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Old 02-28-2013, 06:10 AM   #1
Man Eating Duck
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Metadata structure for handling antologies and omnibuses?

Hi! I have a proposal/feature request regarding handling metadata of files which contain several different works, which may have different titles/authors. Examples are omnibus editions and short story collections. I have searched the forum, but couldn’t find many threads about this, and those mostly discuss how to split files. To me this is a somewhat ugly workaround, and should rather be handled by a “proper” metadata structure in calibre.

It would be handy to be able to store metadata for each work separately without splitting the epub. Note that I’m not talking about related but distinct files like books in a series, this is already handled nicely by the series functionality.

I’ve thought about ways in which this might be handled without too radical changes to code/GUI, and wondered what developers think about the following:

Each work has its separate DB entry and UI row which is similar to the current entries, with the following exceptions: it also contains a key to a parent row which contains the metadata for the collection itself. A child row doesn’t have a separate directory or separate files. Apart from this they would have their own title/author information, and generally the same columns (including custom ones) as every regular entry. In the UI they could be hidden by default, with the parent entry having a small plus sign which expands the child entries. Indenting expanded child rows is of course problematic, but a different colour could be an indication. If they are included in a search result both the parent and expanded child should be shown. One sublevel would likely be enough for my needs, but there might be uses cases in which two or more are necessary (an omnibus which contains an antology?).

This way one could for instance have a file/entry called “Sherlock Holmes Novels”, with the separate titles in child entries. Similarly a search for Philip K. Dick would include both his standalone novels and any short stories written by him which are part of an antology.

There is a challenge with including this structure properly when saving to disk, but one way to do it might be to store separate opf files for each entry in the parent’s folder.

So, what do the coding mavericks think about this? I believe that you could get away with adding just one column (a parent key) to the DB table, and mostly treat child entries as regular entries in the DB and elsewhere in the code. I don’t know how tightly the physical directory with included files is tied into the calibre code, but I hope it’s not too dependant on them.

I’m no great Python coder, but I would gladly assist in any way I can, and will probably be able to debug and test code if a better programmer is interested in taking it on. IMO this would be a very useful addition to the otherwise pretty feature-complete calibre, and avoid situations where you are forced to your existing books in order to fit them into calibre instead of just being able to catalogue them properly.
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antology, hierarchy, metadata.db, omnibus

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