In general, I think it is cool that there are some database programs that one can use to obtain, to store, and to index information about media collections, like videos. I like the ability to download useful data on a video, or a book, fif it would make my life easier than tracking my media in the FileMaker databases I had created for such a purpose.
So, I am in the process of assessing such database programs in order to settle on one that suits my needs. Below are notes to myself, as I ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of these programs. Right now, the flaws stand out in my mind, so use my opinions and my venting at your own convenience, or not.
These notes concern Booxer as compared to Librarian Pro, which I am considering replacing by something more customer friendly for the reasons indicated below.
Booxer design flaws and first impressions
> No Serial Number field:
Where is the field for entering a Serial Number? How is it possible that this designer does not include a Serial Number field by default? Does he think that people sort their video collections by Title? How dumb can you get?
> Custom data field
Is there even a way to add a custom field? I don't see any. Another oversight. When will designers think in terms of what a customer wants, instead of what the designer wants?
> Font size is abyssmally small.
This designer set 11 point as the default font size for displaying text. Does he think that his software should run only on ancient Macs with their tiny screens? Has he not heard that people use large displays? Does he not realize that people want the option to set the font size to suit themselves, rather than use a magnifying glass just to read the damn data? Another self-centered software designer who fails to think about design from the customer's viewpoint. How is it possible that such people can learn how to program a Mac but they cannot relate to the needs of the people to whom they are trying to sell their product? It's so frustrating to see such simple, self-destructive mistakes in design. After all, if you can bump up the font size in Apple Mail and in Safari and in online Help and in other applications, why can't programmers allow us the option to adjust the text size bigger or smaller within their applications, too? Or, if such a function is beyond their skills or the capability of the operating system, then I think it behooves them to present a layout that is acceptably legible and big enough to be read without discomfort, instead of presenting us with small window layouts stuffed with tiny fonts! Do they think it costs more to give us fonts in 14 point instead of 11 point?
> Inadequate Search capability
Koingo's Librarian Pro also suffers from that same inability to let customers adjust the font sizes to something more comfortable to their reading pleasure, and their developer adamantly refuses to deal with fixing the problem. When I suggested doing that, I got embroiled in a series of emails with tech supporter/owner that ended with him saying that Koingo no longer supported version 2, even though I had specified in the very first feature request that I was using version. Foolish, rude man. All he did was waste my time and sidestep the whole point of the feedback. Despite that poor attitude, at least Librarian Pro has a search feature in which you can type in a title and the software performs the search at Amazon.com. As far as I can tell, Booxer can't even do that. That's a deal breaker for me. Am I supposed to know the esoteric UPC number, or the ASIN number, apparently by consulting the packaging or by looking it up online? I find that a designer who tasks the customer to do the work that the software can is rather puniutive, while subjecting me to a time-wasting nusiance. Customers want software to do the work for us in order to save us time, not to make us work harder. So, again, Booxer is flawed with this additonal unfriendly feature.
> Poor Use of Screen Real Estate (i.e, Wasted Screen Space)
Librarian Pro's developers are horribly guilty on two counts: not only do they make their fonts too tiny, but they also waste 75% of the screen showing nothing but white space. Booxer's developer uses small font in a small window, so he is equally guilty in not using the entire display which is at his disposal. Mac designers like these have a 200-mph Lamboughini car in the driveway, but all they use it for is to drive around a circle hoping not to bump in the curb.
> Interface and Layout Design
While I like the record layout in Booxer better than Librarian Pro, for at least the Booxer developer shows enough common sense to lay out all the pertinent fields in one screen load. Librarian Pro's developers has taken the approach that screen real estate is meant to be wasted, because all they do is list the fields of data in rows one under the other at the left side of their layout, leaving the remaining 75% absoulutely blank. Either they did that because Koingo's developers take long vacations, or they are just too busy to take the time to actually layout a screen in which the data is cleanly presented in one screen load, or they have no graphic designers on board who passed Graphic Design 101.
> Multiple clicks approach is like digging for coal in a mine
To make things worse, Librarian Pro presents the data in a record in stages: if you click on an individual record in a list of videos, you get an "in-depth" layout consisting of six separate side-window "tabs" that you have to click on to get specific information, like Basics, Details, Reviews, Ownership, Borrowing, and Additonal. Why the serial number field has to be buried on the "Additional" screen is a mystery to me, for I find it really irritating to have to go through so many mouse-clicks to get to the field where I want to enter a serial number that I use for physically filing and retrieving the disc, when desired.
> Good news for obsessives and pack rats
Obsessive collectors leaning towards the anal rententive end of the scale may reallly like having 68 different fields into which they can stuff data, but all I really want is to able to index a video by title and by serial number so that I can find it when I want it. Having story summaries and credits is nice, too, but I want a simple database that serves me, not one in which I have to serve it.
> Export feature flawed
In preparation for moving my data from Librarian Pro to another program, I tried for hours to get a clean tabbed delimited file from Librarian Pro. I could not. Librarian Pro was able to export some fields into discrete, tab-delimited columns that would line up nicely in an Excel spreadsheet, but I could find no way to cleanly export the story Summary field so that its data would be contained within one single cell. Other fields also suffered from this same problem of having data spill over into adjoining cells, thus destroying any possibility of being able to quickly, easily, and accurately import that data into another database, like FileMaker Pro, or any other competitive product. Bad form, Koingo. Addtionally, although Librarian Pro's allows you to export its record in HTML form so that you can view records in a browser, you can neither select the fields that you want to export, nor can you search for the records once the HTML pages are created, a flaw which, to me, makes exporting to HTML entirely useless. If I can't search for the data, what good are those records? Interestingly, Koingo's developers didn't even the common sense to include the Serial Number field in a very small subset of fields that could be exported via a restricted, pre-determined template. Someone needs to be hired in Quality Control at software companies like Koingo and Booxer to act in the role of a Customer Ombudsman, because the software engineers who are coding the programs certainly aren't fulfilling that role!
Wise developers will take heed and fix these inadequacies. Others will rationalize why they need not bother. I choose not to support them.