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CatBase Software is well-known in professional circles for CatBase 4, its catalogue- and directory-publishing solution. Discalog is programmed from the same relational database system, 4D’s 4th Dimension.
Discalog catalogues the contents of any computer media, from floppies to complete hard disks, even across a network. In doing this, it captures information about every file, including file name, path, file size/type, and date created/last modified – plus user-creatable categories and keywords.
The categories side is particularly useful. For instance, you could select all text-based file-types and organize them into a documents category for cataloguing. The ensuing database files can be shared between the Mac and Windows machines.
The four main facilities are available from the floating palette: cataloguing, quick search, detailed search, and file-type detective. Cataloguing a volume requires a minimum of set-up, although one particular preference is crucial to the usefulness of Discalog – the option of indexing just a file name or a number of enclosing folders as keywords. Take the typical example of cataloguing a stock-photo CD library. Each image has a generic name along the lines of photo001, photo002 and so on, but lies within a set of carefully-named folders such as summer, winter and the like. Discalog can include such folder names as keywords to as many levels as you choose. While cataloguing a volume, the list of keywords is constructed to help with later searches.
With a catalogue containing a set of volumes, quick search comes into play. This simply looks for a file that has a certain keyword associated with it – rough-&-ready if you like. Detailed search takes this a step further, by allowing you to set precise criteria for keywords, file names and types, create and modify dates, and so on. This is similar to the Mac’s old Find File utility.
File detective, the floating palette’s final item, checks each volume for applications and lists their file creators. This allows you to use the creators as category types and to catalogue accordingly.
In terms of a pure database of files, Discalog is very powerful and includes file deduping, the ability to set-up and ignore small words from the keywords list, a reporting facility and online help. But there’s a serious downside: lack of user-friendliness. It uses a flat database-style, rather than the Mac hierarchical one.