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FAQ (frequently asked questions)


Can I have more than one collection database?

Yes, you can have as many different collections as you want. Recollector keeps track of each new collection that you create in a separate file. With the Mac version of Recollector, you can have multiple collections open at once; each will be shown in its own collection window. With the Windows version of Recollector, you can only have one collection open at a time. Click the Manage Collections / Select Current Collection button on the Recollector Control Window, to access your list of collections. The currently selected collection is marked with a plus sign at the left. To switch to a different collection, click on it and click OK.

Each collection is completely independent of the others, so you can set up each collection with whatever choices are appropriate (fields to use, currency and dimension units choice, sorting order, etc.).

Is there a limit to the number of records in a collection?

No. There is no limit to the number of records in a Recollector collection. However, keep in mind that Recollector keeps the current collection entirely in memory when it is opened, so if your collection is really huge, then it may take a while to read the collection into memory or to write it back out. Ultimately, there is some size limit that is imposed by the amount of physical and virtual memory that your computer has, but on any reasonably configured modern-day PC or Mac, you are very unlikely to approach that limit with data from a personal collection.

Testing has been done with collections containing over 10,000 records. These collections were read in or written out in just a couple of seconds, and once in memory there is no slowdown related to the size of the collection.

It is good to keep in mind that the amount of computer memory used by your collection is affected by the total amount of data, rather than by the number of records. So a 1,000 record database could be larger than a 10,000 record database, if the former contained much more data per record than the latter.

Is there a limit to the number of characters in a text field?

No. You can have as much text as you want in a single text field. Obviously, if you want to make it easy to enter and edit lengthy text values in these fields, you should use the "long text" data type when defining the field. However, even short text and one-line text fields have no upper limit to their length (even though it is inconvenient to type in very long values in the single-line text-entry boxes that short text and one-line text fields use in the data-entry/editing window).

One of the formatting features designed for lengthy texts is the ability to have the text formatted (in the Item Details view) as multiple paragraphs. This is achieved, when adding or editing data, by including a single blank line where you want a paragraph break to be shown. The single blank line will be interpreted as a paragraph break, and the text will be formatted, in the Item Details view, into separate paragraphs.

Are there any restrictions on the fields that I can add to my collection database?

Not really.  When you initially create a collection database, you choose from one of the available templates, which provides you with a starting set of fields.  But this is really just a convenience, so that some of the fields that you will have in your collection database will be there right from the start, without your having to individually specify them.  But you are free to add any additional fields that you want (or modify or delete any of the fields provided by the template).  There is no limit to the number of fields that a collection can have (though, of course, if your collection has hundreds of fields, you will likely find it somewhat cumbersome to edit and view your collection entries).  The only restrictions regarding fields are these:

Why are there three text data types? What are the differences among them?

The three text data types (short text, one-line text, and multi-line text) are all used to hold text data, and in most respects these three field types behave identically. However, in the data-entry/editing window these three text field types are handled differently:

Other than these data-entry/editing differences, all three text data types are the same. They are all used to hold text (of any length), they all can contain formatted text (bold, italics, etc.), jump-to links or any of the special hyperlinks supported by Recollector. Remember that you can change the data type of a field at any time. So if you have a field that you defined as a short text, but you find that in the data-entry/editing window the actual values you are entering are longer than what conveniently fits, choose Modify Fields or Image Directory from the Edit menu and change the data type for this field to be a one-line text field (or multi-line text field, if needed). See the next FAQ for more information on changing field definitions.

Can I modify the field definitions of my collection after I have begun to add data records?

Yes. The "schema" of your collection database is not set in stone, and you can make changes to it at any time. Choose Modify Fields or Image Directory from the Edit menu of the collection window. (If you are using the Windows version of Recollector, you will be warned that the program will close the currently open collection before it can make modifications to its fields. The collection window will be automatically re-opened when you have finished making changes to your field definitions.) The Modify Fields dialog lets you change your field definitions: You can add, rename, change type, or delete fields. (If you delete fields you will be warned that any current data present in a deleted field will be lost when the collection is written out.)

In addition to modifying fields, you can change a collection's name, modify its currency or dimension units, or specify (or modify or delete) the Image Directory definition for your collection. These are all changes that can be made at any time, not just when you are initially creating your collection database.

I made some errors while adding or editing data. How can I undo my changes?

The Windows and Macintosh versions of Recollector handle undoing and reverting changes somewhat differently.

Undoing changes in the Windows version:

Recollector does not have an “Undo” menu choice. (Text entry fields in the data editing window do have Undo/Redo choices on their right-click options menu; so you can undo just-performed typing or editing operations. You can also use Ctrl-Y or Ctrl-Z as keyboard shortcuts for Undo/Redo.) However, you can use Revert, on the File menu, to undo all the changes you made since the last time you saved your collection to disk in the current session.  (If your collection has not yet been saved to disk in the current session, Revert will restore the collection to the state it was in when you began the current session.)

If you have saved your collection to disk in the current session, Revert will give you the choice of throwing away the changes made since the last save or all the changes in the current session.

In general, it is a good idea to do fairly frequent saves (Save, on the File menu) when you are making lots of changes to your collection (editing or adding new records).  That way, if you realize that you just made a mistake, doing a Revert will only throw away the changes made since the last save, and you will probably only have to re-do a small amount of work, if any.  To guarantee that changes are saved to disk on a timely basis, you can turn on auto-save from the Preferences dialog. Choose Preferences from the Options menu and select the Auto-save tab.  Pick Auto-save and select an auto-save interval.

If things get a bit more desperate, and you realize that you have made a number of mistakes, and you saved the collection to disk with mistakes present, you can always choose to Revert to the state of the collection as of the beginning of the session. You will have to re-do this session’s work, but at least you will have your collection in a state that excludes all the mistakes of the current session.

Undoing changes in the Macintosh version:

During editing, you can use Undo (or use the keyboard shortcut: ⌘Z) from the Edit menu to undo recent edits (typing, pasting, etc.). If you have made multiple changes during the editing of a single record, you can use Undo multiple times to back out of each of your changes.

If you have made changes to your collection which have not yet been saved to disk, the title bar of the collection window will show this by appending "Edited" to the collection name. To undo all edits since your collection was last saved, choose Revert Document from the File menu.

If you have not made any changes to your collection since it was last saved, you can still restore your collection to an earlier state by choosing Revert Document from the File menu. This will bring up the "Versions" display, in which the current state of the collection is shown on the left, and a stack of earlier versions is shown on the right, with a time scale at the right edge of the screen. You can scroll back through earlier versions and restore the collection from any of these earlier states.

Can I make changes to my collection outside of Recollector, by editing the collection file in a text editor?

No and yes. (Read on.)

No, in the sense that if you edit the collection file outside of the Recollector environment, you risk corrupting the file in such a way that you may not be able to open the file the next time you try to do so with Recollector.

Yes, in the sense that the collection file is a text file, in XML format, which can be opened and modified by any text editor.  In other words, there is nothing, physically, that prevents you from opening the collection file with, for example, notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on the Mac), and making changes.

If you want to make changes to your collection, the proper way do this is within the Recollector program, not outside of it by editing the collection file.

If you really feel compelled to edit the collection file directly (and you consider yourself a guru on XML file structure), you are obviously on your own. There are few good reasons, if any, why this should ever be necessary.  At the least, you should make a backup copy of the collection file before making any changes to it, because in the likely case that the edited version can no longer be successfully opened by Recollector, at least you will be able to gracefully fall back to restoring the file to its prior state from the backup copy.

How can I move my collection to a different location or to a different computer?

The best way to move a collection is with the Backup and the Copy capabilities of Recollector. This method guarantees that your collection, with its images intact, will be properly moved. The first step is to back up your collection, using Backup (on the Mac this menu item is named Backup Collection) off of the File menu. If your collection contains images (or audio or video clips), make sure to select Back up the collection file and all the image/audio/video files in the window that comes up. Also choose the parent directory for the backup. The backup process will create a sub-folder in this parent directory, whose name reflects the name of the collection and the date and time of the backup. For example, the folder created might be named BookCollection_23APR2012_11_25.

If you are moving your collection to a different computer, you should copy this entire backup folder to the other computer (for example, using a flash drive). You must, of course, have Recollector installed on the other computer in order to import the copy of your collection from the backup data. Note: You can move a collection between from a Windows to a Mac computer, or vice versa.

The next step, creating the new copy of your collection, differs slightly, depending upon your platform.

For the Windows version of Recollector:

Go to the Recollector Control Window and click the Restore or Copy a Collection from Backup button. (You may be prompted to close the currently open collection, if one is open.) A file dialog will then ask you to locate the collection file that is in the backup folder. This is the XML file (there will only be one such file) in the backup folder that was created when you did the backup step. You will be asked whether to Restore or Copy the file from backup. Be sure to click Copy. (The Restore option is meant for the situation where you are restoring - to its original location - a lost or damaged file from backup.) As the final step, you will be prompted to specify the destination (and name) for the copied collection file. You can put the copied collection file anywhere you want on your hard disk. If the collection contains images (or audio or video clips), then the copy operation will also create a sub-folder and the images/audio/video files will be placed there and that folder will become the collection's Image Directory. The newly copied collection will automatically be added to Recollector's list of collections, made the current collection, and opened.

If you were copying your collection to a new location on the same computer, then Recollector will have both the old and new copies in its list of collections. If you are only interested in the new, moved, copy, then choose Manage Collections / Select Current Collection on the Recollector Control Window. In the list of collections, find the old copy of your collection and select it. (The list shows both the name and location of the collection file, so you should be able to differentiate the old and new copies by their different locations, even though they will have the same name. In addition, the new copy is the one that will be shown as currently selected - with a '+' sign to its left - so the old copy will be a different line in the list.) After selecting the old copy, click Remove from List. You will be notified that removing the collection from the list will not delete the underlying files (the collection file and any image/audio/video files). If you want to delete the underlying files, that should be done from outide Recollector, for example, using Windows Explorer.

For the Mac version of Recollector:

Pick Restore or Copy a Collection from Backup from the File menu. You will then be asked to identify the backup folder (the folder that was created in the backup step). Also, select the Copy the collection ... choice. (The Restore the collection ... choice is meant for the situation where you are restoring - to its original location - a lost or damaged file from backup.) After selecting Copy the collection, click the Browse button to choose the folder where the new collection will be created. The copy of the collection will be made to this folder, with a sub-folder named Images created for copies of the collection's image files. When the copy is complete, the newly copied collection will be opened.

How can I delete a collection? (I was just testing out Recollector and made a “pretend” collection, but now it shows up in the list of my collections, but I just want it to go away.)

On the Mac, there is no menu choice for deleting a collection. A collection file is just a single file on your computer's hard drive, so simply use the Finder to locate the collection file and move it to Trash.

On Windows, go to the Recollector Control Window, and click the Manage Collections / Select Current Collection button. Select the collection you want to delete in the list of collections and press the Remove from List button. A confirmation dialog will come up to make sure that you really want to remove the collection from the list.  As the dialog notes, the actual underlying collection file (the .xml file for this collection) will not be deleted; only Recollector’s notion of the currently available collections will be affected by the delete operation.  If you really want to get rid of all traces of the collection, you should then (carefully) delete the collection file (using, for example, Windows Explorer), and, if you want, any associated image, audio or video files.

Will my collection be lost when I upgrade to the next edition of Recollector?

No. When you move to the next edition of Recollector, nothing is changed with regard to your collection.  Collection files contain version number information, and if a new version of Recollector, containing new features, needs to update your collection file, it will do this automatically.  The only possible problem is using an older version of Recollector on a collection file that was created by a newer version of the program.  Recollector, however, recognizes this situation and an older-version program won’t let you open a later-version collection file – an error message will be shown indicating this situation.

I added a jump-to link. It shows up OK (as a blue, underlined link), but when I click on it nothing happens. Why?

There are three possible reasons why clicking on a jump-to link doesn't perform the expected jump:

  1. The ID # shown in the link doesn't exist in the collection. Make sure that you actually have a record with this ID # in your collection.
  2. You currently have a subset defined, and the record with the ID # that you are trying to jump to is not included in the current subset.
  3. The text that you selected to turn into a jump-to link has some extra characters that aren't part of the actual ID #. For example, if the text that you have made into a jump-to link is #123, but the actual ID # for the corresponding record is just 123 (without the leading '#' character), then the jump-to link won't work. Change the jump-to link to include just the characters that form the ID # value of the record that you are trying to link to. In the current example, leave the '#' character out when selecting the text to turn into a jump-to link.


Check out the Recollector Forum, to pose questions, find answers, and share your experiences with other Recollector users.

Access the Recollector User's Guide from the Help menu of Recollector. The User's Guide is also available online:

Windows version: online (also available as a downloadable PDF: click here)
Mac version: online

Training videos are available that show you how to get the most out of Recollector.


If you can't still can't find the answer to your question about Recollector, please contact MapRecord Publications:

phone: +1-617-682-0339

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