29th January 2021
xbBooks is a component for cataloguing books you have read and reviews of them. Version 0.6.8 is the current release candidate, it should still really not be used on production sites (although I am ;-) ). The functionality for v1.0 stable Release is all in place, albeit with plenty of rough edges and room for improvements.
It started out as I needed something to replace a flat-file database I had been using to save details of books I read and short reviews/comments. Previous to that I had been using a simple spreadsheet and originally an paper file.
xbBooks provides views into a relational database of books, people, characters and reviews.
People may be authors, editors, real people mentioned or fictional characters in a book. One person may have several roles in different books. A distinction is made between real people and fictional characters.
Books may have more than one author, several characters and mention several people you want to track. So books and people is a many-to-many relationship
A review is of a single book, but a book may have several reviews: a one-to-many relationship. A book may be reviewed by more than one user, or you can simply link to external reviews for alternative comments, or provide a fresh perspective when you reread an old favourite
The people and characters tables are be shared with the xbFilms component (in development) and possibly other related future components. A film director may also write a book and appear in films as an actor and be the subject of a biography.
In general xbBooks allows the user to define categories and tags to suit your particular preferences. For example you might consider genres to be mutually exclusive and so use them as categories (an item can only belong to one category), or you might think that a book can be both a historical fiction and a crime novel - the genres are not mutually exclusive so you would use tags to identify them.
Categories are exclusive - an item can only belong to one category. So you would use categories for a set of non-overlapping attributes. For example the standard library Dewey Decimal system assigns every book to a single subject number, so you could use Dewey numbers as categories for books. For people you could use nationality as category names - although there is a separate dedicated field for this.
There are two system generated categories: "Uncategorised" and "Imported". Uncategorised is used by default for all items that you don't assign to another category, and Imported is the default for items you import from CSV or SQL files - although you can override this during the import.
In addition all books are flagged as either fiction or non-fiction, which amounts to a virtual category. Dedicated fields are provided for publisher, year of publication and other attributes.
People have fields for nationality and year of birth and death, as well as name and biography. Reviews can have a reviewer name, date, format of the book reviewed. The full list of fields available for each item time is given in the Documentation.
Reviews have a star rating for the book. I find a 1 to 5 star scale inadequately fine grained (you often end up wanting to give half-stars). I have been using a 10 star scale for many years, but looking at the results I see the majority of books fall between 6 and 9 stars. Possibly this is because I don't tend to read things that I don't think I'll like, but I also find that 10 points seems too many. So for xbBooks I have switched to a 7 point scale, this may become an option in a future version. In addition to 1 to 7 stars, I have added the ability to grant no stars for things that are so bad that I don't even finish them. This is an optional setting.
For further information see the xbBooks Documentation page
Improvements and bug fixes
- v0.7 - add Help system to admin side RC3 (early Feb 2021)
- v0.8 - tba bug fixes and minor improvements
- v0.9 - finalise language strings and error trapping RC4 (early March 2021)
- v1.0 - Stable Release version (April Fools Day 2021)
- v2.0 - Joomla 4 compatible version
- v4.0 - Joomla 4 native version
Possible New features
- ability to specify rating scale
- front-end editing and creation of reviews
- Catalogue only mode with now reviews or ratings
- add field for historical period for fiction books
- import and export to JSON and/or XML
Changelog - click here