We're always hard at work trying to make alacalc.com easier and faster to use and therefore more productive.
To prove out point we've got a few new features to tell you about, which are live now and ready to use.
The first feature is one that some of you have asked about, Copy from Database is a button you'll see in My Ingredients, and will allow you to choose an item from the database and copy all of the details to your custom ingredients for fine tuning.
The second new feature is for improving speed of input of ingredients to your recipe; in a recipe's Ingredients tab you can now navigate using your keyboard arrows and tab button to save switching keyboard to mouse and back again, this should shave valuable time off adding ingredients.
The third and final big improvement on alacalc.com in this round of new features is the introduction of the a la calc Standard database. This is a database of ingredients often used by manufacturers that don't appear in the other Standard databases.
Sign in at alacalc.com to try the new features!
..or read a bit more about each feature and how to use it.
Copy from Database
Copy from Database is a feature that will let you select an ingredient from any of our major databases and duplicate all of the nutrient data and the name to a new custom ingredient in your personal book of ingredients.
Why do this? Simple, there are often ingredients in the database that are very similar to an ingredient that you may want to use but perhaps you want to rename it to something more suitable for your internal use or perhaps you have a variation with an accompanying spec from the supplier to which you can make adjustments to the database ingredient.
The uses are many and now they are available to you. You can find the feature by going to My Workspace or My Ingredients and clicking Copy from Database. From there you can search the database in a familiar fashion and once you select an ingredient you new ingredient will be opened and pre-filled. You only need click save after editing the necessary details.
We've said it before and we'll say it again, the heart of operations, where we all spend most of our time on a la calc is the Ingredients tab of a recipe. To that end we are constantly thinking of ways to speed up the process and improve the interface.
One of the key things that slows users down is the constant switching from mouse to keyboard to select the search box, type and ingredient, select and ingredient, type a quantity value, blah blah blah, so we have implemented a totally keyboard navigation.
Now, when you open the Ingredients tab the search is automatically selected so you can start typing your ingredient immediately, the results will show as you type. Then you can use the tab, up and down arrows and enter key on your keyboard to select the ingredient you require, on selecting the ingredient the quantity box is automatically selected (but you can use the up and down arrows to move around still) and pressing enter will add the ingredient to recipe and put the cursor back in the search field.
We think once you familiarise yourself with the controls this will save up to 30% of the time spent on the page. Time you can use cooking instead of typing.
a la calc Standard Database
The Standard databases (UK and US) are great. They offer all the ingredients that the average user could want or use and many branded items. BUT they don't have any of the ingredients that manufacturers and production kitchens often use. For this reason we have started the a la calc Standard database.
The a la calc Standard database contains many of the common ingredients used in a production kitchen. The data is direct from suppliers and although it does not contain data for all 55 of the nutrients calculated, it does contain the Big 8 (the 8 main nutrients shown all UK food packaging).
We hope these updates will improve your productivity and enjoyment around alacalc.com. Let us know in the comments or with the feedback button how they work out for you.