Where do I start with cataloguing? (General issues)

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Firstly, as with any database, there is no "one size fits all" solution. However, Portfolio is very easy to use - just don't make it hard by trying to do and understand everything at once. It is important to understand that it is very easy to make and delete catalogues and to move records from one to another - so don't feel you must make your very first catalogue you create become your proper long-term catalogue. Experiment and test before building out your main work - you may even be able to pull some test data into your eventual working catalogue.

If, for example you only work with JPGs , then just dive in and drag a good sample of your files into a new catalogue with default settings and see what you get. If you use a wider variety of formats and media and/or work in a networked or Mac/Win environment then here are some things to 'test' before you start your real content catalogues. To achieve this, unless you have everything to hand, you might best start on paper (or in Notepad or Word) and jot down all file formats you regularly use and the different media types and locations you use. You then need to work down the list ticking off items as you go and noting any problems. Better to find you've an issue with a particular file type before you go and archive several thousand of them. However, if it turns out to be a wrong settings, Portfolio has tools that will allow you to 'update' the record and so you can fix many such issues.

Things to Check

Formats and Filenames

As well as simple things like 'does it import?' and 'is the thumbnail OK?' look for other more subtle issues. Is you filename system unique - or robust enough - not to cause name conflicts. Portfolio effectively assumes filenames are unique for although it will correctly catalogue lots of files of the same name in different locations, it can get confused when updating a selection with lots of same-named files. So, although you do not have to name uniquely, unless you have really good reasons not to you are strongly advise you do so.

Also take into account the fact your data may be used by people of another OS (Mac vs. Win) - even if only on CDs you send them. If you're not too sure about file and folder naming restrictions see the FAQ's article on File naming strategies and on Mac & Windows OS File/Folder naming rules. Again, if you are worried by the size of the task ahead, Portfolio has tools to help with this. You can rename files as you catalogue them or after they've been imported. You can also use FolderSync to rename or reorganise the folders containing your images, such the changes to stored path names are updated in the catalogue whilst the folders are renamed/moved in the actual OS; all from within Portfolio - neat!

If you want to catalogue whole folders but only certain types within them then you'll need to set this up (Advanced Cataloging Options dialog - File Types). You might want to control the files catalogued by excluding certain names (Advanced Cataloging Options dialog - File Types). Note that FolderSync will pick up these rules s well

Media, Locations and Cross-Platform

Once you've addressed file formats you can look at where they are stored - or how they and received - and how paths work in network and cross-OS situations, i.e. can the PC 'find' files on a Mac server or can the Mac find files on a Windows network storage device. If new to the latter area definitely read Mac & Windows OS File/Folder naming rules. It is also pertinent if you have existing content (and catalogues) created entirely on one OS and want the data to be usable in a shared OS environment. Consider: Mac classic OS only allows 31 character names whilst Windows allows 255 but must have file extensions and has more illegal characters (e.g. forward and back slashes). On the media front consider removable media: CD, CD-RW, PhotoCDs, floptical disks, USB sticks, flash cards etc. The latter can be important, for instance to photographers with digital cameras.


Metadata is slightly more complex. Portfolio allows you to extract just about any information from:

Portfolio will set up some of the basic metadata mappings for you. Beyond that you'll need to set up both custom fields to hold the data and then set the mappings for those tags; you must work in that order as fields must exist before you can map to them. Version 7 has a completely new interface for this.

Embedding metadata back into files is new to Version 7. Presently - as at v7.0 - this feature is restricted to write-back into JPGs and uncompressed TIFs, though the range of supported formats is expected to grow.

If Metadata is key to your work, test other tools you'll use in the workflow. Metadata is very susceptible to loss through mishandling my non-metadata-aware tools. Even those that do understand metadata can have differences so test all the likely tools in the flow to ensure your data remains intact.

Export/Archive to CD/DVD

If you intend to acrhive images off onto CD/DVD or to use such media to circulate images than you should test your disc burning hardware/sortware using representative output from Portfolio's Collect Setting up a CD Catalogue - Collect (v7) and Burn to Disc.

Don't forget that Portfolio can create a free distributable browser version of the client that can be circulated on the CD for colleagues who don't have Portfolio installed. The v7 Burn to disc can even set up the Portfolio autorun files for you.

Question: Where do I start with cataloguing? (General issues) [FAQ00325.htm]
Last Update:- 01 June 2006

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