fatManager Online Help

fatManager

Introduction

You can manage your mp3 collection using fatManager. With fatManager you can tag mp3 files. Tagging means that you assign each song to categories and subcategories. For example, the genre of a song could be a category. Rock, Pop and Techno are then subcategories of the genre. Another category could be the mood of a song. Subcategories of the mood would be calm, melancholic, happy, hard, etc. fatManager allows you to define your own categories/subcategories, and it comes with two predefined sets (a detailed and a simple set) ready for use. Personally, I prefer the simple set, because it's handier and the experience of the last three years has shown that it  works very good. In addition to assigning songs to categories, you can rate each song with a quality factor between 1 (very good) and 6 (very bad).

After you have tagged your songs, you can use fatManager to search the database quickly and to build automatic playlists. Automatic playlists can be build  by creating search patterns where you define wanted categories and a maximum quality rating. For example with a few mouse clicks you can tell fatManager to select all songs which belong to the categories rock, alternative and folk, with all moods except melancholic and which are from the year 1990 to 2010 and have a good quality rating. The settings for such a query can be stored in presets, so later you can simply select from a list of predefined presets to get the desired song collection.

Furthermore fatManager is already a jukebox for the desktop. But since it lacks a playlist, the use of the fatTony server should be preferred (more about fatTony below).
I have developed fatManager in 2003 and since then I am working with it. It is blazingly fast, rock solid and runs smoothly without flaws.
I patched Coolplayer - a very good Open Source mp3 / ogg player - so it can be connected to fatManager and can be remotely controlled by fatManager. Since Coolplayer is open source, please contact me if you want to obtain the source code.

As mentioned before, fatManager lacks a playlist. It would have been easy to add a playlist, but I did choose a different approach, because I wanted a solution for audio streaming which can be remotely controlled. There are several devices on the market which can be connected to your HI-FI rack and which receive and playback mp3 audio streams via Wlan. I bought such a device to put it into my living-room, since I didn't want to use a PC in my living room. Now I had the challenge to use the logic of fatManager together with such a device. A normal UPnP solution like TwonkyVision wouldn't help in this case. So I wrote three programs to solve the problem:

fatTony, the server. fatTony runs in background (as a Windows service) on your PC and uses the databases and presets created by fatManager. fatTony has its own network protocol and can be remotely controlled by the two other client applications: fatPlayer and fatPocket.
fatPlayer and fatPocket are identical, except that fatPlayer runs on normal Windows and can be put for example on a notebook, subnotebook or tablet PC, whilst fatPocket is for PocketPC's. And this is really cool! Now you can sit in your living room with this small pocket device and remote control your server. You can select presets and songs by name, move them into the playlist and fatTony (together with Icecast) streams the music onto your Wlan receiver. In addition you can stream your songs into the internet without any additional work, so some friends can listen to the music you are currently listening to, whilst they are hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. Moreover, since everything is done via network, you could even remote control the fatTony server via internet from far away.


Installation

Download fatManager, unzip and run "setup.exe", follow the instructions on the screen.
Setup installs two components: fatManager and Coolplayer


Setting up fatManager

Run fatManager. It will show a message box that it has no database in use.
This is the time to create a new database.

Important: fatManager and fatTony can be operated best, if you organize your mp3 collection on a single harddrive in a single directory (with any number of nested subdirectories, of course). If you haven't done so, organize your mp3s in that way first, before creating a new database.

First of all you should check which categories you want to use for your database. There are two predefined sets of categories: "simple" and "detailed". I recommend to use the "simple.fatcat".

If you want to see the contents of the predefined category files first, or if you wish to modify a category file right from the start before creating a database, do the following: Chosefrom the main menu "File | Categories". In the upcoming dialog you select "Open File" to view or modify an existing category file. Categories or organized as "Main categories" (for example the Genre) and "Sub categories" (for example Alternative, Rock, Pop, etc.). You can create up to 256 main categories and up to 32 sub categories for each main category.

Note: you can even modify the categories of an existing database later at any point in time.

After you have finished viewing and/or modifying/creating your category file, click in the main menu on "File | New" to create a new database, and follow the instuctions on the screen:
First, fatManager will prompt you for the path of the database. Select the top-level directory of your mp3 collection.
Afterwards fatManager will ask to chose a category file. Select one.
In the last step you can add directories, which contain mp3 files. As explained earlier, it is best if you have only one top-level directory.
After clicking ok, fatManager starts scanning you mp3 files and adds them to then internal database. Depending on the number of files, this can take some time.

When the scan has finished, you are ready to use fatManager.

Note: you can create multiple databases for the same mp3 collection, simply chose different names for the database file (and if wanted, also different category files). This is for example useful, if you put all mp3 files of your whole family into one directory. But since each member of your family has its own preferences and will rate songs differently, each one can create and operate its own database.


Using fatManager

When you run fatManager, it will launch Coolplayer - which is an mp3 player. You can move Coolplayer in any position on the screen and operate it independently of fatManager. If you want to make Coolplayer your standard player for mp3 files, right click on it and chose "Options", then click on "Register Filetypes" (you need administrative permissions in order to successfully register the filetypes on your machine!).
You will notice that Coolplayer is a very lightweight mp3 player with starts very fast, uses low memory and CPU time and plays everything as it should. Coolplayer is my favorite mp3 player, I don't use any other.

Song Naming Conventions

I recommend the following naming scheme for your mp3 files, which allows to use fatManager best:

[Artist] - [Album] - [Track Number] - [Song Title]

Example: The Subways - Young for Eternity - 07 - Oh Yeah.mp3

This naming scheme is not only useful within fatManager, in my opinion it is the only meaningful naming scheme one can use to have some logic and sort order within his/her song collection.

Important: File names must be UNIQUE. fatManager allows you to move mp3 files around to other directories within your collection without the need od re-tagging them. This is possible, because fatManager uses the file names (without path information) as the one and only identifier. For this reason it does not accept doubled file names. To rename files or groups of files, fatManager offers a powerful tool, see below for more information.

Views

fatManager offers two views on your mp3 files: the "File View" and the "Filter View"
In the file view you will see all your mp3 files and it allows to tag mp3 files (i.e. assign songs to categories and rate their quality).
In the filter view you can "filter" your collection by selecting categories and the rating the files must match.

You can switch at any time between both views by using the "View Menu" or the following two toolbar buttons:
view
Note: you can specify the sort order of your view in the "View Menu".
"Sort by Files" means the order in which the files are on your harddisk.
"Sort Alphabetically" means to sort the files alphabetically.
"Sort by Status" is relevant for the file view. It sorts the tagged files in front of untagged files.

Tagging

Switch to the file view and select one or more mp3 files. You can select a group of files by selecting the first file in the list, then pressing the SHIFT-key and clicking on another file. You can select or deselect single files by holding the CTRL-key down before selecting. You can select all files in the list by pressing CTRL-a.

After you made your selection, you can rate the selected song(s) by chosing a value from 1 to 6 from the rating combo box:
"1" means very good and "6" means "very bad".

By checking subcategories, you assign the selected song(s) to categories. You can check multiple categories and subcategories at the same time for each file. This is useful, because often songs belong to more than one genre and when building queries later in the filter view, you might want to have certain songs to appear in different queries.

When you select multiple files at the same time, the text of the subcategories might turn into green. This means some of the selected songs have this subcategory checked, but not all.

You will notice the red cross and the green checkmark in front of each song. The red cross means: "This song is untagged" and the green checkmark means: "This song is tagged." A song is tagged when it has assigned a quality rating as well as at least ONE category.

You can specify a wildcard, which is applied to the file names to filter specific songs for the file view. For example "*doors*" will select all files which contain somewhere the word "doors". The "*" is a placeholder for any number of characters which are skipped. Beside the "*" you can also use the "?" which is a placeholder for a single character.

Note: fatManager does not use the ID-tags of mp3 files. It neither reads nor writes them. All tagging information is stored within the database files. This has several advantages, which become obvious when you are using fatManager for a longer period of time. I might explain the various advantages in the future, if I find the time.

Filtering

After you have tagged some files, you can switch over to the filter view. When you are in the filter view, the rating combo box and the subcategory checkboxes become a different meaning: they are now search criterias which must be fulfilled to make songs appear in the filter.

If you chose for example "3" for the rating, all songs which are tagged with a quality of 1 - 3 do match the filter criteria.

In addition you must check subcategories that must be matched. Below the category checkbox group you have three radio buttons titled "all must match", "include each" and "exclude each".

selected categories

For each radio button you can make your selection of categories.
For example, if you select "all must match" and then "Alternative" and "Rock", this means that only songs are filtered, which are assigned to both categories at the same time.
In contrast, if you select "include each" and then "Alternative" and "Rock", all songs are filtered, which are assigned to either category.
Finally, "exclude each" will exclude songs, which have any of the selected categories.

This is a very powerful tool to build complex filter criterias.

In addition you can specify a wildcard, which is applied to the file names. For example "*doors*" will select all files which contain somewhere the word "doors". The "*" is a placeholder for any number of characters which are skipped. Beside the "*" you can also use the "?" which is a placeholder for a single character.

I suggest you start playing around a bit with the different settings to get a feeling for the logic behind it.

Note: fatManager holds the complete database in memory in order to process queries blazingly fast. I have implemented several algorithms to keep the memory usage as low as possible. You can verify this when looking at the task manager of Windows.

Presets

Each filter setting as a whole can be stored as a preset.

preset

To store a preset, enter a name and click the save button.
To select a preset, chose it from the list.
To delete a preset, chose it from the list and click the trashcan button.

Jukebox

fatManager is already a jukebox. Simply click the play button and fatTony will start the playback of your songs (the shuffle button is very helpful). But because fatManager lacks a playlist, fatTony should be used for better control of what shall be played back.

Resynchronization

If you add new mp3 files to your collection, or if you rename or move files within your collection to another directory, you need to make fatManager aware of it.
In order to do so, chose from the main menu "File | Resync". fatManager will scan your predefined mp3 directories and add new files as required. If you have moved files to another directoy without renaming them, fatManager will notice it automatically. If you deleted files, fatManager will complain about it and show a dialog with a list iof files it could not find. If you are sure this is correct, simply chose "Delete" in the dialog to remove the files from the database.

Important: File names must be UNIQUE. fatManager allows you to move mp3 files around to other directories within your collection without the need od re-tagging them. This is possible, because fatManager uses the file names (without path information) as the one and only identifier. For this reason it does not accept doubled file names. To rename files or groups of files, fatManager offers a powerful tool, see below for more information.

Renaming Files

fatManager offers a powerful tool to rename files or groups of files. To do so, chose from the main menu "Files | Rename Files".
A dialog appears. Click on "Add Directory" to chose one or more directories. fatManager will scan the given directories for files and show them in a list. You can then select songs and rename them.

A very powerful feature is the "Group Rename" tool. In order to use it, select a group of files and click on "Group Rename".
You can then define a search and replace pattern. The best of all is the feature to put text in front of file names by leaving the "Replace Pattern" empty. If you have a group of files from the same artist (or album), which contain the song title only, you can easily put the artist's name in front of all files with a single operation.

Exporting Files - Tanking Up mp3 Players

You can export files - for example to your mp3 player or a USB stick - by using the export feature of fatManager. Chose from the main menu "File | Export". A dialog appears.

For USB devices, like an mp3 player or a USB stick, or to export files to a directoy (in order to burn from there to a CD/DVD), chose "File System" from the devices combo box. You can then select how many megabytes shall be exported, and if the files shall be shuffled, numbered and if a fatManager database shall be exported also. Numbering is meaningful, if you export shuffled files, because burning software will order files alphabetically. If you number the files the are sorted by their number. Exporting the fatManager database is useful, if the receiver of the files is also using fatManager. The exported database will only contain the file and tagging information for the exported files.

Burning to CD/DVD is implemented into fatManager as an experimental feature. The "Scan" button allows to scan for CD/DVD recorders, using the open source software "CD-Record". CD-Record requires an ASPI driver on your system, otherwise the scan function will not find any cd/dvd recording devices. You can get such a driver from http://web.ncf.ca/aa571/aspi.htm. You can also search in google for "wnaspi32.dll", which is produced by Nero AG.
Since the burning feature is experimental, it might happen that fatManager does not find any burner, even when an ASPI driver is installed.


Afterword

The other features of fatManager are self-explanatory.

One last advice: make regular backups of the fatManager database - just in case fatManager should have a malfunction (which I never experienced within the past three years), or in case of a headcrash of your harddrive.

I wish you a lot of fun, and please donate if you are using this software!

Make a donation:



Visit my Sponsor

If you are yourself a software developer, you should definitely visit my sponsor IDEAL Software. They make a very fine library called "Virtual Print Engine" (VPE), which can be used to programatically create and print documents and reports on the fly. Blazingly fast and accurate PDF export is also provided by this tool.


back to the main page