Collection, Storage & Freezer Apps

The Apps

The CollectionStorage and Freezer Android apps use the same underlying technology to allow you to manage ‘collections’ of ‘things’.

The apps are functionally identical but we’ve branded them with their own identities to help give the collection concept more exposure in the Google Play Store.

We are continually developing these apps and you can click the link to see what is new.

What Do They Do?

The apps are simple catalogues or inventories of items that you wish to track. The items can be any mixture of things. For the Freezer app, the expectation is that these will be items in your freezer(s). For the Storage app, it will be items you have in your garage, attic or storage units. The My Collections app is the general collection app.

However, these apps are very generic, functionally identical and can be customised with your own fields and container hierarchies. Which app you choose to use doesn’t matter as they all use the same cloud storage so use the Freezer app for a grey colour scheme, the Collection app for blue and the Storage app for orange.

Note that the app purchase/subscription is tied to that specific app and cannot be transferred between apps.

Sign In

The apps store all their data in ‘The Cloud’ using a secure database. Because of this the application requires you to sign in using a Google sign in. This allows Google to authenticate you and we can be sure that it’s you we are talking to and ensure that your data is kept secure.

If you are curious about the apps and don’t want to sign in, you can look at the Web version that allows you to view the public collections anonymously.

Because the data is in ‘The Cloud’, the application does require a reasonably good network connection and there may be associated data charges when using the application.

The apps do support some limited capability when working offline. You can browse existing collections and modify items in them. These changes will be uploaded to the cloud when you next have connectivity. Be aware that another person making changes to the same items will likely cause problems and their changes may overwrite yours.

Collections, Containers and Items

Simply put, collections have containers that have items.

You can think of a collection as a group of freezers and fridges, or perhaps as a house. Collections have a name and a note associated with them. Collections also define the tags and Custom Fields that will be used within that specific collection.

Within a collection are containers. A container is an area for items, or other containers. Containers have a name, image and note associated with them.

An item is a ‘thing’. It could be a frozen chicken, a bag of peas or a toy. Items have a name, image and note associated with them. Items can also have a quantity, to indicate how many there are, and an expiry date, to indicate when the item expires. Whilst the expiry date is primarily meant for food items, it is just a date that could have any meaning, such as the date an item needs to be checked.

Items now support Custom Fields so you can define your own field names and control how these are displayed. Here’s a video showing Custom Fields in use.

There is no limit the the number of items or containers a collection can hold. Neither is the depth of containers limited (think Russian dolls). You can also have as many collections as you like, both ones you own and ones that have been shared with you.

How to Organise your Collections

The key to organising a collection is to firstly understand your requirements for a collection. To help, we’ve listed a few pointers below, but it’s important to note that the applications are designed to handle multiple disparate collections ‘from the get-go’.

Screenshot_20170602-200504

As an example, examine our collections above. Each collection is for items of a similar type and we have not, for example, created a collection for each fridge or freezer we have.

Having said all that, there are some things to consider for collections:

  1. Searching
  2. Sharing
  3. Hierarchy
  4. Custom Fields and Tags

Searching

Searching works within collections and you cannot search across collections (we might relax this in the future). This means that if you want to find all the items of a particular type, then they should probably go into the same collection.

For example, if you want to look for frozen chickens, then all your freezers (the ones in the kitchen, the garage and the pantry) should probably be in the same collection. In this example you would have containers called Kitchen, Garage and Pantry, each with their own containers and items.

Sharing

When you share a collection, you are giving other people access to all the items in a collection. Initially this means they can only see the items in a collection. However, using the ‘Manage Users’ function you can give them complete access to add and delete items too.

You need to think carefully about what you would like other people to see and be able to change. If you require some items to be private, then they should be in their own collection that is not shared.

Hierarchy

If you need to physically find items in a collection, then the hierarchy of a collection should reflect the physical layout of the collection.

For example, a Freezer collection should have containers that represent the drawers, baskets and shelves in a freezer. The items within the containers represent the real items on the shelves in your freezer. When you view an item, you can see the hierarchy to enable you to find it, e.g. Frozen Chicken -> Shelf 1 -> Garage Freezer.

For a collection of coins, then the hierarchy may be less physical and could represent, say, the denomination, e.g. a container of 50 pence coins containing all the different 50p coins.

Screenshot_20170307-210448
Item showing hierarchy (highlighted)

Custom Fields and Tags

Each collection can be configured with their own custom fields and tags. It makes sense to store related items in one collection so that you do not need to keep redefining the tags and custom fields.

Sorting

The lists shown in the collections apps can all be sorted, with the exception of My Collections. The sort method chosen is remembered for each collection or container and, in the case of shared collections, only affects your view of the items.

The options for sorting are:

  • In-built Fields. Name, Expiry, Quantity.
  • Custom Fields.
  • User Defined. This initially sorts the list in the order in which items were added. However, in this mode you can ‘drag and drop’ items into any order. Just ‘long-press’ the item and then drag it to the desired location.

In-built and custom fields are sorted initially by the field itself, and then by Name if the field value is missing or the same as an existing value.

Sorting Tips

  • To see a list of items that are about to expire, open the search screen and change the sort mode to ‘expiry’.
  • To see a list of items that have zero quantity, open the search screen and change the sort mode to ‘quantity’
  • Long-press on the sort button and it will reverse the sort order.

Tags

Tags can be attached to items and are useful for creating ad-hoc groupings of similar categories of items that may be spread across a collection, e.g. you could tag all ‘meat’ items in the different drawers in a collection of freezers.

Items can have multiple tags, so if your collections has lots of different chicken items (legs, breast, breaded, sliced, nuggets) you might want to tag them all with chicken and meat.

Tags are especially useful in the search mode where you can filter by a tag name to see all items with that tag. For instance, to see all items with a ‘meat’ tag, just select the tag.

Screenshot_20170420-223257

Only the collection owner can create tags although any user of the collection can tag items.

Doing More with Tags

Attributes

Tags can also be used for defining general attributes or facts of items.

For instance, imagine a shared collection on beers. Certain tags could mark the type (lager, ale, cider) others the strength (strong, med, light) and yet others the taste (fruity, hoppy, sweet, strong).

You can then filter on these to find drinks for the mood you are in (strong, hoppy, ale).

Shopping

Tags could help with shopping (while we sort out a shopping list feature). For example, you are in the ‘meat’ aisle of your supermarket and want to know what meat to buy?

Open the app and got to the collection with food in it, select the search screen and filter by meat. Now sort by quantity and you can see a list of meat items that have zero quantity. Similarly for fish, bread, veg, etc.

Invitations

When you want to share a collection, go into the collection and click on the ‘share’ icon. You will be prompted to enter the email address of the person you which to share the collection with.

When the other person installs the app and signs in, they will see a notification informing them that a collection has been shared. When they click on the notification, it will prompt them to accept or decline the invitation. If they accept, they will see the collection under their ‘My Collections’ tab.

Note that the email address you use to share must match the one that is registered with the account the person uses to sign in with, i.e. their Google or Google Play account email.

You are limited to one invitation per collection. If you purchase a subscription, then you will have unlimited invites.

Manage Users

Initially, the person you share with will only have READ access to the collection, i.e. they cannot change anything. Once they’ve joined the collection, you can give them WRITE or ADMIN access using the ‘Manage Users’ menu. You can also remove them so they can no longer see your collection.

Below is a list of the Roles:

  • READ – The user can only see items, they cannot change anything.
  • WRITE – The user can add, delete and edit items and containers in your collection.
  • ADMIN – The user can modify the collection itself, so they can create custom fields and tags. They can also share the collection to invite other users as well as manage user. When managing users, they cannot, change the owners ADMIN role (even the owner cannot do that!)
  • REMOVE – This will prevent the user from accessing the collection and it will be removed from the users phones and tablets when they next open the collections app.

Notifications

You can opt-in to receive notifications for any collection you can view, including public ones. When an item changes in the collection you will receive an Android notification informing you that the collection has been changed and by whom. Clicking on the notification will open the application.

Screenshot_20180114-184143

The owner of the collection must have a valid subscription for notifications to be active.

Collections now show a badge with the count of changes since you last viewed the collection. Clicking on the badge will take you to the search tab of the collection and list all the items showing recently changed items first.

Screenshot_20180114-180444

Badge counts are synchronised across all your devices and are reset when you click on the badge or collection. Any outstanding notification for a collection is also removed from that device when you click a collection.

Multiple Devices

Currently, notifications are per device and are only received by the device that you use to opt-in to receive notifications.  If you have multiple devices associated with your account and want to receive notifications on them all, then you will need to toggle the opt-in setting for each collection on each device.

Note that this only affects notifications and badge counts will show on all devices by default.

Public Collections

There is a new feature (in beta) to make collections public. So if you’ve created the best ‘pokemon’ collection ever, you can now let people see that collection. It’s shared as READ only so there no worrying that these viewers can change anything.

Note that anonymous users can view your public collections using the Web Version.

Follow the link for more details on Public Collections.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Collection, Storage & Freezer Apps

  1. Have invited my wife, she has installed app & signed in but has not received notification of invite? Not really much point inviting if she is unable to view freezer contents!

  2. Hi Robin,

    Can you double check that the email address you have used to invite your wife is the same one as she uses with her Google Play account. You can check this in the Manage Users screen of the collection. If it’s wrong, you will need to remove this entry and resend the invite.

    If you are still having problems, feel free to email us support@softwyer.com and we can investigate further.

  3. I’ve not paid for My Collections yet though I like what I have seen so far.

    Except for the invite – I sent an invite to my non-google address and it never arrived.

    Now I’ve seen the above I realise that I should have used by google address.

    I don’t recall seeing any indication of that requirement and now I am unable to resend the invite to myself.

    Basically I just want to share my collection with myself across multiple devices

    Is this possible?

  4. The invite should work with any email that is used on an Android Phone and is registered with Google Play.

    For Example, I have a phone that has Google Play registered as curly@hotmail.com

    I use another phone to send an invite to curly@hotmail.com.

    On the curly@hotmail.com phone, I install the collections application, open it, sign in (using curly@hotmail.com) and there should be a notification with the invite.

    There are no email sent, so perhaps that is the confusion?

  5. Hi, I saw your video for adding several pictures, but don’t understand the process. Everytime I add an item, only one image is allowed. How can I add two or more?

  6. Hi, I really love this app. I purchased a tablet and plan to stick it on my freezer to be able to quickly find out where something is located. But I need the tablet to be placed horizontally. Could you please also support horizontal orientation? Thank you.

      1. Thanks a lot for your quick answer. I do believe it should be enough to make a simple change in your AndroidManifest.xml or in the onCreate activity function. But I’m not an Android expert, just hacking some simple applications. 🙂

  7. I do logout and when a i make login again one of my collection it`s gone with all itens. Please help me

  8. hi, im using your app on an Android phone. Does the app allow only 1 picture to be included for each item? It would be a lot more attractive if multiple pictures can be attached. thanks

    1. The applications support multiple pictures (up to 10) but you need a subscription to have more than one.

      You can purchase a subscription from the navigation sidebar. There’s a 3 day trial period with each subscription so you can cancel if you find it is not value for money.

  9. Hi. Your application is amazing! Congratulations! I have a question for you: is there any way to backup de collections data? Thank you very much.

    1. A backup feature has been requested by a number of people and is something that we plan to add in the near future.

      It will work by taking a snapshot of the collection data, zipping it up and saving it to a Google Drive account. The underlying data is all JSON based, and whilst the organisation of the data will be specific to our collection database, the backup will be readable and could be parsed by other tools.

      We will write an associated import feature at a later date. Initially this will be allow you to import an old backup into a ‘new’ collection. We need to work through the implications of this, as internal UUIDs will need to be unique, at least within the collection.

      Keep an eye on the ‘What’s New‘ page for early releases with the backup feature.

  10. Hi
    Is it possible to disable the online bar code validation. I have a lot of products on DK market which fail but I would like the bare code as key

  11. Hi. I am just in the process of uploading my ( huge) music collection. I have a question. If the app becomes defunkt at some point in the future will all my info be lost or will it be stored for me to access still. I am conscious this will take me many hours to do and clearly not something I want to do for a short term app if it’s not stored afterwards .. thanks

    1. Hi,

      Good question and you’ll be pleased to hear, hopefully, that we have a backup option that will save all the information associated with your collection to a JSON format document. This backup is structured like our internal tables so you will not be able to import it into another application directly. You’d need to parse the structure and translate it to the ‘other’ system. It should be easy for someone with a little programming knowledge to do.

      Images are not downloaded as part of the backup, but the image URLs are stored, so you’d have to parse the backup and download the images manually. We’re using Google’s Firebase which is hosting the data for free. Even if we decide to retire the application, the collection data will be available for as long as Google are around. (Note that we intend to keep the collections applications running as long as possible as it’s got our own beer collection in it!)

      The best thing to do, would be to enter a couple of items into a collection and then run the backup. You can then check the backup in an editor (e.g. notepad) to see if the information is there and how happy you are with that JSON format.

      We have seen some collections using our applications with over 4000 items, so hopefully we can cope with your music collection.

      We’re happy to help explain further, but it would be easier via email, support@softwyer.com

      Cheers, Karl.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s