What's the best (or only?) TF collection database available?

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by RavageBeak1000, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. RavageBeak1000

    RavageBeak1000 Well-Known Member

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    Ok so I have visions of a future Iphone App with my entire collection and want/need/parts list available to me on the go with a touch of the finger. But realistically what online sites are the best to maintain a collection. I see that Shmax.com is fairly decent. But what kind of support does the site have. Will it still be maintained and have a following in a few years? So what do you guys use?? help
     
  2. Optimus Vader

    Optimus Vader Banned

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    I created a Shmax account a couple of weeks ago. It's a pretty slow site, but probably not bad for what you're looking to do. Unless you have a Delorean with a flux capacitor it's probably going to be tough to determine whether the site will be maintained or have a following in the future.
     
  3. DoubleClouder

    DoubleClouder Autobot/Decepticon

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    Although I like Shmax, I find it to be a little clunky when trying to remove or edit entries. Also you can't add stuff easily if it doesn't already exists (ie, prototype or testshots) and I wish you could add your own pics of your specific item. So I just started building a .net program with an access database back-end. As far as support goes, the Shmax admin got back to me fairly quickly. Keep in mind I am not trying to knock it and I think it does a very, very good job. It's just not quite tailored to my needs.
     
  4. RavageBeak1000

    RavageBeak1000 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I agree very clunky, but seems to be the only option. Any other options out there?
     
  5. jestermon

    jestermon Well-Known Member

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  6. RavageBeak1000

    RavageBeak1000 Well-Known Member

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  7. Wajo357

    Wajo357 Well-Known Member

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    I use shmax.com as well. I've been in contact with both the main creator/programmer and the main Transformer moderator. Although the website is currently slow, they both are constantly improving it and adding features. I've found many bugs that have been fixed in hours. A handful of my feature requests have been added within a day and most of the rest of them are in his to-do list.

    As far as I know there are plans to move the server to a faster system and to grow the database to unofficial products and even non-transformer items. Right now, 'official transformers' are being used to test the database.

    Oh... and adding new products are psuedo-easy. All you need is the name, manufacturer, release data (could just be the year), and the country it was released in.

    EDIT: the website speed really varies during the day. Sometimes it is pretty fast.
     
  8. ams

    ams Generation All Veteran

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    Honestly? The best is the one YOU make. Go to all the resource sites out there for reference, and compile a list of things that are organized the way YOU want them to be. Accounting for things can be very subjective to individual opinions.

    Build it yourself, and you'll never be "working around" information or data you don't want or be forced to account for something in a manner different than what you would choose.
     
  9. jestermon

    jestermon Well-Known Member

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    Ah, too advanced for me, I use visual confirmation.
     
  10. shmax

    shmax Well-Known Member

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    You guys are lucky that your 'ol Uncle Shmax has developed pretty thick skin over the years, otherwise I'd probably be a little upset by the way you talk about my site when I'm not around! Everything Wajo said is correct--I am currently researching new hosting solutions, which will hopefully take care of the last of the performance issues. Currently the site is stuck on a shared server, so it suffers from "bad neighbor syndrome", meaning that the database load is shared among a few dozen sites (all of which probably get more traffic than I do). That said, I use the site myself, and it actually seems to behave pretty well these days (I spent about 6 months optimizing things) for me.

    Other than that, I don't get why you guys are so down on the site. What I usually hear is "well, it's great, but it doesn't do this one thing the way I want--are there any other sites like it out there?". Well, no, there aren't, which is why I'm a bit baffled that I don't hear more positive comments. You know, things like "I can't believe they managed to encode the mold history of more than 20,000 parts!", or "how the hell did they manage to become the largest and most complete Transformers toy database online in the space of a few years?", or "I love that anyone can help build and edit the database", or "their search engine rocks--you can identify parts and figures just by typing in alternate forms and colors" or "I love that I can track (and download) every little detail of my collection, even missing parts!" or even "holy shit! It can automatically find figures or even just parts that I'm missing on eBay!". And it's all free, by the way. We don't even have ads, nor any plans to ever have them. Not a single one. All hosting expenses are fronted by myself out of pocket out of the kindness of my dumb 'ol heart.

    It wouldn't be so bad if you guys would have these sorts of discussions over on the shmax forums, where your concerns can and will be addressed by the moderators and I, but it's a graveyard over there. Instead, I have to wade into other people's forums, where the only discussions I ever come across are these bizarrely dismissive trash sessions. And I can't even really glean any useful information or feedback--what exactly is "klunky"? Which pages are slow? Etc.

    Guys, I've been working on shmax.com for more than 3 years, with about half that time being spent full time on the site. It will be up and running for as long as I am. You want to know if it's being maintained? Well, that's the beauty of it--the maintenance is in your hands. The database is fully open. Anyone is welcome to add new records or photos or modify existing ones. It's all automatic and integrated into the site--I don't even have to know about it. All changes are reviewed by a moderator (usually the increasingly-overworked Engledogg), but that's the only catch. You otherwise have access to all of the same bells and whistles that moderators do. Some of you dismiss this functionality as being, I don't know, too complex, I guess. I don't know what to tell you. Like Wajo says, all you really have to get right is the name and toyline, and the mods can fill in the rest if that's all you can manage. I don't know how it could possibly be made simpler without resorting to sock puppets. If you want to delve a bit deeper and learn how to work the mold and form systems and contribute part records, well, that will take you an additional 5 minutes to learn and we'd love to have you. Hell, make a good case for yourself and I'll make you a full moderator.

    The site is not dormant, nor is it a closed system. I'm always eager to hear your suggestions and love to talk about what directions the site can go in. You can PM me through the shmax forums, email me, or even send me IMs through the chat program of your choice (PM me for handles)--I've got 'em all. Heck, you can call me on the phone. Engledogg and Hellscream are also available, and are the go-to guys for data entry questions if you're shy about just diving in.

    Well, that's more of a rant than I originally intended to do, but what the hell. See ya around the site.
     
  11. DoubleClouder

    DoubleClouder Autobot/Decepticon

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    First off I don't think anyone was really trying to knock the site. We all understand the huge undertaking and the amount of work you put into it. Sorry you took it the wrong way, but as a fellow software designer I think you need to understand that your "ideal" way of creating something might not be considered the best by another. Just because there are not other sites out there doesn't mean yours is the definitive answer. Actually in 1997 or 1998 someone did have a site like yours, but it cost too much money to maintain and he shut it down. Hell most people are fine with just excel sheets.

    I will try and clarify some of my points. Just for the record I am using Firefox 3.5.5., IE 6.0290 SP2, and IE8. An example of what I am talking about is when you are changing in entry for a figure that you already added to your collection. This is not trivial for a first time user. To change an entry I have to first click on one of the items in my collection and then I have to randomly look around the page. There is no edit button. Instead I have to click on the box (which I thought was a label) underneath where it says your collection and then it brings up a set of editable fields. Then when I am done I don't see a save button anywhere. So you just kind of navigate off the page and stuff gets saved. The same goes with removing something, it's not until you click on that box where you can remove a figure. Also back to my discussion in adding figures. I already talked to you about it and you said there was no way of putting prototypes up (again special case). So adding a figure or variant is not "easy" either. I tried adding a Mexican Hoist which was under Mexico->Generation 1->Autobot Cars->Series 2 and it sent me back to the beginning (tried it twice with two different browsers, this might be due to the slowness of the site). Finally, I don't see any way of adding pics of your own collection into the database . I would prefer it if I could added pics of my own figures to my collection, especially since I have multiples of the same figure in varying condition and this is supposed to represent my collection. If I missed it I do apologize. I also understand that this is probably cost prohibitive to upload so many pics. Also the slowness of the site really takes away from my desire to use it. It takes so long to add stuff that I just give up, but again I understand this is being worked on. I think the site is a good tool however it's not tailored for my needs.

    Personally I wouldn't mind integration with a stand alone application that would allow you to either download pictures from your central source or let you add your own. That way you could have your own items without uploading to the shmax server. Also having the ability to have a copy locally makes me feel more secure. Just for the sheer fact that if something were to happen and your online database was either erased or taken down, all the hard work I put in wouldn't just disappear. A standalone application you could also back up if need be. Although you can download your collection from the site, it doesn't provide enough information to rebuild it. Again some of these problems are inherent with web design.
     
  12. ams

    ams Generation All Veteran

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    As DC said above, the work that's been put into Shmax is obvious... but it just doesn't work for my needs. That's not a reflection on the quality of the site, but rather the needs of the individual. I think expecting people to want to manage things the same way is like expecting them to all like the same kinds of TFs - it just can't happen.

    I can recognize any TF toy and any related weapon or accessory on sight, so I have no need for pictures. On top of that, all my stuff is already complete with weapons and accessories, so I don't need to keep track of or manage any missing parts. All of that information automatically becomes unnecessary data for me. I was an Excel software specialist for years and can program the heck out of it, so for me it's as simple as seven columns - Year, Country, Series/Line, Faction, Subgroup, Character Name, Description/Details. Color code a few things, program some macros for various sorting and filtering jobs, and there's nothing I need that this thing won't do. It does it instantly, it's portable, and changing or adding functions is a simple matter of sitting down and putting a few minutes of work into it.

    I've also got it configured to manage upcoming releases and port them over to the main spreadsheet when they're released, a catalog of my collections of Brave, Eldran, Battle Beasts, Webdiver, Kamen Rider, Iron Man, X-Files, Star Wars, Comics, etc... On top of that, it seems like it would take months for me to get my collection entered into the Shmax database.

    Nobody's knocking Shmax... but how can it also manage my Iron Man and X-Files collections? Different needs for different collectors.
     
  13. Wajo357

    Wajo357 Well-Known Member

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    AMS
    I agree that my biggest hurdle was moving everything over to the SHMAX system. It took me a while. However, now that I have most of it on there, I find shmax much less stressful than trying to enter in thousands of items.

    My biggest reason why I moved to shmax is because I am now very interested in getting insurance for my collection. I figure an online database that can't be destroyed with my figures and contains all the information that insurance would need, would be useful. My previous list was a simple Google-Notebook page that sort of looked like my wishlist in my sig. For insurance purposes, they want prices, values and other specifics.

    I also agree that shmax isn't completely intuitive and really needs a good FAQ section on how to utilize the site. I am sure that will come in time.

    For other collections, I am now using Google docs-spreadsheets along with google notebook. As I mentioned, hopefully sometime in the future shmax will expand to other collections. I would assume one of the hurdles is to find a moderator for each collection that is as good as the current TF moderator.

    I also love the fact that I can theoretically create a basic record in shmax to enter my data and a year later, through multiple contributions, the entry could have grown to include pictures, descriptions, UPC#s, bios, etc.

    I don't think the site is a perfect fit for my needs, but what software is? Besides, I like the direction the site is headed in.
     
  14. Sage o' G-fruit

    Sage o' G-fruit Critics gonna critique

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    I love my Shmax page. :D  It being slow is only a reflection of my internet connection.
     
  15. Seawing

    Seawing Lurker of the depths Moderator

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    I have a SHMAX account too. It satisfies my needs completely and I'm happy with the current features.
     
  16. Optimus Vader

    Optimus Vader Banned

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    All I said was that it was a little slow (which it is), but other than that I like it. I don't know if your whiny rant is the best way to bring traffic to your site though.
     
  17. Sage o' G-fruit

    Sage o' G-fruit Critics gonna critique

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    You know, he's just defending his site. And shmax has some good points too. I would hardly call that post 'whiny'. Unless the definition of 'whiny' has been changed to 'logical'.
     
  18. Wajo357

    Wajo357 Well-Known Member

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    spock is soooo whiny :) 
     
  19. Sage o' G-fruit

    Sage o' G-fruit Critics gonna critique

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    :lolol 
     
  20. shmax

    shmax Well-Known Member

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    Wow. And you seemed so friendly in the emails we were just exchanging. Or was that a different "Optimus Vader"?

    Anyway, I'm no expert on netiquette, but something tells me I've rambled on about shmax.com here on tfw2005 for long enough, and out of courtesy to our hosts I'm going to redirect my responses to the points brought up by some of the more prolific gripers over to shmax.com, where the heavy technical talk belongs. Here's the link:

    http://www.shmax.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=621&p=2797#p2797

    I invite those of you participating in this thread to join me over there (and of course there's no reason this one can't continue as well, but I generally depart once the insults start flying).
     

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