About Collection Files
Collections are files that contain lists of files that can be downloaded. Unlike emule collections, these collections are as customizable as shareaza. These lists are enriched with web pages that can provide more information or a themed look that matches with the files it links to. For example a music album collection could have cover art and a biography of the artist who made the album.
Collections can be downloaded, uploaded, moved around, etc, just like a normal file. To "install" a collection, all you have to do is put it somewhere in your library. Shareaza will detect it, load it and mount it.
What does that mean exactly? First, it extracts the metadata for the collection. Files in Shareaza normally use the file metadata schemas (eg audio). Collection files however represent a group of files, so they use the folder schemas (eg musicAlbum, tv series, etc). This metadata is associated with the collction file (xyz.co) itself, so that other users can search for and download it.
Then, the metadata is used to "mount" the collection. Collections are mounted onto the Shareaza library's virtual folder tree. For example, if a collection file contains an audio album, it would be mounted under "My Music\By Album\XYZ". The normal library rules are used to decide where to mount a collection, however the collection itself can specify a mounting location by hand. There is also an entry in the root library area called "Collections" which contains an index / quick way to access all your collections.
What Do They Do
As mentioned above, collection files appear in the virtual library tree just like normal virtual folders. They are quite similar in concept:
Generic virtual folders:
- Can be made by hand, but are usually auto-generated by Shareaza
- Contain links to one or more local files
- Are always made by hand, and are then published and shared amongst many users
- Contain links to files that you may or may not have yet
- Contain other rich / value-added content
Collection files can be identified in the virtual library because they appear in bold text and have a star icon overlay.
When you open a collection file folder, there is a new library view available and selected by default - "Collection File View". This view is HTML based, and displays the rich content associated with the collection.
This allows collections to be heavily customised and include value added content, as well as serving as links to files. For example a collection that represents an album could include a track index page customised to the feel of the album, using liner notes, images, cover photos, etc. There can be more than one page, so an artist could publish biography information, lyrics, etc. But most collections will probably contain only one page. This is a bit like the menu at the front of a DVD.
Of course, all the normal library views are available under the view selector, so you can switch over to them if desired.
The rich collection file view typically displays a list of files associated with the collection in some meaningful way. In most cases it would also provide some kind of visual indication of whether the user has each of the files on their PC. For files a user has, it would provide a button to open/play/enqueue them. For files they don't yet have, it would provide a button to download them (and automatically add them).