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Subject: Documentation systems

Documentation systems

From: Rian Deurenberg <r.deurenberg<-a>
Date: Friday, January 25, 2008
Kate Eccles-Smith <keccles-smith [at] netspeed__com__au> writes

>...  I am investigating
>software to manage the condition/treatment reporting of our business
>and to manage our client database.
>The only one I can find is Conservation Data Systems.  I think it
>will do the job well but am just wondering if anyone out there has
>experience with this software and any comments they care to make?

We have been using CDS at Fallon and Wilkinson, LLC for about 9
months now and are generally happy with it, except for a few
limitations the program has. Since the program's possibilities are
available from the manufacturer's website
<URL:> and there is also an
AIC Objects group paper available online

  "A Conceptual Model and
  Practical Solution for Conservation Documentation"
  John R. Watson.

I will focus on the issues we found while using the program.

There is only email help, no telephone. It should be said the people
are friendly and respond in a timely manner. I found so far that
they are very willing to help you understand the program, but will
not adjust it to your needs. In other words, you cannot customize
the program with additional fields, such as 'client information' in
the short form, while that is available in the long form. Nor could
or would they make custom reports for us, instead they pointed out
how you could print out certain fields in separate reports.

The program offers a short and a long form, of which we mostly use
the short form. The long form is a bit more complicated, but does
provide space to include a condition report, treatment proposal, and
treatment report all in one object file. In the short form, you
would need to make a new file for each of these steps.

Reports with many pictures can only be printed out in two separate
documents: one with the text (and image references), and the second
with the images. Because of 'database limitations' the images cannot
be integrated within the report, even when reduced in size. To us,
this is a major drawback as the images cannot be arrange any other
way than in alphabetical order by name, which is not necessarily the
way they are ordered in the report. Perhaps downsizing the images
even more to 1028x764 or 800x600 ppi will allow them to be put in,
but we haven't tried that yet.

    *   There is no good way to make an invoice in the program.

    *   It may be good to realize that it is not possible to import
        or export files other than images into or out of the
        database. So it is complicated to include charts or tables
        in your report (unless you convert them to images), or make
        backups other than the one the program provides. We
        generally print our reports to a PDF file to have a back-up
        of our reports.

    *   On the positive side: it does produce professional looking
        proposals and reports, with your own logo at the top. There
        is ample space to put information on the object, condition
        notes, treatment reports etc, especially in the long form.
        And you can spell check it, if you wish. You can customize
        lists for signature lines, object materials, and
        conservation materials. There is also an option to put in
        standardized text, which can be helpful for multiple reports
        on similar objects.

And last but not least, it is a very affordable program for
conservators in private practice.

Rian Deurenberg
Fallon and Wilkinson, LLC
240 Scotland Rd
Baltic, CT 06330

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:41
                 Distributed: Monday, February 4, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-21-41-001
Received on Friday, 25 January, 2008

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