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Cataloguing and managing a 35 mm slide collection

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10-May-2012 21:10


I'm a newbie with absolutely no experience of databases. I need to find a solution to help me catalogue and manage the use of my 35mm slide collection, and Cardbox has been suggested as a way forward. The full details of what I'm trying to do can be found at http://screencast.com/t/jJCw2JMcSJ

Martin Kochanski has been kind enough to have a look at this and says that he thinks Cardbox could do all that I want except perhaps for the last of my requirements. He suggested that I post this message to see if any experienced Cardbox user had thoughts on this point, so it's over to you!


10-May-2012 23:01

My photo collection (until year of 2000 35 mm slides) of trains is on http://stortenbeker.eu. All images are as 800 pixel wide/high thumbnails stored in Cardbox. The images store on full dimension would make the database slow. Better is to launch the original by the database if you need full size. I use the fast image viewer Irfanview for this.
The web interface is done by ASP, querying Cardbox. On my network I can launch the 4800 dpi originals direct from Cardbox.
Web site database is a copy of the original database. It is updated by the 'master' database when needed.

In another application for my job I also store images. Into the record is also the jpg file stored. So the image is showed ++ it works as file container.
Now about 12000 records, 61 GB database. Works fine.

For a beginner there is a way to go to develop this. However, I cannot find an alternative for such a thing then Cardbox.

First try to know what you want. If that is clear, you will find a way to make it with Cardbox.


11-May-2012 08:45

Entirely agree with Bert. I also use Cardbox for both books and image files. I am also not very experienced and even reading what Bert said I can see I could improve my database, if I understood it. But with my limited knowledge I find Cardbox ideal. I have two separate databases of 134GB and 9 GB respectively. Highly recommended.

Charles Welling

11-May-2012 09:08

I can assure you that Cardbox is perfect for the job. I read what you want to do and I don't believe this will be a problem. Your collection is now ordered by subject or category, and you already noticed yourself that this method has its limitations.

The core of your database can be very straightforward: a field containing the master number (the slide's ID), the pocket number and a field containing keywords that identify what the slide is about. That's enough to find any slides on a particular subject, to know where they are and to see that you have the right ones by checking the master number.
Using keywords to retrieve slides on a particular subject has a great advantage: you can add an unlimited number of keywords to any slide. You can add broad keywords (similar to categories) such as "animal" or "vehicle", but you can also be very specific. You could use "animal" + "bird" + "parrot" etc.

My advice is to start with such a simple database and keep it small (100 records or so) to get the feel of Cardbox. You can always change anything you like, or better: anything you don't like.

The next step might be to add an image field. There's no need to reorganise the existing small database: just add the image field. Add some pictures. At this stage they need not be the actual scans of your slides. For experimental purposes you could use any picture. Keep the images smallish: 700 to 800 pixels is a good average.
The picture in your database is just for reference: to see what the picture looks like. If you intend to scan all your slides, keep the high-resolution scans separate from your database and add 800-pixel "postcards" to your database.

When your satisfied that your database meets your needs, you can take it a step further.
If you don't want to use a slide twice for the same audience, you will have to keep track of which slides you use for which audience. Forget about the coloured lists: you have Cardbox.

Create another database. Give the records (at least) three fields: date, name of the audience and master number of the slide. Let's call the slide database SLIDES and this database TALKS.
After you've made a selection in SLIDES you can copy the master numbers to a single record in TALKS (there's a very fast way of doing that, but that's for some other time). Add the date of your talk and the name of your audience. That's all.

Now suppose you have all your slides in SLIDES and 100 talks in TALKS. You can now use the relational search capabilities of Cardbox. I will not discuss them at length here; that's too heavy for a newbie :-)
I'll give you a glimpse though:

You can open both databases.
You can select slides from SLIDES and have Cardbox automatically show you for which audiences you used these slides.
You can also take it the other way around.
You can select audiences from TALKS and have Cardbox show you which slides you used, and when you did so.

You can also make a selection of slides in SLIDES for a certain audience, select the same audience in TALKS and exclude all previously used slides from your selection in SLIDES.


Yes, Cardbox is perfect for the job.
Start with a small and simple trial SLIDES database.
Come back to this forum when you start on your TALKS database, or at any time you feel the need.

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