|Submitted: Sep 5 2009|
Updated: Apr 1 2012
Qercus is a free-form desktop database that allows records to contain an arbitrary selection of fields, and supports text indexing and searching. Several data types are recognised, including text, numbers, audio (e.g. mp3), images and web addresses. In Qercus databases the data is structured in various ways to allow many forms of searches: For example by data value (float, integer, word search etc.), by the names (tags) of field and record types (which can be declared arbitrarily), and by using parent-child relationships between records. This high level of flexibility makes Qercus well-suited for storing notes and observations. It can also be used for conventional 'card-index' databases such as cataloguing collections. It can be used for storing notes on any topic, business contacts, places that you have visited ... The inspiration for this software is Blackwell Idealist (long discontinued, still no comparable replacement), which academic users in particular found to be very useful. Example databases for books, technical papers, and podcasts are supplied.
Fields may be inserted, re-ordered, or changed to a different type arbitrarily in any record using buttons to the left of each field (picture 1). The macro-button field makes it possible to embed searches and other commands within any record to assist navigation. For example, a macro-button to find all records of a particular type can easily be added. Each record and field type has its own editable colour/ style (picture 2). Picture 3 shows the search Window (on Unbuntu 11.04). Up to six hit-lists (records found by searches) are available.
This software is distributed as a zip file. and was developed and tested on Kubuntu Lucid. To make it work Python 2.5, 2.6 or 2.7, Canonical Storm (deb package python-storm), Xapian Python binaries, and PyQt4 must be installed. The author would welcome contact from anyone who is interested in working on this project. The forum link is a MediaWiki page on sourceForge.
Update 16-Apr-2012: The bug on the Ubuntu Unity desktop described below is fixed in the 12.04 release.
v0.24b2 - Fixes to path handling, particularly for the "any url/file" type field. These should not affect Linux users - the mods. are to permit use of backslashes in filenames on Windows machines. You can, for example, create a button that opens a directory with MS explorer, Nautilus etc.
v0.24b1 - Shift-F5 keyboard shortcut added: Opens search dialogue ready for a text search. Keyboard focus handling improved for more convenient operation on laptops. Search dialogues have new checkbox labelled 'Switch': If checked there will be a switch to the hit-list selected for search results when the dialogue closes.
v0.23b3 - External programs specified by Define-Configure (for external mp3 player, web-browser etc.) can now take command line parameters. For Windows users, exe build scripts improved.
v0.23b2 - Minor change to make menu work better with Unity desktop (tested on Ubuntu 11.10). For Windows users, revised scripts for producing a stand-alone exe. Note: Problems associated with the Unity desktop remain - menu entries still do not grey out once black. This may cause confusion and strange behaviour.
V0.23b1 - This is the first beta release, produced after much fine tuning. There are still some greyed out features that are not completed, but the core functions work well. Fields can now be opened for editing by double clicking with the mouse. Functions for re-assigning fields and records, and for deleting empty fields and records, are now available.
V0.22a1 - Implements macro commands. These are embedded in fields of base type macro and can be placed in any record. Available commands are FindChildren (of current record), SearchByRecordType, SearchByText, SearchByRecordNumber and SelectHitLists. The ViewPanel (i.e. list of records on left hand side of window) now resizes properly. If no bugs are found, this will be released as a beta in a month or two.
v0.21a3 - Improved unicode handling in natural-format import/export. Fields that are matched in search operations are now identified on-screen in displayed records.
v0.21a2 - fixes a minor bug (hour-glass cursor instead of pointer).
v0.21a1 - Usability improvements and some bug fixes. New configuration menu to allow external browsers to be used. Four new field types - including field types for audio (MP3 etc.) and PDF files. These have play/view buttons. Existing databases will be modified automatically when opened (some additional tables are needed). Recommend making back-ups before opening. New 256x256 pixel icons for Ubuntu and Windows (Windows 7 compatible).
v0.20a2 - A few minor bug fixes and improvements. An hour-glass cursor is now shown during import, export and re-index operations.
v0.20a1 - This project has reached a major milestone with the implementation of word indexing and searching (uses the Xapian library). Import and export of files in a simple text format (Idealist Natural) is now supported.
v0.13a5 - Various minor mods and bug fixes to allow Qercus to run properly on more operating systems. Tested on Ubuntu 11.04, Kubuntu 11.04, Windows XP and Windows 7/64. Scripts for creating Windows .exe builds now also supplied in the .zip file (.exe build not supplied).
v0.13a4 - One minor bug fix. Added 'tree' button to make it easier to find parents or children of currently-displayed record.
v0.13a3 - Minor bug fix to GUI. Set up project page on Sourceforge with MediaWiki forum.
v0.13a2 - Document Identifier (DOI) fields now display without crashes. Unless any more bugs are found, there will be no further updates for some time now.
v0.13a1 - Full RGB colour options added. Project renamed to Qercus (formerly Knowledge). Parent-Child hierarchy between records is now available. The database format has changed, but existing databases can be converted to the new format with the aid of a script (supplied).
v0.12a4 - Minor tweaking. Screenshots updated.
v0.12a2 - the 'Add Record' function now works again. Apologies for introducing an error in v0.12a1. Unless more bugs are found there will be no updates for some time now.
Several minor bugs in v0.1a fixed. In version v0.12a, 'confirm-record-delete', and 'duplicate record' features have been implemented. A rudimentary desktop icon is now supplied.
The prototype has come to fruition with the release of the first alpha, 0.1a. Improvements include working search facilities (except text) using an embedded database engine. Many usability improvements, including a separate panel for showing hit-lists have been introduced. An example database is included.