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Old 12-09-2010, 05:54 PM   #1
johnnyboy
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Default Simple database

I have quite a deal of information stored in hanging files for my family history. I have it stored in 4 drawers under the names of each of my 4 grandparents. Each drawer contains files mainly labelled with names of people. It is a reasonably efficient system but to make it easier to locate what I want it really needs matching with a database system. I have had a play with Excel, which is with my version of MS Office 2003 (no MS Access), and perhaps it will do but before I commit I would like to have other people's thoughts. I have not used a database before and therefore am wary of buying something with a steep learning curve.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:21 PM   #2
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What type of information is this. Excel would be good if the information is things like name, city, date of birth. IOW, short bits of information in a tabular format. If you have some sort of narrative Excel is impractical.

The next question is how do you want to search this. Are you going to use specific predictable bits of information to search, or do you want to search based on whatever pops into your mind.

If it's only specific and predictable a database application like Access can work. You can keep some data in specific fields to search, and keep larger chunks in memo fields.

But if you want to contain a lot of loose information than a free form database might be better. A free form database allows you to dump information in as if it's a word processor, and it can find it and even report it. AskSam is an example of this.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:52 PM   #3
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Well I think it might be predictable. My only experience of using a database was going to a class on Dbase4 about 30 years ago so you can see I am pretty green. I will try and explain what I hope it will do.
If I am writing an article about James Scott I would like to be able to locate any information I have about him. The problem I have is that even if I have a hanging file for him he might be mentioned in articles about other people which I have filed under a different name. If I am to locate that it means searching through other files.

There are two programs on the market that are advertised to do what I want called "Clooz" and "Custodian3", both of which I think are based on MS Access. Quite a while ago I used "Clooz" and I was not happy with it and since then it has virtually gone out of production. Lately I downloaded "Custodian3" on a trial basis but that doesn't seem to do what I want either. Perhaps I should just be prepared to search manually?
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyboy View Post
If I am writing an article about James Scott I would like to be able to locate any information I have about him. The problem I have is that even if I have a hanging file for him he might be mentioned in articles about other people which I have filed under a different name. If I am to locate that it means searching through other files.
Okay, but where will your information be? Will it be in the paper files, and the database is an index to those paper files. IOW, you perform a search and it tells you which paper file to look at. Or, are you going to transfer textual information from the paper into the database.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
Okay, but where will your information be? Will it be in the paper files, and the database is an index to those paper files. IOW, you perform a search and it tells you which paper file to look at. Or, are you going to transfer textual information from the paper into the database.
I just want perform a search and it will tell me which paper file to look in. i.e. When I enter "James Scott" it will say there is information in the file tagged "Scott, James" as well as in other files with different tags. It will also give me a brief summary of what is contained in the article or document so I can decide if I want to dig it out.

Of course this depends what information I enter and perhaps I have no appreciation of what is involved in that.

Thank you the trouble you and others are going to to answer me.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by johnnyboy View Post
I just want perform a search and it will tell me which paper file to look in. i.e. When I enter "James Scott" it will say there is information in the file tagged "Scott, James" as well as in other files with different tags. It will also give me a brief summary of what is contained in the article or document so I can decide if I want to dig it out.
Hmmm. I would guess that you don't want to enter a summary into multiple records. So you might want do a relational database with a single record for every file. It would be related to a second database file that would be keyed to the id number for record in the first database. Every person you want to search for would have a record for every file they appear in. And then if you want to search other values, you could set up a database for each one off those. Or, I guess you could mix data in the same field if it's just simply lookups.

I gotta say, I would not look forward to setting this up. Were it me, I'd use a free form database with one record per file, and just type in whatever words you want to associate with that file right into the same record. You don't need fields and you can search on whatever word you want. Of course, I'm not there looking at your project, so I might be missing an important point.

BTW, I once evaluated a system called Laserfiche. With this you could scan in your documents, it would OCR them and store the image of the document along with OCR version. You could also create key fields to enter data in if you wanted to. That way you could search on content or pre-defined fields. Great for massive storage with quick access. Great for massive storage.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:17 PM   #7
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Another thought. If what you actually need is the equivalent of an index card for each file, you could create a txt file with the key names and summaries typed into it, put them all in the same folder, and use your OS's native search ability to find hits. And if it's Windows 7, it will present a list of files and show you the content without launching them.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:42 PM   #8
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Thanks Andrew. That sounds like a very good suggestion and well worth thinking about as I do have Windows 7.

I am at present trying to get my head around the various suggestions that people have supplied. I am reasonably computer literate but nowhere at the level of competency of most members of this forum. That means I am struggling with understanding completely what is being said but I am working at it and gradually coming to terms with most of it.

I think what initially seemed like a fairly straight forward objective is a lot more complicated than I thought and that means I would be better to go with a program already designed for the purpose. The two programs I mentioned earlier are reviewed in a summary here:
http://www.ancestry.com.au/learn/lib...x?article=7557

From that Clooz would seem to be ideal but later reviews by users have not been kind as shown here: http://www.gensoftreviews.com/index.php?s=clooz&sort=

Thank you all for your help.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:18 PM   #9
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Okay, good luck. Unfortunately, I don't know about genealogy programs.

Also, I just noticed something wrong in my explanation above. I meant to say you would create multiple text files with one for each paper file.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:22 AM   #10
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You need a relational database to do that, and I second Howard's recommendation of FileMaker Pro. I've used it for about 20 years, from when it was flat file and afterwards. It is easy to set up and use, has a large user base and a good mailing list for assistance and will import and export records for you in many different formats.

I earned most of my living with this program for several years.

   
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