8.0099 Private Replies Re: Databases and Notetaking (1/738)

Wed, 13 Jul 1994 22:03:55 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 8, No. 0099. Wednesday, 13 Jul 1994.

Date: Tue, 12 Jul 1994 11:23:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: Andrew Burday <andy@dep.philo.mcgill.ca>
Subject: Summary: Text Databases (long -- >700 lines)

Hello All.

A few weeks ago I posted a query about databases for notetaking and
bibliographical use. I received several direct replies, which are
summarized below. There were also several replies to the list, which
I have not summarized. I assume that anyone who sees this will
already have seen them.

I have done some minimal editing: removing headers, grouping together
responses that mentioned the same products, and removing some excess
text. Otherwise, what you see here are the responses I received. My
comments are in square brackets []. Messages are separated by lines
of hyphens.

I hope that this will be useful to others on Humanist. And thanks very
much to all who responded.

Andrew Burday


From: Nicholas Heer <heer@u.washington.edu>

I started keeping my notes on my computer last year. I had the
same problem you have now. I tried a database program (PCFile), but found
the fields much too confining. I needed a program that would receive any
electronic texts from the Internet and any texts that I scanned or typed
in. I also wanted to be able to write out any block of data and send it
to a colleague or student in an e-mail message or print it out on my
printer. I also wanted to be able to use Arabic in my notes.

After some searching I found a very easy solution. I use a simple
ascii word processor or editor like Video Display Editor (VDE) or PCWrite
(both of which are shareware programs) in combination with Vern Buerg's
List Plus, another shareware program. List lets you search for any word
or phrase in a particular file or in a number of files. In order to be
able to enter Arabic words and texts I got a copy of MS Arabic DOS, which
I use to Arabize PCWrite and List. With List Arabized I can search for
Arabic words and phrases. I can even send files containing Arabic in
e-mail messages to anyone who has a similar Arabization program.

Nicholas Heer

Nicholas Heer, Professor Emeritus
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, DH-20
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Internet: heer@u.washington.edu Telephone: 206-325-0852

From: Kristy Miller <millerks@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu>

I would try Filemaker Pro-it comes in windows format. you can set it up
for whatever fields you want as well as let you sort. The fields can be as
big or as little as you allow them to be.

Kristy Miller | This job is a test. If this had been a real job,
Belmont Mansion | I would have been entitled to promotions, raises
| and other monetary benefits. This is only a test.

[Here is some junk mail I received. I include it because it does describe the
product, which sounds quite nice, very carefully. Harry Hahne, if you're
reading this, I suggest that you not thank people for their interest in Library
Master until AFTER they've expressed interest in Library Master. No principled
point about commercial use of the Internet -- it's just obnoxious.]

From: Harry Hahne <hahne@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: LIBRARY MASTER Program Information

Thank you for your interest in the LIBRARY MASTER bibliographic and textual
database management system. Below you will find the information you requested
about the program.

If you are interested in receiving a demonstration disk, please send me an
email message with your address. The demonstration program will let you try
out the power of LIBRARY MASTER on a small database. You can also obtain the
demo via anonymous ftp from uwovax.uwo.ca. It is in the directory
\libsoft\lib_master and it is called libdemo2.zip.

There have been dozens of positive reviews of LIBRARY MASTER in the past
few years. One of the most thorough is in Database Magazine, October 1991.

An internet list is devoted to LIBRARY MASTER tips. The list address is:


To subscribe, send the following message to listserv@Acadvm1.Uottawa.Ca:

sub LibMastr your name

I hope LIBRARY MASTER will prove of great value to your work. I look
forward to hearing your response to the program.


Harry Hahne <hahne@epas.utoronto.ca>


Copyright (c) 1986-1993 by Harry Hahne

1. Program Description:

LIBRARY MASTER is a bibliographic and textual database management system
designed for anyone who needs to organize a large amount of textual
information. This includes professors, students, writers, librarians,
researchers, scientists, lawyers, ministers, public speakers and others.

LIBRARY MASTER makes it easy to keep track of thousands of books, periodical
articles, corporate documents, manuscripts and recordings. It allows you to
take research notes on these works in preparation for writing. The program
creates a properly formatted bibliography in any style.

Unlike most database programs, LIBRARY MASTER does not require you to know
how much information will go into a field when you create the database. All
fields are variable length and may contain up to 65000 characters. A
database may contain many different record types, each with different
fields. Hence a bibliographic database may include books, journal articles,
articles in books, theses, reports, audio recordings, video recordings,
computer programs, interviews and other types of materials.

Data entry is much like using a word processor. You can easily enter
accented Western European language characters. Data already entered can be
changed with the full screen editor.

In a bibliographic database, you can catalog entries by a list of subjects
for future access in a fraction of a second. Each book or article can also
be cataloged under the passages of literature it discusses. This is
especially useful for literary scholars studying the Bible, ancient
Christian or Jewish literature, classical writings, Shakespeare, etc. It is
also useful for ministers looking for material for a sermon on a passage of
the Bible. When you search for works treating passages in these books, any
reference that overlaps the desired passage will match.

With LIBRARY MASTER you can rapidly find the information you want based on
the contents in any field or combination of fields. B-tree indexes enable
you to search large databases in a fraction of a second.

The report generator of LIBRARY MASTER is very flexible in formatting
textual information. Without any programming, you can design a report that
formats each type of record in different ways and handles exceptions such as
empty fields. The report can be a text file containing the formatting codes
used by popular word processors.

LIBRARY MASTER automatically generates formatted bibliographies in the
styles required by numerous journals and manuals of style: American
Anthropologist, American Chemical Society, American Ethologist, American
Psychological Association, American Sociological Association, ANSI,
Biochemistry, Chicago (Type A and B), Council of Biology Editors,
Linguistic Society of America, Modern Language Association, Turabian,
Vancouver and many others. The program eliminates the tedious task of
remembering the exact punctuation required for various types of references.
For example, in a bibliography generated in Turabian Style, the title of a
journal article is automatically quoted and the title of a book is
automatically underlined. Bibliographies can be easily changed to another
style without any change to the information in the database.

Since the data structure can be custom designed, databases can be used for
many applications including catalogs of personal, organizational or school
libraries, research notes for papers and speeches, engineering project
notes, legal briefs, catalogs of holdings of a museum or archive, mailing
lists, collections of illustrations for sermons and speeches, personnel
records, customer sales records, product descriptions and inventories.

2. Hardware Required: IBM PC or compatible with 512K of memory, DOS 2.0
or higher and a hard disk or two 3.5 inch floppy disks. The local area
network version runs on Novell Netware and NetBIOS-compatible networks,
with DOS 3.3 or higher on the workstations.

3. Major Program Features:

*Flexible Data Structure

Variable length fields and records up to 65000 bytes in length.

Up to 50 different Record Types in one database. This is particularly
useful for bibliographic databases, which may have different Record
Types for books, journal articles, articles in books, theses, reports,
audio recordings, video recordings, etc.

Up to 65533 records per database.

A wide variety of Field Types including Text, Text with Paragraphs, Large
Integers, Small Integers, Name, Date, and Literature Reference (for
references to the Bible, classical literature, Shakespeare, etc.).

Fields can have special attributes such as unique, required, compressed,
list of entries, subfields and ignore leading articles in searches.

Data compression saves disk space on repetitious fields by automatically
using data compression tables.

Index up to 8 fields using B-tree indexes to speed up searches.

Easily change data structure even after data has been entered in a
database. Existing data is automatically converted to the new

Easily design databases for any type of information.

*Simple to Learn and Use

Select most commands from menus.

Word-processor-like editor simplifies data entry. Features include
extensive cursor movement and delete commands, word-wrap, scrolling,
block operations, search and replace, and underline, boldface,
italics, superscript and subscript.

Multilingual support for most Western European languages, with easy entry
of accented characters and proper sorting on these characters.

Keystroke macros allow redefinition of most keys and save time on
repetitious operations.

Pop-up table listing the contents of a field in all records simplifies
entering data, browsing or searching. Simply point to an entry and
press the "return" key to select it.

"Brief View" shows part of up to 20 records at one time to simplify

Extensive online help reduces learning time and serves as a reminder of
all commands and procedures.

*Rapid and Powerful Searches

B-Tree indexes may be used on selected fields for rapid searches.

Search whole, beginning or partial fields or all fields at once.

Search criteria may specify equals, not equals, greater, greater than or
equals, less than, less than or equals, and approximate (when unsure
about the exact spelling of a word).

Searches may optionally be lexical (ignore letter case and accents) and
ignore leading articles.

Search the whole database or part of a database found in another search.

Literature Reference fields and Date fields may be searched for a range
of references or dates. For example, Mt. 3:5-20 matches Mt. 3,
Mt. 3:9 and Mt 2-4. Jan 1980 matches 1980, 1979-1985 and Jan 3, 1980.

Search on any combination of fields using "and", "or" and "not" logical

Searches are automatically optimized to make use of indexes where

Find any record in a fraction of a second, even in a database with
tens of thousands of records.

Searches can run concurrently in the background while the user browses
through matching records.

Save search strategies to reuse later.

*Flexible Report Generation

Report generator has special capabilities particularly useful for lengthy
textual information.

Reports can produce continuous text with desired fields back to back and
automatic word wrap (for research notes, bibliographies, legal briefs,
product descriptions). Alternatively put fields in columns (for
tables, mailing lists, personnel records, filling in forms).

Even complex reports can be produced without programming.

Produce reports in the file formats used by many popular word processors,
including Word Perfect, WordStar, WordStar 2000, PC-Write, Nota Bene,
XYWrite, Microsoft Word (Rich Text Format) and Megawriter/Chiwriter.

Bibliographies are automatically formatted according to popular manuals
of writing style, such as University of Chicago (Type A and B),
American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association,
Vancouver, and Turabian. New Style Sheets are easily designed.

Bibliographies can be organized by subjects, authors, journals or any
other field. This is useful for creating subject bibliographies,
periodical indexes and book catalogs.

Flexible name formatting: convert first name to initials, use "et al."
when more than a maximum number of names, specify treatment of
suffixes such as "Jr." and "III".

Letter case conversion: capitalize all letters, beginning of field,
beginning of each word. Special capitalization may be used for
German, French and other languages with different capitalization
rules than English.

Sort on multiple fields, with ascending or descending sort order.
Sorting can be based on lexical order and ignore leading articles.
Sorting properly handles accented characters for multilingual text.

Character sort order is user definable, allowing the user to use special
characters sets with EGA, VGA or Hercules Plus video cards.

Customizable character output translation tables enable proper output of
accented characters with any printer or word processor.

Supports most printers, including HP Laserjet and Postscript laser

*Data Security

Databases damaged due to a power failure or a defective disk are
automatically repaired.

Optional passwords restrict access to databases and only allow desired
users to search databases or edit data.

*Data Can Be Imported From Any Source

Merge selected records from one database to another, even when the data
structures are different.

Import from dozens of online information services, CD-ROMs, online
library catalogs, other database programs, text files, and
word processor merge files.

Online services and CD-ROMs: DIALOG, MEDLINE, Current Contents on
Diskette, PsycLit, Sociofile, EPIC, ABI/Inform, Agricola,
Religious and Theological Abstracts and many more.

Online library catalogs: GEAC, NOTIS, MELVYL (University of
California), University of Toronto, and more. MARC record importing
and exporting is available at extra cost.

Database and Word Processor files: dBase, Procite, Endnote, Inmagic,
Notebook II, NB Citation, Word Perfect Merge Files and many more.

The import program can be adapted to handle user defined file formats.

*Network Compatible:

Maintain multiple-user databases with automatic record locking to insure
database integrity.

Multiple users can edit and search a database at once.

Each user can save personal default settings.

Flexible installation options adapt to public read-only databases,
personal databases in private subdirectories and shared databases for
workgroup projects.

Compatible with Novell Netware and NetBIOS-compatible local area network.

4. Typical Applications:

*Personal Bibliographic and Research Management

Students, professors and writers keep a bibliographic database for
researching theses, papers, journal articles, books and speeches.

Professors print up-to-date bibliographies for classes every term
without retyping them.

Students can search a professor's database or collective class database
and extract only references of personal interest.

Scholars can share research bibliographies on disk, saving typing time
and making cooperative research projects more productive.

Humanities professors and scholars in such fields as classics, biblical
studies, religious studies, languages and literature can use the
Literature Reference Field Type to keep track of articles that analyze
literary passages of interest.

Students, professors and writers manage notes for theses, term papers,
articles, books and speeches.

Scientists, engineers and researchers keep project records and quickly
find desired information.

Individuals can catalog a personal library or tape collection.

Organize information in paper file cabinets under multiple topics.


5. Purchasing information:

Retail Price: Educational: Student:

Single-User Version: $249.95 U.S. $199.95 U.S. $124.95 U.S.
$299.95 CDN. $239.95 CDN. $149.95 CDN.

Multiple-User Network Version:
5 Users $749.95 U.S. $599.95 U.S.
$899.95 CDN. $719.95 CDN.
10 Users $1374.95 U.S. $1099.95 U.S.
$1649.95 CDN. $1319.95 CDN.
20 Users $2499.95 U.S. $1999.95 U.S.
$2999.95 CDN. $2399.95 CDN.

Trial Version With Manual (Purchase price can be applied to full program
purchased within 60 days):
$34.95 U.S.
$39.95 CDN.

Shipping on full or trial versions:
$12 airmail shipment to U.S. or Canada.
$30 airmail shipment outside North America.

Demonstration Version: $5.00 (U.S./CDN.), including shipping.

Discounts are available for site licenses and multiple copy purchases.

For more information or to order the program, contact:

Balboa Software
5846 Yonge St., P.O. Box 69539
Willowdale, Ontario M2M 4K3

PHONE: (416) 730-8980 FAX: (416) 730-9715
Internet: hahne@epas.utoronto.ca

From: BESTONE@utxvms.cc.utexas.edu


I use a program for Windows called Buttonfile, made by Buttonware, Inc.,
in Bellevue, Washington. I found it by accident in a software shop, and
I haven't heard of anyone else who uses it. It does exactly what you're
talking about. It simulates notecards, which you can set up with any
fields you want. I have a template for my research notes, set up with
fields for a full citation as well as a virtually infinite space on each
card for notes. It also allows you to create an index line at the top of
each card with headings by topic, subtopic, whatever, and it can sort by
any of these fields. It can search the entire "deck" for any keyword or
combination of keywords (which makes locating that vaguely remembered
quote incredibly easy), and since it's Windows-compatible, you can
cut and paste text directly from Buttonfile into any Windows word processor.
There's only been one release as far as I know, and it's a bit primitive
in several ways. The text editor, for example, is pretty weak. Can't do
underlining or boldface, and it's kind of hard to maneuver the cursor through
the text space. For the most part, though, it's been an invaluable tool. I
have it set up on my laptop, and I just sit in the library and take notes
directly into it, notes which I can later transfer directly into the body
of a paper without having to retype them. It's pretty cool.
It also prints "reports" based on the information on the cards. I've
set up a report format that can print all the cards I've created that don't
have anything in the notes section, that is the cards that contain citations
I haven't had a chance to look up yet in the library. That way it prints me
up a sheet of the books I still have to look for. Pretty convenient.
ButtonWare's address is P.O. Box 96058, Bellevue, Washington, 98009.
PHone (206) 454-0479. Hope this helps.

Bryan Stone
American Studies

From: SIVAV@utxvms.cc.utexas.edu

Grab a copy of BUTTONFILE.

It simulates an index card and stacks and searches for strings
of text or files by date, etc.

You must have windows for this.

be careful taking notes.

you might get carpal tunnel syndrome like me.

Siva Vaidhyanathan

From: "Harold J. Cook" <HJCOOK@macc.wisc.edu>

One of my colleagues has had trouble with the stability of AskSam. I've used
Notebuilder, which has both DOS and Windows versions, for rseveral years, and
have been quite pleased. It is simple, sturdy, and flexible, with almost
infinite space in fields for text but set up such a way as to generate biblio's
and footnotes easily. From ProTem (in CA somewhere: sorry, I don't have the
info. handy).

[Which is the troublesome version of AskSam, I asked]

MY colleague is using the Windows version, not entirely happily.

Harold J. Cook, Dept. History of Medicine, UW.-Madison
(hjcook@macc.wisc.edu / hjcook@wiscmacc.bitnet)

[The next message mentioned Notebook, also from ProTem. It turns out
that these are two names for the same package.]

From: vieira@garnet.berkeley.edu

I was in a hurry when I wrote my note about NoteBookII--it is a great program
which handles all my needs for my dissertation. The full address of the
company: Pro/Tem Software, Inc., 3790 El Camino Real, Suite 389, Palo Alto
CA 94306. Their latest product is called NoteBuilder and makes our
work even easier. If you have more specific questions about these products
feel free to write. =Bob+

From: "Ronald Tetreault English/Dalhousie Univ." <TETRO@ac.dal.ca>

I've been interested in locating software for note-taking such as you describe
for a long time now. I've been using a primitive version of DB-one, and would
like to upgrade.

Some products I know of are: LIBRARY from the University of Toronto; NOTEBOOK
which is supposed to run under Dos; and IBID, which is supposed to be a
feature of the word-processor NOTABENE. I have very little experience with
these, so cannot make a recommendation. But let me know what you finally
decide to use; there must be new products that do exactly what we want.

--Ron T.

Ronald Tetreault Halifax, Nova Scotia
Department of English B3H 3J5 CANADA
Dalhousie University tel: (902) 494-3488

e-mail: tetro@ac.dal.ca "learning by the sea"

From: "Mr A.P. Berber Sardinha" <tony1@liverpool.ac.uk>

I think your question is one frequently asked and everyone
on the list should profit a lot if you could submit a summary
of the replies you get.

My contribution is this:

1 Papyrus. It's a DOS program that is used for storing bibliographical
notes and __generating__ bibliographies. The automatic generation
of bibliographies becomes very important at some stage when you
make references to the same works in different papers and submit
to journals which have different formatting rules.

2 MS-Works, etc. These Windows programs are for storing
any kind of information. They are very easy to use
and Windows makes transfer of data from the data files to word-
processor documents quite easy too. (Sorry I forgot the names
of other similar programs: is it Paradox?)

3 BibTeX. This is a less friendly package for keeping bibliographical
data but it's very useful when you are on UNIX (not your case now,
but it may be in the future).

So, perhaps the best thing would be to use something like MsWorks,
which is easy to learn, it's got the Wizards options which teaches
you instantly, it's compatible with MsWord, WordPerfect, etc, it
won't clutter your hard-disk with countless files, you can
do everything through the mouse, and, importantly, it's __cheap__.
Of course it has limitations, especially maximum length of each field (250
characters, which won't do for long notes or summaries), which
seems a constraint in your case.

Hope this helps!



Tony Berber Sardinha | tony1@liverpool.ac.uk
AELSU | Fax 44-51-794-2739
University of Liverpool |
PO Box 147 |
Liverpool L69 3BX |
UK |

From: Cheryl Malone <malone@uts.cc.utexas.edu>

You may want to look in to Pro-Cite, a bibliographic
database management system available from PBS in
Ann Arbor.
Pro-Cite has various forms (book, journal article,
proceedings, archives, etc) that you call up on screen
and plug in the bibliographic citation, plus notes, an
abstract (up to 16 pages of text, I think), and indexing
terms. It offers powerful boolean searching, various sortings
of the records, and authority files that make it possible to
use function keys to automatically insert journal names, author
names, and so on consistently, without typos. And, it interfaces
with Word and/or Wordperfect documents and will print out your endnotes
or bibliography in the style of the journal you're submitting
to--automatically converting to MLA or Chicago, for instance.
All this for a couple of hundred bucks.
I don't think PBS has a Windows version yet. It might be worth a
call, though.
Good luck.
Cheryl Malone
U of Texas at Austin
(I am in no way affiliated with PBS--just a satisfied customer. If you
decide to get it, there is a Pro-Cite electronic discussion group...)

From: Lia Michelle Hotchkiss <eahg126@orion.oac.uci.edu>


Dear Andy,

I've been happy with a program called Pro-Cite for taking notes. It has
several fields for detailed bibliographic information and fields for an
abstract of the piece and then your notes, of which you can take several
pages. Because it is designed to produce bibliographies, it groups
records in a bibliography file you define, but you can perform keyword
searches and selectively print entries. The software is produced by a
company in Ann Arbor, MI called Personal Bibliographic Software, Inc.
P.O. Box 4250, zip code 48106, phone (313) 996-1580, FAX (313) 996-4672.
In the past they sent out free samples upon request.

I would be interested in hearing about the other options people suggest.


Lia Hotchkiss



INFO-SELECT is classified as a Personal Information Manager. It is really
a manager of random information and can be bought at most software discounters
for under $100. It does the job you want quite well.

From: Michael Ossar <MLO@KSUVM.KSU.EDU>

A programd that does exactly what you want, and works with a super word
processor to boot, is Orbis. The word processor is Nota Bene. The two work
together seamlessly. Orbis will index whole disks worth of files in a few
minutes and them dynamically update them. You can do all sorts of sophisticat-
ed Boolean searches, insert the hits into the file you happen to be working on
without loading and unloading programs, save them to a separate file, etc.
You can have every word in the file be a keyword if you want, so that you do
not need to plan your search strategy before you set up the text base. The
word processor is DOS based, is the fastest on the market, does all European
languages (and with a supplement, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Greek), and was designed
by scholars for scholars, not secretaries or business executives. It's
available from the Technology Group in Baltimore. BTW, there's a BBS and
an Internet user's group. It also comes with an excellent bibliography
program called Ibid--one of my very most useful programs.
Michael Ossar

From: David Beer <U60055@UICVM.UIC.EDU>

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
some ideas:
if you think hypertext would be helpful, there are easy to learn
hyper text programs available from Neal Larsen at MaxThink,
2425 B Channing #592, Berkeley, CA 94704, voice 510-540-5508.
I have used these with some success (there are a number of different
applications, including outline programs with hypertext, hypertext generaters,
etc. call Neal and tell him what you want to do. By the way, each program
is $89.

if you like hypertext and automatic word concordance, there is a piece of
software called FolioVIews which indexes every word plus allows you to create l
links from one file to another. It is available from Folio Corporation,
2155 North Freedom Blvd, Ste 150, Provo, UT 84604.

The basic difference between Larsen's stuff and the FolioViews stuff is that
Larsen gives you more flexibility, you do the things you want to, whereas
you do pretty much everything with FolioViews. Both of these programs assume
that you have everythin you want when you start, so the kind of category adding
and adjusting you are doing will require some ingenuity.

ZyIndex is a concordance program which indexes every word, but now also
has some hypertext and other capabilites. It was the best concordance
program available for a while, and may be a good bet. A concordance makes
possible any categorization system, because you create your text and
put in your category markers, then the concordance-making process picks
them up.

One other possibility is ethnograph, available from Qualis Associates,
POBox 2070, Amherst, MA 01004 phone 413 256 8835. Ethnograph allows you
to code segments of text from files of any length, specifying the lines
of text the code applies to and allows nesting of codes (e.g., one code for
lines 1-5, one code form lines 2-3, another for lines 1-4). You can add materi
al at any rate and it becomes part of the database.

There is an article in edition 2 of Miles and Huberman's book Qualitative Data
Analysis (Sage 1994) on selecting qualitative software, which is in fact what y
ou want. Have a look.

Hope this helps. Dave Beer <david.w.beer@uic.edu>

p.s.: let me know what you come up with.

From: PERSHEYE@aspen.uml.edu

I've not used AskSam, but have talked with at least one person
(academic historian) who used the original DOS version. He raved
about it. From the reviews that I've seen, I think that it
is indeed what you want. You are gonna want a larger HD, no
doubt about it. Good luck.

Ed Pershey

[I hope everyone paid close attention to that last comment -- now, which of you
wants to donate a 1 gig SCSI disk + controller to a worthy grad student? =;*>]