Organise your files

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Revision as of 12:03, 16 October 2008 by Duncan (Talk | contribs) (Directory tree: being more specific)

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Jerry's system

Here is my method of directory and file organization.

  • /srv - I store all my server files in /srv, including WWW and Samba. This is the standard UNIX directory for "Site-specific data which is served by the system."

Then I place all my genealogy related files in a directory call ./Genealogy. The exact path may depend on how you are set up. Here are three different possibilities.

  /srv/Samba/Genealogy/ - If you use a samba file share.
  /srv/Samba/Family/Genealogy/  - This has the /Genealogy in a file share of /Family. 

This is the structure of ./Genealogy:

Basically there are three main areas. Books or publishing. Documents, which are the Media storage area. Gramps.

  • ./Books_Published/ - All books that I have published, such as "Perkins Family History".
  • ./Books_In_Process/ - Current book that I am working on.
  • ./Doc/ - This is the big one where I store all the Media files. Nothing goes in here till it is put into Gramps Media. See the ./Need_to_Process directory below.

File Names:

I am big on "Noun Naming". This makes it quick and easy to find documents. Hence for the ./Census directory I use the file name format of <STATE>-<COUNTY>-<CITY><YEAR>-<ENUMERATION>-<PAGE>.jpeg For the Media Title I use Census <COUNTRY>, STATE>, <CITY / TOWNSHIP>, <YEAR ENUMERATION>, p. <PAGE> - <FAMILY>. The Source Tile is the same, except without the , <YEAR ENUMERATION>, p. <PAGE> - <FAMILY>.

This makes it quick and easy to find and cleanup errors. Periodically I do a sort, then quickly look for errors. This includes the path field in the Media.

  • ./Doc/Book_<BOOK NAME>/ I have stored documents such as birth certificates, in a three ring binder. These are enclosed in acid free clear sleeves. The "<BOOK NAME>" is the name of the binder. Or you could create a directory for each book.
  • ./Doc/Book_<BOOK NAME>/001-<TITLE>.jpeg These are the scans from the book. The first three digits are the page number of the acid free sleeve. Then a title (<TITLE>). This title is the same as I use for the Media title. Hence a path of ./Doc/Book_1/031-Birth_Record_Perkins_Gerald.png has a Media Title of "Birth Record Perkins, Gerald Dana"
  • ./Doc/Census/ For a path of ./Doc/Census/california-humboldt-south_fork_township-1920-69-1b.jpeg, the Media title is "Census USA, California, Humboldt, South Fork Township 1920 69 p. 1B", then the Source Title would be "Census USA, California, Humboldt, South Fork Township 1920".
  • ./Doc/Head_Shot/ Where I keep an individuals head shot. These are placed in People > Person > Gallery. Hence their picture shows up.
  • ./Doc/Indiana_Marriage_Collection_1800-1941/
  • ./Doc/Media_yyyy/ This is kind of my general catch all. I know, not good. It started to be so large that I started a new one every year. Slowly I have moved some to there proper directories.
  • ./Doc/Military/ Example "Registration_Perkins_C_Ray.jpeg"
  • ./Doc/Naturalization/ Example "Helwig_Otto.jpeg"
  • ./Doc/Object/ These are photos of objects such as "Military_POW_Tag_Helwig_Charles.jpeg"
  • ./Doc/Ship_Manifest/ I have been working on the format here. This is a current example sm-philadelphia_rhynland-m-1901-06-16.jpeg. Where philadelphia is the port of entry. And rhynland is the ship. i = Immigration document, m = manifest.
  • ./Gramps/ The home of Gramps.
  • ./Gramps-yyy-mm-dd/ If I try something that may make a mess of Gramps, I create a backup copy.
  • ./Miscellaneous/ Currently store blank Census forms and the like.
  • ./Need_To_Process/ Any new files, photos, etc that I need to process into Gramps. Kind of a holding area.

Duncan's system

I'm still working this one out but here goes... I have an NTFS partition which I can access from both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux, that's where I keep all my genealogy files. Because my main computer for doing genealogy work switches between two machines every now and then I name the directory after when I move it to that system. At the moment it's called Database_in_2008-06-20, which I won't type every time, consider './' to mean 'the main directory'.

./Backups/ - has GRAMPS XML files as backups, I do this about once a month and after any large change.
./Dropbox/ - has anything I haven't dealt with yet (it's quite full!)
./Events/$EventNames/ - has media files which are primarily related to an event.
./Individuals/$Surnames/ - has images primarily related to an individual. The files are sorted after the persons (birth) surname.
./Individuals_icons/ - has passport sized images use for generating reports
./Places/$Country/ - has files primarily related to a specific place. I will start subdirectories by country.
./Rapports/$Surname - has some rapports I've sent out.
./Sources/$Source - has all sorts of files which contain direct information, scanned letters and so on... Sorted by the source's source.
./2008-03-11_4.gramps - there are often quite a few of these backups which I go through and put a couple in the ./Backups/ directory and throw the others out.

I don't think this system is so great so I'm working on improving it, see below.

Duncan's planned system

The goal

After researching for the Portable Filenames article I've decided to aim for a system designed to work on any computer made after 1994.

Directory depth is limited to media plus 7 (limit of ISO 9660)


File and directory names are limited to

a-z Lowercase alphabetical characters (see below)
A-Z Uppercase alphabetical characters (see below)
0-9 Numerals
- Hyphens/ dashes (must not start a files name)
_ Underscores
all names have a combination of lower and uppercase letters so they don't change case

File path lengths need to be limited to 256 characters (limit of Windows Path Size)

Requires manual checking

Indicating unsure or incomplete dates


Problems in progress

  • When I want to work on one family with a small portable computer?
    • all folders need to under the family name directory, for families under a dual name directory, children under their own family name.
  • What about a family portrait not from a known event?
    • I think it's best to regard pictures of groups as an event, maybe event=gathering

Directory tree

The base directory is not shown. A name like Imported_2008-12-23 is recommended to record when the data was moved to this machine from some other machine.

Directory naming rules:

  • Top directory is <upper case letter><lower case start of range>-<lower case end of range>, ie Aa-z for all the As or Sl-z for surnames starting with Sl through to Sz. This may look like overkill but it is primarily to avoid directories with letters in only one case as these can change case without warning on older Windows systems, breaking file paths.
  • Start words in directory names with capitals so Windows file systems don't change the case.
  • Once a family starts (shared address, children or legal union) any common files go into a family directory (alphabetically sorted) ie: Jensen__Williams
<upper case letter><lower case start of range>-<lower case end of range>/
   <family name>/
      <record type>/
         <given name(s)>/
         <event type>/

For example


Jerome's system

My Media objects use the same naming structure :

ISO 8601 date_description.extension
./Docs/ numerical sources (scanned certificates, papers, acts, hand written sources)
./Identity/ passport sized images use for generating reports
./Places/ (photos of gravestones, living places or address)
./Other/ not in the first ... (videos, sounds, groups photos)

I will not add subdirectories. Also, all objects are duplicated on an other support (backups and searchs) with my grandparents' surname :

./Surname of the mother of my mother (maiden)
./Surname of the father of my mother
./Surname of the mother of my father (maiden)
./Surname of the father of my father  

And I use attributes on my database (as marker). True, using relationships calculator should do the work but it is usefull for filtering and sharing data. Why attributes ? Adding this value (like a description) is not false ... They are and will still be my ancestors on (father or mother side)

-- Romjerome 26 July 2008 (EDT)

Your system?