Software Tailored For You – Part II
by David Arnold
style='font-size:10.0pt;'>: Most computer programs handle just one task, such
as word processing, accounting, or creating presentations. Slide management
programs, on the other hand, do many things: catalog your photos, search for
specific images, print labels, create submission sheets and invoices, and much
more. This month I’ll deal with the picture side of these programs: entering
photos and information about them, generating slide labels, and searching the
database for specific slides or subjects. Next month I’ll turn to the business
side: generating submission sheets, invoices and other forms; tracking submissions
and sales information; communicating with clients; etc. Then, in the fourth
and final installment, I’ll examine documentation, ease of use, and support,
as well as special features such as stock pricing modules, equipment lists,
and the ability to produce contact sheets or Web pages. –David Arnold
As I promised last month, I’ll review three popular slide management
programs: fotoBiz (Mac and Windows, $199.95, www.fotobiz.net), Stockview
(Mac and Windows, $495, www.hindsightltd.com), and NSCS Pro2 (Norton Slide Captioning
System, $189, www.nscspro.com, Windows only). Like comparing a Nikon
F3, Canon EOS1v, and Minolta Maxxum 9, while there are more similarities than
differences, the differences are significant enough that the product one photographer
swears by, another might swear at.
First, some similarities. All three have a screen for entering slide information,
with fields for file number, detailed caption information, and copyright info.
They also have fields in which you can indicate whether the photo is film or
digital, original or duplicate, horizontal or vertical, 35 mm. or other format,
etc. These fields use drop-down lists, speeding data entry and ensuring consistency.
Each allows some degree of customizing, and each provides open-ended fields
for entering additional information. And if you have the photo in digital form,
all three let you display it in thumbnail form onscreen.
But while all three programs let you insert keywords for searching, they
differ in how they handled it. There are two major approaches to keywording:
open vocabulary, where you can enter any descriptive term you want when filing
or searching; and controlled vocabulary, where both filing and searching are
limited to a predefined list of keywords. NSCS
and fotoBiz use the open vocabulary approach. This is the easiest system to
set up. In fact no real set-up is needed: just type in descriptive terms as
you enter each slide. Then when you need to find a slide, again, just start
entering appropriate words. But if you assign “house” to a slide,
it won’t show up later if you search for “home” or “building.”
StockView uses a controlled vocabulary: instead of
free-form keyword entry, you choose from three drop-down lists of keywords.
Again, this system ensures consistency. Where do the lists come from? You. You
have to come up with a set of categories, sub-categories within them, and “details”
within the sub-categories. A controlled vocabulary system takes much more thought
and work to set up, but is more efficient, especially if the searcher isn’t
always the same as the person who originally filed the slide.
In addition to searching by keywords, all three programs let you search
any of the fields or combinations of fields displayed on the screen. You can
pull up all your vertical photos, all your waterfalls shots, or all pictures
taken with Velvia film. StockView and NSCS let you do full Boolean searches,
using “and” (all pictures that show waterfalls and are vertical
and were shot on Velvia) or “or” (waterfalls or fountains).
fotoBiz supports “and” but not “or” searches.
Once the information has been entered, all three programs
print very professional-looking labels on readily-available Avery label stock.
In addition, StockView and NSCS can print barcode labels, allowing you to automate
entry of slides in submission sheets, and log them back in when they’re
Next month we’ll move from the photo side to the business side
of these programs. In the meantime, looking at the screenshots on their website
will give you some feel for how the programs operate.
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