DB/TextWorks Still A Popular Choice for Teaching in Schools

by Jonathan Jacobsen Saturday, October 28, 2017 7:44 AM

Inmagic DB/TextWorks continues to be a popular software application taught in schools. For example, the Library Technician programs at Langara College and the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C, as well as at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, each include it in some of their cases.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to students in the Library Technologies and Information Management class at Langara College. These budding library techs will learn to create a database for a class project using DB/TextWorks, hopefully with a bit of inspiration from the ideas I was able to share with them.

The image above shows screens from the Andornot Starter Kit, a ready-to-use DB/TextWorks database suitable for a small library.

Not all software has such longevity as DB/TextWorks, but I think this popular app endures because it remains unique in the market. For clients of ours with a modest budget who need to manage diverse kinds of information and don't have programming skills, it remains an excellent choice, once we heavily recommend to many clients.

We see it used in law firms to create and manage databases of experts, memos, precedents, boilerplate documents, corporate archives, and of course a traditional library catalogue. In hospitals, it's used to manage patient education materials, and libraries with a strong circulation component. Elsewhere, we see it used to manage museum artifact collections, archival documents, databases of digitized historic documents and audio-visual recordings. In municipalities, it manages bylaws, real estate development applications, council documents… the list is endless. 

There are many highly-specific database applications available, tailored to the needs of particular organizations (e.g. Inmagic Genie for specialized libraries, Lucidea's Argus for museums, etc.), but few tools that are as easy to use as DB/TextWorks that can be applied to managing any kind of information. Anyone can learn to create a database and snazzy search and edit screens and have a functional, aesthetically pleasing database in a very short time, with little technical aptitude needed. Managing this information is easy with the many built-in, pre-programmed features, such as validation lists, batch modifications, the URL checker, and so on.

Two other long-standing database programs are of course MS Access, included with almost every copy of the MS Office suite, and Apple's FileMaker. The former is practically free and so ubiquitous that many people use it out of necessity, while the latter is quite visually appealing and with many useful features. However, in our experience, both require a higher level of technical skills to really make useful. DB/TextWorks simply has more of the programming already done.

It's reasons like this that cause it to still be an excellent choice in many cases, when budgets and user skills are modest, and thus is well-worthwhile learning to use in a library technician or similar programm. Paired with a search interface like our Andornot Discovery Interface, VuFind, Omeka, or Inmagic Presto, it becomes a perfect back-end to a highly functional front-end, a great combination for managing and searching information.

Contact us to learn more about any of the above, or if you're a school or student and would like a trial version of DB/TextWorks to use.

BC Teachers' Federation Launches TeachBC Resource Sharing Site

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, December 02, 2014 3:04 PM

The B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) has launched a new website to enable BC teachers to share resources relevant to the K-12 BC curriculum. Called TeachBC, the site allows teachers to search for lesson plans, activities and other material, as well as upload their own teaching resources and research to share with their colleagues. 

TeachBC is publicly accessible at https://teachbc.bctf.ca and is in the early development stage. It is anticipated that this will grow quickly as BC teachers realize the value of the site as a one stop resource for quality classroom teaching resources.

Andornot developed this new site with the BCTF using a couple of our most popular technologies.

1. A pair of Inmagic DB/TextWorks databases are used as the initial data store for resource submissions. 

DB/TextWorks was selected as it's already in use and familiar to BCTF staff, and provides a quick and easy way of reviewing, editing and approving submissions.

2. The Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI) powers the web search interface. 

Features such as spelling corrections, relevancy-ranked results and facets to refine a search help users find relevant resources quickly. 

Teachers can search by keyword, then narrow the results by grade, subject and resource type. A recommendation system allows teachers to mark resources they find most useful, and they can also easily Share them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Download counts are also tracked to provide another indicator of popularity.

Teachers can create an account on the site and there is an online submission form which feeds into DB/TextWorks to submit resources for review by BCTF staff before they are available for viewing publicly.

Contact Andornot for more information on developing a search interface for your unique collections.

St. Andrew’s College Photographs, Yearbooks and Alumni Magazines Online

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, May 28, 2012 2:10 PM

St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario recently asked Andornot to help upgrade the presentation of its online archival collections. The collection includes digitized photographs, school yearbooks and alumni magazines dating back to the school’s first years in the 1900s. The upgraded site provides alumni and others with a fascinating journey through the school’s history. Alumni may now browse and search very easily for memories of their time at SAC.

SACAndornot upgraded the SAC archives’ DB/TextWorks database to the latest version of our Archives Starter Kit, upgrading the desktop forms and query screens as well as the web application. Some highlights of the new website include:

  • Social bookmarking and permalinks allow users to share records with friends via email, Facebook, Twitter and other online services.
  • Results may be viewed in a gallery-style grid layout or in a more traditional list, as well as sorted by relevance, title and date.
  • The website features the front cover image of yearbooks and alumni magazines; however, the full contents have been digitized and are hosted by the Internet Archive. Search results provide links to view content in various formats, including PDF and as an online flipbook. See, for example, this record: http://archives.sac.on.ca/permalink/925 and its View Online Flipbook link.
  • The photo commenting feature allows users to identify students and others in photographs. Users can circle individual people or faces in a photograph and provide the name or other comments for that person. Comments are emailed to the school archivist for review and to update records.
  • Thumbnails and enlarged images are generated dynamically from a single master image.
  • The selection list allows users to save or print the list, as well as to mark records of interest to email to themselves or to friends. In the future, users may be able to order reprints of photographs online.
  • The new website layout complements the school website for a seamless transition from one web application to another.

Andornot created many of the archival records from a data conversion: SAC had digitized thousands of photographs, all saved to DVD. Andornot took those image files, extracted identifying information such as name and dates, and used that information to create initial records. This saved considerable time compared with manual database entry for each record. The College archivist will enhance the records further with names and other identifying information, in part from comments received through the photo commenting feature.

Search the archives here.

Contact Andornot to learn about upgrading your school’s online archives or photograph collection to a similar level.

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