Monday, October 7, 2013

De-DVD

While most software is available for download these days, some stuff still requires media. Most notably in that category is Clip art. For example, the 500,000 clip art explosion collection by Nova takes up no less than 20 GB of data, and that’s not feasible for downloading.

Even with physical media, we are still talking about 3 hefty DVDs, which means that every time you want to open a file from the collection, you have to insert the appropriate DVD. This is a hassle, to say the least, and if you don’t have a physical drive (my laptop doesn’t), that’s darn right impossible. If Nova’s software was decent, you could simply copy the content of the discs to your local hard drive and point the catalog tool to it, but that’s no possible either.

However, there IS a way around this, thanks to Windows’s ability to mount ISO images as virtual drives. The idea is to take the content of the DVDs, and convert it into an ISO file, and then mount it as a DVD. An ISO file is a special file structure that packs the content of a CD, DVD or Blue-ray disk into a single file, and as I said, Windows can natively “mount” such a file to behave and look just like you had a physical drive with the original disk in it.

To convert the DVDs into ISO files, you need a special tool, and unfortunately, this doesn’t come with Windows. My favorite tool is CDIMAGE, which is free and doesn’t come with any crapware or heavy installers. However, it does require some above-average understanding of files, folder and the CMD command prompt, so less technical users might prefer a tool like WINISO or WINIMAGE, which can do this with a visual interface. Once you have converted the content of the 4 DVDs into ISO files, you can just mount them as drives (one at a time, or all at once, up to you) and start using the software. Here are some more important things to know, though:

1. Disk 1 is just the catalog, and once you install it, you can discard the ISO to free up 3 GB of space.

2. You can’t install the software over the network, so make sure you use the DVD (no.1) or an ISO for that

3. The image catalog browser looks for the disks based on volume label, so when creating the ISOs, make sure you specify them as part of the process. The labels are “AE DVD 1”, “AE DVD 2” etc.

4. The DVDs have file names with special characters, so make sure you configure the imaging software to take this into account. For example, if you’re using CDIMAGE that I mentioned above, use the following format:

CDIMAGE –n –d –m –o –c -l”AE DVD1” D:\ c:\ClipArt1.iso

clip_image002

Occasionally, this might fail as well, for some really weird Unicode chars. An alternative that might help is:

CDIMAGE -m –o –j1 -l”AE DVD1” D:\ c:\ClipArt1.iso

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