Data Crow - this program does everything, but is it a victim of trying too hard?

First released in 2003, Data Crow has grown over the years to become one of the most popular cataloguing software tools around. Released under the GPL and based on Sun's Java, it offers features entirely unheard of in similar tools.

It can generate reports, retrieve data from the internet to help you quickly catalogue your collection and provides loads of handy wizards to guide you through pretty much everything, be that adding new items or editing its built-in modules.

Data crow

Not only that, but it can draw charts to help you graphically represent the make up of your collections and you can change its appearance to suit your desktop with its many different themes.

Also on offer are extensive search and filtering options and a clever interface. But perhaps it's too clever for its own good.

While striving to be the top tool for cataloguing data, Data Crow has become quite a complex beast. At least Data Crow requires no installation. Once you've extracted the files from datacrow_3_4_12_zipped. zip, all you need to do to launch it is run

java -jar datacrow.jar

When you run Data Crow for the first time, you'll be asked if you're a Beginner or an Expert user. Don't worry too much about this choice: you can change your status from the Experience Menu at any time.

The difference between the two is that beginners can't create new custom modules or edit the built-in modules, such as Books, Music, Films and so on. Surprisingly, there's no built-in module for comic books, though – a staple for many collection managers.

Internet magic

From here on in, it's a case of building up your collections, and for this you can enlist the help of one of Data Crow's many handy wizards. Just enter some keywords or type in the ISBN number for a book and Data Crow will check online to find appropriate matches. Only when nothing is found will you have to resort to typing in data manually.

Data Crow can extract data directly from your music discs too, which makes cataloguing a music collection much simpler.

Pleasingly, it can also create charts for each of your collections based on one of the data fields and keep track of what you've loaned. To do the latter, you'll need to enter your friend's details into the Contact Person collection, but then you can use the loan management feature to track which items are on loan and to who.

Our major gripe is that there's no documentation on the project website and Data Crow only comes with a barely decent help function that you can access by clicking Help > Help. The lack of helpful tooltips was sorely missed throughout our time with Data Crow.

Verdict

Version: 3.4.12
Website: http://datacrow.net
Price: Free under GPL

Tries to do a little too much, which results in a complicated interface that could definitely use tooltips.

Rating: 8/10