For some reason that I now forget I started digging around online tonight to see what the current state of beer brewing software looks like. The last time I’d played with any such software, I installed the evaluation version of ProMash on my old computer and tried it out. It’s probably the best piece of software for brewing out there, and to be sure it worked well and did a good job, but when you look at it you can’t help but notice the Visual Basic GUI-clutter-itis that prevents it from breaking through to the best-in-show program it wants to be. (See a screenshot here to see what I mean.)
The two lists I found are Lee’s Brewery Guide to Brewing Software and the Open Directory beer software category, and I’m disappointed to report that the state of brewing software is right about where I left it. Even ProMash looks the same.
Here’s a bit of a wishlist of features I’d like to see in brewing software:
- Simple layout and navigation.
- Visual color indicator—I want to see what color the 30+ SRM porter will be.
- Staggered complexity by usage—if I’m brewing from extract, I’m not worried about seeing all-grain stats and figures to tweak on the recipe formulation screen.
- Open source—open code, open databases.
- Perhaps web-based. (I tend to see everything as having a web-based solution these days, go figure.)
- Custom report generation.
- XML data transfer. Data storage in a database is great, but I want to be able to export to XML for whatever I might need.
To be sure, ProMash covers most or all of this quite nicely—its layouts and colors make my eyes bleed, though, and it’s not open source.
Of course, complaining about the current state of affairs for a particular genre of software, accompanied by listing a bunch of desired features for said software, is usually followed by the self-same person announcing that they’re going to develop the ultimate version themselves. What can I say? I’d be tempted to do it, but I really don’t have the time—there’s too many other irons in the fire right now. Plus, I haven’t even brewed a batch of beer in over a year, so I’m not even qualified. Sometimes, though, you just gotta vent.