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April 15, 2002

dreams about a book database

I've been sitting here starting to try to build a page for books - books I'm reading, books I want to read, mini-reviews of books I've read.  I've spent the last 30 minutes struggling with the HTML to build a decent looking page, when it struck me: I shouldn't be putting my list in HTML, but in XML.  So: is there a DTD (and perhaps tools) for keeping a home library? I don't really need a full-up DTD of the type that might be useful for a real library. 

I have a feeling this kind of project would be a morass.  Ideally, I'd like to use some simple-to-use graphical database, such as Filemaker, and use it to generate XML.  There's a page about XML database products, and a related page about XML and databases, but it's not clear this would be an easy thing to do.

I'm feeling deja vu about this idea.  A couple of years back I wanted to be able keep a list of projects in a simple database - Filemaker again, because it's very simple to work with - and then periodically publish that database to a webview.  At the time, I was stymied over something stupid: the inability of Filemaker to take a URL and render it on an HTML page as a clickable item.   I spent quite a bit of time messing with Filemaker and even MS Access before giving up on it.  I have a bad feeling that the state of XML tools might be such that the best tool would be something like Emacs.  I love Emacs, but it's not the best tool for managing lots of data.