I suppose I should do an actual review and assessment of this software, like I promise oh so long ago.
On the whole, this is perhaps the best collecting software available that is under $150. It’s even better because the software is free to download. It has many advantages over similar products out there, and has some of the best customer responsiveness of any software company. It is very intuitive to use, and is visually easy to see what you’re doing. Is it perfect? No, but it’s awful close IMO.
Here are some of the features available:
1. Customizable database. You only add in what you have, or want. You are not stuck with catalogue entries of stuff you never heard of, or ever wanted.
2. Customizable reports. You can generate a report for just about any category you want. Collected issues, want lists, by title, by publisher, or what not. It’s far from complete, but what is there is fully usable, and very easy to use.
3. Search functions allow you to search by title, character, story arc, writer, artist, etc. As of right now you can only do this in titles you have in your personal catalogue, but it will eventually be available when looking to add titles to your catalogue from the master data base.
4. Customizable fields. You can add all sorts of personal data notes to any issue or title in your catalogue. These can be anything you can imagine, from where you got it, to condition notes, to personal ratings.
5. Online sales. It’s a fairly simple process to sell your unwanted comics through CCL. This is where they generate their revenues, so it is a bit pricey compared to sites like Ebay. However, the upside is that maintaining your catalogue, either from buying or selling, is nearly automatic through the software.
6. Evolving Software. Midten Media, who make the CCL software, regularly update it, and keep adding new and improved features. Much of this is in response to user requests and feedback. The software is not yet “complete,” but is always improving, and the future is bright on this end.
7. Offline functionality. Unlike some other software, you do not need to be online to use it. You will need to be online to update, sell, or buy, but not to generate reports, add issues in added titles, or generally review your collection. You will also need to be online to register the software before you can use it, but as you have to download it to begin with, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Other kudos to hand out as well here. First off, I must give props to the CCL team, and they way they respond to end user complaints, feature requests, bug reports, and so on. Unlike many other software companies, these folks generally respond to a given post with in 48 hours, regardless if it’s one person, or a hundred making the notation. They are pleasant to deal with, very personable, and best yet, comic collectors and fans themselves. They are active, but not excessively so on the CCL forums, and it’s there that they show off their wondeful customer service skills. A big round of applause must also go to the CCL community, not just on the forums, but all those who have contributed to the master data base with issue updates, additional titles, and corrections to issues and titles. The forumites at CCL are among the best to “chat” with, and rarely does anyone get over worked over a post, and even then it’s minor at worst.
Now, there is a bit of a mixed bag with this software. The data base is far from complete, and is completely reliant on the community for expanding it. This is both good and bad. On the good side, it gives the community at large a sense of being part of the process, a bit of a sense of “ownership.” There are some truly impressive individuals who seem to be robots, inputing vast numbers of edits. On the down side, there tend to be a number of change requests for the master data base that just end up wasting time. Either they are making additional errors, or fail to note what they want changed, or fail to follow change guidelines. This does get mitigated somewhat by the peer review process, where CCL users can vote on changes (for or against), though CCL adminstrators have the final say on what gets approved or rejected (for now).
In addition to the data base stuff, the software does tend to be a bit of a memory hog. I highly reccomend having at least 1GB of RAM if you’re running XP, and more if you’re running Vista. This is of course, highly dependent upon how large your personal catalogue is, and how many issues you have entered as owning. Processor speed is also a fatcor, bit that’s mainly in terms of load time and initializing.
In the end, I highly reccomend this software for comic collectors. It beats the heck out of using a spread sheet (Excel or Open Office or what ever), or a text file. The forum community is great, and very active. The CCL employees are very friendly and responsive, and make everyone feel at home. And I’m not just saying this because they sent me a t-shirt, or because I’m now a moderator on the forums. I was singing thier praises before the swag!