Tinderbox Forum

Advices on personal library

Can you think of any idea that it would be better to use TB instead of FileMaker to build a library archive? Excuse the banality, but it is a kind of exercise in which I would like to receive advice, ideas of use, which push a person to use TB instead of a classic database like FileMaker.

It’s been a while since I’ve known TB so the differences between this tool and a classic database are clear enough to me, as well as the necessary effort required by TB to exploit its potential to the fullest. But I would like to propose the use of TB to some friends, who have as main need to catalog their rather large library of ancient books (they are scholars of travel literature) and I would like to bring them some ideas/use that a normal database would not allow him to obtain.

Thanks for any help!

  • Marco.

The first question is, what is a “library archive”? How you define “library archive” – what elements / attributes / text does it need to contain, and how are you going to use the archive? Export reports? Merely browse it? Use it on macOS as well as iOS and perhaps Windows?

Without knowing that, my general principle is that it is always better to use Tinderbox than FileMaker. But if I need to access edit data on multiple platforms then I would probably use Airtable (or FileMaker, if someone forced me to).

1 Like

If I were simply cataloging a bunch of books, I’d use a dedicated database like Delicious Library. You get the advantages of a database, plus a certain amount of specialized bibliographic knowledge built into the system.

If I wanted, though, to study a collection — to understand its contents, the way it was put together, the books omitted, its use and influence — I’d certainly use Tinderbox. That would be true as well if “the collection” were pretty much the same as “the literature” or “the current state of knowledge.”

And if I were simply planning to use some of these books as a resource for composing a number of essays or articles or new books, I might want to catalog them in a database but I’d certainly want extracts from the catalog in Tinderbox to help plan further research and to help guide the early stages of composition.

Thank you Paul,
they are on Mac, not need to go on iOS nor Windows. They know what is a classical database and how to define a structure to record their books. Considering that it is not just a matter of necessity (the structure of a database that records books is rather simple) but with regard to TB it is rather of mental attitude, as always. I will try to deepen their usage scenarios.


Thank you so much, you could not have been more exhaustive!

Marco -

I’ve been happily using Delicious Library from my library collection for a number of years. I’ve yet to dive into TB, but will get there.

What are your friends WANTING or EXPECTING to get out of their “cataloged” collection?

How are their needs different from the straight “library catalog” functionality of Delicious Library?

What could you possibly do in a custom FileMaker or 4D database at 1000X the cost that Delicious Library can do off the shelf for $39? What is unique about their requirements?

I think the Delicious Library interface has some design choices that compromise its usability, or at least its use (the details window of the book is too small, as well as the fonts used). Of course, a solution that can be customized as FileMaker or Tinderbox requires a higher financial investment. As you say, you need to carefully analyze your needs, and that is exactly what I will try to do with these friends of mine.

  • m.

I mentioned Airtable above, and suggest again you might want to look at it. It is very configurable, supports any number of custom attributes, is cloud based, with the free version allowing 1200 records in each database (and an unlimited number of databases). Collaborative entry/editing is supported, and it is easy to export from Airtable to CSV to Tinderbox. (The latter makes data collection and editing on an iPad/iPhone into a simple way to gather data for your Tinderbox document.)

Thanks Paul, I will definitely do it.