[ Tuesday, 31 July 2007, michalrz ]
I don’t know a person that hasn’t collected anything in their life (particularly in childhood). Some people didn’t age out of this habit and their collections of books, CDs or coins have grown so much that they have problems managing these collections using only a sheet of paper and a pencil.
Author: Michał Rzepka
I, like many readers, was interested in music, computer programs and games which gave me great opportunities to collect a large collection of multifarious CDs. Unfortunatelly, a lot of these CDs went gone because of lending them to my friends who didn’t always want to give them back or have just lost them. I tried to make lists of my CDs on paper, or as a spreadsheet and even as a database in MySQL, but none of these forms gives as much freedom as Tellico.
It is a simple but powerful KDE application that needs at least KDE v.3.3.1, Qt v.3.3+, libxml2 v.2.6+ and libxslt1 v.1.0.19+ to run. Tellico can be compiled from source, but there are precompiled versions for Fedora Core, Mandriva, Debian and many popular distributions, and even for *BSD.
The first version of the program was released in August 2006 on R. Stephenson’s initiative, who had strenuously been searching for a cataloguing application not based on SQL. Tellico holds data in XML format, which really helps creating reports, but I will discuss this later.
Basically, Tellico lets you create a database of collected AudioCDs, games, coins, movies, comics, stamps and even wines. It also supports tracking every element of the collection by holding information about loans and dues. Adding such elements as AudioCDs can be facilitated with searching the Web – after you type the name of the artist or of the album in the proper form, you get the list and every entry automatically gets its cover and is filled up with the track list, etc. (look at: Pic. 1).
Once the collection is created you can generate reports in a collection of predefined file formats – e.g. including loans – to HTML. Not just reports, you can export the entire collection to XML or CSV.
The main view is split into two parts: there is a list of objects in the collection in the left part and a view of the selected element to the right. Elements of the list are grouped by a common property which can be chosen from the list in the top menu. It can be – in the case of music – the title, the year of release (look at Pic.2) or the artist’s name.
Near the list with grouping criteria is the search tool. Just enter the first few letters of, for example, the title of a song to make matching albums appear in the right top window. Adding or editing entries lets you see easily if an entry is related to a lent CD or not, and also gives you the opportunity to give a rating to an album, which can be used to group it. When adding coins or stamps, it is a good idea to have some pictures prepared, because it makes exports and reports more attractive.
There are many predefined templates, for example one to create movie reports with three columns, with each column holding three pictures with titles and comments, which looks like a DVD catalogue. There is also a tool to generate a list similar to the one at Pic. 3, where in each row is only one element with the picture, the title and a comment.
You can make vertical or horizontal lists with titles, and what’s more, lists that include information about loans and dues (or the lack of an element).
Lending an element from the collection is reduced to one click of the right button of your mouse on the corresponding entry in the list (there can be more then one instance of one album in your collection) and choosing the “check-out” item from the context menu (look at Pic. 4).
Tellico remembers borrowers, so you can choose the appropriate person from the list or add a new one by entering their name, loan date and a note. The Pic. 5 presents the loan process. The Loan List is available as a tab in the main window.
Definitely the strong side of Tellico is understanding the needs of its users. Fields describing each type of collection are well matched without any additional configuration. What is especially attractive is the interface for searching for information about albums or books on the Internet. It saves a great deal of time over describing the entry yourself.
This text is based on the article published in Dragonia Magazine, a Polish online magazine about Free and Open-Source Software. You can download the latest Dragonia issue (first one in English from our mirror). The article has been slightly modified compared with the original version by the PolishLinux team.
Proof-read by trashcat, chaddy