Recollector User’s Guide

 

Viewing your collection on an Android device

 

The Recollector App is a freely available app for Android smartphones or tablets that works in conjunction with the Windows version of Recollector.  With the Recollector App you can carry your collection database with you, on an Android smartphone (or Android tablet).  Note: There is an equivalent version of the Recollector App that runs on Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  See the User’s Guide page on the iPhone/iPod/iPad version of the Recollector App for more information.

 

The Recollector App works as a read-only viewer for your collection data.  You do not add or edit data with the App; you continue to update your collection using the version of Recollector that runs on your PC.  But any time that you want to send a copy of your collection to your Android device, you can now do that, and take your collection data with you on the road, on a device that fits in your pocket.

 

There are three steps you need to take to use the Recollector App:

1.      Install the Recollector App on your Android device.

2.      In the Windows version of Recollector, save your collection data for export to the App.

3.      Move the download file created in the previous step to your Android device.

Once you have completed these steps, you will be ready to view your collection data on your Android smartphone.  The following sections describe these three steps in more detail.

 

Installing the Recollector App on your Android device

 

The Recollector App is available, free, in the apps section of Google Play. Search in Google Play for “Recollector”.  The Recollector App is aimed at Android Versions 2.2 or later.

 

Installing the Recollector App is no different from installing any other Android app.  You just locate it at Google Play (search for “Recollector”) and click “Install”.  This step only needs to be performed once.  Even if you want to download and view multiple collections, you only need one copy of the Recollector App.  Of course, if updated and enhanced versions of the App are released, then you may re-install the App to bring it up to the latest version.

 

Once installed, you will see the Recollector icon among your applications.  If you start the Recollector App, you will see only the sample collection (a small collection of polar maps) that ships with the application. The sample collection is just intended to let you get familiar with the Recollector App before you have moved your own collection data down to your Android device. Read the next sections to learn how to export your collection data from Recollector, running on your PC, and move it to your Android device.  Once a collection database has been moved to the Android device, the Recollector App will find your collection and let you start viewing it.

 

Saving your collection data for export to the Recollector App

 

Choose Export for download to the Recollector App from the File menu of the collection viewer window to generate a data file for downloading.  If there is a currently active subset in effect (either a regular subset or a search subset, or both), you will be asked whether you want to export just the records in the subset or all the records in the collection.  The export will produce a single file that contains both the text and image data for all the records in the currently open collection (or in the current subset of that collection, if you requested to limit the export to just the records in the subset).

 

You will next be prompted to specify a name and location for the download file.  By default, the file will have the same name as the collection file itself, except with _App appended to the main part of the filename.  So, for example, if your collection file is MapCollection.xml, the suggested name for the download file will be MapCollection_App.xml. It is recommended that you accept the suggested filename, but, if you prefer, you can change the name, as long as the filename extension remains .xml.  You can also specify the directory in which the generated download file is placed.  By default, the program suggests that it be put into the same directory as the collection file. If you plan to use Dropbox to transfer your collection data to your Android device, then you will want to specify the Apps/Recollector sub-folder of your Dropbox folder as the target directory for the export. See the section, below, about using Dropbox, for more details.

 

If you are not using Dropbox, keep a note of the name of the download file and the directory in which it was placed, since you will need to navigate to this file later on, when you are transferring it from the PC to the Android device. But note: If you connect your Android device to your PC with a USB cable (see “Approach #1” in the section, below, on moving the download file to your Android device), then you can choose a folder (such as the Recollector folder) on the device’s disk as the directory for the export operation.  This way, you will avoid having to move the file to your device as a separate step, since it will be written directly to the device’s SD card in this export step.

 

The program will also ask you to specify how images should be chosen for inclusion in the download file:

When your collection is sent to the Recollector App, images are sent in thumbnail format.  Even so, particularly for collections with many images, the images can add considerable size (and, consequently, download time) to the download file.  Therefore you are given several options for the handling of images:

·         Include ALL images – This choice is appropriate the first time you download a particular collection.  Thumbnails for all of the collection’s images will be included.  Consequently, this choice creates the largest possible download file and will require the longest download time.

·         Include only one image per record – This choice may make sense if you have many images with each record, yet you don’t anticipate a need for all of that imagery when looking at your collection with the Recollector App.  The program will only include the first image found for a record and skip the other images.

·         Include only images added or updated since the last export – This choice is usually the most sensible option for second and subsequent downloads, when you just want to get your Recollector App version of the collection database in sync with your PC version.  With this choice, the program only includes images that are new or whose file modification date differs from the modification date when the image was last downloaded for export to the Recollector App.  Note: This choice will be disabled the first time a collection is exported for download to the Recollector App, since no prior download history will be available.

·         Exclude images – This choice makes sense if you are not interested in bringing images along with the data from your collection.  It also makes sense if you know that you have not added or updated any images since the last export to the Recollector App. In this case (when no images have been added or changed since the last export), you would produce the same image-free download file as you would get from the previous choice (include only images added or updated since the last export).  However, processing speed for generating the download file will be faster if you specify up front that images are to be excluded.

Notes regarding images:

·         The size of the thumbnail images created for export is initially set according to the thumbnail image size specified in the Preferences dialog (opened from the Options menu).  Depending upon the size of the screen on your Android device, you may wish to increase or decrease the thumbnail size settings before proceeding with the export operation.  The note in the dialog also shows you the current maximum thumbnail height and width settings.  To change these settings, click the Adjust thumbnail size button and specify modified sizes on the subsequent dialog.  It should be noted that the file size for a download file increases exponentially with the thumbnail size.  A thumbnail image size of 400x400 pixels will require approximately four times as much space (and have a four-fold longer download time) as a 200x200 pixel thumbnail.

·         You also have the option of downloading images in their full resolution, as well as in thumbnail format.  This, of course, may produce an extremely large download file and a very long download time.  The Recollector App will, in any case, display your images from the downloaded thumbnails.  However, the Recollector App lets you long-click on an image, in which case the image is sent to the Android Gallery (photo viewing) application.  If you downloaded full images (as well as thumbnails), then, in Android Gallery, the full resolution images are displayed, and, even on the small screen of a smart phone, you can pan and zoom, sliding the image around and viewing different sections of the image at a higher resolution.  Because of this capability, you may want to consider downloading your collection with full-size images.  However, be sure that the SD card on your Android device has adequate free space for the large download file.  You might also want to consider attaching your Android device to your PC (via a USB cable), because transferring a large file will, in general, be much quicker when transferred to a USB-mounted SD card than will downloading the same file over the internet.

·         The Recollector App gathers all images for a given collection into a single folder on the Android device.  Therefore images within a single collection are identified only by their simple filename (e.g. 123.jpg), and not by the full pathname (e.g. C:/myimages/mapcollection/123.jpg) that they had on the PC.  The PC version of Recollector allows you to include images from different directories.  Therefore, on the PC, it is possible (but not likely) that you have two data records in a collection pointing to two image files with the same simple filename but different full pathnames (e.g. C:/myimages/mapcollection/123.jpg and C:/added_images/123.jpg).  This case will not be handled properly by the Recollector App.  The download file will contain only one of the two images, and both records that pertain to the two original images will, in the Recollector App, point to the same image.  In other words, one of the two records in the Recollector App will include an inappropriate image.  This is a very unlikely event, since one would not typically have two different images, for two different records in your collection, with the same simple filename.  To make explicit a practice that you probably are already following: Use a distinct simple filename for each and every image in a given collection (regardless of what directories the images are stored in).

Note: Audio and video clips that are included in your collection are not exported to the Recollector App.  Only image files referenced in image/audio/video fields are exported.

Normally the program exports data for all fields in your collection (other than image fields, if you requested no images to be included).  However, only fields included in the List View are exported if you are in Limited Item Details mode.  This is the mode that you can turn on with the menu toggle on the Options menu: Limit Item Details to Only Fields Shown in List. In this mode, only those fields that are included in the List View are shown in the Item Details view.  And, similarly, when you are in this mode, only those fields shown in the List View will be included in the download file for the Recollector App.  (Images are treated specially: They are exported based on the choices described above for handling images in the download file, regardless of whether the image fields are included in the List View.)  This special handling of export when in Limited Item Details mode provides a way for you to export just a specific set of fields (rather than all of your collection’s fields), when sending your collection to the Recollector App.  If you are in Limited Item Details mode, the program will ask you, before executing the export, whether to export just the fields shown in the List View, or all fields in the collection.

Once you have chosen the image-inclusion strategy, the program will write out the download file.  Progress dialogs will report the records and images as they are written.

Note that the download file, like the original collection file, is an XML file (with filename extension .xml).  In fact, the original collection file can be used as the download file, though doing this would exclude all images.  Therefore, even though you could simply download your collection’s data file and use it with the Recollector App, it is strongly recommended that you export a separate download file, as described in this chapter of the User’s Guide, and download that exported file.

Moving the download file to your Android device

Unless you wrote out the download file directly to the SD card (mounted as a removable drive on your PC) in the previous step, the download file must be moved from the PC to the SD (flash memory) card of your Android device.  There are several ways to do this.  Two methods will be described here, though there are other approaches and tools that have been developed for downloading data to Android devices.  Whatever method you use, there is one rule that you must adhere to:

The Recollector App download file must be placed on the device’s SD (memory) card, either in the top-level (root) directory (often referred to as the /sdcard directory), or in a top-level folder on the SD card (e.g. /sdcard/downloads).  It must NOT be placed in a sub-directory deeper in the SD card file hierarchy (e.g. not in a folder with a pathname like /sdcard/shared/temp).

The very first time you run the Recollector App, it creates a sub-directory named Recollector on the SD card (i.e. /sdcard/Recollector).  This is one of the top-level folders that you can use as the target for a download operation.

Approach #1: Use Dropbox.

Dropbox is a popular file sharing service (available for free, but with paying options for users who desire more storage space for shared files).  If you have Dropbox installed on your PC, you can also connect to Dropbox from the Recollector App running on your mobile device. The export file needs to be placed in the Apps/Recollector folder of the Dropbox folder on your PC. (The Apps/Recollector folder is automatically set up by Dropbox when you first connect to Dropbox from the Recollector App on your Android device.)  You can specify the Dropbox/Apps/Recollector folder as the target directory for your export, when you choose Export for Download to Recollector App from the File menu on your PC. Alternatively, you can place the export file somewhere else (e.g. your Desktop), and subsequently drag this file to the Dropbox/Apps/Recollector folder using Windows Explorer. A detailed description of how to use Dropbox to transfer your collection file can be found at the following web page: http://www.maprecord.com/DropboxWithRecollector.html.

Approach #2: Connect your Android phone to your PC with a USB cable.

Android devices generally come with a USB cable which can be used to connect your Android device to your PC, via a USB port.  Follow the documentation that came with your Android device for specific instructions on how to use a USB cable to connect your device to a PC and mount your device's SD card as a removable disk drive on the PC.  Once mounted, you can use Windows Explorer to drag and drop your collection export file from your PC to the root directory or to one of the top-level directories on the SD card.  Alternatively, if you plug your device into your PC and mount the device’s SD card as an external disk prior to exporting a download file, then you can choose a top-level directory on the SD card as the target directory for the export step.  This way you completely avoid having to move the file from your PC to your device as a separate step, since it will be written there directly by the export step.

Using the Recollector App

Once you have moved your collection export file to the SD card of your Android device, the Recollector App will be able to locate the file.  For instructions on how to use the Recollector App’s features, see the Recollector App’s User’s Guide, which you can access within the Recollector App by clicking the Menu button and choosing Help.


Back to: Recollector - Home Page