I Attacked the Online Media Catalog Problem AgainOctober 12, 2008
This is a problem I’ve been working on for about five years: I want to have a good list of my books, games, and music albums. On my Mac, I want a database with a great interface for adding and editing items. On the web, I want a simple, browsable list that can be broken down by tags or ratings, with my comments about each item, for other people to browse. When sharing games with friends, planning on trading books, or just showing off my taste, such a thing would be a great help.
In 2002 I made a Perl- and MySQL-based web app (“Item Shelf”), but it was too cumbersome to maintain.
In 2004 I created OmniOutliner documents (“Boox”), which were very easy and fun to maintain, but didn’t make for beautiful cover-art-based browsable exports I could share with others. I combined that system with Delicious Library, which was more visual but had no web export. So, I wrote a web exporter in Python (“DeliciAwesome”), but it didn’t have tags or anything, and Delicious Library 2 was kind of a disappointment for me.
Earlier this year I created a huge OmniGraffle- and Python- based custom system (“Shelf 2”), which actually got pretty complete and pretty close to what I wanted. But it was quite slow, what with hundreds of high-resolution covers on a single canvas, and unwieldy, with dozens of different Python scripts to do various things to them.
Then, in August, I discovered Bruji’s Pedia apps, which are kind of more powerful, more sensible alternatives to Delicious Library. These apps are a real pleasure to work with, and the support is phenomenal. One problem, though, was that there’s not really a direct way to export to HTML with pages broken up by tag. I faked this by creating a “HTML export template” that actually generates a tab-delimited text file, then running that through a Python script that generates the individual cross-linked pages. I guess this export thing is Shelf 3, and this time I feel really confident that I can make it what I’ve always wanted. The next step will be for me to add more ratings and comments, to have a nice central location for recording my thoughts about individual items I’ve enjoyed.
Here’s my pretty preliminary game library export.