POpCORN for document collection management

Do you have a large collection of PDF documents and you find that managing the collection is a challenge? I looked into several Document Management solutions, such as these  and these , but I found they are generally too complicated for my requirements. All I needed was a way to organize my documents into topics and attach some notes to a document that remind me if I read it, and what is interesting about it.

Visualization of document relations

Visualization of document relations

My solution was to write my own software, which I called it POpCORN (Personal dOcument Collection ORgaNizer). POpCORN is based on JavaFX 8 and includes some of the platform’s nice features. Since it is written in Java, it can work on several platforms, but I have concentrated my efforts on Windows only so far.

POpCORN is still under development but it is complete enough for me to start using it reliably. To use POpCORN, all I need to do is open the root folder where all my documents reside (PDF, DOC, TXT, RTF, etc.) and POpCORN will scan all the files in the folder, including any sub-folders, and display file information such as Title, Authors, Year of publications and any attached notes. None of this information is extracted automatically at this point so they have to be entered manually by the user. Once the scan is complete, the software offers these features:

  • Search or sort the list of documents based on Title, Authors, Type, etc.
  • Assign any number of tags to the document
  • Generate tags automatically based on the name of the sub-folder they reside in
  • Filter the documents based on several parameters.
  • Assign reading priorities to documents
  • Assign rating to documents
  • Assign text notes to documents
  • Visualize the relationships between the documents and tags as a graph
  • Open the documents from within the application
  • Printing options

What keeps POpCORN simple is saving all the assigned information to XML files located within the same documents’ folder. Documents can be added, deleted, or moved within the folder hierarchy without losing any information collected about the documents. Moreover, the entire folder can simply be moved or copied to another computer or stored in the cloud.

POpCORN has been a two-month project of part-time work, but I am not done with the project yet. Since the ultimate goal of managing a large collection of documents is to support my research endeavors, I am going to add some features to organize and sort my written notes and automate the extraction of some information from the documents.

I am satisfied with the project so far but it will remain for personal use for a little while. I am going to share the software with some friends and colleagues to use and evaluate. Once it matures, I will decide what the future will be for POpCORN.