Author Topic: Need for a good collection management tool?  (Read 7267 times)

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Offline cmerc

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Need for a good collection management tool?
« on: February 27, 2013, 02:23:49 AM »
Hello All,

Are there good (online) collection management tools available for personal collections?  I know of some tools on numismaster, and the registry on NGC.  But is there a good generalized software / online tool for managing your collection, that allow pictures, details, sorting, etc.?  If not, and if such a tool were to be developed, would there be interest among the community?   

I have spent some time developing a preliminary web-based system for my own collection.  It is possible to add some extra features, have a graphical interface, and make it simpler and more useful.  For example, the following page (and other pages on my website) is generated automatically from my database:
    http://www.asarkar.com/coins/DisplayCoinPage.php?pageID=BENGAL
and it is very simple to add new coins into the database.  (It can be made even simpler!)

Would you be interested in using such a system?  Or does something like this already exist?  Thanks!

-cmerc
Defending this hobby against a disapproving family since 1998.

Offline anand

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 07:38:55 PM »
I feel this would be helpful to a lot of folks.
personally i have been using excels to keep track and as for pictures, when ever i take one, it is numbered and that number is marked against the entry in the excel and that is a reference for me to go back to. Yeah its a bit confusing and tedious but I have been able to some how work through.
But a better way would definitely be useful (also get my lazy self to do something). 

anand

Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2013, 09:08:10 AM »
 Below is a screenshot of what I have so far.  Do you have any suggestions on how to make it better?  Right now, the coin photos are not linked to the data on this table. 

Once I have a good idea on what is needed, I can develop the online system.  Any suggestions would be very helpful, thanks!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 09:18:30 AM by cmerc »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2013, 10:45:03 AM »
Looks nice as an output form, but has major drawbacks as a data base.

  • A data base has no sub-headings. They are just another column.
  • A data base separates data into columns as much as possible. For instance date would be columns first date of type, last date of type, AH date of coin, regnal year, AD date of coin, control field. Catalogue id would be minimum two columns (four if you use KM): catalog id, catalog number. In the case of KM you also need leading letter and trailing letter
etc.

This way you can sort and re-sort the data base and still get back to the original order. I would use the date control field for a check on the formula AH date pus regnal year [converted] = AD date to catch anomalies. With conditional formatting, you can catch spelling mistakes in the catalogue id field. You keep the letters in KM catalogue numbers apart to be able to sort the data base by catalogue number. If not, the alpha-numerics will be bunched together when sorting. I general, separate numerics and alpha-numerics

Another useful data base field is the date (year) of last review. Catalogue numbers change, you forget to make entries etc, so regular review is necessary.

Once you have a clean data base, you can define output forms without the data ballast and with a nice lay-out according to your needs.

Detail: if you have a column for price and date, one for seller would be logical.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2013, 05:09:56 PM »
    Those are some great suggestions Peter, we can definitely implement them sooner or later. 

A data base has no sub-headings. They are just another column.
So would we want to keep the subheadings feature?  It may help if you want to subdivide your collection in some situations. 

Quote
A data base separates data into columns as much as possible. For instance date would be columns first date of type, last date of type, AH date of coin, regnal year, AD date of coin, control field. Catalogue id would be minimum two columns (four if you use KM): catalog id, catalog number.  In the case of KM you also need leading letter and trailing letter[/li][/list] etc.
This can be easily implemented.  I haven't shown it because I collect only British India, but can be easily included.  It would make sense to make recognition of leading/trailing edges automatic. 

Quote
This way you can sort and re-sort the data base and still get back to the original order. I would use the date control field for a check on the formula AH date pus regnal year [converted] = AD date to catch anomalies. With conditional formatting, you can catch spelling mistakes in the catalogue id field. You keep the letters in KM catalogue numbers apart to be able to sort the data base by catalogue number. If not, the alpha-numerics will be bunched together when sorting. I general, separate numerics and alpha-numerics
Sorting is something we need to implement.  As you point out, it gets difficult if you have alphanumeric entries (e.g., A145).  They can be dealt with, but require a bit of effort. 

Quote
Another useful data base field is the date (year) of last review. Catalogue numbers change, you forget to make entries etc, so regular review is necessary.
That's a good idea.  We can save the time stamp of the last time the record was reviewed/edited. 

Quote
Once you have a clean data base, you can define output forms without the data ballast and with a nice lay-out according to your needs.
Detail: if you have a column for price and date, one for seller would be logical.
One idea would be to let the user define his/her own columns.  He/she can choose a standard template, and add/remove columns to it.  E.g., a "how much I like this coin" column.

Thanks Peter.  This really helps, let me see how long it takes to implement these changes.   Probably a while!
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2013, 06:33:37 PM »
So would we want to keep the subheadings feature?  It may help if you want to subdivide your collection in some situations.

Sub-headers in the data base will prevent easy sorting. Excel doesn't support style sheets. I can think of solutions with page headers, but it wouldn't be very effective. You can generate sub-headings when printing by using a macro. That will take some programming. The easy solution is to use autofilters and print each subheading separately.

If you use a data base, you can create style sheets with sub-headings.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2013, 05:15:17 AM »
Sub-headers in the data base will prevent easy sorting. Excel doesn't support style sheets. I can think of solutions with page headers, but it wouldn't be very effective. You can generate sub-headings when printing by using a macro. That will take some programming. The easy solution is to use autofilters and print each subheading separately.

I see, I guess sub-headers are not that desirable.  That can be taken care of. 
P.S. Just to clarify: this database is not in excel.  I plan to use php-based MySQL database to store and manipulate information.  A lot of sorting functions, etc. are already available, which helps. 
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Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 02:42:09 AM »
Paisepagal, very elegantly prepared excel sheet.  You are right, the only advantage of a web-based system would be accessibility, otherwise excel already offers almost everything needed.  I think I will reconsider spending many hours making my web-based system better, at least for now. 
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Offline apvkt

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2013, 11:26:18 AM »
Hello All,

Are there good (online) collection management tools available for personal collections?  I know of some tools on numismaster, and the registry on NGC.  But is there a good generalized software / online tool for managing your collection, that allow pictures, details, sorting, etc.?  If not, and if such a tool were to be developed, would there be interest among the community?   

I have spent some time developing a preliminary web-based system for my own collection.  It is possible to add some extra features, have a graphical interface, and make it simpler and more useful.  For example, the following page (and other pages on my website) is generated automatically from my database:
    http://www.asarkar.com/coins/DisplayCoinPage.php?pageID=BENGAL
and it is very simple to add new coins into the database.  (It can be made even simpler!)

Would you be interested in using such a system?  Or does something like this already exist?  Thanks!

-cmerc

Hi,
The above link is very helpful in collecting various models of coins..Like this, share some more links for the collection which is very useful..

Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 06:44:13 PM »
Hi,
The above link is very helpful in collecting various models of coins..Like this, share some more links for the collection which is very useful..

Thanks apvkt!  I do have plans to make a very nice and informative website of my collection.  It also helps me enjoy my coins without having to take them out of the bank.  Plans are on hold as I need a good DSLR. 
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 07:01:40 PM »
Looks nice as an output form, but has major drawbacks as a data base...

All true, but I'm tempted to respond "So what?", at least from the POV of what I use my Excel sheets for.

I can't really think of a circumstance in which I'd want to sort the Excel file for a given country's coins in any other way than how it's currently sorted. (In my case, that is basically by ascending denomination and secondarily by ascending date. I have sub-headings for currency changes so that e.g. France has four such - pre-revolutionary non-decimal, the 1793-1959 franc, the new franc and euros - but not necessarily for political changes if they had no particular effect on the currency, so for example Germany is also divided four ways, namely 1871-1923, 1923-1947, 1948-2001, euros. Countries like Brazil and Argentina have even more.) As I say, I can't really see why I'd want to sort it any other way so it doesn't matter if certain other sorts are not possible.

On the other hand, judicious use of headings and for that matter blank space makes the file much more readable. I don't repeat the denomination on every line either, reserving it for the first of each denomination, because this makes it instantly obvious where one stops and the next starts. But such a list is obviously entirely unsortable. The same argument applies to catalogue numbers that have both numerical and alphabetical elements -- they're much easier to read as complete units than having say '888' in one column and 'a.1' in another.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 10:44:27 PM »
Some dealers sort their lists by KM numbers, others by denomination, a few don't give adequate catalogue references. In the first case I sort KM number ==> country in the second case KM number ==> denomination name ==> denomination ==> country, in the third case  year ==> denomination name ==> denomination ==> country. I can get back to my preferred order by sorting KM number ==> country. Some country's chapters are such a mess in KM that I use the second catalogue reference fields for the correct order by my standards and by denomination.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline cmerc

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2013, 06:52:01 AM »
If one is to design a collection management software, one has to try to accommodate the preferences of all people.  It seems that some people, including Peter, prefer a simpler table format with many columns, and the ability to sort (very important!).  Others (including FosseWay and me) will prefer subheadings, which makes the form more readable. 

I need to figure out a way to incorporate both approaches, and the user can select a template he/she prefers.  The original database should be the same for both, the difference should be in the display part only. 

Good exercise for a programmer's mind!
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 06:27:41 PM »
You haven't had my master list -- only the wants & gots list. My main list has one row per coin, so it is basically filed vertically, with each characteristic (description, metal, value, yadda yadda) in a separate column. For most countries this will fit onto the width of a 21" screen at 100% at 10pt. For some countries I have extra columns and sideways scrolling is needed.

The wants & gots list just has type numbers and dates, so with countries like Switzerland where there are dozens of dates for a given type, yes, there's a bit of horizontal scrolling. But IME most coin types are not issued unchanged (other than date) for more years than you can fit on a standard computer screen.

It does also of course depend on what you're viewing the list on. I do my record keeping on my iMac, but if I want to look at the list on my laptop there's more scrolling involved. I imagine my lists would be rather annoying on a handheld, but I haven't got one, so...

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Need for a good collection management tool?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 06:05:36 PM »
Nothing as technical as that, I'm afraid. I just update both lists.

The wants lists are an ongoing project that I only started relatively recently, as a result of becoming more active as a swapper. My main lists include a bunch of info that either I don't want to share or is irrelevant for my swap partners, and conversely doesn't include at-a-glance info on what I haven't got. In other words, it's up to the reader to guess whether coins that aren't listed are simply missing from my collection or don't exist.

My master lists are essentially unchanged from the versions I put together in the 1980s on my parents' Amstrad word processor. Obviously the number of coins has increased hugely since then, and I've added more columns as I've decided I need additional data, but the programming element is virtually the same, i.e. almost totally absent. The only thing I get Excel to do automatically is sum the values in the Value and Quantity columns, and then display those values in my index sheet, which also has each entry hyperlinked to the relevant country's file. My abilities with Excel are fairly minimal anyway, but in any case I find that complicated links between documents tend to break very easily (e.g. when I transfer between Excel and Open Office) and it's just not worth the hassle of putting them back in once broken.