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 Imdb.com. 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).
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.
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 MobyGames.com and TheMovieDB.org (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 MobyGames.com. 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.|
|Board Game Module. This module allows you to register all of your board games. It currently has one magnificent online service available and that is the BoardGameAtlas.com.|
|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 TheMovieDB.org, 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 OpenLibrary.org 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 Discogs.com. 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.