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Building the Perfect Database

July 16, 2019 — Jim Neumann

One of the requests we occasionally receive is: “Tell me how to create and set up my database in DEVONthink.” This seems like a simple enough question to answer, but in truth, it is not. While creating a database can be as simple as choosing File > New Database, the simplicity ends with structuring the database.

Database structuring starts with the creation. Is it a broadly focused database, like Work or Personal? Or is it a smaller, more focused database, like separate databases for each of your hobbies or clients? There is no rule that says a database must be large or small. There can be good reasons for either.

Next is the internal organization of the records. How you think about data organization is a highly personal subject, and this should govern how you set things up. Perhaps you like to use a deeply nested folder structure. Or maybe you keep a shallow structure and use smart groups to create virtual groups of records with common criteria. Both of these approaches can be enhanced by the use of tags, if you desire. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it.

And remember that databases are not immutable. You can modify and try different approaches in your current databases or create and delete databases, as you wish. Moving documents between databases is as easy as dragging them from one database to the other.

In short: doing what makes sense to you is the best way to “build the perfect database”.