Software

Five free cataloging applications

Finding software that you can use as a cataloging tool isn't easy, but with a little creativity and a lot of searching, free apps can be found.

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We all have reasons to catalog various items. Whether you have a small business with an inventory you need to keep track of or if you have an overwhelmingly large collection of software or book - there is a need for cataloging. Here's the thing, finding free software suited for this task isn't easy. But with a little creativity and a lot of searching, you can dig up at least five such tools.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Take a look at these five different pieces of software - each of which should serve your cataloging needs well. Although some offer more features than others; in the end, they'll all get the job done. So, let's dig in and find out which, if any, of these free tools will be the perfect match for your needs.

Five Apps

1. Datacrow

Datacrow is often listed as one of the best in breeds for this category - and with good reason. With Datacrow you can catalog movie, video, books, images, games, software, music, and more. Other features include: Create your own collection module, manage what you've loaned out, connect with online services (such as imdb.com, bol.com, and more), make use of reporting tools, file information importing and more. Datacrow is a cross-platform application (Windows, Mac, Linux) that is written in Java (which to some could be a deal breaker). So, in order to get Datacrow to work, you will need a JRE installed on the machine. One thing to like about the project is that the developer, Robert Jan van der Waals, has made the source code very readily available on his site and has invited users to make feature requests and report bugs.

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2. SoftCAT Free

SoftCAT Free is a very powerful cataloging tool with tons of features. With this tool you can enjoy: Comprehensive data fields, custom data fields, personal notes, include up to nine screen shots per program, customize to fit your needs, built-in explorer, powerful search tool, search and replace, five data sort levels, create reports, archive reports, analyze collections, and more. SoftCAT offers two versions: A free version and a full version. The differences between the free and the full versions are simple; the free version does not include the features: Auto catalog, form designer, report designer, and export.

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3. inFlow Free

inFlow Free is an inventory application best suited for small businesses with a small inventory of products. The main limitations of the free version are: One hundred product/customer limitation, up to fifteen reports, multi-user mode is read only, forum support only. Outside of those limitations, inFlow offers features like: Product lists, barcode support, multiple units of measurement, multiple locations, movement history, one-click workflow or advanced workflow, reorder stock, product cost tracking, print/email purchase order, and much more. If you can live with the limitations of the free version, this application is very powerful and easy to use. If, however, the limitations take this application outside the realm of the useful, the regular version is only $299.00 per license. There is also a Premium edition ($499.00) that includes Bill of materials and work orders, customized documents, count sheets, and more.

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4. Zotero

Zotero is a cross-platform tool geared specifically for cataloging your research. Think of it as your personal research assistant, where you can: Store anything, cite, sync, and collaborate. With Zotero you no longer have to worry about keeping track of folders. Instead, Zotero organizes your research into collections - similar to a music player playlist. Research items can be added to multiple named collections and sub-collections. And searching is made simple with a power tagging system. With the citing system you can create: footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, or bibliographies. The sync system allows you to sync your research across as many devices as you need. Finally, you can create groups and invite users to your groups to aid in collaboration with your research. Zotero comes in a stand-alone desktop tool or a Firefox, Chrome, or Safari extension.

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5. LibreOffice Base

LibreOffice Base is obviously not a cataloging software; but, with a little creativity, you can quickly create a database specifically for what you need to catalog. Using the Form Designer wizard, you will even have a user-friendly form that will allow you to enter data for your collections. What's best about using this method is that you can then make use of the database for other tools - so you're not limiting your collection data to one, isolated tool. The only caveat to using LibreOffice Base is that you have to have, at least, a cursory understanding of how databases work. No, you do not need to be a DB Admin, but you'll at least want to know what databases are and how to create them (with the help of the easy-to-use wizards).

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Bottom line

If you're looking to catalog just about anything, there are tools out there waiting to be used. With a bit of digging, you can find just what you need. Or, if you don't feel like searching, you can give one of these tools a try. Each of these offerings has something unique, and some are much more powerful than others - but each of them will handle the task.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
Davemoore9
Davemoore9

My girlfriends Father passed away and I'm looking for software that will allow me to catalog his estate with a photo and a value, will any of these work? Please advise, thank you.

inflowinventory
inflowinventory

Thanks for mentioning inFlow, Jack, it's always appreciated! Maybe one day we'll get inFlow on Linux for you! :)

I guess it depends on one's definition of small, but inFlow can handle 10 000+ products on a regular PC. More details here: http://www.inflowinventory.com/software-features.aspx

And, although we say there's only forum support for free users, everyone is welcomed to get in touch with us via support@inflowinventory.com. We also have live chat and phone support available here: http://www.inflowinventory.com/software-contact-info.aspx

If you're curious to find out if inFlow is a good fit for your business, feel free to get in touch with me direct via matt@inflowinventory.com or call 1·866·923·4974 x 711.

Cheers,

-Matt

Tardx
Tardx

What functionality is offered by these apps that is different from Evernote on the one hand or MS Access on the other?

RichardBlissett@Hotmail.com
RichardBlissett@Hotmail.com

Can any of these apps work with an online CMS like wordpress?  I need to incorporate a cataloging function into a wordpress site to catalog some research. 

lwetzel
lwetzel

Tried a couple of these (SoftCat and DataCrow) WAS NOT IMPRESSED!

glnz
glnz

By the way, it has become very difficult to access all the features of TechRepublic's articles or to log in to see or post comments.  In order to do anything, like post this comment, I have to permit ALL scripts to run in my browser (Firefox) by repeatedly hitting "Temporarily Allow All" in my NoScript.  That's very bad form on the part of TR.

I certainly like these articles from TechRepublic, but a tech-oriented publication should be more savvy about security and less greedy to shove every ad-related and tracking-related service in our faces, especially if we have gone to the trouble of being careful web surfers and keeping things safe.  Bad show.  Please forward this comment to the powers at TechRepubli, since there's no "Contact Us" at the bottom of this page and the "Site Help and Feedback" page doesn't work..

glnz
glnz

Can any of these used as a document management system (DMS) across a small  network, like Worldox?  

I'm looking for a free DMS that can be accessed across computers in a small network.  Would have these features:

Each document is filed with title, client number (and name), matter number (and name), author number (and name) and other fields.  There can be versions in a document number, like 10876534.2, which would  be version 2 of 10876534.  It can hook into Word, Excel or other applications, including either Track Changes or something else to make redlines showing changes between two versions or two documents.  Can show each document's history.  You can email a document directly from the DMS window.

Is there any such thing?  Thanks.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Do you need to catalog something for your business? What software do you use? Can you recommend a specific title?

inflowinventory
inflowinventory

@Tardx Great question

If depends on what you're cataloging I suppose. If you're just trying to catalog personal items then a static list might suffice. However, if you're running a business, you probably want something a little more dynamic.

For example, with Access or Evernote, inventory is not automatically updated every time you buy or sell an item. 

Additionally, there is no way to automatically reorder stock, and there is no concrete way to know when stock needs to be reordered unless the spreadsheet / Evernote list is kept constantly and fully up to date. 

Inventory software like inFlow can also generate purchase orders, sales orders, invoices and other business documents in a click . You can generate reports to get information instantly without having to dig through spreadsheet or make formulas yourself. 

Then there's barcode integration, managing a movement history, multiple locations, multi-user mode and much more. 

You can use inFlow for free at www.inflowinventory.com - let me know how you think it compares to Evernote or Access. :) 

Cheers,

-Matt



inflowinventory
inflowinventory

@RichardBlissett@Hotmail.com I use www.trello.com to save links and make notes on specific research. Although it's more of a "to-do" app, you can use it to catalog anything.  Other cool apps include www.asana.com and www.workflowy.com.