Setting Up Your Collection

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, a collection of Hot Wheels, or perhaps everything in your 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 and 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 and containers support custom fields so you can define your own field names and control how these are displayed. Custom fields can be configured to be mandatory and have other validation applied to them.

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.

If you like this application and use it to maintain large collections, then please read the important section at the end to understand how we will keep your data in the long term.

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 is important to note that the applications are designed to handle multiple disparate collections 'from the get-go'.

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

There are some things to consider for collections:

  • Searching

  • Sharing

  • Hierarchy

  • 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 one collection with containers called Kitchen, Garage and Pantry, each with their own containers and items.

Sharing

If you share a collection, you are giving other people access to view 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 full 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 country and year e.g. a container of UK coins, for 1997 with an item for a 50 pence coin.

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.

Lots of Collections holding items of the same type

Managing a Collection

Create a Collection

From the main "My Collections" tab, press the Floating Action Button (FAB), in the lower left. This will open the "Add Collection" form where you can enter your collection details. Note that you can return to this form to edit the collection at any time.

Add Items and Containers

From one of the collection's tabs, press the FAB and choose "Add Item" or "Add Container". This will open the Add form where you can enter the details for the item or container.

Edit Items, Containers and Collections

View the item, container or collection you wish to edit and press the small pencil FAB. This will open the relevant edit form where you can change the details of the selected object.

Move, Copy and Delete

You can move, copy and delete items by long-pressing the relevant item or container. To move multiple items, long-press on another item or container.

To delete a collection, open the collection and choose 'Delete Collection' from the overflow menu, top-right.

See a video tutorial for this on You Tube.

Note that we do not support moving items between collections. In the majority of cases, this does not make sense as most collections will not share custom fields or tags and this information would be lost when moving between collections.

Searching

Press the search icon (magnifying glass) to open the search view. This will initially list all the items in your collection.

To search for items, just start typing and the list will show items that have words that contain that search term.

If you type multiple terms, then the list will show items that have both of those terms. This is known as an AND search

Advanced Search

The terms support prefixes which can be used to refine how items are found. The prefixes used are:

  • Equals prefix (=) This forces the search term to match the word exactly. e.g. searching for '=ham' would find items with 'ham' but not 'hamburger'

  • Colon prefix (:). This forces the search term to match words that begin with the term, e.g. searching for ':heat' would match 'heat' and 'heather' but not 'wheat'

Sorting and Filtering

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.

You can change the sort and filter options by pressing the expand icon that is on the information line for each tab. The filter applies to the current tab only.

The options for sorting are:

  • In-built Fields. Name, Expiry, Quantity, Last modified

  • 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. The 'drag' capability is only enabled when the sort option is 'User defined'

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.

Sorted views can be in ascending or descending order.

Filtering

Filters can be applied to each list to restrict what items are shown. You can filter on:

  • Tags. Select the tags to include in the view. Use the Tags mode to view items with any selected tag (OR mode) or all selected tags (AND mode)

  • Quantity. Change the quantity filter to view items that have quantities greater or equal to zero (Q>=0), greater than zero (Q>0) or equal to zero (Q=0)

  • Hide containers. Select the hide containers checkbox to exclude containers in the view. This is most useful in the search view.

Sorting Tips

  • To see all of the items that are about to expire, open the search screen and change the sort mode to 'expiry'.

  • To see all of the items that have zero quantity, open the search screen and change the sort mode to 'quantity' or optional filter by Q=0

Sharing Searches

In the search screen there are some menu options that allow you to share the current items shown in the search view, e.g.

  • CSV export. Export the search items to a CSV file that can be opened by applications like Excel

  • Quick share. This shares a summary of the search items showing quantity and item name. Useful to make a quick shopping list.

  • Print. Print the items to printer or, where supported, save the print to PDF.

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.

Only the collection owner can create tags although any user with WRITE access 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

You can share your collection with other users of the application. To share a collection, you must know the email address that is associated with the ID of the person you want to share with.

When you want to share a collection, go into the collection and click on the 'Invite users' menu option. 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.

Notes:

  1. 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 and can be seen on the 'about' menu of the application.

  2. No email is sent. The user must install the application and look in the 'invites' section of the application to see the invite.

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 everything in the collection, but 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 update notification for any collection you can view, including public ones. When an item changes in the collection you will see a badge in the collection card with a number indicating the a count of changes. You can press the badge to go to the search view where the recently changed items are shown first.

Badge counts are synchronised across all your devices and are reset when you click on the badge or collection.

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

Public Collections

There is a feature 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.

IMPORTANT - Long Term Collection Maintenance

SoftWyer Ltd., the company that produces the My Collections application, will endeavour to maintain the capability to provide hosting for your collections data for as long as we are in business and the services we rely on, especially Google's Firebase, continue to provide their cloud services at a reasonable cost.

We will provide this service to all users who have active accounts. If a user has not used the applications for a period of TWO YEARS, then we will start to archive their data and remove their accounts. Archived data will be deleted shortly after. This is regardless of whether the user has, or has had, an active subscription. It is your responsibility to use the application and to sign in to see your collections. Note that for shared collections, it is the responsibility of the collection owner to sign in as it is their account that determines the active status of the collection.