Blended Databases

Hi folks,

I’m looking for some insights or possible workflow strategies on how to better organize what I might call “blended databases.”

I am an academic researcher, and as such, often work with many different types of documents in a given project. I like to create a database for each project I’m working on. The problem with this, however, is that given the wide range of documents/texts I collect for each project, organization and the display of information is limited.

For example, I have several groups that each contain different kinds of documents (e.g. case law, freedom of information requests, government policy papers, etc.).

Each of these contains relevant metadata that I would like to take advantage of. For example, case law have legal citations that I need. FOIs have government agency information, FOI numbers, etc. that I may need displayed.

I know, however, that you may only customize metadata at the database level and not the group level. Do folks have any ideas or can share tips that they use on how to navigate this issue?

Thank you!

I’m wondering what are the benefits for creating separate databases?
Personally, I’m using a single database; sync’d between my Mac and iPad
My projects are categorized by tag

I realize size limitations may eventually force me into split databases

Custom metadata in the Pro and Server editions is global, i.e., not per-database, so you have access to the properties in all open databases.

Right, but the way I imagine my database is on a per project level.

So, for example, if I want to my custom metadata columns to be 1. Filename; 2. Case Citation; 3. City, etc. for my case law folder, then I’m stuck with that column set up in the entire database, right? In my policy paper folder, I would not be able to have metadata such as Government Agency, Policy Identifier, etc.

I hope I am articulating this clearly. I assume that if I want custom metadata for different types displayed as column headers, I need different databases?

Perhaps it’s just my academic training, but generally researchers tend to organize their files based on project the same way a lawyer might create a database for a client. Everything related to that client would go into a database related to that person (including statements, police reports, etc.). If I were to keep a single database and filter each time, I’d have to be MUCH more diligent with my tagging protocols—which I can assure you I will not be able to manage LOL.

I like to throw different kinds of documents that are relevant to a current research project into a database and work out of that. Journal articles, books, field notes, and documents would go into the project database. The problem is that when it comes time for me to visually display custom metadata, I’m limited with the database structure, that might not be applicable or relevant to certain document types.

Within the same window, yes that is true.
It is not true when using separate windows.

Here is a group with one set of columns and a subgroup of that group, opened in a new window, with its own set of columns…

I thought this was the case, and honestly I thought I had done this before, but currently, whenever I change the custom metadata columns, it applies it to EVERY group in the database.

I have double click to open externally active. When a new window pops up, I change the metadata for the subgroup. When I close the group, the column appears in every other group/window in that database.

Retain view is disabled.

Am I doing something wrong?

1 Like


I’ve tried again this morning, the same problem persists. Whenever I open a group to a new window and apply the custom metadata headers to the group, it adds those columns to every group in the database.

I feel like this might be a user error and not a bug. Does anyone else have this problem?

Ahh… I see what you’re seeing now.

@cgrunenberg : You can modify the column headers for a group in a new window. But this does not change the column headers in another main window for the same database until you select an item in the original window.

Column headers are currently database-specific, not group-specific.

True, but you can open a group in a new window and modify the column headers without seemingly affecting the headers of the other window. So it appears you can have a separate set of headers in the new window.

Except I don’t have this functionality…

What you’ve shown in that screenshot would definitely work for my organization. But alas, it applies to every group in the database as @cgrunenberg suggests. At least for me…but the screenshots you’ve shown seem to tell a different version of the story.

Here is a short screencast showing the behavior I described…


Does your folder structure remain the same when you close the window. I can move my metadata columns around, but when I close the group, the order still mirrors the database window. It does not have its own unique structure, so to speak.

There is a set of columns and their order per-database. My screencast shows temporary behavior for a newly opened window, not a persistent state.