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Alternatives to iTunes database front end?


Philomathean
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I've been assiduously entering information into the iTunes database about the many classical CDs I've imported (in a bit-perfect format, thanks to the very valuable advice on this site), and still have a long way to go. However, having some knowledge of relational databases (MS-Access, SQL Server), I find the iTunes front end to be a real clunker, requiring manual entry of significant quantities of data and a consequent wasting of time. While I don't think it's reasonable to expect a music storage-and-retrieval program like iTunes to provide the features of a truly robust, industrial-grade database, it would be great if there was a way to link such an advanced database to iTunes data so that the advanced features of the former could be used to (for example) populate/update fields of the latter.

 

Does anyone know of a front-end alternative or workaround that might provide some relational and find/replace facilities on the order of MS-Access (or even Excel)? I'm thinking that something with the ability to populate fields conditionally (based on the content of other fields), and to find-and-replace words/phrases *within* fields, would go a long way to reducing the amount of face time my iTunes collection requires.

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

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The iTunes library can be exported in XML format which should, in theory, be importable into Excel. My dalliances with said feature threw up the fact that the iTunes XML file is non-standard in its layout and does not import correctly into Excel - at least it never would for me!

 

The other way is to export it as a text file. This is Tab delimited and will open correctly within Excel. The problem comes when you export it back again! Excel will save as Tab delimited but I could never get iTunes to like it!

 

I believe multiple track edits can be applied by selecting all of the tracks you wish to edit and then either right click, or cmd click on a Mac, and see what it will give you access to.

 

If you can get what you want, doing something that iTunes knows about then everything will be fine, if you do something iTunes doesn't expect then you're in for a hard time, I fear! Hopefully someone more conversant in iTunes will pop along in a minute and be a bit more helpful!

 

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Thanks, Bob. I was always afraid of reimporting Excel-edited data into iTunes for the reasons you mentioned. Maybe Apple ought to modify iTunes so that it plays better with other database apps (overly wishful thinking, perhaps), or maybe someone can (or has) come up with a front-end solution that deals with iTunes idiosyncrasies so we don't have to guess about it. It really seems to me that live-editing iTunes data through a full-featured database program's front end would be ideal, even if a bit of a pipe dream.

 

I do know about the batch-editing feature you cited (i.e., select multiple tracks and edit the desired fields). It's better than nothing, but still leaves me growing cobwebs in front of my computer. And unfortunately, it doesn't allow one to find/replace content within a field (e.g., a word common to several otherwise different entries).

 

But thanks again for the info!

 

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Philomathean, since you know how to design a database, why not create your own database that links to the files in your iTunes library? In your own database you could define many more fields than permitted by iTunes, which would be very useful for classical music.

 

In iTunes, every track is uniquely identified by a track ID that is persistent even if you move the track in your file system. You can use the track ID as a key field to relate a track in your custom database to its entry in the iTunes database.

 

Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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Bob S: That would be great. Are you saying the iTunes database can be linked into something like MS-Access (as, for example, an Excel table can be linked)? If so, I have to admit I made some assumptions and missed that one. But I think it would make a world of difference. I'll give it a try and report back (might be a few days). Thanks.

 

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Example of how AppleScript facilitates communication between your database and iTunes:

If, within the database program, the user selects one or more tracks to be played, the database can execute an AppleScript to command iTunes to load those tracks into a playlist and play the playlist. (The database would identify them by their iTunes track ID's.)

 

Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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I think I understand...Create an entirely separate database (no linking of iTunes data required). Then have AppleScript execute iTunes commands based on what you select in the separate database. I was thinking along different lines, but this sounds like a great idea.

 

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