piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
i'm evaluating personal library programs for the mac and sharing the results with a book group to which i belong. however nifty librarything is, i do prefer to have my entire library catalogued locally, so it is available when i am (or LT is) offline. i have more than 2000 books entered into LT already, however, and do not care to duplicate the effort. therefore, whichever program i choose has to be able to import my books in some form.

i didn't think that was going to be an issue in the year 2010.


the latest program i've looked at is book collector from collectorz.com, which looked overall rather promising. it's being developed by a small company in the netherlands, and hey, i'm always one to support small over large.

the documentation for the mac version said nothing about importing, and it became apparent to me that the mac version is the second cousin for a windows shop. but still, there are 3 options on the menu for it: import from other collection, XML, delicious library (which is another library software).

LT exports in csv format, which is quite handy because it's human-readable and can easily be massaged into other formats. just about everything out there can read csv. not book collector though. ok. well, i can push CSV into XML with csv2xml. tried that, book collector said "XML import failed". *rolls eyes*. note to programmers: MEANINGFUL feedback is a good thing. fine, i tried the delicious library route instead. imported LT output into DL2, which worked fine. DL can export to a number of formats, XML among them. first i tried to save to DL format, and tried to read that from book collector. nothing happened. nothing at all. huh. ok, next i output XML from DL and tried to import that into book collector. this time it seemed to do something, it created a new catalog, but it ended up empty.

i know when to seek help. collectorz.com has an active forum, yay, where apparently employees even respond to customer problems, double yay. i described my travails. the next day i had a reply: book collector can only read delicious library V1 format, and the XML import is only meant to allow people with the windows version of book collector to transfer their collection to a mac.

i fired up DL again and saved my books in DL1.5 format. nope, book collector could not read that either. apparently V1 does not include V1.5 in their universe. i went back and asked whether they would please give me the format of their XML file, because, hey, i am willing to massage my books into the right format. but alas, no. their advice was that i could always get access to a windows machine and output from there and then look at the file.

really? after i've already wasted a couple of hours futzing around because their documentation says nothing about imports, a person who has access to the code and internal documentation sends me off to waste more time? what if i don't have access to a windows machine? what if i don't want to buy a copy of a crappy OS to install on a virtual machine simply to evaluate one program?

as the crowning glory their response to me suggesting that at least they update their documentation to let people know exactly what they can import was "maybe. we prefer to put things into our documentation about what the program can do, not what is missing."

guess who's writing a negative review of the program, and who's unlikely to ever give it another look?

on 2010-09-28 05:51 (UTC)
firecat: man grimacing (grimace)
Posted by [personal profile] firecat
we prefer to put things into our documentation about what the program can do, not what is missing.

Here is a technical editor banging her head on the wall in sympathy with you.

on 2010-09-28 21:10 (UTC)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] firecat
Exactly. But IME, if you suggest that, they'll be like "Oh we don't want to say what it supports because that will change."

on 2010-09-28 18:16 (UTC)
maize: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] maize
What are the downsides to just using DL? (I have DL 1.x but have let it get woefully out of date, so I'd have to probably tediously manually-recatalogue everything to start using it properly.)

I wish that tools like this could go some sort of seamless syncing such that you could use something like DL locally to manage your collection, but it would sync edits vs. LT automatically.

on 2010-09-29 00:53 (UTC)
lorres: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lorres
Just imagine doing it with 2 million plus records. That's what we do about every 10 years because we can't stand it more often than that. Multiply the problems, bad customer service, misinformation ,etc. by proportional amounts. *teams of staff members banging heads on walls*
Edited on 2010-09-29 00:54 (UTC)

on 2010-09-30 01:15 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] flarenut
Ugh. I would love to know this kind of thing too. I never started using librarything because I hate clouds (thank you, Ed Asner). And a few times I have tried to start with DL, seduced particularly by the prospect of reading barcodes. (But of course the barcode to title conversion works only for a narrow slice mostly of recently published books.) And I hate their default display mode.

But what else is there even on the mac?

I miss hypercard.

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