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Data Crow Help

Starting the Application #

This section covers on how to start Data Crow. The easy part is to to start it from the Launcher or Start Menu (depending on your operating system) after having installed Data Crow using the installer.

Available Memory #

You have either started Data Crow by using the “datacrow.exe” file or you are using the Java command (directly or indirectly) “Java -jar datacrow.jar”. First of all, Java (not Data Crow) will always limit the amount of memory available to Data Crow. If you get OutOfMemoryErrors, let me know, but also try and assign more memory to Data Crow like so:
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar

Using multiple installations / environments #

If you use multiple Data Crow installations you have several choices to make:

  • Set up a user folder on a network share. Each of the Data Crow installations will point to this user folder. This is established by selecting the same user folder on each of the Data Crow installations.
  • In case you run multiple Data Crow instances on one machine you can either have them using the same user directory (sharing the same settings and data) or assign a separate user folder to each of the installations (-userdir parameter).
  • In addition to the above you can share the user folder between the various installations but have them using a different database per installation (-db parameter).

The various parameters are explained in the next paragraph.

Start up parameters #

Each of the parameters listed below can supplied when starting the datacrow.exe file or when using the Java command to start Data Crow.

Using a different database

Data Crow stores information on your items in a database. By default Data Crow uses a database named “dc”.
To use another database (for testing purposes for example) you can use the following parameter:
-db:<database name>.
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -db:dc_new

Specifying the user folder

The user folder is the place where Data Crow will store all of its data. Normally, when Data Crow starts, you will be asked to select a user folder. After having specified this, Data Crow will remember the user folder you selected. Data Crow might ask you to reconfirm your option and will use this folder by default from then onwards. Your selection is stored in a file called and is stored in the user folder as dictated by your operating system.

If you want to run multiple instances of Data Crow you will have to supply the user folder as a startup parameter. This way you can have multiple shortcuts starting completely separate instances of Data Crow. Data Crow will just use the folder as specified with this parameter, even without updating the before mentioned file.

In short, use this parameter when you want to run multiple instances of Data Crow.
Parameter: -userdir:<user directory>
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -userdir:C:\Data Crow\Data

You can also make the path relative to the Data Crow installation folder by supplying the path as ‘./’.

Specifying the installation directory

In case Data Crow can’t find the installation folder you can specify the installation folder yourself.
This can happen on platforms other than Windows.
Parameter: -dir:<installation path>
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -dir:/usr/home/datacrow

Connection to a server

Please also read the user manual on the Data Crow Server.
In case you want to connect to a Data Crow application server, you have to supply the client parameter. Using this parameter will open the server login dialog on startup.
Parameter: -client
Example:Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -client

Specifying the login credentials

This option can be used to skip the login dialog.
Parameter: -credentials:username/password
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -credentials:me/12345

Add additional information to log (debug)

Append -debug to the startup command of Data Crow to log debug information.
Parameter: -debug
Example: Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -debug

Hide the splash screen at start up

To prevent the splash screen when starting Data Crow you can supply the nosplash parameter.
Parameter: -nosplash
Example:Java -Xmx512m -jar datacrow.jar -nosplash

Quick Introduction #

Data Crow is a freeware product which allows you to maintain all your collectables. As you might have read on the Data Crow website Data Crow comes with a standard set of modules. Additionally Data Crow allows you to create your own modules if you are missing one (for example to manage your stamps collection) or you can modify the existing modules to add fields you are missing.

So what do we mean with the vague term “module” in Data Crow? A module is a self-contained area in the system where you can administer items of a certain type. To explain a bit better, “Movie” is a module and it only allows the administration of Movies. Software items will not be shown within the movie module; these reside in their own module, the Software module.

For each module you’ll have certain tools available. The movie module has an online search available to search for movies on This tool is not present for the contact person module. So you’ll find that you’ll have different tools at your disposal within each module.

The “Team” #

Now, let’s introduce the Data Crow team. The lead programmer is Robert Jan van der Waals, who is also the founder of this product, the designer, the helpdesk clerk and the sales representative (doing a bad job at it since this is free).

History #

Surely a product developed by one person will not exist for very long now will it? Wrong. Data Crow is a spin off from a product called CD Library (developed again by me, Robert Jan). The development of that product started back in 2001. In 2007 I decided to rewrite the entire product. With the expanded functionality set, including the option to create your own modules, the name CD Library did not do justice to the product anymore. My wife came up with the name Data Crow. I liked it (and could not say no… still can’t) and here we are.

Future #

All I can honestly say is that I will continue to support this product, no worries there! I did take a break in the past but that is it, all in the past. I am here to, making Data Crow the best product of its kind.

Where to Start? #

Okay.. I have installed Data Crow and have no idea where to start. Luckily I found the help.

I am going to assume you know that Data Crow is a collection management program. In Data Crow you can register your items. To allow the registration of items Data Crow comes with a set of modules, such as the movie, software and books modules. You’ll find these modules in the module list, you can’t miss it.

First thing you’ll do is open the module you want to use. Just click on the icon.

You have opened the module and are ready to start filling it with your items.

Now, how you are going to do this depends on whether you currently have a listing of your items or not. Maybe you are using another product or you just might have an Excel or text file with basic information on your items.

I do not have anything registered… #

In case you are starting fresh you will have to create your items manually. Now, don’t be afraid, you do not have to type everything!

My items are represented by files on my system

If you want to create items within Data Crow based on files in your system, for example Movie or Music files, you can use a File Importer to create Data Crow items based on these files. Data Crow will extract as much as possible information from your files.

My items are not file based

If you have no files to import you could try and use the online search to find information on your item. This will save you a lot of typing! The online search uses sites (or services as we call them) like and (and many others) to find information and pictures for your items.

To help you on your way there’s an Item Wizard which makes use of the Online Search functionality. I would recommend you start there. Click on the icon in the Tool Bar. This wizard is there to help new users adding items one by one.

If you consider yourself a proficient user you can also try and use the Online Search tool directly. The benefit is that you can quickly add multiple items. Read this section for information on the Online Search function.

I could not find any information on my items

Well, so… you start from scratch, your items are not represented by files and the online search did not find anything of use to you. You’ll have to enter the items manually.

Press the icon on the Tool Bar to a new item. This will open the Item Form. Enter the information manually within this form.

Data Crow can still help you in making this as much as a straightforward task as possible.
For example, if you have files that have many values in common you can create a template with the default values. Items based on this template will get these values assigned.

Now, if you have many items to add there is one last option. Use the “Create Multiple Items” utility. This is explained in the items section of the help. Make sure you switch the Table View. From there you can enter the items in an Excel like overview.

I already registered my items somewhere else… #

Data Crow has the ability to import text files, such as XML and CSV (or other delimited text files). If you registered your items in a text format as mentioned, or, if you can save the information to one of these formats you can import the information directly into Data Crow.

Data Crow Modules #

Data Crow comes with a default set of modules (depending on how you installed Data Crow). Here you find a short description on the purpose of each of these modules. Most of these modules have powerful Online Services available to find information on your items as well File Importers to retrieve information from the files stored on your system / external sources. Each of these modules has specific reports available. Most modules allow you to track if an item has been borrowed by a contact person. In short each of the default modules has an extended set of tools available to make your life easier.

Software Module. The software module can be used to register both software programs and games. There are various online services available to update or find your items online, such as Additionally you can import the file information of any file. Apart from the software titles Data Crow also keeps track of the developers and the publishers of the software.
Movie Module. Allows you to register both your DVD/Blu-ray collection and your movie file collection (DIVX, XVID, etc.). The online services, such as, are capable of retrieving detailed movie information including detailed information on each actor and director.
Image Module. With the images module you can register your image file collection (JPEG, BMP, GIF, etc.). The Image module does not provide any online services but can extract detailed information from your image files using the file importer.
Container Module. A container is the physical location of an item. A container can represent a CD-case, closet, building or anything else that identifies the location of an item. It is possible to create a hierarchy of containers, such as: Building – Floor – Closet – Shelf – Spot on shelf. If supported by the module, an item can be assigned to multiple containers. The container module has no file importers or online services available.
Books Module. The book module can be used to register your books and your eBooks (PDF). Online services such as the excellent make it easy to find information on your books. The file importer can import information on eBooks. Book publishers and authors are maintained in separate modules making it possible to store detailed information on each of these persons / companies.
Music Album Module. This module can be used to register you complete music collection. This module has online services available, such as Additionally it has file importer available for your file based music albums (MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc.). The file importer can extract information from MP3s and other music files. Apart from the music album itself this module also manages the music artists.
Media Module. The media module gives you access to all media items. It shows items of each of the media modules, such as software titles, movies and music albums. A convenient place to oversee your whole media collection from one place.
Contact Person Module. This module allows you to maintain your friends and family members who can borrow your items. It does not have any online services or file importers available.
User Module. This module is explained in detail in the security chapter. This module maintains the users who can log into Data Crow and their permissions.

Altering & Creating Modules #

Data Crow is very flexible. You can for example modify the existing module. Using the alter module wizard you can add fields, change fields and even change the structure of modules. There’s a comprehensive guide on module alteration and creation, please read the Module Design guide.

This guide also covers creating entirely new modules. Want to maintain antiques, recipes, statuettes, cans, .. collections: simply create a new module and start maintaining your collection in a streamlined product.

Screen Layout #

The main window contains a menu bar, toolbar, module list, status bar, and a pane where new and existing items can be viewed.

Menu bar #

The menu bar provides quick access to all the functionality available for the currently active module.

The menu bars contains links to all of the functionality of Data Crow. This help page will explain the basic meaning of the menu.


Items can be created, deleted, or opened. You can also view events or quit the application.

Item Wizard. The item wizard is a quick way to add new items to the database (apart from importing them from a CSV or XML file). It will first start with an online search (if the module supports online searches). After the item has been found it allows you in the next step to edit the item manually. After finishing the wizard the item is saved to the database.
New <name> Item. With the New <name> Item menu option (the <name> will mention the item name, such as Movie in the Movie module) you can add a new item to Data Crow, manually. It will open the item form. If there are templates available you can also choose to create a new item, based on an existing template.
Open <name> Item. The Open <name> Item menu option (the <name> will mention the item name, such as Movie in the Movie module) opens the currently selected item (in the overview) in the item form. The item information cannot be changed using this option, it will open the item read-only.
Edit <name> Item. The Open <name> Item menu option (the <name> will mention the item name, such as Movie in the Movie module) opens the currently selected item (in the overview) in the item form. The item form allows you to change the information on the item.
Save all. The table view allows you to edit the items directly in the view. To save all changes you have made you can use the save all menu option.
Delete. Deletes all selected items (in the view) from the database. This cannot be reverted (only by restoring a backup). The system will ask for confirmation first.
Show Log. The log shows events, things that happened in the system. If something went wrong, Data Crow will log an error here. Always a good place to look if you are having issues. It will also show informative messages, “I did this at this and this time”.
The System Information tab shows additional information. What directories are being used, how much resources are available, which Java version is used, etcetera.
Quit. Exit the application.


Maintain. Most modules make use of drop downs or multi-reference fields. An example is the state field for software items. This state field has a default set of values. You can modify this list, completely. The administration of these items (we call them property items, part of property modules) can be done from within the administration menu.
Maintain Templates. You can create templates for your items. If you always fill certain fields with specific values you can pre-populate these fields by using a template. You can create as many templates as you like. You can choose to mark a template as a default template, meaning it will always be applied, and/or you can choose the template when creating a new item from the File Menu.
Loan Administration. This overview gives you a complete picture of your current loans, historical loans and overdue items. It has some powerful search options for you to work with.

Experience Level

Beginner. This switches Data Crow to the “Beginner” mode, hiding many of the options within the various menus.
Expert. This switches Data Crow to the “Expert” mode, giving access to all tools and options.


Create Module Wizard. This tool allows you to create a new module. It is a powerful tool allowing you to design your own collection management section within the application. Items stored in these modules are stored in the database, just as is done with the default modules. You’ll have many of the standard tools at your disposal when managing your items. There is a separate manual available for download from the website.
Copy Module Wizard. This wizard based tool allows you to create a new module based on an existing module. It saves you from having to define each and every field while there is another module already available which almost fits your needs.
Alter Module Wizard. In case you want to add a field to one of the modules you can use the alter module wizard. This powerful tool allows you to change existing fields or add new fields. Additionally you can modify some of the settings (indicate if items of this module can be lend to others for example).
Relate Module Wizard. A wizard driven tool which allows you to create a parent-child relationship between two modules. An example of such a relationship can be found in the Music Album module. This module is the parent of the Music Tracks module. This means that music tracks cannot exist without the music album. There is no way to remove this relationship; be careful using this tool!
Delete Custom Module Wizard. Wanting to delete a module? This is the wizard to be used. In two simple steps the module will be destroyed. This cannot be undone. Note that you can also disable modules from within the settings. This hides the module without removing it. This option is not available in case you have not created or imported a custom module.
Export Module Wizard. So you have created this really awesome module! So much work while it is only in use in your local installation. Why not share it with other persons? Use the export module wizard to export the created module structure along with its settings, data and pictures. This option is not available in case you have not created or imported a custom module.
Import Module Wizard. This tool allows you to import a module previously export with the export module wizard. It’s a simple process which will load the module, its items, settings and pictures.
Active Module. From here you switch between modules. Simply select the module to start using it. This menu is here in case you have disabled the module list, the area where modules normally are selected.


Card View. The card view is graphically the nicest looking view. Items are displayed as small cards and show a picture and a short description of the item based on the field settings, “is descriptive”.
Table View. The table view allows you to edit items directly in the view, without having to open the item form.
Toggle Quick View. Enables or disables the Quick View.
Toggle Grouping Pane. Enables or disables the Grouping Pane.
Toggle Toolbar. Enables or disables the Toolbar.


Filter. The Filter allows you to build complex filters to find your items. These filters can even be stored, so you can use them again in the future.
Find and Replace. Find values in items and replace these values with a new value.
Re-apply Filter. Applies the filter again, refreshing the view completely.
Undo Current Filter. Removes any filter condition and loads all items.


Settings. The Settings view allows you to change all of the system settings. It contains settings such as the proxy server, program associations, font options and much, much more. These settings are stored per computer. So if you run multiple installations, from multiple computers, but share the same user folder, these settings are not shared between the computers. All the rest will be shared, but not these settings.
Change User Folder. Allows you to select a different user folder. A user folder is where Data Crow stores all of your data. Switching between user folders allows you to have several instances of Data Crow running, each instance not knowing anything about any about each other. Optionally you can even create separate shortcuts / links to Data Crow where for each you supply a different user folder location, suing the -userdir command. See this section for more information,
General Field Settings. Don’t want to use a certain field? Want to change the label on one of the fields? Each and every field option can be found here. These are very important settings and it is always good to take a look at this section. The most important part might be is that you can indicate how your items are described with the “Descriptive?” option. Read more here.
Quick View Settings. The quick view can be modified to your desires. Here you can indicate which fields should be shown and in which order.
View Settings. To modify the current view, such as the colors and the information to be shown, you have to use the View Settings. The settings differ slightly between the Card View and the Table View.
Item Form Settings. Change the appearance of the item form. You can even assign fields to tabs and change the order of the fields.
Look & Feel. The Look and Feel determines how the fields and such look in the application. It’s best just to try it for yourself!
Resource Editor. Any label can be changed or translated using the Resource Editor. You can even create a whole new language pack.


Change Password. Change your own password from here.


File Import. Extracts information from the files on your system. For music albums for example Data Crow can get the name of the artist and album from the MP3 or other file formats. Additionally it can find missing information using one of the online services. This tool is only available for “file backed” modules / items. This should not be confused with the ability of Data Crow to import items from text files. Use the Item Importer to import items from a CSV, text or XML file.
Online Search. Find information on your items online, select the item and save it.
Not all modules will have this tool available. Custom modules won’t either unless you have programmed one specifically for your module.
Mass Update. Update many items at once, using the online search and file import capabilities of Data Crow.
Create Report. Create HTML and PDF reports. If this menu option is not available it means that no XSLT files (report templates) have been defined for your module. There is a manual on how to do this, which can be found on the Data Crow website.
Charts. Create a graphical representation on the information of your items.
Item Export Wizard. Export your items to a CSV or XML (recommended) file.
Item Import Wizard. Import your items from a CSV or XML file.
Create Multiple Items. Allows for quick manual creation of multiple items
Update All. Update many items (or all..) at once. This is a simple, but powerful, tools applying manually entered values to multiple items at once.
Find & Replace. Replace one value with another value within text fields. It will show you a preview first (luckily) before it is applied on your items.
Auto Numbering. Number, or renumber, your items. All of them and all at once. It even has options to skip or fill gaps in the numbering.
Title Rewriter / Name Rewriter. Rewrites the titles of your items. It’s a great tool to change titles from “The Doctor” to “Doctor, The” for example. The person rewriter is different for person records as opposed to other items.
Backup & Restore. Create a full backup of your data, including settings, modules and pictures. And it also allows for restore backups (just saying..).
Database Editor. Direct access to the database. It ignores all the safety rules I have built into the application. Use at your own risk! (make.. backups..)
Drive Manager. Scans your drives for files added to Data Crow and corrects the file links in case the file has been moved or renamed. An undervalued but oh so sophisticated tool.
File Renamer. Rename files on your drives based on the information present in Data Crow. It also allows you to move files to a new location and a new folder structured. It will show you a preview first before doing anything.


This menu is not present by default. This menu will only be shown if you have additional, custom made, plugins installed.


Contains a link to the about dialog, the tip of the day, the donation page and the help.

Tool bar #

The toolbar give you quick access to the most important option within Data Crow. Additionally it allows for quick searching on the items of the selected module.

A short description per tool follows here:

Item Wizard. Starts a wizard to quickly add a new item.
Create Multiple Items. Allows for quick manual creation of multiple items
Create. With this option you can add a new item to Data Crow, manually. It will open the item form.
Delete. Deletes all selected items (in the view) from the database. This cannot be reverted (only by restoring a backup).
Open. Opens the currently selected item in the view.
Save. The table view allows you to edit the items directly in the view. Use this option to save the selected item only.
Save all. The table view allows you to edit the items directly in the view. To save all changes you have made you can use the save all menu option.
Online Search. Find information on your items online, select the item and save it.
Charts. Create a graphical representation on the information of your items.

Quick Search

Using the Quick Search you can easily search on all values of the items at once. Looking for an item of the year 2013? Type 2013 in the Quick Search and Data Crow will search in all fields of the items for the value 2013.

Apply the filter by clicking on the icon or by pressing the Enter key.

Undoing a Search

To undo a search click on the icon.

Saved Filters

If there are saved filters present, you can select a filter from the “Filters” list. The Filters section of the help explains the creation of filters in more detail. Press the icon to open the Filter Dialog.

Module list #

The module list shows the modules you can work with. You can switch between modules at any time (even during imports). The active module is highlighted.

Some modules have sub modules assigned to them. For example, the movies module has a sub module called actors. These sub modules support the main module; the Actors can be assigned to movies.

Click on the small bar at the bottom of the module button. This will allow you to select any of the sub modules.

Grouping pane #

The grouping pane allows you to group items, having the same characteristics, together. You can group items on multiple levels (as many levels as there are fields to group on).

View #

Existing items are displayed in the middle section of the screen. The displayed items can be opened, updated or deleted. All of this is explained in the views section of the help.

Quick View #

The Quick View gives a quick representation of the item. Whenever you click on an item in the view its content will be displayed in the quick view.

The title as shown on the Details tab is based on the field settings. It is the combination of the fields marked as “Descriptive?”.

You can open the item from here as well, simply by double-clicking on the quick view.

Underlined sections are items, files or web links you can click on (this depends on the type of field. Below is an example of two items, categories, which can be opened by clicking on their links:

For items the item form will be opened. Files and web links are handled by your own operating systems; a web links will most likely be opened in your favourite browser, a file will be opened with the associated program.

If your Quick View settings allow for it and if your item has images, these are displayed in separate tabs. Simply click on the corresponding tab to view the image:


Right-click on the quick view to bring up the options menu.

Toggle Quick View. The option “Toggle Quick View” will hide the quick view. It can be enabled from within the view menu when you have disabled it.
Quick View Settings. The quick view can be modified to your desires. Here you can indicate which fields should be shown and in which order.