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Technical Discussion

The Visual Cellar Display: This is clearly the most striking feature of the software. Very quick screen display of thousands of bottles (up to about 3,000) at one time is technically very difficult. Normal programming techniques - providing the flexibility of our software - would be visibly slow even showing as few as 200 bottles.

A key flexibility feature is the resizability of the Visual Cellar windows. To a degree not often appreciated, the physical limitations of a computer monitor impose enormous restrictions on computer software. The ability to expand or contract the cellar windows greatly increases the usability of the system.

Another key feature is the integration of the underlying SQL database with the Visual Cellar. The automatic coloring of bottles to present the results of a database query is a particularly exciting feature of the software. To our knowledge, no other computer application utilizes visual presentation of database information to the degree achieved in this feature.

A third key feature is the integration of the table presentation of wines with the Visual Cellar. The "focus" in the Visual Cellar automatically tracks with the "focus" within any of the rows in the table creating a clear visual link between these two alternate displays of information.

Mixed Database of Shipped and User Information: Many products present predefined databases of computerized information. A few even focus on wine related information. Many other products are designed for user created databases. Contact Managers are a common example. Very few products deal with a mixture of the two scenarios. Creating a smooth integration of the two is technically demanding. The degree to which this has been achieved is best illustrated by the capability of the software to automatically link wines added by the user with future reviews of the same wine written by Robert Parker!

Intelligent Lookup: The Internet has created a wide understanding of the concept of text-based information location. Popular Internet facilities like Yahoo and Alta Vista quickly become necessities to frequent browsers of the Web. Anyone experienced in their use knows that careful wording of the search text is essential. It is also typically unforgiving and can therefore be frustrating. This software attempts to create a more forgiving environment. It automatically creates word-by-word indexes for seven key wine characteristics (producer, label name, country, region, location, vintage, and variety). The magic comes in being able to input "snippets" of text to indicate the desired wines. You need not know the correct spelling of Tetre-Roteboeuf to find it virtually instantly. Nor do you have to identify 1990 as a vintage. The result is the ability to precisely find wines through a text string that comes naturally.

You can even bring up a list of all the key word entries beginning with any letter combination, optionally even with a display of frequency. The same capability exists for the words used in the tasting notes (Just how often does Parker use the word bold?).

For the even more adventurous, we provide a facility that will compile all the unique entries for any wine characteristic, again with optional display of frequency. This list itself can be quite educational. Once the list is up, just click on any entry to see a list of all matching wines! The list stays up for re-clicking. A very powerful way to explore the world of wines.

A Few More "Quickies":

  • Drag and drop bottles from one location in a cellar to another location in that cellar or in another cellar window. All bottles with the same characteristic can be moved at the same time.
  • Bin order and bin labeling can be done virtually anyway you want. Neither need be just "left to right" or "top to bottom". Common label sequences are generated automatically.
  • Dynamic display of the bin label under the cursor.
  • Easy experimentation with new bottle arrangements. Move all bottles with a common characteristic in bulk to see, for example, if your Italian wines will all fit in a particular cellar area. Like a spreadsheet, if you don't save a rearrangement, the current data is unchanged. Most databases don't provide this type of flexible analysis.

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