Booxter tracks books, music CDs, movie DVDs and comics

A gorgeous interface, at least four methods to enter your collection, robust export and printing capabilities and worldwide Internet search capabilities to automatically fill in your collection items’ details, Booxter has it all. After spending a couple of weeks with Booxter, I believe to have finally found perfect collection tracking software.

To be honest, I’d never heard of Booxter until I saw an update of the program flashing by on MacUpdate. Deep Prose released version 2.5 which supports iPhone/iPod Touch data exchange. The MacUpdate screenshot looked very nice, so I decided to take a look. The Deep Prose site looked great to me, with much eye for detail. Usually, when a software vendor pays a lot of attention to the (clean) design and content of their web site, their product is something worthwhile investigating. This proves to be true once again: Booxter is a near-perfect collection tracking application.

When you launch Booxter you’ll first have to make a choice of collection type. You can select from books, music, movies and comics. Each collection will be stored in its own library. The interface is clean, beautifully designed, with nice icons that are clearly not some sloppy designer’s work. The interface is very Snow Leopard-ish, with a careful use of HUDs and well-designed checkboxes and radio buttons.

booxter view
The detail view shows all filled in fields

Entering data can be done using six methods:

  • Scanning with a Bluetooth ROV barcode scanner
  • Scanning with a cable-attached ROV or other keyboard-wedge capable barcode scanner
  • Scanning with an iSight camera
  • Entering data manually one-by-one
  • Entering data manually in a list and then batch enter
  • Entering data in a list by connecting a ROV barcode scanner after having scanned items in batch

I tried every method and found each to perform equally well. The only thing that I couldn’t do for some reason was to “Remember Device” when using the Bluetooth ROV scanner. However, that ‘glitch’ is trivial as the scanner is automatically recognized when making the connection to the Mac. The iSight scanning was good, but you need to place the camera on a steady platform and hold the item very still to get a clean reading.

barcode scanning
The Bluetooth scanning HUD enables you to select the Bluetooth scanner and enter barcodes.

Scanning can be done in full screen mode — Booxter actually allows you to view data fields while scanning without the clutter of desktop icons, Finder windows, etc — but when you use it that way, it may be hard to tell if Booxter has received the scanned data. To ensure you get some sort of confirmation, you can turn on screen reading, and your barcode will be read out loud by the Mac.

All in all, I could scan continuously and Booxter would swallow the barcodes as fast as they came in. The actual searching through the Amazon sites and libraries I checked in my test copy took longer than getting the barcodes in. Much to my surprise, Booxter wouldn’t skip any of the very fast scanned barcodes. If you’re worried that it would, you can always tell Booxter to search later…

After having scanned all these codes, Booxter would run somewhat slower afterwards. I believe this is due to Bluetooth and all it took to get up to full speed again, was to save the library, close the program and reopen. Full speed is to be taken literally. Booxter is incredibly fast, even with a library holding several hundred items (700) and with thumbnail images set to display.

Import from competing products is well supported, although I would like to see Book/Music/Movie Collector being added to the list.

Getting items out of Booxter is easy. You can print pages with item lists, but also labels (even Dymo labels). The printing system offers some nifty customization capabilities as well. Exporting is possible in various formats, including XML, HTML, BibTeX, etc. Via drag-and-drop items can be moved between different libraries.

Booxter offers various ways to manage your collections. For example, you can add information such as “Lent to” and “Date Due”, but also “Genre”, “Location”, “Dewey Class”, and “Condition”. You can enter the price of the item and the price you actually paid, and you can give a rating. There are more fields you can enter data into, but the above are the most important in my opinion.

edit item in Booxter
Every item can be edited in full.

Except for displaying items in a list view and a detail view, you can also view them in Filter view. Here Booxter really shines. In the Filter view you get a whole set of categories that you can select. A category could be the author or artist, which Booxter will use to group items in a list for you nicely. In the Filter view, however, you will also get to see all the artist names with the number of items for each of them next to their name. And at the top of that view panel will be a histogram showing you graphically the artist groups. The histogram is not just some eye candy, though. You can drag through it and it will highlight different authors’ names as you move the mouse across the graph. Filtered items can be saved to Smart Lists. Smart Lists can also be created by setting up a query.

Finally, there’s a tag list. Here you can view items grouped per field entry — e.g. authors, publishers, etc. The selection method for viewing items that match multiple tags is by selecting different tags and clicking either the “And” or the “Or” button to create the query.

All views can have different layouts, and you set each layout in a HUD.

These are just a couple of things that set Booxter apart and makes it a truly powerful collection tracking application, much more powerful than Book Collector, for example (which I consider to be quite feature strong too).

A final nice touch to Booxter is that it has a built-in game. The game uses the information of your collected items to ask you questions which you must answer to within a specified time span. The game on its own would be nice to have, so it’s obviously great to have it for free with the tracking program.

Last but not least, Booxter comes with a Library Manager, a window that gives you instantaneous access to all of your libraries in a tabbed interface, allowing you to quickly jump from one library to another.

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