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Software for cataloging (PDF) newspaper articles?

by zenkovic / October 18, 2012 7:00 PM PDT

Does anyone know of software for cataloging PDFs -- specifically, newspaper and magazine articles? (Though flexible enough to catalog other things, like receipts, recipes, etc. as well.)

I have two main requirements:

1) I need to have tagging/virtual folder functionality so that I can categorize any one article under multiple topics.

2) The solution needs to be network-savvy -- I need to be able to sync my database between multiple PCs (I have a desktop and two laptops). It could be a cloud-based solution.

I have about 5,000 articles and I add it to every day. Until recently, I had been using a very primitive but flexible system -- Windows Explorer itself. I threw all the articles into one folder. Then, I had a "catalog" folder which contained subfolders for whatever topics I wanted -- politics, sports, culture, etc. For each topic that applied, I simply dropped a Windows shortcut to the article into the corresponding subfolder.

This satisfied both my requirements above, since this whole folder structure could be synchronized between PCs (I use GoodSync). The problem is that Windows shortcuts use absolute paths. This is okay if my filesystems are perfectly mirrored across my PCs. But recently, to boost performance on my desktop, I put in a 256-gb SSD to hold Windows and applications, while my 1-tb 7200-rpm drive holds all the data. So now these PDFs are on the "D:" drive instead of the "C:" drive, and this whole system is broken.

I suppose I could fake the directory structures somehow so that this could continue to work, but this whole thing was rather inelegant to begin with and I'm wondering if there's something better.

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All Answers

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Re: cataloging
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 18, 2012 7:32 PM PDT

I would do a google search fro OPEN SOURCE DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT and see what you get.

In essence, document management systems are a database (so it contains pointers to the files) with the option to add metadata to the documents (like: author, subjects, date, size, category) and search for documents based on that meta data (and on the contents also, with some luck). So you can ask it questions like "Give me all recipes that need goat milk" (category, content) or "Give me all articles from the NYT or the Washington Post from 2006 to 2007 about Barack Obama" (category, source, date, content).

Now find a cloud based service that does that and and upload all your documents to it. Then you will be able to access your data from all over the world.
If that's to much you need a server based solution at home. That is, the program runs on one of your PC's (the server) and can be accessed via your home network. Since getting to the data is just a click on the link on the screen in the application program you won't see and use any drive letters.

As a starter: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/sharepoint-online.aspx

Just a note after reading the umptiest story about people losing their data due to hardware failures: be sure you have a good backup of your current solution (that is, both the pdf's and all those folders with shortcuts).


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Re: open source document management search
by zenkovic / October 19, 2012 2:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: cataloging

Thanks. This produced some interesting returns -- I had been searching on "cataloging software" before, which returned far fewer results. I did add "personal" to the search to get rid of the enterprise system results. Still haven't found something right on-target, but I'll continue looking.

I have a tidy little network at home, but rather than have one PC act as a file server, I mirror the entire filesystem across all three of my PCs and keep them synchronized. (It's just me at home, so sync'ing is no big deal.) At home I do almost everything on my desktop, but at work everything is done on the work laptop, which I then synchronize with the desktop as soon as I return from work. ... A side benefit of this is that the laptops effectively act as backups for the desktop, and vice-versa.

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long after the fact but...
by zenkovic / November 6, 2012 11:09 AM PST

For posterity, and on the 0.5% chance that someone has a similar issue ...

I initially used Zotero to solve my problem, but while it is okay, I missed the ability to be able to open files directly from my "catalog" folders. To get around the absolute path problem I discovered NTFS symbolic links, which allow me to specify relative paths. These are created with the "mklink" command.

Unfortunately there's no GUI for mklink in Windows Explorer, so I've had to re-acquaint myself with cmd and its primitive copying/pasting tools. I hear there is a simple GUI wrapper for mklink out there, but I don't think it allows you to create links with relative paths.

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