Exclusive preview: Delicious Monster's Delicious Library 2.0

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Back in 2004, shortly before the release of Mac OS X Tiger, Delicious Library 1.0 arrived as a slick looking inventory cataloging application designed to manage listings of books, videos, albums and other media. This year, Delicious Library 2.0, currently in beta and scheduled for a March release, will deliver a major update by taking full advantage of features in the new Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Here's an exclusive preview.



First Rate Third Party Software



When Apple first released Mac OS X at the beginning of the decade, the biggest challenge it faced was finding support from third party developers. Major software developers such as Adobe and Microsoft were slow to take full advantage of Mac OS X's features, initially only layering on native-looking widgets and using Apple's Carbon environment to reuse as much of their existing cross-platform legacy code as possible. This prevented the majors from really squeezing the most from Apple's new operating system.



The reluctance of the big developers to really use the new technology that Apple was building into Mac OS X left a big opportunity for small developers. Among those 'small batch' master crafting developers is Wil Shipley, who had earlier founded the Omni Group to develop software for NeXT systems. That background gave Shipley a head start in developing native applications for the new Mac OS X, which was largely based upon NeXT's forward looking frameworks and coding style.



After a decade at Omni, Shipley left to start Delicious Monster, with the goal of planting new projects to bloom into beautifully rare and delicately ornate products just like the company's namesake tropical plant. Delicious Monster's goal of delivering a native Mac software title with an innovative, intuitive, and attractive interface resulted in Delicious Library, which won several distinguished ratings including Apple Design Awards as the Best Mac OS X User Experience for 2005 and placement in the Best Product New to Mac OS X category that same year. At the most recent Apple Design Awards from WWDC 2007, it won as the Best Mac OS X Leopard Application, despite its not even being released as a product yet. What's all the fuss?







Deliciously Original



Delicious Library 2.0 revamps the application's interface to follow the design cues of iTunes 7, Apple's flagship app that acts as harbinger of the company's user interface directions. Like iTunes, DL2 drops its heavy Brushed Metal look to adopt Leopard's lithe new Unified appearance, which makes it feel more modern, lighter, and cleaner overall. DL2 looks like it could be part of iLife.



At the same time, the new version advances and introduces some innovative design ideas of its own. For example, the pull down sheet for configuring publishing options uses a compact but intuitive selection interface that needs no textual explanation fields (below left). Click on the green info inspector tag and the "publish to" item slides over to reveal specific configuration settings for that target (below right), which can be dismissed either by clicking on the close box or by clicking the inspector icon again.







Another original, but very Mac-like behavior of Delicious Library appears at its first installation. After downloading, the application is ready to run without an installation process. If launched directly from the Leopard downloads folder, the application is smart enough to suggest copying itself into the Applications folder and handles the task for the user (below). That's a smart trick that every application should copy.







The Importance of Being Earnestly Organized



As its name suggests, DL2 exists to organize your stuff into libraries. It automatically discovers songs, videos, and audiobooks from your iTunes library (and keeps this information in sync with any changes made within iTunes), but you can also add physical media such as CDs in standard jewel cases or paper cartons, DVDs, Blu-Ray, HD DVD, UMD, 7" and 10" vinyl, XBox, XBox 360, Wii, and Playstation 3 video games and other software titles, or even your gadget hardware, tools, toys, and apparel. Items from Library collections can be organized into Shelves. Shelves and Libraries can be presented graphically (below top), or as a flat item listing along with the desired attributes (below bottom).



Smart Shelves act just like other smart collections in Leopard-style apps, allowing you to view live search results for any rule set of library items, such as movies from the 80s from a particular genre with a given rating.











Items can be entered manually, by dragging in URLs from Amazon, or by importing data from other applications. The slickest way to populate your collection, however, is to use the application's bar code scanner integration with a webcam such as the iSight built into all modern Mac notebooks. Once a DVD or any other item is scanned, the program looks up the UPC code from Amazon and adds the item to your library along with all the metadata it can find, including cover art.



Library items presented on a graphical shelf smartly composite the plain album art from iTunes or Amazon onto a dimensional CD jewel case, DVD box, or book outline in a way that makes for an attractive rendering. Media titles are presented against a woodgrain bookcase shelf (below top), while gadgets (such as computers, smartphones, iPods, or other peripherals) are drawn against a metal rack (below middle), and tools are hung up against a perforated workshop board (below bottom).















A third pane presents more information on the selected item, including a synopsis from Amazon, user reviews from the web, and recommendation links for buying related items (as presented in the above graphics).



Right-clicking on a item (or clicking its gear action menu) brings up options to play the item (if it's media from iTunes), or to buy or sell it on Amazon as a used item, in the case of a physical object. Recommending the item to a friend will create a simple HTML email with a link to Amazon to buy it, with an affiliate link for Delicious Monster.







Actions can also be initiated with the standard Apple Remote on Macs that support one. The remote can be used to browse the library and play items. Some items that lack a manually associated action URL will automatically play; iTunes songs or movies play from iTunes, while books will open a browser to Amazon's Look Inside site for the title.



You can also add Friends from your Address Book and check items out to them, using a return due date. Checked out items are tagged with an out flag and appear as ghostly outlines on your own library shelf (below), as well as being listed on your Friend's shelf. This makes it easy to track who has what, and send out the needed reminders to get your toys back.







On page 2 of 2: New in Two; Publish and Subscribe; Scan Lines; and Leopard-palooza.



New in Two



The new version sports a clean new look, which has evolved significantly during the development process. Early builds attempted to present metadata, star ratings, reviews, and other details in a Leopard iCal-style bubble that popped up for each item (below top). In the latest builds, the interface has been reworked to display related information in an adjustable third pane similar to Mail (below bottom). The overall interface looks a lot like FileMaker's new Bento personal database. That's no real surprise, as both take full advantage of Leopard features and follow the revised Human Interface Guidelines related to the latest release of Mac OS X.











Smart Money and Automation



DL2 also adds automatic currency conversion; it downloads the latest currency rates, and when the user performs a smart shelf that selects by value, or sorts a shelf by value, it correctly knows how a British Pound compares to a US Dollar and an Autralian Dollar or Euro and 21 other world's other currencies.



It also offers expanded support for AppleScript, supporting both read and write operations. It's also the first program ever to allow users to add scripts anywhere within DL2's menu system. That means a user could add an "Import from FileMaker" script which appears under "File->Import" in the main menu bar rather than only within the Script menu.



In addition to AppleScripts, shell scripts, workflows and applications can also be added to DL2's menus by adding them to the /Library/Scripts/Applications/Delicious Library 2 folder.



Publish and Subscribe



Users can publish their library shelves as a printed hard copy, as a portable Notes listing that can be uploaded to an iPod, or as webpages that can be saved to a local folder, uploaded to an FTP server, or published automatically to .Mac (using the interface described above). Library items can also be sent to iWeb to add the listings to customizable web pages. When generating an HTML listing, a translucent progress window pops up (below).







Once completed, the application presents a link to visit the new site. While still a work in progress, the generated web pages look pretty slick, with Ajax-style interactivity including artwork popups and a details section for each item (below). Leveraging .Mac makes publishing a public library effortless, although DL2 can also spit out pages to an FTP server or to a local folder for manual uploading to a web server.







Along with publishing conventional HTML web pages, DL2 also uploads a hidden, invisible binary file that can be read by DL2 directly. That means anyone who knows your published web URL can also browse your shared library within their own copy of DL2 instead of as web pages.



When contacts are added to the Friend shelf, DL2 automatically searches the web and find if they have published a Delicious Library of their own. It then lists their published web URLs on their friend tab; that link can be used to load their library automatically from wherever in the world for direct browsing in DL2.



DL2's library can also be shared via Bonjour to other local computers, just like shared albums in iPhoto or iTunes, allowing users to keep a central library viewed by other machines.



Library data can also be exported from the Pro version of DL2 in either comma or tab separated files, BibTeX format for use with Bookends, SYLK format for use in Excel, XML, and six of the most common bibliography formats.



Scan Lines



DL2 also features faster bar code scanning, which has always been a key feature of the application. Click the camera icon, and a translucent panel shows up with faux red laser lines and an outline target for your UPC code (below left). When the application grabs the barcode, it flashes an X-Ray representation of it onto the display with a beep (below right), then looks the product up online, and announces the product name out loud using Leopard's new Alex voice. If the item has already been added to your library, the voice tells you that too, and gives you the option to create a duplicate.







Once scanned, the barcode isn't presented anywhere in the interface, and there's no provision for printing barcodes to manage library items yet. DL2 does adds support for searching items by Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress numbers, and scanned books are assigned an ISBN, EAN, and Dewey Decimal number from Amazon's online database (below). Movies, video games, and software titles are listed by EAN.







The application's barcode scanning is cool enough that it would be great to see it offered as a general purpose service for other applications to use, along with a mechanism for printing barcode labels for items that get checked out. Perhaps Delicious Monster will also take advantage of the iPhone's upcoming SDK to offer barcode scanning on it as well. QR barcodes are already a required feature on Japanese smartphones, and popularly used to pull up information on barcoded products, as noted in the article Readers Write: the iPhone in Asia, iTunes OTA, and a CueCat?.



Leopard-palooza



DL2 adds enough other new Leopard-centric features to make the new version Leopard-only:

Creating a library loan adds an event to Leopard's Calendar Store, visible within iCal and other applications that use shared calendar data.Core Animation effects abound, adding slick and sometimes comical flourish to the user interface. Delete an item, and it doesn't just disappear, but explodes into burst of confetti.Items can be dragged to the Desktop to create double-clickable icons that open DL2, or present a Quick Look synopsis of the item with a touch of the spacebar.Library data is now stored in CoreData using SQL rather than a flat XML file, for much faster performance. It also uses roughly a quarter the disk space to store the same data.Leopard printing support includes extensible HTML-based templates and a new preview mode.

Delicious Library 2.0 should be available in March for $40, with a $20 upgrade offer for users of the existing version. Anyone who bought the existing version on or after December 1, 2007 will be able to upgrade for free.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 89
    gastroboygastroboy Posts: 530member
    I bought it because of its innovative functions and Mac good looks but it is pretty useless to anyone outside the USA.



    I am in Australia and it fails to recognise most of the barcodes because it relies on Amazon.com's which are for American products.



    I also found it quite difficult to get the distance right to the iMac's camera for reading the barcodes.



    So in theory DL could be great, but in practice useless.
  • Reply 2 of 89
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post


    I bought it because of its innovative functions and Mac good looks but it is pretty useless to anyone outside the USA.



    I am in Australia and it fails to recognise most of the barcodes because it relies on Amazon.com's which are for American products.



    I also found it quite difficult to get the distance right to the iMac's camera for reading the barcodes.



    So in theory DL could be great, but in practice useless.



    You mean the first version was in practice useless for you?



    I think you should wait for this version to come out before judging it.



    Also, yay! Finally a release date. Been waiting for this app for ages.
  • Reply 3 of 89
    cavallocavallo Posts: 57member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post


    I am in Australia and it fails to recognise most of the barcodes because it relies on Amazon.com's which are for American products.



    It's even pretty useless in the USA. I tried it out awhile ago. If you have older books, it never seems to find them. For books that predate ISBN, forget about it, obviously. I'd have to do huge amounts of manual entry, making the whole idea pointless.
  • Reply 4 of 89
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    Finally! I'm looking forward to the iTunes integration, gadget support and library export features.
  • Reply 5 of 89
    walshbjwalshbj Posts: 864member
    I can't believe Google (or maybe Amazon) hasn't bought these guys and made the product free. There's got to be serious value to having a barcode list of items individuals own.
  • Reply 6 of 89
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 548member
    Delicious Library may not be the most useful of applications, but it's really a lot of fun to use and to show off. DL has a real wow-factor! I think I got 2 or 3 people to switch to Macs showing them DL. Honest. It's that cool/fun.



    It seems to work better for DVDs than CDs. And I certainly don't blame DL for that.



    I've got lots of obscure 20th century and early music and it just can't find a lot of it. Another problem is that sometimes there are multiple entries for the same disk and it's a pain to import the second (or even third) entry to see if it's right. iTunes integration would be great, because I've actually taken the time to enter and/or correctly edit info for perhaps 500 or 600 CDs (over time) and that way I could import it into DL.



    It'll be interesting to see version 2.
  • Reply 7 of 89
    For years I'd been using collectorz.com Music Collector on PC. However, since their Mac version is quite lackluster and their PC version has now been upgraded so far that I'll have to purchase the app again (and they won't allow me to download the old version), I'm looking for something like DL. I'm really hoping that there will be some way for me to import my rather extensive (~1200 piece) CD catalog into DL so that I don't have to rescan / retype the info, particularly because a number of the discs I have a small enough releases that they don't have bar codes or info about them in the big public DBs.
  • Reply 8 of 89
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cavallo View Post


    It's even pretty useless in the USA. I tried it out awhile ago. If you have older books, it never seems to find them. For books that predate ISBN, forget about it, obviously. I'd have to do huge amounts of manual entry, making the whole idea pointless.



    I agree with you 100%. When I first got DL, I thought it was awesome, but after I started using the application a lot to inventory my collection, I found the application a real pain to use.



    The lookup feature was average at best (if your item isn't on Amazon.com, it can't find it). Attempting to scan bar codes with my MacBook was painfully slow. DL slowed to a crawl when you had a large library (~150 items).



    What I want to know is why is this application taking so long to come out....
  • Reply 9 of 89
    ajmasajmas Posts: 556member
    The limitation has been its dependence on Amazon and not allowing alternative look up sites to be used. I will have to see for myself if anything has changed in this regards with version 2.



    BTW nothing stops you from adding the data manually.
  • Reply 10 of 89
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Another underwhelmed non-US user here. I tried demos of the previous product a few times and have been following the 2.0 release avidly, but it's just not good enough to justify the purchase of it for me.



    Aside from using Amazon and not having any way to work with older books (easily 50%-60% of my collection), it's just not user-friendly enough for me. I usually get criticised for saying that as the "user-friendly" part is supposed to be it's main feature, but I find it's lack of configurability annoying. I don't particularly like the wooden bookshelves, but you can't change them. I don't give a ratatouille's rear-end about "rating" and "comments" and all that Amazon-related mental masturbation stuff. I don't want to turn my collections into sales revenue on eBay.



    The thing that attracts me (and still does) about this product is the astoundingly easy way in which one can quickly build a good multimedia database of ones book, movie, and gadget collections. it does a great job of that initially, but then falls down due to a focus on all that other junk. What it needs is a way to move forward when you find the first book that won't scan in. Now in version 2.0 there is still no way to even enter a manual ISBN, let alone an SBN. It doesn't link to anything other than Amazon, and it doesn't work with other databases so even if you find the information it still won't go into Delicious other than with some tedious manual entry.



    Finally, even if you *could* get all your data in the thing, what are you going to do with it? It seems like it will publish to .Mac, but only as a webpage? Why the heck would I want a webpage to show off all my tedious junk to everyone? What would be *useful* is if it published to a simple, small archive on .Mac with a web interface for searching and printing. Then when your house burns down (and your computer with it), you have the info safely archived for the insurance company on the web. Instead we get "MySpace" for media collections. It would also be useful if it imported and exported to the number one Mac database, ie. FileMaker.
  • Reply 11 of 89
    dm666dm666 Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post


    I agree with you 100%. When I first got DL, I thought it was awesome, but after I started using the application a lot to inventory my collection, I found the application a real pain to use.



    Wil Shipley admits that libraries over 1000 entries (any realistic, real-world sizes) were very sluggish, as DL1 used a text-based XML file as a database... Sllllooooowwwww.....



    Quote:

    The lookup feature was average at best (if your item isn't on Amazon.com, it can't find it). Attempting to scan bar codes with my MacBook was painfully slow. DL slowed to a crawl when you had a large library (~150 items).



    Depending on the computer, any "larger" library could be very slow to work with, due to the text file based database.



    Quote:

    What I want to know is why is this application taking so long to come out....



    Leopard was announced a couple of years ago. People don't realize how drastically different 10.5 is from preceding OS X releases, especially features that don't ever get mentioned at keynote addresses or in marketing promos.



    Wil and crew decided to use Core Data as the database engine for DL2. Because Apple delayed Leopard, due in part to the iPhone, and because there were significant bugs in Core Data and other important Leopard features, they had to wait until all of these issues were resolved. Most were resolved at the release of Leopard, some weren't until later updates. Simply put, Apple's handling of Leopard development, and the builds made available to developers, was a cluster-fuck...



    Less important reasons for the long development times could be a fanatical obsession with getting all the details correct. I would argue that sometimes this can lead to a tunnel-visioned approach that necessarily keeps a developer from being responsive to the customers and from seeing the bigger picture, in terms of new features.



    I would like to see DL2 incorporate two changes (that haven't been mentioned): support for scanning the ISBN codes printed on older book covers (in some sort of OCR type font), and support for looking up book data in the Library of Congress database. This, and probably a few other important features not yet present, is more important to me (and likely most other users) than using Core Animation, etc.



    Sometimes, it seems that Wil and crew are more interested in demonstrating Apple's cool technologies, rather than being timely in their development schedule (or feature implementation) and responsive to customers. Certainly, the Leopard schedule and its severe buggyness throughout really hurt a lot of developers. Also, it doesn't seem that Wil (maybe not his "crew") isn't driven by any sort of financial motivation, meaning that he's probably very well off, which could possibly explain some of the perceived lackadaisical behavior on his/their part... he seems to be more interested in getting the newest model of Lotus sportscar than having to worry about paying bills (if true, it's a nice place to be, no doubt — having a good life outside of work certainly is good, something which would be good if more Americans realized this and acted accordingly)...
  • Reply 12 of 89
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dm666 View Post


    Wil Shipley admits that libraries over 1000 entries (any realistic, real-world sizes) were very sluggish, as DL1 used a text-based XML file as a database... Sllllooooowwwww.....







    Depending on the computer, any "larger" library could be very slow to work with, due to the text file based database.





    Leopard was announced a couple of years ago. People don't realize how drastically different 10.5 from preceding OS X releases, especially features that don't ever get mentioned at keynote addresses or in marketing promos.



    Wil and crew decided to use Core Data as the database engine for DL2. Because Apple delayed Leopard, due in part to the iPhone, and because there were significant bugs in Core Data and other important Leopard features, they had to wait until all of these issues were resolved. Most were resolved at the release of Leopard, some weren't until later updates. Simply put, Apple's handling of Leopard development, and the builds made available to developers, was a cluster-fuck...



    Less important reasons for the long development times could be a fanatical obsession with getting all the details correct. I would argue that sometimes this can lead to a tunnel-visioned approach that necessarily keeps a developer from being responsive to the customers and from seeing the bigger picture, in terms of new features.



    I would like to see DL2 incorporate two changes (that haven't been mentioned): support for scanning the ISBN codes printed on older book covers (in some sort of OCR type font), and support for looking up book data in the Library of Congress database. This, and probably a few other important features not yet present, is more important to me (and likely most other users) than using Core Animation, etc.



    Sometimes, it seems that Wil and crew are more interested in demonstrating Apple's cool technologies, rather than being timely in their development schedule (or feature implementation) and responsive to customers. Certainly, the Leopard schedule and its severe buggyness throughout really hurt a lot of developers. Also, it doesn't seem that Wil (maybe not his "crew") isn't driven by any sort of financial motivation, meaning that he's probably very well off, which could possibly explain some of the perceived lackadaisical behavior on his/their part... he seems to be more interested in getting the newest model of Lotus sportscar than having to worry about paying bills (if true, it's a nice place to be, no doubt ? having a good life outside of work certainly is good, something which would be good if more Americans realized)...



    Bottom line for DL is this. Many users purchased DL 1.x thinking this is a very cool and useful application. It wasn't. Not by a long shot.



    If DL 2.0 doesn't fix the outstanding issues of 1.x, the product won't sell well.
  • Reply 13 of 89
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Null.
  • Reply 14 of 89
    dm666dm666 Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post


    Bottom line for DL is this. Many users purchased DL 1.x thinking this is a very cool and useful application. It wasn't. Not by a long shot.



    If DL 2.0 doesn't fix the outstanding issues of 1.x, the product won't sell well.



    I agree completely.



    Wil gave a talk about marketing and did a demo of DL2 (at the recent C4 conference). The screencast is available. DL2 is hugely more responsive than DL1. Note that the demo didn't really show the interface much, at all. The screenshots provided in the original AI post shows much more...



    Like I mentioned, I think there are some big holes still in DL's feature set. These aren't cool interface animations... we're talking "boring" features... This is a data management application, after all, not just an excuse to use Core Animation and a cool smoke "poof" effect...



    Also, Wil may actually read some of these comments. He picks a selective few Web sites (according to his C4 talk) to release this kind of "pre-release info"... So, offer your suggestions...
  • Reply 15 of 89
    I'm a 45 year-old gadget freak, OS X network administrator.



    DM looks really cool and all, but the reason I mention my age, is that I just can't picture myself running around my house and scanning barcodes of objects I own ... in order to look at them listed on a computer screen.



    I have an iTunes library of 25K tracks, and I already feel like I've spent too much time cataloging instead of just listening and enjoying ...



    Does anyone else out there, get where I'm coming from?!



    Jon
  • Reply 16 of 89
    I would love to hear what people actually catalogue. This seems to be one of those applications that I think is really cool and I want to find a use for. For me at least: a solution in search of a problem and I really want to find that problem.
  • Reply 17 of 89
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    This is a very aspirational application. Unfortunately I know myself too well to be fooled into thinking that buying another app will turn me in to mr organasize. It is all very neat and makes perfect sense in theory, but I have yet to meet anyone who organizes, compartmentalizes, alphabetizes and categorizes their personal possesions. If I did I'd probably run a mile. Who on earth needs to make an inventory of their own power tools? Freaky! So I'll soldier on, digging trough my various containers filled with tools, boxes of mixed size screws and bits of plumbing, or needlessly waste time fingering trough cd's (oh wait, I chucked those out years ago), books, bits of paper etc. I'll continue to curse my total inability to efficiently organize and look at Delicious Library and nod and think "That's the way to do it! That will fix my life". Then I'll snap out of it, face reality, curse out loud and wonder where the frk I put my keys. Again!. Sorry, that's just me and no amount of good advice and clever software will change me. Its a nice idea, though.
  • Reply 18 of 89
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Null.
  • Reply 19 of 89
    gastroboygastroboy Posts: 530member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mowenbrown View Post


    I would love to hear what people actually catalogue. This seems to be one of those applications that I think is really cool and I want to find a use for. For me at least: a solution in search of a problem and I really want to find that problem.



    Well I was hoping to manage my very large book, CD and DVD collection, to help locate them and stop my occasional duplication.



    As DL turned out to be impractical, I have resorted to a simple text database, which works best for the DVDs, not so well for the books and the CDs I handle in iTunes.



    I have still not found an all in one solution.



    Maybe DL3?
  • Reply 20 of 89
    danukdanuk Posts: 31member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zenwaves View Post


    I'm a 45 year-old gadget freak, OS X network administrator.



    DM looks really cool and all, but the reason I mention my age, is that I just can't picture myself running around my house and scanning barcodes of objects I own ... in order to look at them listed on a computer screen.



    I have an iTunes library of 25K tracks, and I already feel like I've spent too much time cataloging instead of just listening and enjoying ...



    Does anyone else out there, get where I'm coming from?!



    Jon



    Exactly.



    Can anyone explain what the point is of this application?



    You know, aside from looking nice and chronicalling your materialistic accumulations?\
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