Creating a database with sheets with the future in mind

I am afraid, my question needs a rather long introduction. I would be very grateful if you could indulge me and read it all. :smiley:

I am fairly new to DTPO but have become a big fan already. I use DT for the work on my PhD-thesis. Up until now, I mostly use the prgramme to categorize, annotate and contextualize PDFs, pages-files, RTFs etc, which is great.

Now, however I intend to do something a little bit more ambitious. My PhD-thesis deals with the history of the Crusader States in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages. I need access to a fairly big corpus of prosopographical and institutional data. So far (before having installed DT), I have entered my information in three different Numbers-spreadsheets. I have one spreadsheet for people (entries such as “name”, “spouse”, “religion”, “office”), one for monasteries (entries such as “name”, “place”, “religious order”, “founder”), and one for dioceses (entries such as “name”, “foundation”, “churches”).

The idea behind these spreadsheets was to use them as a basis for a relational database in MySQL. Well, at least that was the plan until I noticed that that would mean to devote all my time to familiarizing myself with MySQL and creating the database instead of doing my actual historical research. Thus, I have stayed with my amateurish spreadsheets, even if I’ve never been happy with them.

Now DT has made me think about other possibilities. I have now created a very simple system in DT that works very well for me. For each of my old spreadsheets I have created a group in DT. In each group folder, I create individual RTFs for each row in the old spreadsheet - e.g.: I create an RTF for the monastery of St. Mary Josaphat in Jerusalem, one for the abbey of the Black Mountain, etc. In each RTF document, I enter a standardized list of categories corresponding to the columns in my spreadsheets, i.e. The RTF looks somewhat like this:

Name[St. Mary Josaphat



Founder[Godfrey of Bouillon

I do the same for people and dioceses. It works great. My information is gathered in a much more accessible and clear way than in the odious spreadsheets (hate them!). By using links, I can even turn this simple system into something akin to a relational database (I know, completely different thing, really, but I use it like that!), For example, I will link the entry “Godfrey of Bouillon” in the RTF on the the abbey of St. Mary Josaphat in the monastery-DB to the RTF on Godfrey of Bouillon in the persons-DB. Works perfectly.

OK, now my actual question: While the above explained system works great for me now, I am a bit worried about the future. It is quite possible that the data I gather will have to be incorporated into a larger monastic database on which I work during my dayjob. Also, I might wish to cooperate on my database with other scholars in the future. I am afraid that this might be difficult in DTPO. So, I am thinking about future possibilities to export the data I gather to a different platform (SQL) and keep the relations between the entries. Is this a pie in the sky idea or could it be done in any way? I would also be very happy for any suggestions on how to modify my current system in such a way that would make accomplishing my future aims easier.

Thanks in advance for all replies.



Assuming that all RTF documents use exactly the same scheme or template, then it should be “easily” possible to extract their contents via AppleScript and convert the data e.g. to a sheet. Most databases/spreadsheets should be able to import tab separated values, some of them support AppleScript too.

Retaining the relations is a different story, although not impossible.