Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seeking Alternatives to @Zistle - How Do You Track Your Collection?

2015 Chachi #71
Over five years ago, I took a head-first plunge into Zistle, spending hours upon hours meticulously updating my account on the Zistle database with the baseball cards in my Phillies collection.  This was a huge accomplishment for me, since I never knew exactly how many Phillies baseball cards I owned and I had no way of knowing which Chase Utley cards I had or if I had any Billy Grabarkewitz Phillies baseball card in my collection.  (410 as of this writing and yes, I own three Grabarkewitz cards.)

Over the last few years as I've continued to use Zistle, I've experienced a few slight inconveniences with the Zistle database as cards I had input would appear and then disappear or updates I had suggested would go unnoticed.  Those inconveniences have become bigger annoyances in the past several months as I've been unable to update my collection for Phillies cards from the 2016 Bowman, 2016 Topps Pro Debut and most recently, the 2016 Topps Chrome sets.  I asked the question on the site's fan forum about the lack of recent updates, and one response I received suggested that Zistle was in the midst of legal trouble with Beckett.  (Here's confirmation of this.)

This lengthy prelude is my set-up for the following very basic question:  How do you track your cards?

The recent Zistle issues leave me worried that I may need to migrate the tracking of my collection over to a new platform.  I'm taking suggestions here, and I'd sincerely value your feedback.  I've even opened up a poll in the sidebar to help me with my decision as to what to do next.  (Has this already been the topic of a Blog Bat-Around?  Do those still exist?  If it hasn't may I humbly submit this topic for a Blog Bat-Around?)

As I see it, here are my options:

1.  Zistle - I really like the interface and I've already sunk hours/days of my time into it.  I'm hopeful that it makes a quality return and the glitches/missing sets I've experienced are all remedied.  But . . . I've already been burned once this year when the former Hardball Passport changed owners and the hours I had spent entering games I had attended was all lost.  I'd hate for the same thing to happen with Zistle, so maybe it's time I cut my losses and move on.

2.  Spreadsheet - I'm very tempted by the thought of tracking everything on my own via a massive Excel schedule.  Before his self-imposed hobby exile, the proprietor of 14,000 Phillies had created an incredibly detailed and impressive Phillies checklist in Excel and I may use this as the starting point for my own file.  But this brings it's own set of issues as I'm not Excel savvy enough to be able to run the types of searches I'd need or to sort the data in a meaningful way.

3.  The Trading Card Database - This seems like the best alternative to Zistle, and it's very impressive that it has a full and complete listing of minor league and team issued team sets.  I've had to manually input all recent Phillies minor league and team issued team sets into Zistle, and The Trading Card Database already has these obscure offerings covered.  But the interface seems a little clunky, and I really don't feel like going through the exercise of re-inputting my entire collection into an online database a second time.

4.  Beckett - I'm listing this here as an option, but I believe this would come with a monthly or annual fee and I'm not about to pay for this service.

5.  Other - What am I missing?  What else is out there?  Does anyone remember the old Card Collector software that ran on older PCs?

Thanks again for your help!


Reds Card Collector said...

I've completely abandoned zistle and stuck with Trading Card Database. I haven't had any issues and like how the reports are displayed as well as how easy it is to update my collection.

Burnell said...

I use Trading Card Database. It's a pain to put everything in at first but I love the set up and ease of operation with it afterwards.

Anonymous said...

I not only remember The Card Collector, but my first version of CC came on 5.25" floppies (!!) and was DOS-based (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I have no qualms about using my AARP card for discounts, and it doesn't bother me when people don't get my 1970's pop culture references, but get me talking about my early forays into computers and I feel positively ancient. :-D

Unfortunately, I don't know how much help I can be. I used CC for years, switched to another software package called WinCards for the better part of the 1990's, limped along with CC when WinCards went under - I had no data for new sets but could at least track by card number - and then a few years ago I made the leap into using a homemade Access database to track the bulk of my collection.

Access worked for me, but I don't know that I'd recommend it to anyone... But my main point is that I went that way because I got tired of tracking my cards through methods that I didn't control.

Jim said...

Thanks guys and I've started to play around in Trading Card Database over the past week.

I think the one overriding aspect of this is that I'm lacking control. And TSR's comment hits the nail right on the head - I'm tired of using methods to track my collection that I don't control. I've been at the whim of Card Collector and Zistle in the past and perhaps Trading Card Database in the future.

I spent countless hours (of fun mind you) inputting my collection into Card Collector, and now that data is tucked away on a floppy disc in some forgotten box in our basement. I'm starting to think it's time to bite the bullet and come up with something on my own.

deal said...

I use Google Spreadsheets. Which is basically Excel. Although it isn't very comprehensive. Just something I can use to take to shows. You may want to talk to Capewood Collections, I am pretty sure he keeps his entire collection on his own DB.