Personal database: How it works
It’s challenging to keep your information organized and accessible. Every year, you add more information to your Documents folder, and every year it’s harder to find the data that you’ve saved.
The Windows file system has some real shortcomings:
- Searching is not easy. If you happen to have a PDF file in a certain subfolder, you will not easily find it by keyword. Modern operating systems have out-of-the-box search capabilities, but they may have issues like search speed and locality of the results.
- One file per folder. If your file fits into more than one category, you must choose one folder or the other. This will impact your structure sooner or later.
- The file system is not friendly to small things. Got a quick idea or a small note to store? Prepare to launch a massive word processing package and deal with the clunky “Save as” dialog.
- The file system is not extensible. Attaching additional attributes to files is not possible.
The power of personal databases
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these limitations, and one of those solutions is a personal database tool like TreeProjects. A personal database stores all the important data in a single compact and portable file, where pieces of information – or information items – are organized by the user in creative and flexible ways. Since a personal database does not rely on the file system to function, it can implement its own ways of organizing and accessing information, which TreeProjects does.
TreeProjects personal database defines several types of items. First of all, there is a “file” item which stores regular files in the database. You can easily import files from the hard drive. Then there are text items, which enable quick and simple note-taking. “Web page” items allow you to capture, store and review web pages, and “Email message” items will store and display important electronic letters. Lastly, “reminder” items will prevent you from forgetting things.
The personal database tool keeps all the items in a tree structure, much like in the file system, so you are free to organize all your items in categories heirarchically. The tree view of TreeProjects gives an overview of all your items and allows you to navigate effortlessly to the desired branch or item, which will instantly appear in the item view on click.
Database tree view structure
The tree view resembles the directory tree of Windows Explorer. However, there are a few important differences: firstly, any item can be the “parent” of any item, so the tree structure is truly freeform. Secondly, the order of items is defined by the user and is not alphabetical, although sorting can be applied. And thirdly, one item can appear in multiple locations of the tree by reference, hence you don’t have to decide which is the best category for an item, and just place it in each suitable branch.
The freeform hierarchical capabilities of the personal database bring fine control over the structure of items. But that would not be very useful without search. In the background, TreeProjects maintains a search index. This enables very quick search over all the items in a personal database at any time, be it text notes, file attachments or reminder descriptions. Boolean queries and searches confined to a specific branch are possible; the search results are displayed in a docked window that does not interfere with the contents of the found items.
Tags are quick and flexible
Yet another way to keep your data organized is tags. In the web, tags are ubiquitous: blogs, news sites and social networks use simple keywords to mark articles for future reference and access. Likewise, TreeProjects users can assign tags to any item in the database. It is very easy to view all items tagged by a particular phrase or a combination of them.
Exporting information from your personal database file
The three approaches to organizing data give you control and freedom, whereas the speed and the friendly, straightforward user interface will make working with information fun. But since TreeProjects keeps all the data in a single file, one cannot access the data without the application. Does it mean that your data is trapped in the database? Not at all. The personal database tool can export all your items to the hard drive, preserving the content and the relations of the items in terms of files and folders.