So I've been around the block trying all the different products out there, iBrewMaster, BeerSmith2, BrewPal, BrewTarget, Brewology101.... etc. So far I've yet to fine the perfect one, so I thought I'd just lay it out here for comment on what I want out of my perfect brewing software....
- Full edit-ability on the Web, Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.
- Customizable formulas for those times when the software just plain gets it wrong (I'm looking at you iBrew re: efficiency)
- A UI that can help guide the new brewer, yet be free enough for the advanced brewer. (This is one area where iBrewmaster is excellent)
- Really good batch management and versioning. (Again iBrew does a great job here)
- Cloud based storage that is transparent and always on.
- Ingredient lists that are kept up-to-date, especially all the new hops that come to market.
BeerSmith meets a good portion of these criteria. It's tremendously flexible. But it falls down severely in it's UI when you compare it with tools like iBrew.
iBrew has a GREAT UI, and is a joy to work with, but it's pretty much an iPad/iPhone tool, and it's in the middle of a complete re-write. Plus it's cloud storage is clunky. (as well as some formulas are just wrong)
Web based sites (like Brewology for one example) aren't terrible, but the UI isn't quite as smooth, and they're usually missing a lot of the harder calculations like mash water volume. Or sometimes when they have it it's wrong. And sometimes other calculations seems to be wrong as well.
I've also yet to come across any software that starts out with a wizard-type of functionality. Really, the first thing a brew tool should do is interview you to find out what YOUR brew house is set up like. Are you an extract brewer? What pot sizes do you use? BIAB with sparge or no-sparge? Then everything gets tailored for your set up.
So there's my little afternoon rant on the state of things. Maybe it'll help any of the software designers out there building these tools and give them ideas about what the "common brewer" is looking for. Then in the end we'll all end up with better tools