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Old 04-15-2018, 05:31 PM   #1
Kythe42
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Programs like Calibre for general use?

I'll start off by saying that I love Calibre for organizing my books and tracking my reading, and I have no intention of switching to another program for that. I even love the program so much that I installed a 2nd copy of portable to make an inventory of my craft tools.

Now I come to the point where I'd like to use Calibre for other things, but I feel a bit silly installing more portable copies just so it automatically loads the library I want when opening the program.

Every time I try to set something up with Access, I end up giving up because it seems to take so much more effort to set things up how I like them than it does with Calibre. So does anyone know any programs that are pretty close to Calibre's design but aren't set up for specific types of items. I'd definitely want the ability to customize my fields and a free open source program is preferable.

Thanks in advance for any information you can give me.
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:59 PM   #2
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@Kythe42 - I'm not aware of anything that's both similar to calibre and general purpose. If one could assign different Column Header names to the built in columns at the library level, then calibre would be close being general purpose.

FWIW - I have Calibre libraries for my periodical, video, and image collections. In the case of periodicals I use the Authors column for the journal/magazine title and the Title column for the edition number/data. The video and image libraries also re-purpose those two columns. I barely notice the disparate header labels, I'm spatially oriented so position means more to me than labels.

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Old 04-15-2018, 08:13 PM   #3
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The built in columns don't bother me too much. When I made a library for craft tools, I made custom fields and then hid any fields that I didn't want to use, and also repurposed some. I think it bothers me more that there's not a way to change the "All Books" tab when using virtual libraries.

Beyond that, I think it just bothers me that I have to have separate copies of portable Calibre for each library if I want it to automatically open to the one I want instead of having to switch once Calibre is open.

If each library was a single file I could click on instead to open up the program to the library I wanted, it would be much simpler. Like with Microsoft Word you can open the program and then choose the file you want, but you can also just click on the file and the program will open up with that file. I know it probably seems like a minor inconvenience, but I'm just used to being able to open files directly.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:19 PM   #4
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You could always set up multiple shortcuts to start Calibre that pass the library to be opened as a parameter. That would seem to be an easy way to open a specific library with a single click.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:33 PM   #5
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Thank you. I'll have to look into that. The last time I asked about doing something like that was when I told that having multiple copies of portable Calibre was the only way to do it.

Edit: Well I found some instructions for how to do this, set up a test library, and copy/pasted the command line thing, editing for my library path, but both the shortcuts still open to new test library. Is this something that actually works with portable Calibre?

Last edited by Kythe42; 04-15-2018 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:08 AM   #6
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Dont use portable calibre at all. Portable calibre is restricted to starting up with libraries inside the portable folder. Just use normal calibre and setup the shortcuts, they will work fine.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:14 AM   #7
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Well, I got it to work changing the target file from calibre-portable.exe to calibre.exe which was one folder deeper. I hope that's what you meant, because I really have no intention of switching back to regular Calibre. Either way, it seems to work now, so I might try to consolidate my two copies of portable Calibre back down into one.

Thanks for the help everyone.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:28 AM   #8
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Many spreadsheet programs have extensive database functionality built in.

Like LibreCalc or Excel.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:31 AM   #9
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Excel was what I was previously using, but it didn't feel like it was meeting my needs for certain things. I'm really only an average user though, so I don't really know how to do a lot of advanced stuff with it. If there's a way to make Excel function similarly to Calibre, I have no clue how to do it.
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:21 AM   #10
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Another possibility could be an advanced wiki. I once set up an asset tracking system on a MindTouch wiki. On page per asset, a few tags and fixed fields and some pages that displayed different types of searches, reports or printable labels with barcodes. Works great. It is used to track office supplies and suppliers as well now...

Also there are a lot of sample/example databases for Access or Base free to download and modify.

For instance:
https://access-templates.com/

Or you could hire someone to create a database to your specification. Or ask some teacher to give it as an assignment in a school...

But specifying can be pretty difficult as well.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:01 AM   #11
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Thank you for all of the suggestions.

However, now that I've figured out how to open Calibre to the library of choice by modifying the shortcuts, perhaps it's best just to stick with Calibre, despite some of the other minor things that bug me. It would certainly save me a lot of time and frustration. I've already managed to get a new library mostly set up how I like it and really it's just a matter of ignoring the "All Books" tab for virtual libraries. Maybe someday there will be a way to rename that.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kythe42 View Post
Well, I got it to work changing the target file from calibre-portable.exe to calibre.exe which was one folder deeper. I hope that's what you meant, because I really have no intention of switching back to regular Calibre. Either way, it seems to work now, so I might try to consolidate my two copies of portable Calibre back down into one.

Thanks for the help everyone.
If you run calibre.exe instead of calibre-portable.exe, you may find some oddities with settings if you move to a different computer, because it will save changes to the computer where you run it, not to the Calibre Portable folder. Fortunately, library-specific settings are saved in the library so these should be fine.

One question: do you have your different libraries in different locations? If you keep them all in the Calibre Portable folder, switching between them is trivial. No file dialogues, just select the library from a list once Calibre is open. I have Calibre Portable installed on an external hard drive with half a dozen different libraries, and I've never found it much of a hassle to switch.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:10 PM   #13
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That's unfortunate, and it's probably why I was originally advised to have separate copies of Calibre Portable if I wanted to open directly to the library of my choice. I'm really not sure how many of the settings I've changed are library specific or general settings.

That's fine if you don't find it annoying and great if it works for you, but it's annoying enough for me not to be able to directly open the library of my choice that I wanted to look for alternative options, and was the entire point of this post. In pretty much every other relevant program I use, I open the file directly rather than opening the program and then choosing the file. I don't like the extra time it takes to load one library and then wait for the library I want to load. Everyone has their own pet peeves and what they're willing to put up with. I tried doing it that way before with just two libraries and I quickly got fed up with it.

Edit: It seems another justification for separate copies of Calibre Portable is that there are certain settings that I might want to be different for different libraries, but changing the setting on one library affects all of them.

Last edited by Kythe42; 04-16-2018 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kythe42 View Post
[. . .] I open the file directly rather than opening the program and then choosing the file. [. . .]
Same here, programs I need to open directly and frequently are pinned to the taskbar (e.g. file manager, browsers, mail client, calculator, note takers), those I use occasionally are pinned to the start menu (e.g. reminders, registry editor, torrent client etc). I have 'gadgets' (dictionary, download manager, clipboard manager etc) in the tray, and some program shortcuts, such calibre.exe, in my Send To folder, but no program shortcuts on my desktop.

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Edit: It seems another justification for separate copies of Calibre Portable is that there are certain settings that I might want to be different for different libraries, but changing the setting on one library affects all of them.
At one stage I ran separate portables for different libraries for that very reason. I wanted adds to my books library to get metadata from the book file, and adds to the other libraries to get metadata from the file name, I also wanted different settings relating to Author names.

However, I switched back to one calibre install because I found the effort to maintain all the other settings consistently across multiple portables a hassle. I adjust settings as needed and correct my mistakes when I forget to do so. I also didn't like the fact that I had to update each install of Portable whenever I wanted to upgrade to a new version.

More recently the Job Spy plugin has added tools to allow tweaking of some 'global' settings on a per-library basis.

BR
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:39 PM   #15
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Thanks for the plugin recommendation. I installed it, and there's a lot of options there, so I'm not sure if I just didn't find what I was looking for because I missed it, or if it wasn't there. I only have one library at the moment that deals with books, so many of the things that the plugin deals with might not be relevant to me. On top of that, even when dealing with books, I always enter metadata manually to make sure it comes out the way I want.

Really the first setting that appears to be global that relates to what I'm doing is the option to have a cover image show up in the book details side panel. I might want this for some books but not others. It really does seem like something that you should be able to set on a per library setting. Perhaps I should just try to ignore it.

Something that's a much bigger deal is that it seems that the tweaks settings are global, or at least the specific one I'm looking at, which is to customize the order of custom metadata fields. This one I really do need to be able to set it differently for each library given that the custom fields are going to be completely different in each library. I could find no function to edit this with the plugin.

Last edited by Kythe42; 04-16-2018 at 10:56 PM.
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