There’s a pretty good chance that you have things. Many kinds of things in fact, from gadgets to toys, books to power tools and piles of DVDs. You have things, right? What if there was a way to organize them all? To catalog them digitally in some way, get stats on your collection, show it all off somehow and manage that vast network of friends that you keep lending aforementioned things to? Say hello to Delicious Library 3 ($25).
The project began life as a beautifully simple digital library app; you could add books, and use it to manage lending. With unparalleled beauty and a simple finesse, the developers found there were clearly onto something. If you’re struggling to keep track of a vast physical library of stuff, it may be exactly what you need.
Read on to find out why or for the digitally minded, here’s how to start an eBook collection on your iPad.
Delicious Library 3
Now in its third iteration, Delicious Library has grown into a magnificent beast that catalogs anything with a barcode automatically, though manual entries are of course possible. Paired with the accompanying free iPhone scanner app you can have your things cataloged for digital perusal in record time; it is also compatible with your webcam, as well as USB or BlueTooth handheld scanners. Pairing the apps is almost too easy; just click the “pair iPhone” button in the bottom right of the desktop, and scan the barcode that pops up on screen with the accompanying iPhone app. It’s these clever little touches that really make the app a joy to use.
Using the mobile app has another advantage though – you needn’t be tethered your desktop, as it works over wifi to sync barcodes. Take it to your living room or real world library and scan at your leisure.
The recognition speed of the scanner app is incredible; if you’ve ever used a barcode scanner app before, you’ll know how tedious it is to line them up, make sure it’s got good enough light in the room, do a little dance between one hand holding the box and the other holding the phone. With Delicious Library app, it took less than 3 seconds total to pick up each item, and have it fully scanned.
Out of 10 board games I scanned, one was mislabelled, though it was by the same company so it’s possible the company is now re-using older barcodes.
Video games didn’t fair nearly as well the first time I tried; apparently EU Xbox 360 games use a completely different code to their US counterparts. Changing the desktop settings to use the UK store fixed this, and 9/10 of the games were recognized correctly.
Books, around 25 of them that I tried (I prefer eBooks, frankly) worked perfectly – the data scraping is done from the Amazon API, so I would expect nothing less.
Zoom out from a single book cover to your entire library, complete with floor reflections. Utilizing native OpenGL hardware acceleration in OS X, the app runs smoothly, resizing and rearranging items on the fly. Hover over an item and it’ll tilt slightly, following your mouse with a pretty lighting effect.
To show off your library, you can either publish to a website or local folder. Sadly, I was unable to upload a website, which resulted consistently in a crash. However, publishing to a folder results in an identical version, so I was able to simply upload this via FTP, and you can see the results containing my board game collection at jamesbruce.me/games
The statistics screen is pretty interesting, but not particularly useful. It shows a breakdown of the types of things you’ve added to the catalog, the average values, total or used values for replacements. Interesting fact: of the 41 items I’ve currently added, 7.1% are produced by Rio Grande Games – I’m such a mainstream board gamer.
You can also click on a creator’s name to bring up the Amazon engine and find more items by that creator.
Finally, a separate recommendation tab uses your own collection and rankings to find more things you might enjoy. After ranking all my board games, the suggestions were pretty good, finding a number of expansions I didn’t already know about and a standard collection of gamers favourites that I just didn’t own yet.
A built-in wishlist feature means I’ll probably be buying a lot more. On the downside, the view item button only connects to the US store, and there doesn’t appear to be an option to change to a UK store by default.
Real World Uses
I’ve started attending a “board games in the pub” meet up here in my local area; each week, members will post a list of games they have and ask for requests. After scanning my board game library, I just posted a link to the page. If I can convince more members to get the app – the free licence works for up to 25 items – we could produce a collaborative collection.
Unfortunately, a few features are lacking which prevent Delicious Library from being used to run an actual community library. The barcode scanner can only be used to add new items; you can’t scan something to indicate it’s going to be lent out or is being checked in. On a personal level though, it’s certainly a competent way of tracking what you’ve lent to a small group of friends. Just drag an item to the friends name; when an item is “out”, a yellow banner appears in the top right and the artwork greys out slightly.
I hope I never have to use the insurance feature, but if you need to, it’s easy to produce a list of your possessions and how much it would cost to replace them. Or you can simply print a quick reference for your own needs.
For organising and locating your own content, “smart shelves” are fantastic. I made an example shelf that checks the synopsis, description or title for the words “farm” or “gardening”.
You can even search your collection by colour of the cover image; though there is a voice search feature, I found it would failed on over half the queries I spoke, so that could definitely use some improvement.
If you really want, you can enable the iTunes shelf, though I found that quite annoying. Presumably it’s used so you can compare physical music to digital collections, but I’m fairly certain you would have copied all your CDs into iTunes by now anyway. This feature is disabled by default.
At $25, Delicious Library is a bargain. It’s an incredibly powerful tool to catalog almost anything, and the collaborative and publishing features are really nice. It lacks a few features I would have liked though that ultimately limit it’s real world usage, but perhaps that’s something the developers can address in future versions. An iPad app to browse your collection might be really nice (hint hint).
Download: Delicious Library 3 ($25)
Are you using Delicious Library, or do you have a community library project built on something else? Whats your favourite feature?