Uses of Cardbox

There are as many different uses of Cardbox as there are businesses. There is no way that we can illustrate all of the possible applications of Cardbox, so we'll concentrate on some of the commonest ones.

Customer relationship management

At the simplest level, Cardbox can be used to maintain a database of names and addresses. Mailing labels can then be created for mail shots. However, many of our users have built more sophisticated systems using Cardbox. We've heard of databases of almost a million records, with customers categorised by their fields of interest and their assigned sales staff.

Here, on a less epic scale, is the sample Contacts database we distribute with Cardbox.

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Cardbox is not an accountancy package. Nevertheless, since most of what gets classed as "accountancy" is straightforward database management, and Cardbox is such a flexible database, people often use Cardbox for invoicing and account management. We use it ourselves.

There are two main ways that you can use Cardbox for things like invoices. One is to keep all the necessary information in the Cardbox database and then use mail-merging to generate the actual invoice.

Here is another way, where the invoice itself is stored in a separate Word file and Cardbox simply does all the indexing and summarising.

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Time-critical situations

Because its search engine is so fast, Cardbox is used for telephone help lines and support centres.

Cardbox is also used at a chemical plant: when an accident occurs, Cardbox is used to identify the type of accident, to look up the first measures to control the situation, which people must be contacted, the severity of the alert and the probable risks.

Other time-critical situations include a poisons information bureau and airline safety management.


Membership databases

Many clubs, societies and professional associations use Cardbox to record their members' details.

Case study: how the Galpin Society uses Cardbox for its membership system.



Museums are extensive users of Cardbox. They use it to maintain databases of their acquisitions and catalogues as well as running their administration.

Museums are increasingly building online catalogues of their collections and using Cardbox to make these accessible across the Internet.

Case study: how museums such as the Thackray Medical Museum and the Rotterdam Historical Museum use Cardbox.



At the simplest level libraries use Cardbox to maintain a catalogue of their books. But Cardbox is also being used for:

  • Circulation
  • Inter-library loans
  • Orders and payments
  • Photocopies and copyright restriction management
  • Periodicals management

Here is an illustration of periodicals management.

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One of the most irritating tasks that any academic researcher faces is maintaining a list of references. It’s irritating because it’s a distraction from the main job but it still has to be done right. There is nothing that terrifies a Ph.D student more than finding an absolutely crucial quotation in the finished thesis but having no idea at all where it came from!

Cardbox is so flexible that you can create a single database for all your references, books and articles; divide them into primary and secondary sources; and then create an alphabetical list that can then be read into a word processing package and edited further.


Researchers also use Cardbox to keep databases of abstracts. There are two strategies: one is to have a separate field for keywords, and the other is to mark and index the keywords within the body of the abstract itself. Do whichever seems more convenient to you: the picture we show here is of the first approach.

Quite a few researchers download abstracts from online databases such as Medline. They can combine abstracts from various sources (including ones they have typed or scanned themselves). They can also annotate the abstracts by adding extra Cardbox fields for comments or classification.

Scientific research

Numerous research agencies use Cardbox. Academics are experts in their own discipline but they don't want to be computer experts. With Cardbox it’s easy for them to set up databases that can be searched by other academics who are active in the same field, without having to get any computer departments involved.

Here is an illustration of how Bangor University used Cardbox when undertaking some research into Indian crop cultivars.

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Once a school starts using Cardbox there is no stopping it. School reports are an obvious example, but in fact Cardbox can be used for many of the administrative tasks that any large institution needs, from building maintentance to telephone records.

Case study: how an Australian company, Winifred West Schools, uses Cardbox extensively in the running of three educational facilities.



Digital photography generates an overwhelming mass of images. Scanning existing photographs produces even more.

Cardbox is perfect for cataloguing and storing these images. It can extract basic information (such as date and time) automatically from each picture, and you can add indexed fields of your own to make it easy to find the image you want.

The sample databases we distribute with Cardbox include a photographic database that you can use or modify to suit your requirements. We also have a Knowledge Base article that illustrates a complete photographic archive in Cardbox,with the database stored on your computer and the original digital images stored securely in Amazon's S3 online storage system.

Actors and casting

Ten thousand actors, each with photograph and CV. This is a casting director's dream - but also a nightmare: how to find the ones you want?

Cardbox made it easy to search according to age, appearance and skill, print contact sheets of photographs, and locate the relevant agents.

Here is an illustration of how it all worked.

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Cardbox can save you from drowning in paper. Set up a "daybook" database and scan every incoming document into it. Annotate each record with categories and keywords, and you will be able to search for whatever you want, whenever you want, and read the document straight off the screen.

Most of the documents can be thrown away once you've scanned them. When you come across one you need to keep for legal reasons, put it in a box file, filed simply under its Cardbox record number.

The closer your office gets to a "scan and shred" policy for documents, the happier it will be.


Legal firms also use Cardbox to maintain their case records, libraries and registers of wills, codicils and deeds.

Travelling executives let their PAs scan all their incoming correspondence so that they can access it from a laptop anywhere in the world.


Many recruitment agencies use Cardbox. It can store a candidate's details, CV, qualifications and references, plus a complete history of every conversation, interview and job offer.

Here is an illustration of a really sophisticated recruitment application, with special-purpose pushbuttons for every conceivable action. Cardbox can be as simple or as complex as you like. You can start simply and build up your database designs over time, as your needs evolve.

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People who live online rapidly realise that they are accumulating an uncontrollable number of different identities for different sites and services. Unless you use the same user name and password for everything (a very dangerous thing to do from the point of view of security) you end up with total chaos.

A simple Cardbox database with just a handful of fields will solve the problem.

How to protect the password database itself? Cardbox has built-in encryption facilities. You'll still have to choose and remember an encryption key, but one key is easier to remember than a hundred passwords.

Some other business uses of Cardbox

Advertisers’ details
Aerial images
Architectural references
Assets registers
Building maintenance records
Burial registers
Calibration records
Car pass management
Careers information
Civil engineering data
Classic cars
Client callouts
Competitor research
Computer equipment register
Computer maintenance records
Concert programmes
Desiderata lists
Disaster reduction training
Drawing records
Economic development data
Faults reporting
Financial services tracking
Fleet records
Health and safety data
Hire records
Hotel guest cards
Housing benefit case management
Information databases
Job sheets
Legislation databases
Local history records
Local information
Local business support databases
Logging hardware and software faults
Mailing lists
Maintenance records
Manufacturing data
Map collections
Meetings data
Motorway structures
Nature conservation information
Newspaper archives
Object catalogues
Order tracking
Passenger lists
Patent databases
Personnel management
Planning decisions analysis
Plant databases
Population data
Prize winners
Production analysis records
Project management
Property database
Property management
Purchase ordering system
Quality control
Questionnaire analysis
Regimental associations
Safety checks data
Sales control and forecasting
Service records
Ships information
Skills database
Slides and negatives
Song files
Sports club player statistics
Staff phone directory
Student registers
Subscription records
Supplier indexes
Telephone directories
Telephone information for the disabled
Theses collection
Trade union membership
Train journeys
Training records
Translators' data
Truck specifications
Vacancy database
Vehicle registrations
Vocabulary database


© 2016 Martin Kochanski
"Cardbox" is a registered trademark.
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