What's New

As you will see below, by far the biggest change in LC 2015 is the Living Cookbook web database, its associated web services and the various things that they make possible. We had five primary goals when developing these features:

Over the years we have seen some amazing user recipe collections. The recipes are carefully crafted, the photographs are stunning and the overall quality and attention to detail is worthy of the best cookbooks. Every time we see one of these collections we think "we need to make it easier for users to share these recipes with their friends." We can already e-mail and export recipes but it involves multiple steps by both the sender and receiver. we wanted to make sharing a single click (or as few as possible) process on both ends. Living Cookbook 2015 does that and turns the sharing process into a conversation.

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There are two collaboration scenarios that we wanted to address. The first, and most obvious, is fundraising cookbooks. Lots of schools, churches, non-profits, etc. use Living Cookbook to create their fundraising cookbooks. If the cookbook involves multiple contributors, the task of importing, exporting and editing multiple recipes from multiple sources can be cumbersome. We wanted to make it much easier and intuitive. In Living Cookbook 2015 the cookbook owner (usually the cookbook's editor) shares the cookbook with the contributors. The contributors add and edit their respective recipes. The editor reviews the submissions and exports the final draft. All of this happens without any imports, exports or e-mails. And all changes are immediate since everyone is working with the same online version of the cookbook.

The second collaboration scenario is heirloom recipes or family favorites. What we want to be able to is make it easy to share a read-only copy of recipe collections so friends and family can view, print or copy all of the recipes in the collection and any new ones as they are added. Living Cookbook 2015 makes this really easy.

A number of Living Cookbook users have multiple homes (e.g. a primary residence and a vacation home) or they have multiple computers in the same house but no network. In both cases the users want to keep their recipe collections in synch. Currently this is done using backup and restore (i.e. backup your collection on one computer and then restore the backup file on the other computer). In Living Cookbook 2015 you achieve the same result by connecting the various copies of Living Cookbook to the same online account. The web service will take care of keeping everything in synch. In other words you can add and edit recipes in multiple locations and the changed recipes will be replicated to your other instances of Living Cookbook.

OCA's (occasionally connected applications) are a class of software applications that store their primary data locally (i.e. on your hard drive) and use the Internet for sharing and synchronizing data. Many Living Cookbook users have unreliable Internet connections or they take their computers to locations with no Internet (e.g. sailboats, hunting cabins, etc.) so it was important that Living Cookbook 2015's primary storage remain on the local hard drive. We also wanted to make Living Cookbook 2015 resilient in the sense that both the desktop and web databases be left in a valid state if synchronization were interrupted for any reason (e.g. user cancelled the synchronization process, user walked out of wi-fi range with their laptop, Internet router stopped working, etc.). And even if there is some sort of problem (e.g. you accidentally delete a cookbook and the deletion is replicated to the web database), you can always restore a backup file and sync everything up again.

We expect that some Living Cookbook users will choose not to use Living Cookbook's online features or they may only want to use them occasionally. We wanted the interface elements of the online features to be visible only when they are in use. So if you aren't using the online features, they only visible difference is the Connect menu and its associated toolbar button. The interface elements related to synchronization, news feeds, Living Cookbook friends, notifications, etc. only appear when you are connected to the Living Cookbook web services.

Online Services

We have created an online version of Living Cookbook's database and a range of web services that make new features such as replication, collaboration and sharing possible.

Users with multiple copies of Living Cookbook can synchronize their recipe collections (and all other LC data) using the web services. You can configure Living Cookbook to automatically synchronize your data whenever changes are made. Or you can initiate the synchronization process manually by selecting Synchronize from the Connect menu (or click the Synchronize toolbar button).

Living Cookbook 2015 includes a news feed similar to the ones found on Facebook, Podio, and other social networking sites. News feed items come in two flavors: shared content (e.g. recipes, links, images and text shared by your friends) and system notifications (e.g. new version available for download, planned server maintenance, new friend requests, etc.). You can reply to most news feed items and you can attach a recipe, link or image to your reply. Recipes that appear in your news feed are read-only but they can be views, printed or copied to your own recipe collection. Sharing of ingredients, menus, glossary items, etc. might be included in the future if there is sufficient interest in this feature.

With the exception of system notifications, the only news feed items you will see are those that are sent to you by your friends. When you create your Living Cookbook online account you can provide the following information: first name, last name, city, state/province, country and tags. The tags can be anything you want but are intended to help people with similar interests find each other. For example, a user's tags might read "Southern, barbecue, slow food, baking". There is also a checkbox labeled "Discoverable". It is unchecked by default and it denotes whether you want people to be able to search for you by name, state, tags, etc. If you leave this option unchecked, only people who know your e-mail address will be able to send you a friend request.

Living Cookbook 2015 also includes a notifications view. This is a standard list view (works like the recipe list view, ingredient list view, etc.) that lists your notifications. Notifications can be deleted from this view without deleting them from the news feed (and vice versa). So if notifications appear in the news feed, why do we need two views of the same data? There are two reasons. First, the news feed is always chronological whereas the notification list view can be sorted, grouped, etc. So if you are looking for the details of the last Living Cookbook update but your friends have shared 50 recipes with you since the announcement, you don't need to scroll through your news feed. You can just sort or group your notifications to find the information you are looking for. The second reason is, if there is sufficient interest in the feature, I want to add news feed filtering. For example, you might not want to see any system notifications in your news feed. In that case, you can always check your notifications view for upgrade announcements, etc.

Once you have established your friendships you can do more than just share individual recipes. You can, if you choose, link to their account. If you link to someone's account you can see the cookbooks they have chosen to share with you. If they have given you sufficient privileges you can edit their recipes or even add new recipes to their cookbooks. You can use drag and drop and copy and paste to move recipes to and from your friends' cookbooks.

When you choose to share a cookbook with a friend, read permission is implied. You can also specify seven other permissions: create, update, move, delete, copy, print and export. The permissions apply to the cookbook itself and all of its child chapters and recipes. The only exception is that even with create and delete permissions you can't create a new cookbook in your friend's account and you can't delete the entire cookbook (although with delete permissions you could delete its contents).

General enhancements

Living Cookbook is built using Microsoft's .Net Framework. Living Cookbook 2015 uses version 4.0 of the .Net Framework (LC 2013 used 2.0). The newer version is faster, more efficient and it was integrated into Windows Update in July 2010. So if you are up to date with your Windows Updates then you already have .Net 4.0 installed. For this reason, the .Net 4.0 will not be included in the default LC 2015 installation package so the size of the LC 2015 download file will drop to about 28.1 MB (compared to 43.1 MB for LC 2013). We will offer a second download file for anyone who doesn't have .Net 4.0 installed and doesn't want to (or can't) install it using Windows Update.

The embedded web browser used in Living Cookbook's Internet navigator has been upgraded to Internet Explorer 9. This enabled Living Cookbook to render the more complex javascript and CSS found on many popular cooking and recipe websites.

Living Cookbook's key data entry dialogs (recipe, ingredient, menu, calendar, glossary item, technique, grocery list, store, inventory item, saved web page and RSS feed) are now resizable. Living Cookbook will save your chosen dialog sizes with your other user options.

Toolbar buttons on the main application toolbar, the task toolbars and the dialog toolbars can now be toggled between normal (small) and large (double height) sizes. To change the toolbar size just right-click on any toolbar and choose "Small Icons" or "Large Icons".

The web browser in the Internet navigator has a new context menu with the following menu items: Refresh, Save Webpage, Download, Download To and Download Options. You can still access Internet Explorer's native context menu by pressing the Shift button while right-clicking. The Internet task toolbar also includes a Save Webpage button.

We have made huge improvements in application performance. We used a variety of techniques to improve database reads and writes. These improvements are most noticeable when your recipe collection is large (50,000+ recipes). For example, on one of our test computers we did a test on a 50,000 recipe database before performance tuning, it took two minutes and 48 seconds to copy a chapter containing 1000 recipes. After performance tuning it took only 55 seconds. Similar performance improvements were made in file imports, cookbook and chapter deletions, undo and redo of large operations. Application startup time has also improved significantly.

The search context of the Find Toolbar (the search toolbar above the task pane) now changes automatically to match your current selection. So if your selection changes from recipes to ingredients, the search toolbar changes to "Search In Ingredients" automatically.

When you create an advanced (saved) search, Living Cookbook suggests a sensible name for your search so you don't have to enter one if you don't want to. So if you create an advanced recipe search for recipes of type "Barbecue" and "Meat" the suggested name will be "Recipe type: Barbecue and Meat". If you search for recipes that have "chicken" in the name, the suggested search name will be "chicken".

SR26 is the USDA's latest version of its nutrient database. It is included with new installs of Living Cookbook 2015.