and BlogSpot. I have not tried these because I am not into the whole social networking thing. Another new feature I haven’t tried is the Weekly Planner which you can use for scheduling meals.

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The recipe scaler assists you in resizing a recipe to suit the amount of folks you need to serve.

Technically this next one, Recipe Scaling, is not a new feature in Version 2. It was added late in the development of Version 1, Version 1.8 to be specific. You pick a recipe to scale and enter the Edit Mode. From there you choose the “Scale” button and you are guided through the process. The pictures show the process.

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A new & welcome addition to YummySoup! 2 is Note and Private Notes. A section for wine pairings and one for nutrtion is said to be coming soon.

A very welcome feature in Version 2 was the addition of a field for Notes and Private Notes. In Version 1 you had to include this type of entry under the description. The difference between Notes and Private Notes is that Private Notes do not get published when you share the recipes via the new Recipecast feature. The Recipecast feature is intended for YummySoup! 2 owners who also are members of MobileMe. It is very much like MobileMe photo sharing in iTunes and if you’ve used the feature in iPhoto, you could use it here with no further instructions. All you do is highlight a Recipe Group (the YummySoup! equivalent of an Photo Album in iPhoto) or you can elect to share your entire Recipe Library. Once you have shared the Recipe Group, you are given a url that can be shared with other YummySoup! 2 owners. When they double click the url, the YummySoup browser is launched and you are given a url to click which brings the information into your sidebar under a new “Recipecasts” category. The information looks like any other Recipe Group in YummySoup! except there are “New” badges any time there is a new or updated entry in the recipecast. The items you are sharing are marked with a shared icon and you are able to update them manually or stop sharing them altogether.

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The first step with Recipecasts is to select a Recipe Group to Publish. You are given a url to share with other YummySoup! 2 users who are also MobileMe users.

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The other YummySoup! 2 users uses the subscribe field to enter the url you have shared (left). The YummySoup! 2 browser launches and you are given a link to click that imports the information into their copy of YummySoup! 2 (right).


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The recipe group you have shared now has an icon denoting it has been shared (left). Right clicking on the shared item gives you options for updating or unsharing the group (right).


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Shared recipes appear in a new recipe group called recipecasts in the sidebar. They behave like a normal YummySoup! recipe group, with the exception that new items or newly updated items get a “NEW” badge o their picture.

All in all YummySoup! 2 is a solid improvement over Version 1 and a pleasure to use. I use it almost daily to manage my collection of over 375 recipes. The developer is a small developer, but I like buying programs from small developers. They are often very passionate about there programs and are determined to take advantage of as many Mac-specific features as they can. They don’t have to worry about cross-platform issues that sometimes result in a program that is a least common denominator type of affair. The developer is responsive and is constantly making improvements to the program. YummySoup! 2 was the first paid upgrade to the program despite all of the features added in as part of incremental upgrades to Version 1. It is one of the programs I enjoy using the most on my Mac. If you are looking for an elegant, easy to use recipe management software, made for the Mac and taking advantage of some cool features built into Mac OSX, you need look no further than YummySoup! 2.

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SOME RELATED LINKS
Here are links for my first blog entry on YummySoup! Version 1, plus a link to the developer’s web site. There are a couple of movies you can view showing the features of YummySoup!

  YUMMYSOUP! Blog Entry
YUMMYSOUP WEBSITE Web Link


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