Screenshot of the output from Delicious Library app.
May 7, 2013

Delicious Library

There are certain things that you search for all your life, and you keep hoping that you'll find that perfect thing, person, wine, cigar, book, song, or computer program, and you never do. One great white whale for me is a program to handle catalogs of books, music, and movies. When I was working I did a couple of programs that handled this chore, but they all required manual entry. What if there were a program that would enter the information automatically by doing something like scanning a barcode?

Delicious Library scans a barcode and enters the author, title, selling price, used price, and other information automatically. It does this by pulling in data from Amazon. This is fine, as long as the book/movie/music is on Amazon. If it's not, then that's a problem. There are a lot of problems with the program:

  1. The program uses data from Amazon for most things. This means that the database is not a relational DB. So you can't maintain separate information about an author, and relate it to books.
  2. It works fine with modern books that have a 13 digit ISBN number, but earlier books either have no ISBN number, or they have an ISBN of 9 or 10 digits. (I'm not sure which.) As a result books scanned with the smaller ISBN will come out wrong. One book showed up as a movie with a different name.
  3. Books from the pre-barcode, i.e., all books prior to about 1980, must still be entered manually.
  4. The iPhone app that is used for scanning books will sometimes fail to read a barcode, or will produce an error, or will read and enter duplicate entries.
  5. Dialog box for creating rule for shelf.
    You can create what the programmers call a shelf. For example, a shelf for all the books from Oxford University Press. However, the rule for the shelf, an example of which is shown to the right, includes the option to add not just the books from Oxford, but all other books added as well. You can't get rid of that criterion until you've already added books to the shelf. The rule should be fully customizable from the start.
  6. The program will add your music from iTunes. Unfortunately the program has a limit of 15,000 items. If, like me, you have 25,000 items or more in iTunes, it appears that you're out of luck.
  7. There is no preferences/setting option. This is done by entering edit mode. Huh??? Most programs now don't have modes like that. The program has an edit menu, and that's where editing is supposed to take place.
  8. Once a shelf is created it appears to be impossible to get rid of it. That's where edit mode comes in. You have to enter edit mode to get rid of the shelf. You should just select the shelf, and hit the delete key.
  9. If you've got multiple iTunes libraries on your system, and you choose the wrong one, it doesn't appear that you can switch libraries. That's where the lack of preferences comes in. You should be able to switch by making an entry there. You can switch off the iTunes catalog thing, but it should be able to switch libraries.
  10. "Search for cover art" and "Refresh from internet" appear to be non-functional.Update: What "Search for cover art" actually does is search Google for images that meet the criterion defined by the title. It does not automatically search for, and add the art.
  11. While you can add movies, you cannot differentiate among movies on Blu-Ray, DVD, VHS, or Beta.
  12. In theory you can have genres for your books, movies, and music but there doesn't appear to be any way to actually enter a genre. It does not come with genres already listed.
  13. Items in the iTunes library are entered as complete albums, i.e., only the albums, not the individual songs, are listed. Consequently a library of 25,000 songs comes in as about 2,400 albums. If the program does not find the cover art, and this is true for books and movies as well as music on iTunes, you get a black image with no information. In the older version, 2.x, you got a title over the black image. With the current version, nada.
  14. Sorting options are limited. You don't appear to be able to sort by date added, among other faults.
  15. It lacks a manual. If they're going to do things in a non-standard way, the program should come with a manual. It's a relatively small program, and could easily be documented by a single technical writer in 2-4 weeks.
The program works, but it has some serious limitations. If you can live with those, it will do the job for you.