Was only a matter of time before I got some bits into the iOS store, I suppose, but much like most of the software I write, this is an app that I wanted for myself and I’m offering it to the public to share the wealth.
What is iMediaMan for iOS? It’s hard to answer that question without knowing what MediaMan for Windows is…
I’ve got a fairly vast collection of media. Books – hardcover, paperback, and various eBook formats – along with CD’s, DVD’s, and a whole slew of game media… I mean it’s pretty large. With over 300 books and a bunch of manga, I found myself struggling to remember what was in my library… this was especially true of manga that is in current publication. Also with authors that I generally like I find that I’m only missing one or two items from their collections but I never remember which ones they are… I often buy a duplicate of something I already own. John Grisham or Piers Anthony are great examples of this: they put out so many books, how in the hell can you keep up with it?
After searching the intertubes for an application that could handle all of my items, I found MediaMan for Windows. Looked pretty solid: graphical UI, downloaded box art, grabbed product information from online, and had a built in search engine. It also stored its data in one file, which allows Windows Live Mesh to make backups to various machines, and has support for UPC scanning via webcam or bar code reader; I picked up a hand-held scanner from NewEgg and used that for all of my importing – cut down my cataloging time considerably… Even had an export to web feature which I really needed for on the go searches. I mean it’s great to have all of this content stored locally on a PC, but when I’m in a bookstore and I want to know what I already have, I want that information on my phone.
And that started the challenges. I figured that I could drop my exported HTML files and pull those down on my iPhone. The problem there is that I wanted to be able to search for particular items… OK, I said – I’ll have Bing or Google crawl the pages I have up there and use them for searching. Good idea, but I couldn’t get either crawler to run. I think it’s because I don’t have a publicly visible home page and neither crawler took kindly to a URL that’s a level deep… then I figured I could just search on the complete list locally, but that was also out: while the iPad version of Safari has “find on this page” the iPhone version does not.
All that great content and no way to search it… and then I got to thinking about 3G and the lack of coverage I still seem to have… while I’m hoping this gets better with Verizon coming out for the iPhone (and taking some customers from AT&T) it’s just blind hope that things get better. Ultimately I decided that I wanted a client solution with a local data store.
I also pinged He Shiming who wrote MediaMan for the PC, to see if he had an SDK or something else to crack his file format open. He told me that the MMC file that MediaMan uses for a “library” is a SQLite file. Imagine my happy dance when I found out that iOS has a built in library for SQLite!
Anyway, props out to He for writing MediaMan – it’s a great application that has helped me get a handle on my book/music/movie/game collection and nudged me to get some coding done over the last week or two.
What does iMediaMan do? I’ll have another post on that, once it gets through the App Store approval process… for the first time through I expect a bug report and some “WTF?” from the certification team.