VisualStamp
An Electronic Stamp Catalogue
Version 1.2 (1-April-2006)
© 2005-2006 P.P. Hek

home : www.eperforationgauge.com
mail : psquareh@eperforationgauge.com
last update : 1-April-2006

Contents
 

Preface
Introduction

Maintaining the collection
Browsing and searching the catalogue

Setting the number of columns

Presenting the catalogue information
Presenting the detailed information
Presenting the varieties information
Presenting the stamp pictures

Printing the catalogue information
Printing album pages (new in version 1.2)

Importing the CatView catalogue
Importing catalogue information
Exporting catalogue information

Entering catalogue information

Setting the language
Installing the catalogue
Registering the demo version
Help and version

Special characters

Click here for a short overview...


Preface

For my stamp collecting I traditionally used stamp catalogues on paper. Since a few years, also electronic stamp catalogues on CD-ROM are available and some of them I purchased and used. These are catalogues from the CatView® product range published by Gold & Greenwell (in cooperation with the NVPH) and catalogues from the Collect-A-ROM® product range published by Software Generation (also in cooperation with the NVPH); from both the edition The Netherlands and Overseas. What I noticed however, is that the presentation is completely different than the paper version. Also, the usage is many times complicated and not what I expect from an electronic version. In combination with my programming experience I decided to develop my own electronic version. This resulted in VisualStamp. I did the development in my free time and I must say it took a lot of time, but I am very satisfied with the result.


Introduction

Click here for a short overview of VisualStamp. The layout of the catalogue does not require any further explanation since this is very similar to a catalogue on paper.

An addition in this electronic version is the possibility of a 'cross reference' between the NVPH number and the Scott-, Michel-, Yvert & Tellier- and Stanley Gibbons-number. At the stamp details these numbers can be specified. These numbers are presented with the following codes:

Scott
Michel
Yvert & Tellier
Stanley Gibbons

So when, for NVPH #1, the numbers of these catalogues also are specified as #1, then #1 is presented as: 1 1 1 1 1. Maybe for #1 this does not so make so much sense, but this can be very convenient when the numbers are different.

Another addition in this electronic version is that it is fully customizable which information is presented. With the exception of the NVPH-number, the face-value, the color and the 'used'-quotation, all information can be shown or hidden. Especiallly when printing the want-list this can be very convenient.


Maintaining the collection

In the catalogue, quotations are presented in black, e.g. 5.50. For the different quotations the following symbols are used:

mint never hinged
mint hinged
mint no gum
used
on letter

To mark a stamp as being present in the collection, click with the left mouse button on the quotation. The quotation then changes to the green color including a e.g. 5.50. The maximum number that can be presented in the collection is 3. So by again clicking, the quotation changes to 5.50 and after that in 5.50. To mark a stamp as missing in the collection, click with the right mouse button on the quotation. The quotation then changes to the red color including a e.g. 5.50. A stamp can only be marked one time as missing. To quickly mark all stamps from a series or variety, click with the left or right mouse button on the totals of the quotations.


Browsing and searching the catalogue

At the top. four list boxes are available that are used to quickly jump to a specific collection, coutry, type or series.

In the toolbar four buttons exists to browse the series:

Move to the first series
Move to the previous series
Move to the next page
Move to the last series

The -button is used for quickly finding a specific stamp number. After this, a dialogue appears in which the stamp number can be specified and which catalogue it is (NVPH, Scott, Michel, Yvert & Tellier of Stanley Gibbons); the catalogue indicator should not be specified here. Start the search with the -button (or the Enter-key) or cancel the search with the -button (or the Esc-key). If found, then the catalogue jumps to the series to which the stamp belongs, otherwise an message appears indicating that the stamp number is not found.


Setting the number of columns

The number of columns in which the catalogue is presented is customizable. In the toolbar a button with listbox is available for this. After clicking the list-indicator the following menu appears:

3 Columns
4 Columns
5 Columns

The chosen number of columns is then indicated with one the following icons:

Four columns on a 15" screen with resolution 1024x768 gives a nice result since this is comparable to the format of the NVPH catalogue (and A4 landscape format).


Presenting the catalogue information

There are four possible presentations of the catalogue. In the toolbar a button with listbox is available for this. After clicking the list-indicator the following menu appears:

Show Catalogue
Show Collection
Show Want List
Show Have List

The chosen overview is then indicated with one of the following icons:

Show Catalogue; shows the full catalogue, i.e. all stamps
Show Collection; shows only the stamps that are marked as present (e.g. 5.50)
Show Want List; shows only the stamps that are missing (e.g. 5.50), the want-list
Show Have List; shows only the stamps that are marked more than once as present (b.v. 5.50 of 5.50), the have-list

In any presentation the collection can be maintained. The catalogue is refreshed after clicking again on the button. Is, for example, a stamp being marked as present in the want-list, then the stamp will disappear after clicking again on the button for the want-list.


Presenting the detailed information

The detailed information of a stamp (and variety, series, type, country and collection) is shown or hidden with the -button. When pressed, the detailed information is shown in the last column on the screen, otherwise the details are hidden. Click on the number, value, color or picture to show the detailed information of a specific stamp.

At the top of the detailed information a list box is available to show the details of the stamp, the variety, the series, the type, the country or the collection.

Below this list box the detailed information is shown. A detail is shown in the catalogue when marked with the -symbol and is hidden when marked with the -symbol. Changing from showing to hiding and vice versa is done by clicking on the one of the symbols. Some details have none of the symbols and this means that the detail is never show in the catalogue or is mandatory for showing (NVPH-number, face-value, color and 'used'-quotation). Changes in these settings become effective after clicking the -button; the catalogue is then refreshed with the new settings.

Showing or hiding the stamp pictures is controlled by the detail Reduction Percentage.

Showing or hiding details are different for each presentation , , or . So it might be useful to present only a few details when showing (and printing) the want-list.

This column is also used to change the contents of the details. With the exception of a few details, all details can be modified. Details that can not be modified are marked with a -symbol. Initially, details are presented in the dark grey color. After changing, the color changes to black. If the contents of the detail does not correspond with the type of the detail, the color changes to red. The contents should then be corrected (or use the Ctrl-Z key) before continuing. The NVPH-number should always be specified and can not be empty. Also the name of the variety, series, type, country and collection can not be empty. Changes in these details become effective after clicking the -button; the catalogue is then refreshed with the new details. Use the -button to cancel the changes.

During input (adding or changing) special characters can be typed by using certain key combinations and some characters can not be used. Click here for an overview of these characters.

This detailed information can not be printed.


Presenting the varieties information

The variety information of a series is shown or hidden with the -button. When pressed, the variety information is shown, otherwise the variety information is hidden. The catalogue becomes a kind of 'junior'-edition when the variety information is hidden.


Presenting the stamp pictures

The picture of a stamp is expected in the following path: "applicationfolder\collectionname\countryname\typename\thumbnail\stampnumber.Jpg"

Here is:

applicationfolder - the folder where VisualStamp was installed
collectionname - the name of the collection to which the stamp belongs
countryname - the name of the country to which the stamp belongs
typename - the name of the type to which the stamp belongs
stampnumber - the number of the stamp

The path "collectionname\countryname\typename\thumbnail" is automatically created when browsing the catalogue. By placing here the pictures, these pictures will be displayed when browsing the catalogue. The picture of the stamp must be of type JPG!

Note that showing or hiding the stamp pictures is controlled by the detail Reduction Percentage (see here). The contents of the detail Reduction Percentage does not have any meaning for displaying the stamp picture (the picture is displayed at actual size); this contents only has a meaning when importing the CatView catalogue for creating the thumbnail pictures.


Printing the catalogue information

Printing is started with the -button and is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), that means exactly as shown on the screen. Only the amount of information that is printed per page will be different since the size of the paper size will be different from the size of the screen. Printing is always in landscape format. After starting the print function a dialogue appears in which the number of pages to be printed can be selected, this can be either the current page or alll pages. Note that printing all pages inclusive the stamp pictures may take extremely long and requires many resources of the operating system. Also the 'Spool Settings' and the 'Port Settings' of the printer are critical for handling print jobs by the operating system. Printing is always a complicated topic with operating systems and it seems the best to experiment with printing.


Printing album pages

A remarkable feature (since version 1.2) is printing album pages. For this, important attributes are Album Page, Stamp Width and Stamp Height; these should be supplied at the stamp information. The Album Page attribute is not necessarily numeric and can also contain characters (eg. 1a). If the CatView catalogue is imported, then the Album Page is populated with the page number as used in the DAVO albums (note that the stamp sizes are not always reliable, so check these sizes before using). The size of the stamp frame on the album page is always 4 millimeter larger than the size of the stamp.

Two examples of album pages (A4 format) for the perfs of the 3rd emission follow below:


Type I

Type II

To start printing an album page, click with the right mouse button on a stamp image, -number, -value, or -color and select the Print album page command. After this, the Print Album Page dialogue appears where several settings can be changed:

WidthIs the width of the album page in millimeters.
HeightIs the height of the album page in millimeters.
Both the width and height are minimal 100 and maximal 500 millimeter.
Margin LeftIs the margin at the left side until the (imaginary) border on the album page.
Margin RightIs the margin at the right side until the (imaginary) border on the album page.
Margin TopIs the margin at the top side until the (imaginary) border on the album page.
Margin BottomIs the margin at the bottom side until the (imaginary) border on the album page.
A margin is minimal 10 and maximal 75 millimeter.
Free space LeftIs the free space at left side between the (imaginary) border and the area that is used for printing the information.
Free space RightIs the free space at right side between the (imaginary) border and the area that is used for printing the information.
Free space TopIs the free space at top side between the (imaginary) border and the area that is used for printing the information.
Free space BottomIs the free space at bottom side between the (imaginary) border and the area that is used for printing the information.
A free space is minimal 1 and maximal 25 millimeter.
Free spaceIs the free space that can used for printing the information. This can not be changed but is determined by the settings above..
PrinterThis list contains all known printers on the computer system and from this list, the required printer can be selected.
Blank page
Pre-printed title?Indicates whether the title is pre-printed on a blank album page.
Pre-printed border?Indicates whether the border is pre-printed on a blank album page.
Title FontThe choices for the font of the title are Arial or Garamond.
Title StyleWith this, the position of the title is selected: inside the frame, centered (like Davo) or outside the frame, at the right (like Importa).
Frame StyleWith this, the style of the stamp frame is selected.
Standard FormatsThis list contains several known page formats. After selection, automatically the page size, margins and free spaces are supplied.
Print Options
Print series descriptions?Indicates whether the series descriptions are printed on the album page.
Print stamp images?Indicates whether the stamp images are printed on the album page.
Print stamp numbers?Indicates whether the stamp numbers are printed on the album page.
Print stamp values?Indicates whether the stamp values are printed on the album page.
Print stamp colors?Indicates whether the stamp colors are printed on the album page.
Print stamp descriptions?Indicates whether the stamp descriptions are printed on the album page.

For some settings, an impression is shown on the screen of the result of a setting, for other settings is it advisable to experiment what the result is of these settings.

Printing stamp images requires some more explanation. The picture of a stamp is expected in the following path: "applicationfolder\collectionname\countryname\typename\print\stampnumber.Jpg"

Here is:

applicationfolder - the folder where VisualStamp was installed
collectionname - the name of the collection to which the stamp belongs
countryname - the name of the country to which the stamp belongs
typename - the name of the type to which the stamp belongs
stampnumber - the number of the stamp

The path "collectionname\countryname\typename\print" is automatically created when printing an album page. By placing here the pictures, these pictures will be then printed when printing an album page. The picture of the stamp must be of type JPG! When original stamp pictures (for example the CatView CD-ROM) are available then it is described below how stamp images can be created.

Click on the -button to continue or click on the -button to cancel printing. If continued then the selected settings are stored permanently and used a next time, if cancelled, settings are not stored.

Is printing of the stamp images selected and original stamp images (for example the CatView CD-ROM) are avaialable, then, per stamp, a possibility follows to select the relevant part of the stamp. The original stamp image is shown at the left, upper side of the screen and by using the mouse, the relevant part can be selected. Therefore start the selection by clicking with the left mouse button and keep this one pressed, drag the mouse pointer to the end of the selection and release the mouse button. The selected part is converted to a black/white image and is displayed on the screen.

Click on the -button to continue with the next stamp image or click on the -button to retry the selection if you are not satisfied with the result.

After this, the preview follows of the album page. The stamp frames are automatically positioned on the album page, although there are several possibilities to change this positioning. Normally stamps from one series or one variety are positioned on one line. If there is not enough space on one line, then the frames are positioned on two or more lines. There are also possibilities to change the shape and appearance of a frame. Therefore click with the right mouse button on a frame and select one of the following options:

Repositioning Frames

Move to previous line (combine)
It could be the case that only a limited number of frames for two series/varieties are positioned on two lines. Use this option to combine the 'second' line with the 'first' line so hat both are positioned on one line. This option is only available for the first frame on a line. (This option is also used to undo the Move to next line (split) option.)

Move to next line (split)
It could be the case that a number of frames on one line, but that it looks 'nicer' to position them on two lines. Use this option at the frame where the line has to be split. This option is available for every frame except for the the first frame on a line. (This option is also used to undo the Move to previous line (combine) option.)

Move up
With this option all frames on one line are moved upwards. This option is only available for the first frame on a line, but nor for the first line on the album page.

Move down
With this option all frames on one line are moved downwards. This option is only available for the first frame on a line, but nor for the last line on the album page.

Frame Shapes

RectangleDiamondTriangleTriangle, reversed

Frame Appearances

Single stampHorizontal pairVertical pairBlokHorizontal tte-bche pairVertical tte-bche pair
Strip of 3toStrip of 6

Click on the -button to continue printing or click on the -button to cancel printing.

Note that if not printing on the usual paper format (for example A4), then first a new printer definition should be created with the correct paper size. Printing is always a difficult subject with computer systems so always first try out printing on cheap paper and then on expensive paper.


Importing the CatView catalogue

For importing the CatView catalogue, the button with listbox is used. After clicking the list-indicator the following menu appears:

CatView Catalogue
Collect-A-ROM Catalogue
Philotax Catalogue

Choose from this menu the CatView Catalogue option. This function imports the information from the CatView catalogue. The information of the CatView catalogue is stored in the file 'NVPH Speciaal Catalogus 2000.Cat'. Select this file from the 'Open File' dialogue that appears after starting the function. The file is located in the folder '\Setup\Runimage' on the CD.

Importing the CatView catalogue involves three steps:

Step 1 is exporting the information from CatView; this information is stored in the temporary file 'CatView.Xdb'.
Step 2 is importing the information in VisualStamp; therefore the information is used that is stored in the temporary file 'CatView.Xdb'.
Step 3 is updating the information and deleting the temporary file 'CatView.Xdb'.

The import can be interrupted by the -button during the first and second step. This does mean then that the catalogue information is incomplete. Step 3 can not be interrupted. Depending on the speed of the computer, importing the CatView catalogue takes approximately 2 hours. Especially step 1 will take a long time since this step creates the thumbnails of the stamp pictures on the harddisk!

The VisualStamp catalogue information is stored in the file 'VisualStamp.Xdb'; therefore this file should never be deleted. The necessary diskspace for the file 'VisualStamp.Mdb' is approximately 5 [MB], the temporary file 'CatView.Xdb' is approximately 10 [MB] and the required diskspace for the thumbnails is approximately 75 [MB].

Because the information from the CatView catalogue, edition 2000, is imported, the limitations are that the prices are in Dutch Guilders, so not in Euro's and that only the stamp information is available until the year 2000.

Besides these, there are more limitations and mainly result from a different data structure as used by CatView and VisualStamp and the logic of the NVPH numbering.

The CatView catalogue is subdivided in countries and types, only limited in series, and not in varieties. During import it is tried to subdivide the information into countries, types, series and varieties, but this is only partially possible. Subdividing is on basis of the stamp number. Numbering should be applied following certain rules, but there are exceptions on this. An example of this is The Netherlands 402B, this should be a perforation variety but is a main number. Another example is Suriname 10a, this should be a variety but is also a main number. Yet another example is The Netherlands 121I, this should be a type variety, because of the usage of the Roman I, but is a perforation variety.

Another, not unimportant, limitation is that typing errors in CatView are directly imported in VisualStamp (although many typing errors, especially in the classic areas, are corrected during import).

Due to these limitations it could occur that catalogue information is not presented as it is in the original NVPH catalogue!


Importing catalogue information

This function is reserved for future versions but is also used for importing the demo information.

The demo information covers the first ten series from every type, from every country and is stored in the file ' VisualStamp Demo.Xdb'. Select this file from the 'Open File' dialogue that appears after starting the function. This file is located in the same folder as where the application is installed. After this a dialogue follows that shows the progress and the demo information is being imported. Depending on the speed of the computer, the import takes approximately 15 minutes. No stamp pictures are included with the demo, therefore the CatView catalogue is required.


Exporting catalogue information

This function is reserved for future versions. Is this function accidentally started, then never overwrite VisualStamp.Xdb since this contains the actual catalogue information.


Entering catalogue information

From version 1.1 it is also possible to manually enter catalogue information, so that VisualStamp is also useful without the CatView catalogue.

Entering catalogue information is only possible in the -overview!

VisualStamp has a hierarchal structure of catalogue information where a collection the highest level is and a stamp the lowest level is:

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Collection Information

When no collection information exists, then a new collection is added by right-clicking the title VisualStamp that is displayed at the bottom in the center of the catalogue area. A menu appears with only one option:

Add collection

(Every menu will have a Cancel option, which lets the menu disappear after selecting.)

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the collection can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When collection information already exists, then a collection is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the collectionname that is displayed at the left-upper position of the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the collection will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move collection one position up
Move collection one position down
Add collection before current position
Add collection after current position
Delete collection
Add country

With this menu, the collection that is displayed can be moved, a new collection can be added, the collection that is displayed can be deleted or a new country can be added to the collection.

Note that deleting a collection results in deleting all the underlying countries, types, series, varieties and stamps; after confirmation this can not be undone any more!

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Country Information

When no country information exists within a collection, then a new country is added by right-clicking the collectionname that is displayed at the left-upper position of the catalogue area. A menu appears with an option (among others):

Add country

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the country can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When country information already exists, then a country is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the countryname that is displayed at the top in the center of the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the country will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move country one position up
Move country one position down
Add country before current position
Add country after current position
Delete country
Add type

With this menu, the country that is displayed can be moved, a new country can be added, the country that is displayed can be deleted or a new type can be added to the country.

Note that deleting a country results in deleting all the underlying types, series, varieties and stamps; after confirmation this can not be undone any more!

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Type Information

When no type information exists within a country, then a new type is added by right-clicking the countryname that is displayed at the top in the center of the catalogue area. A menu appears with an option (among others):

Add type

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the type can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When type information already exists, then a type is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the typename that is displayed at the right-upper position of the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the type will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move type one position up
Move type one position down
Add type before current position
Add type after current position
Delete type
Add series

With this menu, the type that is displayed can be moved, a new type can be added, the type that is displayed can be deleted or a new series can be added to the type.

Note that deleting a type results in deleting all the underlying series, varieties and stamps; after confirmation this can not be undone any more!

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Series Information

When no series information exists within a type, then a new series is added by right-clicking the typename that is displayed at the right-upper position of the catalogue area. A menu appears with an option (among others):

Add series

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the series can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When series information already exists, then a series is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the seriesname that is displayed somewhere in the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the series will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move series one position up
Move series one position down
Add series before current position
Add series after current position
Delete series
Add stamp
Add variety

With this menu, the series that is displayed can be moved, a new series can be added, the series that is displayed can be deleted or a new stamp or variety can be added to the series.

Note that deleting a series results in deleting all the underlying varieties and stamps; after confirmation this can not be undone any more!

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Variety Information

When no variety information exists within a series, then a new variety is added by right-clicking the seriesname that is displayed somewhere in the catalogue area. A menu appears with an option (among others):

Add variety

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the variety can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When variety information already exists, then a variety is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the varietyname that is displayed somewhere in the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the variety will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move variety one position up
Move variety one position down
Add variety before current position
Add variety after current position
Delete variety
Add stamp

With this menu, the variety that is displayed can be moved, a new variety can be added, the variety that is displayed can be deleted or a new stamp can be added to the variety.

Note that deleting a variety results in deleting all the underlying stamps; after confirmation this can not be undone any more!

Adding, Deleting or Moving of Stamp Information

When no stamp information exists within a series or variety, then a new stamp is added by right-clicking the seriesname or varietyname that is displayed somewhere in the catalogue area. A menu appears with an option (among others):

Add stamp

Select this option and after this a dialogue appears in which the name of the stamp can be typed (look here for the use of special characters during input). Input is saved with the -button and canceled with the -button.

When stamp information already exists, then a stamp is added, deleted or moved by right-clicking the stampnumber that is displayed somewhere in the catalogue area (the before described possibility of input remains possible, but the stamp will always be added as last). A menu appears with the following options:

Move stamp one position up
Move stamp one position down
Add stamp before current position
Add stamp after current position
Delete stamp

With this menu, the stamp that is displayed can be moved, a new stamp can be added or the stamp that is displayed can be deleted.

Click here for the description of where to place stamp pictures for showing in the catalogue.


Setting the language

Two languages can be selected for the user interface: Dutch and English. In the toolbar a button with listbox is available for this. After clicking the list-indicator the following menu appears:

Nederlands/Dutch
English/Engels

The chosen language is then indicated with one of the following icons:

The catalogue information (the catalogue content) is (of course) in Dutch.

The application is prepared to support multiple languages for the user interface, the translation has not been done yet. The following languages are reserved:

(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)


Installing the catalogue

For installing the full version of VisualStamp follow the instructions for installing the demo version and after this register the demo version.

For installing the latest version of VisualStamp follow the instructions for installing the latest version.


Registering the demo version

Use the -button to show the about box. Click on the -button to show the registration form. Type the e-mail address and the registration key and click on the -button (or the Enter key). Click on the -button (or the Esc key) to cancel the registration.

After a successful registration the following message appears: "Successful registration.". Click on the OK-button to continue. From now, changes are stored permanently and the text SPECIMEN is not included any more on album pages.

If the registration is not successful the following message appears: "The registration key is not correct." Click on the OK-button, check the e-mail address and the registration key and try it again.


Help and version

This manual is shown with the -button (or F1 key) in the default HTML browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Netscape of Mozilla Firefox).

The about box is shown with the -button (or F2 key). In this about box also the version can be found of VisualStamp.


Special characters

During typing the following key combinations can be used for special characters:

1/4 = 1/2= 3/4 =
`a = 'a = ^a = "a = ~a = e =
`A = 'A = ^A = "A = ~A = E =
`e = 'e = ^e = "e =
`E = 'E = ^E = "E =
`i = 'i = ^i = "i =
`I = 'I = ^I = "I =
`o = 'o = ^o = "o = ~o = e = /o
`O = 'O = ^O = "O = ~O = E = /O
`u = 'u = ^u = "u =
`U = 'U = ^U = "U =
,c = ~s = ~n =
,C = ~S = ~N =

The following characters can not be used for the name of a collection, country, type, series, variety or for the number of a stamp (the reason for this is that these characters are not allowed in a file name on disk):

|*?[]/\<>: