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Old 09-08-2008, 02:16 PM   #61
Taylor514ce
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Database Design

Something like this, where the user could maintain the "Categories" and a many-to-many relationship, so that a book can fit as many categories as the user sees fit.

Same with Formats, so that a book can be listed under multiple formats.

I see "Genre" as something the user builds, since Publisher genres are either too lose or too specific. "SF" doesn't cut it for me.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:29 PM   #62
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Sorry... let's now resume the actual discussion. I like the idea of "Views" or "Filters". Show me all books I haven't read. Now show me all books I've read and want to review. Show me all books currently on my Freedom Reader (heh). Show me all books I bought from Sony and haven't read.
For me tags is the best way to do this. Have you ever use delicious? You can tag each link with as many tags as you want. You make up the tags you want to use. Then, along the right side of your links is a list of all your tags. If you click on one tag then you only see the links with that tag. In addition to that another tag list pops up, this is all the other tags that the current links contain. So, you can click on a second tag to filter further.

In your case you can have a tags like "read", "toreview", "ondevice". Of course, some tags could be auto created by the software. Like "ondevice" would be a good example.

To me this is the most flexible way of indexing. Folder are "nice" but many times something fits in more than one folder... or the folder taxonomy is specific to something... say "genre" but you also want to see all the sf books you need to review... the folders fall down. But, with tags you just choose tags sf and toreview and viola.

Of, btw, delicious doesn't have it, but you should be able to negate a tag too. For example, I want to see everything withOUT a read tag to know what I haven't read yet rather than forcing me to create a read and a toread tag.

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Old 09-08-2008, 02:40 PM   #63
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Tags are good. And they're also what Librarything uses. Which reminds me that I'd like to be able to sync my list of books with Librarything.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:42 PM   #64
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TAGs, whatever, have to be stored in a database. I'm suggesting a database structure.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:49 PM   #65
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For me tags is the best way to do this.
Ah, give the man a prize; that's precisely what I was thinking.

I'm currently launching a messaging service using avatars in my day job, and we've been implementing tags as a means for searching for avatars. It's fast, intuitive, and as long as you're allowing people to make their own and assign them as they will, they're devastatingly useful.

Reading the category/searching requirements, it seems to me that tags are definitely a big win.

I also like categorising groups of tags, so that they can be arranged in a column view, one tag category per column. Filter row results based on combinations of positive and negative occurrences of a set of tags, and virtually everything we've been talking about here can be done automatically.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:50 PM   #66
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I think tags are usually just concatenated in a single database field, freely, and selected on the fly. But I could be mistaken-- perhaps the software parses them and stores them in a separate table, as you suggest.

The main thing is to be able to have the many-to-many relationship, as you pointed out.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:51 PM   #67
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netslut, are you writing this down ?
Absolument!

I'm getting a good solid set of features here.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:55 PM   #68
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http://www.pui.ch/phred/archives/200...e-schemas.html

I guess I sketched out the "Toxi" solution referred to in the article. To me, it's basic database normalization. Regardless of the user interface (tag clouds), in the end you want a highly normalized database.

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Old 09-08-2008, 02:55 PM   #69
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I think tags are usually just concatenated in a single database field, freely, and selected on the fly. But I could be mistaken-- perhaps the software parses them and stores them in a separate table, as you suggest.
Yes and no. They are usually presented to the user in 1 field. However, to be able to do quick sorting on them they would be broken up into the database with a tags table and a tagsbooks table. The tag table will will include each tag once, then the tagsbooks will link the tag table to the books table.

If you just put them all in one field you have to scan through each record to pull out tags, etc. While indexed records can be retrieved so much faster.

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Old 09-08-2008, 02:57 PM   #70
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I think tags are usually just concatenated in a single database field, freely, and selected on the fly. But I could be mistaken-- perhaps the software parses them and stores them in a separate table, as you suggest.
Slow systems will combine them in a text field; but if you want any kind of decent response, you have to have individual indexed entries.

This brings up a really good question, btw; what is the general view regarding having a database running to store this metadata, versus having a custom file format, emulating a database?

Advantages to the database are speed and ease of development, no proprietary files to decode in case of trouble. But the custom files mean no separate program to run or configure.

Which would you all choose?

Kovid, I recall you mentioned moving from a database to a file; can I ask what your reasoning was behind that, and how you feel it's worked out for you?
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Old 09-08-2008, 03:00 PM   #71
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Right: Books, Cat (Tags), and the cross-reference table between them. Just like I sketched above. Grrr.

I've always been a corporate developer, so the question of "use a database or not" never comes up. We always use a database. For an end-user program, I see the dilemma.
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Old 09-08-2008, 03:01 PM   #72
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If you just put them all in one field you have to scan through each record to pull out tags, etc. While indexed records can be retrieved so much faster.
Yes, of course. And the main system I administer that actually uses freetags (Drupal) does create a table, and CafePress does as well (I can tell, because sometimes my capitalization changes if someone has used the same tag before me with different capitalization). I suspect some of the older systems I've used really did just dump the tags into one field, but it would of course be much slower to search that way.

I remember trying to figure out how Otakuworld had done their "similar titles" search at one point and coming up with this convoluted solution involving bitwise comparisons (because they seemed to have a fixed number of tags). In retrospect, I'm sure they had something much simpler going on than that.
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Old 09-08-2008, 03:02 PM   #73
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Keep in mind that while user specified tags are great, you also need automatically specified tags from book metadata. This is to cater to users that don't want to go to the trouble of manually tagging every book (title, author,series,isbn etc are examples of "automatic tags"). And in order to do that, you're going to have to write plugins to read metadata from all the ebook formats you want your app to support.
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Old 09-08-2008, 03:06 PM   #74
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Hm... how about a "statistically improbable phrase" plugin?
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Old 09-08-2008, 03:10 PM   #75
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Keep in mind that while user specified tags are great, you also need automatically specified tags from book metadata. This is to cater to users that don't want to go to the trouble of manually tagging every book (title, author,series,isbn etc are examples of "automatic tags"). And in order to do that, you're going to have to write plugins to read metadata from all the ebook formats you want your app to support.
One of the things that I think this approach would be useful for is in specifying the directory hierarchy of one's file system.

If you specify that your books are stored in directory structure platform/author/series/isbn/title, then I could create tag categories for each of those, and automatically populate the specific tags from the specific directories.

You're of course absolutely right that I'll need to read metadata from the ebooks themselves in order to more accurately populate certain categories (specifically title, I think, based on what I've seen so far), and of course for those ebooks that aren't in directory hierarchies at all.

I was thinking that maybe I should write the metadata readers as separate entities, and put those in the open source community directly; so then we might get to a point where they can be maintained and added to by many people for many different programs, as long as the interface is consistent.
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