Group structures you find work best for large interconnected projects

Hello, Im new to Devonthink but fairly experienced with a variety of database software.

My question has to do with optimizing the db structure for a rather large multi-year project Ive already begun. Here’s a quick description:

I am researching through technical pdfs, applying the information in the real world, then documenting the outcome, and will finally make media-content about it, and lastly make my own support-products as a result of all this.

Right now I have a structure of:

  1. PDF db
  2. Live testing of PDF documents in real-world setting db
  3. content creation db
  4. business db (receipts, emails, messages relating to business)

all four of these dbs could be put together into one - however I built it as is on instinct. What do you recommend doing for a long, complex, inter-related project that will span decades?

For a decades-long project, you should assume that any connection that you don’t make explicit will be forgotten at some point.

In my work, that means putting things together based on content, rather than type. That is, if you read a PDF about widgets, take notes about it, and then attempt to replicate its results, all three items should be filed together as “widgets.” Receipts related to widgets might be filed separately to facilitate generation of financial reports, but all the widget-related correspondence belongs in the main widget folder/database.

Edit to add: An exception to this would be content creation. You might want to file the finished products in DT, but probably not WIP. You’ll probably be happier if you keep works in progress in whatever structure works with your writing/graphic design/video/etc. tools.

Over decades, you should also assume that whatever mechanism you set up will break down at some point. You’ll get sick or go on vacation or simply get too busy to keep up with your filing. Or someone else will need access to the information. So you need a system that is easy for someone who isn’t you to use, and easy for you to get back on track after time away. For me, that means relying primarily on search and large topical groupings, rather than complex tag hierarchies. YMMV.

It should go without saying that you should think about a robust backup and future-proofing strategy. In two decades, it’s safe to say that whatever hardware you are using now will be obsolete. You shouldn’t count on either DT or Apple still being around, either.

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Instead of “group structures”; I use tags
For example Project-aaaaa, Project-bbbbb

And additional tags for specifying the role within the project
For example; Notes, Tasks, Receipts, …

You could also use custom data in setting to append your project on the files. Custom data can be searched.

This sounds interesting, thanks!

I have no idea what custom data is, are there resources for it outside of the user manual?

if you go to settings → Data you will see the custom data. You can create your own data set and append it on a file (see inspector).

Page 238 of the Devonthink 3.8.7 manual explains Custom Metadata and comes right after lists of the default metadata.

An example;
I added custom metadata for my task notes; Due-Date, Duration, Completion Date

I also need Status (Pending/Acive/Completed/Dropped)
but I prefered to use the Label feature for that