How Many Databases Do You Use in Your DT Library

I am fairly new to DT, been using it about six months. I am an elementary school principal, so I have lots of stuff to put into DT. When I first set it up, I started with five databases (Memos, Misc, Parents, Staff, and Students). I was recently trying to create a replicant and discovered that you cannot create one in a different database. This is problematic for the parent, staff, and student databases because saving an email in a parent’s group it would be useful to have a replicant in the teacher’s and student’s group as well. Naturally I am thinking about combining the three databases into one and then just using groups. Then I thought, gee maybe I should just EVERYTHING in one database. I am curious as to what your thoughts are on doing this?

Because of what you say you want to do and assuming you are not going to have millions of documents… seems like One database way to go unless for reasons, say security and access, you really need more.

I use a single database,
and would use tags for those categories
for example Type-Memos, Type-Misc, Type-Parents, Type-Staff, …

Note; In Devonthink, tags are also listed as special groups

1 Like

Not everyone can shift to a Tags only or Groups only set up instantly, I couldn’t.
What I’ve done over the last three years is slowly transition from one giant database to 7 ongoing databases. Some are very tag heavy and some rely on almost entirely groups. A lot of that transition is figuring out efficient tag structures and group organization.
It’s evolutionary and, in the long run, revolutionary.


Could you share how you think about what should be a tag versus a group for you? I’ve stuck with groups for now but don’t have a firm understanding or examples of the differences

I use one major database and several content specific databases. The content specific ones don’t overlap and it’s easier to keep those very specific. Receipts is one example. The major is a reference database that I dump everything else into.

1 Like

Tagging, especially once you’ve discovered nested tags, can get powerful.
Genres, styles, anything that’s already hierarchical or can be put into some hierarchy will suit tags very well. Tags are also great for things that have multiple attributes.
Tags work well if you’re a planning ahead before chaos type of person.
You create your tags, make all your smart lists, and then as the docs pour in tagging is a fast way to “send” them to the proper places.

Example: Episodic television production or post production
Tags(nowhere near a complete list): episode number, revision numbers, type of doc (call sheet, script, screening notes), department (editorial, special effects, sound), priority
Docs start to come in fast even before it’s time to roll camera so throwing them into the inbox and tagging them takes less time than replicating to the various folders. I find in those situations with tags there’s less of a chance of something getting missed.

1 Like

I find there’s much potential for overlap
which is lost when data is siloed in databases (or groups)

You mentioned receipts which likewise I store in Devonthink
They’re great for generating expense/budget reports

An example is a purchase from Amazon
I assign a delivery due-date tag and the record becomes part of my task management process
For my home inventory process, I assign a tag

I see tags and groups as some kind of orthogonal stuff. You can organize your files by groups in a file-like hierarchy, and then cross over that with tags.

For example, I have some collections of Jules Verne books organized by folders, each folder (group) has the whole collection, eg. ORBIS 1988, RBA 2003, RBA 2008, Jubera, Roig, Sopena, Trilla. Each of those is a folder inside of my Jules Verne folder (or group, I’m an old guy used to folder terminology).

But I want to know, for example, in what book appears, say, women. Then I tag each book that has at least one woman in the story. Or has engravings inside, tagging each one with that word.

When I need to know how many Verne books women in them have, I search or go to the tag tree, and I have all the books I’ve tagged. When I want to know how many books one collection has, then I go to the folder structure (or search for the folder name).

Without tags, I could have built another folder structure and then use replicants to have in each folder all books with women, or with engravings…

Or you can go other way around: put all the women-in-books in a folder and tag the collections. Luckly, with DT the limit is not the program, the limit is you.