Using Tinderbox to catalog my library books

I’ve known about Tinderbox for a while, owned a few versions (my current version is 8.7.1) but I never put in the effort to learn how it could help me better. I want to change that.

I’ve decided to catalog all the books I own and create a tinderbox for that information (I’m getting more and more leery of putting information into the cloud and other people’s services so I want to keep things local).

Initially I envision starting small and just storing basic information about each book: title, author(s), subject, publication date, and maybe a list of tags about each book that I can write an agent to query on.

Does anyone have any suggestions about getting started? Any posts on the forum that I should look at. Or even some sample tinderboxes that I could look at and get some ideas from?

Thanks in advance.

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Ah, what a great question. I don’t have a ton of time to explain all the details, but I’ve pulled this together for you.

Perhaps we could discuss it this weekend. If you’d like to schedule a call with me to go over it in some detail, I’d be happy to; just DM me.

About this File

This is a Library demo created by Michael Becker.

There are several types of items that can be included in the library.

  • Books

  • Movies

  • Articles

The Library folder includes an $OnAdd to add an item.

You’ll want to modify the Item Type and Status.

Other points:

  • I would put the abstract or overview of the Item in its $Text.

  • If you add a child to an item, a note is created with the item’s name and today’s date. This note can be used to collect notes about the item.

  • There are two agents, one to search by what you need to read or watch and by terms.

  • I use prefixes to help distinguish notes, and $ShortTile populated by a function so that I have the $Name independent of the prefix.

  • Using a dictionary, the Item’s $Color, $Badge, $NameStrike, and $Flag are automatically set based on the value of the $Type or $Status.

  • Using a create() action code sequence, the Item note automatically creates Author notes and Terms notes in the Resources Folder and links them to the note. The links types represent the type of item. It the Author or Terms change the notes will be unlinked, but the crated notes will remain.

NOTE: Requires TBX V9.1 (if you are on TBX V8 see below).
TBX L - Reference Library.tbx (540.8 KB)

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  1. How many books do you expect to catalog?

  2. Are most of the books recent enough to have bar codes? If so, you might save time by using Delicious Monster to scan the barcodes; Tinderbox has import from Delicious Monster. (This has been lightly tested in recent years as it’s not been very popular, but it’s nifty.)

  3. Are most of the books in the Library Of Congress? If so, you can save some typing by using EndNotes to look up each volume in the Library of Congress, and then to import its record into EndNotes. cmd-opt-drag from EndNotes to Tinderbox.

There’s nothing terrible about retyping the basic bibliographic information, but I find it’s nice to minimize typing when you can. Then again, I’m not a good typist.

Is there any documentation on this? How does not import?

For those interested, you can do a similar operation using Zotero.

Totally agree. :slight_smile:

Whether imported or re-typed, do take a moment to review the ingested data. Trust, but verify. Sadly, all lot os primary sources (publishers, journals) don’t check their data and aggregators like google books or DBLP simply regurgitate the primary source.

So, I’d agree ingest of data is a good plan—if only to avoid adding re-keying typos. The stage we forget it to check if the data accurately reflects the catalogued item.

So, making a catalogue is easier (less work) than making an accurate catalogue! :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much for pulling this together. I have downloaded it and 1 am checking it out.

Quick question - The Tinderbox application quits after opening the document and clicking around on various areas of the outline and map. It doesn’t happen every time and I don’t have any more specifics (but can get if you like).

There appears to be some script (?) running in the background at startup that adds items the outline but I can’t be sure (there’s just a vague flickering in the upper outline items that eventually stops).

I am using v8.7.1. Don’t know if that could be the root cause.

I am traveling this weekend but will definitely keep this in mind.

I’ve also found your list of training videos that I will check out.

I would estimate that I’ve got just over a thousand books, graphic novels, etc. in my library. I plan on doing a keep/no keep process as I go through them but I am notorious for not getting rid of books.

I’ve heard of this program. I will check it out. Thanks.

I note the test documents’ rules (12 in number) and edicts (38) use functions. The Action code function() was not added until v9.1.0 but @billmaya is still using v8.71, so those likely need re-writing to function as intended in the older version. The function call might be a source of the instability reported.

So, it might make sense to start with a simpler exploration doc with less automation.

Note, although aTbRef (and its various baselines) can indicate when a feature as added or altered, there is no easy way to say “show me all features/code/whatever added since version vX.x.x”. This is difficult if one doesn’t have a copy of the older app to check. The v8 baseline (v8.0.0 to v8.9.2) for aTbRef may be useful. Note that starts with v8.0.0 as a base and all per-release changes through to v8.9.2 will be annotated on pages affected. Since then, there was a v9.0.0 baseline and the current baseline is from v9.5.0.

HTH :slight_smile:

Ah, sorry! I neglected your version requirement when I drafted the demo. Here you go; I’ve reverted the code to something that should work in V8. Let me know how it goes for you. :slight_smile:

TBX L - Reference Library v8 R1.tbx (848.5 KB)

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It’s hard to do tech support of a release that’s almost 3½ years out of date. Since then, we’ve fixed many hundreds of bugs and added piles of new features.

Emailing crash reports to is helpful.

There are no scripts whatsoever that run at Tinderbox startup, and never have been.

Thanks Michael. Appreciate it but not necessary (I would have upgraded at some point).

Understood. I will probably be upgrading at some point.

NP. It only took about 20 minuets. :slight_smile:

I catalog my books by scanning the barcodes most of them have with Bookbuddy on my iPhone. I have an export format defined in that app. I export to .csv the recent scans. (Bookbuddy automatically grabs the data for each book from a database maintained by publishers.) I drag the .csv into Tinderbox. There is one note per book. I apply a book prototype to the notes. I have a template that exports each note to markdown. The markdown notes are added to Obsidian, where they are automatically associated with the highlights and notes from my Readwise database. It is more efficient overall than trying the cranky Readwise method in Tinderbox.


A “Michael Becker” minute? What takes MB 20 minutes will take me 20 hours – if not more. :neutral_face:

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Hope this is covered in the meetup.

We did not cover this today, perhaps we can do it next weekend, if people are interested.

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Excellent, just catalogued 600+ books using BookBuddy (mainly en route to recording where in the house they are shelved). As it uses public resources, the thumbnail is occasionally wrong missing (unsurprising for older books). Still for £.pp only, it’s saved a bunch of time. I used an iPad and can attest it synchs to the phone and my Mac (I think the desktop is running the IPadOS version. You can’t add new items from the Desktop but you can still read/edit the data.

Even though BookBuddy, seems designed as a reading/lending tracker it is still a fast way to generate partial/whole stub records that can then be passed to other apps for enrichment.

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