Home > File Management > How to Organize my GIS files?

How to Organize my GIS files?

When I first started out working in a GIS environment I had a very simplistic filing schema.

Subject Folder –> Date and Description Folder –> Files

However, after a few years this has grown into a giant mess. The top layer of subject folders has been modified multiple times to allow for more subjects. Because many of the projects I have worked could belong to multiple subjects hyper-links have been created to point from possible subject areas to the project folder. The resulting mess is not very pretty to look at and it is very difficult for anyone to find anything.

Without doing a complete reorganization of the files I have augmented the file structure by using a tagging tool, Tag2Find. This has really worked great because it tags the files using NTFS’s ability to store data in the alternate data stream. This allows me to rename and move the files without losing the tags. However, if a file is moved to a non NTFS file system the tags are lost. The tags can be exported as a XML file so it really would not be that much trouble to transfer the tags to the new location, but still a hassle. Also the program does not work with shared folders, you have to remote into the source machine to view and update the tags.

The current machine that I keep my GIS projects on will be moving to a more restrictive environment in the near future. When that happens, Tag2Find will have to be uninstalled, because of future licensing issues, and other IT related concerns.

I have been trying to find a new schema and a way to track the files. The Tagg tool came to mind but alas, the same concerns are present with this software. I am planning to create a simple MS Access database that will store the location of the files, the tags created with Tag2Find and any future tagging information. I wish there was a way to store location information in the way of bounding coordinates, but I am unfamiliar with how to do this with PDF, JPGs and other non-GIS files. After reading through quite a few forums on how to organize business files I am leaning towards the following structure:

Year Folder –> Subject Folder –> Client Folder –> UID_Description Folder –> Files

The UID (unique identification number) will be created by the Access database. The user will have to create the project in Access and then create it on the computer and then go back later to add any tags. I think the hardest part will be to enforce the new schema and make sure the Access database is updated to reflect any new projects. I will also be locked into the name of the files and their location, unless I update all that information in the database as well. Also I doubt I will be updating the database with every file created just the finished projects and any new data created.

Whatever decision is reached I need to do something before anybody else inherits my tangled mess.

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Categories: File Management
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