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Martijn Meerts

Model train database

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Martijn Meerts

Been a while again, but I'm still working on this on and off. I've started and re-started a couple of times now, the system always started turning into spaghetti code, or used too many magic framework functions.. Either way, eventually I ended up with code that worked, but I had no idea why it worked ;)

 

 

I've started with a much lighter framework now, implemented some handy features, and have started the back-end. I bought a simple yet elegant design, which makes working on the whole thing much easier.

 

Now, if someone can invent a time machine, travel to the future, and see if I ever finish this thing, that'd be nice ;)

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Tecchan

Been a while again, but I'm still working on this on and off. I've started and re-started a couple of times now, the system always started turning into spaghetti code, or used too many magic framework functions.. Either way, eventually I ended up with code that worked, but I had no idea why it worked ;)

 

 

I've started with a much lighter framework now, implemented some handy features, and have started the back-end. I bought a simple yet elegant design, which makes working on the whole thing much easier.

 

Now, if someone can invent a time machine, travel to the future, and see if I ever finish this thing, that'd be nice ;)

 

Did you try contacting Trainspo?

Your both projects have many similarities and Trainspo's database must be quite huge now. They are really neat guys, I had some mail exchanges with them.

 

Anyway, I can't wait to see your project! :-)

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Martijn Meerts

Haven't contacted them (yet) since they're more focussed on pictures of prototypes, whereas I'm more focussed on models and their specs :) I might contact them after I get my base system up, maybe I could use pictures from their site, and they use info from my site ;)

 

(to be honest, I'm a bit put off by their 'stats' page. I always dislike sites that try to show off with stats ;))

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Martijn Meerts

Yes, I'm actually still working on this :)

 

Progress is slow, mainly because I really want to have multi-language UI and content support in there from the start. I've also kept getting stuck at the UI design, but I ended up finding a quite decent UI for sale for a couple of dollars. I bought that, altered the colors a bit, and basically started working from there. The UI will change over time based on feedback most likely, but as a basis to work from it's really nice for a database site I believe.

 

Attached a few pictures (don't mind the menu options or icons, they're not correct yet ;)):

 

1: Shows the autocomplete input field. This is really nice for searching the database for models/prototypes since it gives you immediate feedback. I'll have to see if this works well with large databases, but with proper indexing it should be fine. Also show the top part of the 'data sheet', with the main focus being a large-ish image.

 

2: Shows the lower half of the pages and the tabs to switch between various bits of info.

 

3: Shows the dashboard/personal page options and an example of a list of collections. The idea is that you can create multiple collections, for example per country or per scale. The public/private thing is so that you can set a collection to be visible for everyone (or available via RSS for example), or just personal. Not sure about the feature yet :)

 

 

Anyway, just some quick shots that show I am actually working on things, and that the project isn't entirely dead =)

locowerks_autocomplete.jpg

locowerks_tabs.jpg

locowerks_collections.jpg

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keitaro

nice it does look good.

 

i'm sure the look is great but of course additional features and options would be added over time from feed back as you mentioned.

 

once it's in trial/beta I'd be happy to upload info on my models. Even "when" i get around to it pics on dcc installs.

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Martijn Meerts

Might be a while before I have a version where people can add prototypes/models, but I do hope to put a version online at some point that at least allows people to register/login and play around a bit with the interface, and the wishlist/collection features.

 

Adding prototype/model info is one of the more important things, so I really want to implement that right. Since a lot of prototype/model data will be global, there needs to be some moderation system (so that spam bots don't starting adding items with tons of commercials etc.) The system will also need to be able to find similar items to minimize duplicates. For example, when someone tries to add a C-57, it should notice there's already a C57 in the database, and notify the user of that.

 

Anyway, once I get to the point where it's possible to play around with the UI a bit, I'll put a test version online. That might take a while though, since I'm really only working on it about an hour a day, on the train to and from work =)

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JR 500系

Oh how could i have missed this? This is a great idea! I was gonna ask where can we keep track of our collections online until...

 

Can i share an irrelevent but useful collection site experience?

 

When i was very into Lego, we had this site called http://www.brickset.com/mySets/

 

Basically, it's a database containing all the sets from years long gone till now, which users can create an account and then start ticking off which set they have. Recently, it even goes to the extend of calculating each piece count for each set so you will have a total number of bricks of your collection!

 

Sounds very intensive to build up the database, and also require a web space to hold the data?

 

Sorry if this is irrelevent, just thought could share my set monitoring site when i was into Lego...

 

P.s. MArtijn: Your site looks beautiful! Great work! Let me knwo if i can help on this project, with my limited train knowledge though...

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PhilipS

It is a plus to have the info available offline.

 

I used to keep a copy on iWork server, now it's on iDisk and iCloud.

 

Decoder pro has a nice database that will keep pictures on your model.

 

We have this software at the clubhouse so at some point I will import my DecoderPro database.

 

I plan on using a label maker with 6mm tape to tape the address to the motor car belly. No more squinting.

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Martijn Meerts

N500, it's always nice to look at other collection sites and get an idea of how they do things. Of course, Lego is a bit of a different beast than model trains, but still :)

 

Building up the database won't be that much of an issue, just need a few people to help get started with some initial models. The main database will actually be built up by the users for the most part. For example, say I have a C62 in my collection. I want to add that on the site, but it's not in the database yet, so to add it, I supply the basic information. Once I've added it, the next time someone wants to add a C62 to their collection, the C62 is already in the main database, so then it's just a matter of clicking an 'add to collection' button. Of course, there'll also be personal info someone can add for each model (maintenance log and things like that.)

 

I have a domain registered already, and running a VPS on that. It's a good sized VPS for a very decent price, but I'll have to see how things go with regards to disk space and bandwidth usage. The VPS is real easy to upgrade when needed. I'm hoping to keep the site free to use and possibly just accept donations.

 

 

Skip, the idea is to (eventually) add the ability to export your database to excel, pages, pdf, csv, xml, json and whatnot. An import script for decoder pro databases is also something I'm looking at. I'm also planning an OS X and iOS app that can create a local copy of your personal database (or maybe the entire database, we'll see :))

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PhilipS

My Library is an app that lets you use your iPhone to scan barcodes to enter new items.

 

There's no wrong way to do this just whatever works for you.

 

In case of theft, fire or water damage, you want a copy elsewhere.

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Martijn Meerts

A barcode scanner isn't a problem really, but there still needs to be an underlying database to get the actual product the barcode belongs to, and I'm fairly certain there's no (english-language) global database that has a lot of info on non-english-speaking-country prototype and model trains :)

 

(I'm actually already generating QR-codes for each prototype/model/rss feed/personal page/etc, so you could print those and paste them on the bottom of a train, then use the iOS app to scan the QR-code, and immediately get all the info. The prints would need to be high quality though)

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Martijn Meerts

I'm running into a couple of issues again.. Easily solved issues, but still, I'd like some feedback :)

 

The problem I'm sort of stuck with at the moment, is scale/gauge .. Take for example N-scale. The general idea is that N-scale is 1:160, however, there's also 1:148 (UK) and 1:150 (Japan). I could make a drop down list, and list all 3 N-scale options, but Japan has both 1:150 and 1:160...

 

I would like the exact scale listed in the database, so that eventually it would be possible to compare the model to the prototype, and see if it was scaled down well.

 

An option would be to ask for both scale and gauge, with scale being a number input field, so people can just type 150, 160, 87, 220 etc, and gauge could be a drop down. The problem with that, if someone does a search for N-gauge, they'll also get narrow gauge H0 items that happen to run on standard N-gauge track =)

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CaptOblivious

I'm running into a couple of issues again.. Easily solved issues, but still, I'd like some feedback :)

 

The problem I'm sort of stuck with at the moment, is scale/gauge .. Take for example N-scale. The general idea is that N-scale is 1:160, however, there's also 1:148 (UK) and 1:150 (Japan). I could make a drop down list, and list all 3 N-scale options, but Japan has both 1:150 and 1:160...

 

I would like the exact scale listed in the database, so that eventually it would be possible to compare the model to the prototype, and see if it was scaled down well.

 

An option would be to ask for both scale and gauge, with scale being a number input field, so people can just type 150, 160, 87, 220 etc, and gauge could be a drop down. The problem with that, if someone does a search for N-gauge, they'll also get narrow gauge H0 items that happen to run on standard N-gauge track =)

 

 

 

You could add a colloquial designator to aid in searching:

Scale: 1:150

Track Gauge: 9mm

Gauge name: "N"

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Martijn Meerts

That'd mean asking for scale and gauge when adding new models. I've been leaning towards that direction anyway, and I'm already working on some sort of smart list system like the smart playlists in iTunes and such.

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CaptOblivious

That'd mean asking for scale and gauge when adding new models. I've been leaning towards that direction anyway, and I'm already working on some sort of smart list system like the smart playlists in iTunes and such.

 

Probably worth doing. I'm thinking now of Kato's earlier D51 releases, that were in, what, 1:140? Anyway, I know there's some variation in scales in the Japanese market, and some variation in gauge (do we have anyone on the forum that re-gauges their 1:150 Japanese models to run on Z-gauge track?), and no standard nomenclature for some of the combinations (like there is for "HOn30". But "NnJ"—which combination is that?)

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Martijn Meerts

Customized models will likely need to get some sort of special category, but as far as I know, the gauge is reasonably standardized.. For example 'N-gauge' will always be 9mm track, regardless of which version of 'N-scale' is used.

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Martijn Meerts

I've uploaded a *VERY* early test.. Doesn't do much yet, but it should give a bit of an idea of where I'm going. Registering and logging in works, there's some settings you can change (including your language, which will be used for the UI and default content language), and you can look at a model or 2 (make sure to set US english as your language, as content is multi-lingual as well) .. You can add a model as well, but only the basic info for now. I'm still thinking of how to go about adding detailed info and images/movies etc.

 

There are still tons of errors, and images aren't actually dynamic and all that. It's really just so people can get a quick look at something that's partially operational, rather than just look at screenshots.

 

As always, any comments/criticism is more than welcome :)

 

URL is http://dev.locowerks.net

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keitaro

Martijn I do like the look

 

could i suggest that on the side where you have prototype models and tools you remove the models.

 

I think the best way to do this is just search the prototype.

 

It will then as you have it let you select models and show a list of all models of the prototype.

 

I.e. i search e231

 

It find it and click

I will see it how you have it with models etc

 

Also have quick link to different variants of the e231 with hopefully updated differences and the lines it runs on etc.

E.g. e231-1000 2000 etc etc

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Martijn Meerts

I could get rid of the 'models' menu option yes. One issue though, is what if I for example want to add the Galaxy Express train. That one doesn't really have a prototype (even though the loco and cars are based on prototypes), so the prototype option there would need to be info from the anime I guess ;)

 

The different variants could be listed under 'related items', possibly as a special category list at the top, or have an option to pick which relation to use. For example, I select 'show related by series', and it'd show the sub series. Picking 'show related by line' on the other hand, will show all trains running on that line.

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The_Ghan

Hi Martijn,

 

I know you're just getting started, but I though I'd let you know what I found:

 

1. When I created an account it didn't close the window.  I had to click "Cancel" after creating the account in order to close it.

 

2. When I logged in I got a screen full of source code.

 

3. I changed my settings, adding my JNS nickname and name.

 

4. I changed the language to English (GB).  Now I can't do anything because I get the message "Unable to load the requested language file: language/english_uk/core_lang.php"

 

End of experience thus far.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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Martijn Meerts

Ghan, all the comments are helpful. Obviously, I'm aware of certain problems, and there's a ton of debug info in there as well :)

 

1. I need to fix that one obviously ..

 

2. It's the 'user' object, It's really just there for debugging and see if all the necessary user info is loaded correctly, also when I add new configuration settings and the like. In the final version you'll get your personal dashboard with an overview of your collections, wish lists, statistics, etc.

 

4. The languages aren't all implemented yet (even though the drop down does list them). I'm going to make sure the system works with the default language first (US English), and then start with translations.

 

 

Do you want an Australian English version as well, it's really just adding 'mate' at the end of every sentence right?  :grin

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The_Ghan

OK, ignoring my previous comments for now, I agree with keitaro - I shouldn't be able to select "Models" until I have the actual prototype on screen.  I think "Models" should be one of the tabs within each prototype, right next to specs.

 

Inside Models you have several options:

 

Add to Roster: selecting from a list of manufacturer's products you add items to your roster.  Eg: I have the full Kato 165 Shonan Color as follows:

10-332 x 1 - 3-Car Set (Kuha165-136/Moha164-800(M)/Kumoha165-162)

10-333 x 2 - 3-Car Add-On Set (Kuha165-198, Kumoha165-133, Moha164-856)

4057 x 1 - single car - Sahashi165

4059 x 2 - single car - Saro163-5

 

So, with those I can create Consists. First, I want the full 12-car inter-urban consist as per 1984.  It should list all of the above, preferably being able to advise me of car order, etc.

 

Secondly, I want to use some of those cars to make a 4-car set using 10-332 + Kuha165-198 from 10-333.

 

To sum up, the Roster would be what is actually in the cupboard and the Consists is how you put those things together to make a train.

 

There's something to think about.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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The_Ghan

Martijn,

 

My wife wants to spend a couple of hours here. If you're in Kyoto at the time (Saturday, October 13 to Wednesday, October 17) perhaps we can catch up and talk about this stuff.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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Martijn Meerts

Making your own custom consists based on existing sets/single cars is definitely something that needs to be implemented. It's going to take a bit of brainstorming to find a good way of doing it though :)

 

And if I'm in Kyoto at the time, I'd be more than happy to meet up for some good food and tea and such. I haven't booked anything yet, but I might end up going for 2 weeks instead of 3, and go for a hotel after all. The apartments, while more interesting, aren't really possible to book months in advance unfortunately.

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IST

May I ask if this project finished?

Or can anybody advice some kind of model train database software for iOS, or for Windows 7?

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