They're not just toys

Friday, 6 January 2006

Using Flickr to organize your collection

Someone has posted at the forum asking how people there organize their collections. I was developing a custom web-based application for my diecast inventory but it didn't pan out because there are just too many requirements. I'm temporarily abandoning the project, but I will take it up again soon.

For now, welcome Flickr. It's a photo-sharing service and it's free (there's a 10MB upload limit per month, though). You upload photos, organize them in sets, tag them and share with others. You can also use it to organize your collection, like what I have done.

Here's how (this, of course, assumes that you've already set up an account in Flickr):

  1. Upload your photos using any of the uploading tools in Flickr. It's better if you have individual shots of each car. Group shots are also okay.
  2. Tag your photos. Now this is the "magic" part. Instead of putting your photos in categories, you tag them. My tags are the following:

    For example, for my collection, I usually write the brand name in the title. In the description, I place the model, series, scale and other information. Like this:

    The tags I place are on the right.

  3. Place your photos in sets. For the free account, Flickr allows three sets. That's good if you have a focused collection. Here's my Mini Cooper set:

    Use the Organizr to organize your sets. It's a cool Flash app that let's you load, drag and drop photos. You can also do other things like add to groups, delete, rename, edit, etc.

  4. Searching for an item? If you have properly used tags, you can search using tags. Say, I only want to find Tomica Mini Coopers, I just search for photos with tags, "tomica" and "mini", like so:

    And you have this:

    Cool way to organize your collection, eh?

You can do other things, as well. Flickr is a photo-sharing service, so naturally, you can share your photos with others. Using the tags again, I just search for other photos tagged "diecast" and I get this:

Lots of very interesting photos out there.

There are even groups that you can join. I recently joined a group that caters to VW buses. Here's a sample of the group's photo pool:

For programmers, there's an API so you can use the service to roll your own custom apps. My goal now is to use Flickr to display my photos in a blog or gallery.

Give Flickr a whirl. And don't forget to add me as your contact. :)

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