(Close Window)
Topic: Request for help - cataloguing system
Message: Posted by: (a)ndy (Feb 17, 2014 02:18PM)
One of my top computing students is going to write a magic cataloguing system for his college coursework. This is a substantial piece of work which will require many months of effort. The idea is to give the completed system back to the magic community when he is finished.

As part of his 'analysis' he needs to understand what data needs to be stored. He needs to collect examples of the diverse range of existing systems used by magicians.

I would really appreciate it if you could help out by perhaps providing me with a screenshot/photo (or any other assistance) of how you catalogue your items now. It could be:
- a word processed document
- a spreadsheet
- a database
- a commercial product
- a paper based system
- index cards
- what else?

I have attached an example of how I catalogue my magic book collection using Google Drive.
Thanks
Message: Posted by: MikeDes (Feb 18, 2014 11:59AM)
I use something I developped in Microsoft Access. I could email you the file if that helps.
Message: Posted by: QuailCreek (Feb 18, 2014 08:31PM)
I use an iPhone app called "MyStuff2". A very customizable Db.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (Feb 18, 2014 10:48PM)
Is this just for books and DVDs, or for props as well? Some of this is already covered by Denis Behr's site, see:
http://archive.denisbehr.de/index.php
Note that he goes to the level of listing individual routines and moves!

For books & DVDs, you probably want to start with the fields shown in your spreadsheet, and consider:

Author
Title
Genre 1
Genre 2
Genre 3
etc

The multiple Genre categories allow you to tag a book as having closeup, standup, and stage (such as the Mark Wilson Course). Or these could be "Category" instead, as Denis uses.

Also:
Key Routines - Used to note specific routines or sections you want to refer to later

What if the book or DVD features more than one performer? Such as "Japan Ingenious" by Richard Kaufman.

That covers some of the publications area. Props and/or routines are another area.
Message: Posted by: (a)ndy (Feb 18, 2014 11:23PM)
Thanks for the replies so far.

MikeDes, PM'd you

QuailCreek, sounds interesting. Could you photograph the screen to show what form it takes? We are interested in what fields/categories of information magicians want to store.

Jeff Hass, thanks for all the input. The idea is to catalogue books, DVDS and props. Denis Behr has great categorisation on his site, I hadn't thought to suggest that site. The idea of key routines also sounds very interesting. You have also given us something to think about with multiple contributors/authors of a book.

Keep the ideas coming, the more contributions we have the better the system will become. We have about 2 weeks until the analysis is complete. We really appreciate the input.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (Feb 19, 2014 12:43AM)
Props should be a different section of the database.

Name of prop
Use - just the basic idea. "Vanish small items", "switch one playing card for another", etc.
Routines - these would be routines you use it in. Could be helpful in assembling a show out of the least amount of props.
Type of prop - A drop-down, select Visible vs. secret (a set of cups and balls vs. invisible thread)
Replacement parts - what/where you need to replace
Packing - Does it need a special box or bag to safely transport to shows?
Weight - How much stuff do you need to carry in to set up the show?!
Message: Posted by: Poof-Daddy (Feb 19, 2014 12:50AM)
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=538146&forum=2&49

This was a recent thread in "The Workers" forum. There is plenty of generic solutions but there are several computer / software suggestions that may help you.
Message: Posted by: (a)ndy (Feb 19, 2014 07:36PM)
[quote]
On 2014-02-19 01:50, Poof-Daddy wrote:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=538146&forum=2&49

This was a recent thread in "The Workers" forum. There is plenty of generic solutions but there are several computer / software suggestions that may help you.
[/quote]
Great thread, there are some real gems in there. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Ihop (Feb 20, 2014 01:59PM)
He may get some ideas from
http://www.magicbasepro.com/

It's a FileMaker Pro database for magicians.
You can download a free demo.
Message: Posted by: AKMan (Feb 20, 2014 04:08PM)
(a)ndy,
I use also use Microsoft Access Database. I had my stuff on Excel spreadsheets for a while but that became too unwieldy. The more categories I made the more I had to scroll and mouse up and down. A database puts everything on one page and gives you the luxury of exporting certain, key categories to a spreadsheet if you so desire. It also gives you an easy way to comment on how you use the prop, patter ideas, where in a show it should go, etc. That excess verbiage is something that distorts the cells of a spreadsheet. Also, make an entry for exactly where the item is. It doesnít do you any good to know you have it if you canít find it.
I definitely recommend cataloging books in a separate database from props. And with props, packaged tricks, books, DVDs and lecture notes, be sure to record what you paid for them and what you think they are worth now. If the dishwasher springs a leak and ruins everything on the bookshelves in the basement below it, youíll want to have a value for insurance purposes.
Donít be afraid to start a database. If you get stuck there are 100s of tutorials on the Internet for whatever situation you run into.
~Jon
Message: Posted by: pickin_grinnin (Feb 20, 2014 08:02PM)
I keep records of all the items, books, etc. from my various collections in a MySQL database on a personal website. I wrote a PERL-based front end to access it. That way I can access it from any computer that is conected to the Internet.

How does your student intend to make it availale to others? Is he going to put it on Sourceforge?
Message: Posted by: pickin_grinnin (Feb 20, 2014 09:41PM)
How much experience does your student have with designing databases, designing search forms, coding, etc.?

Setting up a database equivalent of a spreadsheet isn't very difficult if you have any experience doing that sort of thing. To me, a more useful version of it would be one that ties all the tables together, with a well-developed front end search page.

DVDs and books often contain instructions for doing specific tricks. Most materials/props can be used in multiple tricks, as well. The ability to search across multiple tables within a database and automatically pull everything together is where the primary usefulness comes in. So, for example, you might have a table that has the name of a trick, when it was last performed, who created it (if applicable), what type of trick it is, and a general description of it. Another table might have a list of books or DVDs along with information on what tricks each contains. A third might have a list of props and materials, where to buy replacement parts for them, etc. Tying all three together with common fields or controlled vocabularies gives you the ability to pick a trick and have the database assemble a list of books and DVDS with instructions on doing that trick, along with a list of all the materials you need to pull it off.

Going from another angle, you could pick a list of materials you have on hand and have it give you a list of tricks that use those materials, and where to look to refresh your memory on doing them. I once designed a children's craft database that worked that way. It let you look at a list of craft materials that the library had on hand and pick the ones you would like to use. From that it generated a list of crafts (along with descriptions and instructions) that use those materials.

You could even take it one step higher and pick a list of tricks you are going to use in a particular show, and have it generate a packing list of everything you need, removing any redundancies (no need to take two sets of linking rings just because you have two tricks that use them).
Message: Posted by: Ihop (Feb 21, 2014 09:56AM)
Pickin grinnin,
You're absolutely correct.
Using a database is very powerful but only as good as the person designing it.
The first step in setting up a database is having a very good understanding of the needs of magicians.
When I design a database for someone, I will spend a lot of time with the client asking questions, so that I have a good understanding of what is expected.

I use FileMaker Pro because it is cross platform (Mac & Windows).
Also, the company is pretty solid and provides good customer support.
I believe that Microsoft's Access has been discontinued. I may be wrong
You can also set Filemaker up as a stand alone app so the user doesn't have to own FileMaker.
You can also use it on your smartphone as an app.

Whichever database is used, a good understanding of the enduser's needs is crucial.
.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (Feb 21, 2014 01:59PM)
IHop, Microsoft Access is still around. Like the rest of the Office suite, it has moved to their new pricing models.

Info on Microsoft's website (if you care):
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/
Message: Posted by: (a)ndy (Feb 23, 2014 03:24PM)
[quote]
On , Ihop wrote:
Pickin grinnin,
You're absolutely correct.
Using a database is very powerful but only as good as the person designing it.
The first step in setting up a database is having a very good understanding of the needs of magicians.

Whichever database is used, a good understanding of the enduser's needs is crucial.
.
[/quote]

All of your replies have been very useful. Thank you for all of your input.

The student is capable of writing a relational database but at this stage he is simply performing an analysis of magician's requirements. He is spending about 6 weeks gathering information about what magician's storage requirements are and he is trying not to get tied up in what the system will end up like. All we know is that it will require a database to store the diverse range of data. The design will come out of the requirements.

It is amazing how much useful information has been gathered from all the comments so far, sometimes a simple comment generates a spark of an idea.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Apr 13, 2019 09:04PM)
Kindly post any links to a database that can be used from an iMac? or simply an excel sheet program that is manageable for books and props.

Many thanks.

Jonathan
Message: Posted by: The Gold Coin (Apr 21, 2019 01:33AM)
It'd be nice if you could attach images to the props that are in the catalog.