My Delicious Library Review


I've been using Delicious Library for a while now, and although there were a few flaws I spotted right from the outset, I've been mostly happy with it.

And I always though it to be a bit unfair to review software right after it's released - especially something that I don't use on a daily basis so I waited for the niggles to become obvious.

With 1.0.6 just out the door and after having imported all my DVDs and most of my books, I think it's time to summarize my findings. Overall, it is a very nice and friendly piece of software, but despite liking it a lot, I have a lot of niggles.

Let's start with the good points, though:

Good Points

  • The application is clean and moderately responsive on my iBook (a big plus, since it's an old 800MHz one).
  • The XML storage format is trivially parsed, and can be used for a vast number of things. I'm still trying out my mobile phone front-end, and I have zero trouble accessing the data. As usual in such things, the only issues I have right now are browser-related.
  • You can place an item in multiple "shelves", which you can filter out from the XML data (shelf tags contain a list of the item UUIDs that you placed inside them).
  • Everything is stored under your Library/Application Support/Delicious Library folder, so it's easy to backup and replicate across your Macs (more below).
  • It imported my Collection data without a hitch, including covers.
  • Bluetooth scanning works great. That is, the scanning process itself worked out of the box with my existing scanner (whether or not items are identified correctly is another issue).
  • Licensing is personal, not per machine - I can run it under my user account on all my Macs, which is a big plus when you have to process a large amount of items - you just copy your Library files across and take the iBook to another room.
  • The fields provided are comprehensive - in fact, way beyond the average user's needs, unless they happen to be the kind that would complain about the lack of Dewey Decimal support.
  • You get a neat "Recent Imports" category that lets you drag unclassified stuff into shelves.

Bad Points

  • If you're not in the UK, Germany or the US, barcode scanning is completely useless, since there are umpteen regional variations of every media title. But since the vast majority of my books are in English (and a lot of them purchased from Amazon UK), it mostly worked for those.
  • Although the initial search for an item went to Amazon UK, subsequent links pointed to Amazon US, therefore rendering most of the right-pane features (Similar Items, etc.) useless. (Yes, I've reported the bug).
  • It fills some of the fields with redundant data. For instance, Amazon genres are imported with a lot of repetitive crap like "Special Features - Used Books - Fiction - Authors, A-Z - ( C ), Special Features - Used Books - Fiction - Contemporary Fiction: 1970 Onwards - General". Definetly something to trim from your imports.
  • There are a lot of UI Issues:
    • Right-clicking is mostly ignored everywhere. You can't use it to add shelves, etc. In particular, right-clicking on items does nothing. This is one of the things that irks me the most, and is closely followed by the fact that buttons that let you handle items are at the bottom of the window, next to a zoom slider that serves no real purpose (why would I need to zoom cover images all the time?).
    • The search box is, for some unfathomable reason, at the bottom of the application window, instead of near the top - right next to the nonexistent toolbar.
    • The column view's filtering and sorting options are fairly limited. I would have preferred an iTunes-like browsing approach, but I guess this was an attempt at providing a sensible set of defaults.
    • There are several item interaction/manipulation issues. For instance, reloading details from Amazon sometimes cannot be undone and loses any item cover image you might have (I can undo the data changes, but I lose the thumbnail).
    • It's not immediately obvious that you can backtrack when you use the title search (which does not seem to cache results, by the way). I spent quite some time deleting new manually added items because I could not understand how to "go back" and pick the paperback edition of a book I added manually (Library insisted on presenting me with the hardback edition when adding some items manually). Some back arrows are in order here.
    • I would vastly prefer a standard icon view to the wooden panel background. And no, I don't go in for the theme craziness.
    • I keep having to hide the Borrowers panel. Not sure if it pops up on its own, but I definetly don't use it.
    • There is no way to hide unfilled fields in Edit mode.
  • And finally, the cover images eat storage space like no tomorrow:

The Monster In The Library

When doing my mobile front-end, I was amazed that the entire Library tree took many minutes to copy across to my Linux box. Turns out that cover images can take up several megabytes of disk space:

$ du -k Library/Application\ Support/Delicious\ Library
43204   Library/Application Support/Delicious Library/Images/Large Covers
17960   Library/Application Support/Delicious Library/Images/Medium Covers
26644   Library/Application Support/Delicious Library/Images/Plain Covers
22088   Library/Application Support/Delicious Library/Images/Small Covers
109896  Library/Application Support/Delicious Library/Images
112088  Library/Application Support/Delicious Library

The library XML database is only 1.4MB of those 112MB above (for the curious, I have roughly 300 books and nearly 100 DVDs in there, plus around 30 games - and I'm still not done with the books).

The rest are multiple versions of the item covers in JPEG format. Now, I undestand the need to have these around, but... So many different resolution versions? It's not like I use the zoom slider that much.

Still, I like Delicious Library a lot, and consider my money well-spent - the XML file format alone was worth the cash for me, and the application has been rock solid.