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A Proposal for Reorganizing and Standardizing Titles in ComicBase


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Although ComicBase is an amazing program and the defacto standard for cataloging a comic book/magazine/book collection, it suffers from a major defect and that is how titles are created, named, and maintained especially if a title ends and is restarted with a new number one adding it as part of a series. A classic simple example of this is DC Comics's Metal Men, e.g.

  1. Metal Men
  2. Metal Men (3rd Series)
  3. Metal Men (4th Series)
  4. Metal Men (Mini-Series)

In the example above, Metal Men (Mini-Series) would ideally be Metal Men (2nd Series). However, there is an underlying decision that makes renaming Metal Men (Mini-Series) problematic, as described by Pete, and that is that the title name is used as the foreign key in, what I presume, is the Item table.

This defect can make it difficult to locate a specific title, organize titles in order of their publication and often results in additional titles added for titles that already exist. Based on the comments of @Peter R. Bickford in the live stream of 4/13/2022, it seems that it is unlikely to change. I think that's a shame since organization is the major component of a database application. 

After giving this just a little bit of thought, I think this may be a starting point of a solution that could solve the problem. Caveat: I'm suggesting this without knowing the intricacies of the DB structure and would welcome input. I expect that moving forward with this will not only take time to mull over but to implement as well, but ultimately will make ComicBase an even greater product than it already is. Here's my take:

  1. Create a new field called DisplayTitle in the table that contains Title.
  2. Copy the values of the existing Title field into DisplayTitle.
  3. Use this DisplayTitle for searching and display.
  4. When a new title is created either by CB or a user, copy that value into the DisplayTitle field as well.
  5. If a DisplayTitle needs to be changed, CB verifies the new display title, changes it and voila, after the next update, the title can be found and sorted correctly.

This would allow the implementation of a title naming standard perhaps using the indicia, year, and even the publisher of the title.

Something like Metal Men (1993 Series) (DC)

The benefit of this is if the standard changes, titles can be easily updated.

This solution addresses some of the problems that @Peter R. Bickford brought up in the live stream.

  1. It doesn't violate the foreign key constraints between Title and Item.
  2. It easily allows for renaming the DisplayTitle if the indicia changes between solicitation and publication of the title.
  3. There is no requirement to shift data around in the tables and potentially mess up a user's data, since it's simply a DisplayTitle change.

I'd love to see something like this implemented.

--Walt

 

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There's also an additional benefit to this approach... it allows a user to define his own display name. It a setting is added to not override DisplayName, a user could easily maintain their own names.

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Thank you for this.  I'm not a computer guy so I get lost in the jargon.  I believe what you are suggesting is exactly what I have in mind. 

That said, it concerns me a bit that I had the same thought because HC has people trained in this and that have actually built all of this.  Wouldn't they have already hit on it?  

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  • 3 weeks later...

This de facto inability to change titles bothers me more than any other quirk of ComicBase. The previous thread in another section of the forum  (https://forums.comicbase.com/index.php?/topic/1332-consistency-in-multiple-series-titles-eg-metal-men/) contains numerous examples of problematic titles and reasons why they are problematic, but so far we've kind of been met with a shrug. I agree that it would be good to know that the folks at Human Computing are thinking about this or any other solution to the problem.

 

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Been a proponent of maintaining paired Official/User fields for the database with different display/reporting options

 

Official Title and User Title

Official Alphabetization and User Alphabetization

Official Notes and User Notes

Official Item Description and User Description

 

Display choice/Report choice - Official, User, Official [User] or User [Official]

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Hi, @Fred Slota

I'm not against that but at a minimum this problem could be solved by adding a Display Title field that's maintained by and organized by CB. It wouldn't violate foreign key constraints and would allow for titles to be organized based on a standard which could and probably would change over time. I like ComicBase but I don't buy that it's an "installed user base problem".

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You misunderstand entirely...  Not saying it's a user problem...  More a realization that there are multiple users, with multiple different opinions on what they want, and a solution that simultaneously supports both a fixed official title so CB can update official entries, with official descriptions and valuations, and a flexible alternative/addition set of fields that supports as many different users' views on how to name, group, sort and describe, would satisfy most users.

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@Fred Slota, Pete said that it was a "installed user base problem", not me or you. I don't believe it is nor do I think you do. There are numerous ways to solve this problem. I suggested one and you suggested another. Do you still think I misunderstand entirely?

 

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8 minutes ago, Fred Slota said:

okay.

I don't know what that means but I think we both want some way to better organize titles. The answer from CB shouldn't be "We're not going to do anything."

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