iToysoldiers is Dead. Long Live iToysoldiers

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Yodiz Sprint
Managing my Pile of Opportunity Sizzly

Once upon a time I ran a site called iToysoldiers. It's goal was to be a portal for all things miniature wargaming. For a lot of reasons it failed. It was too ambitious for a single developer and it had no real way of funding itself so that it could grow. But the underlying desire to build a site that'd let me track my model collection remains.

To that end I've been looking for a solution to track my model collection as well as the events I attend. I've played with a whole whack of solutions and even tried my hand at building a custom app using Next. I think I've settled on one but let me first talk about the requirements.

1. It needs to have a mechanism for uniquely identifying models.
2. It needs to allow for pretty flexible meta data to support the various things I care about like what the base model is, who produced the parts, what the paint scheme is, what unit it belongs to, what weapons are modelled on the figure, etc.
3. It needs to generate a user friendly website that can be browsed by my fan.
4. It needs to generate reports that I can use to suss out various things about my collection.
5. It needs to support both hobby and fluff commentary.
6. It needs to be able support a couple of different object types as my collection includes, models, terrain, books, magazines, and awards.

So right off the bat, developing a solution ended up being a bit overwhelming. I also played with Drupal, my go to web app solution, but - like the original iToysoldiers - it requires so much customization that it became unweildy. There's also a handful of painting trackers that were appealing but they didn't generate a visitor view. It seemed like nobody has developed a solution that was quite right.

What ultimately saved the day was a search for "collection management software". I dived into the Canadian Government's list of vendor profiles for collection management. I started going through 'em and at the bottom was Collective Access. I installed it and gave it a whirl. It was great but it had some issues so I took a look at Omeka-S. Omeka was a bit more turn key but it had some issues in that you couldn't turn off Dublin Core search features and you could only add meta data through the use of full on oncologies (which I dabbled in but... wow. Not fun). So ultimately I've settled on Collective Access.

I've addressed all the technical issues and now I'm working on addressing the themes/content. If you're interested in doing something similar may I say, the theme/content stuff is not a trivial excercise. It's REALLY modular - which is good - but also content and views and lists are scattered all over the place. I will be exporting my config file and making it available once it's kinda-sorta in a good place. Ideally you'll be able to use it as an install profile that'll save you some work if you want to go this route.

Anyway. The new Collective Access version of iToysoldiers is in the works. The current site shows the Omeka version. I think the new version will be better.

Carpe Acies.