Searching \ for '[EE] How to organize a EE document library ?' in subject line. ()
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure! Help us get a faster server
FAQ page: www.piclist.com/techref/index.htm?key=how+organize+document
Search entire site for: 'How to organize a EE document library ?'.

Exact match. Not showing close matches.
PICList Thread
'[EE] How to organize a EE document library ?'
2007\09\06@131058 by Alexandre Guimaraes

face picon face
Hi,

       I have a huge amount of paper with application notes, printouts from
list messages, data sheets, interesting projects, etc, etc...

       I think most of the professionals on the list professionals on the
list also have. How do you organize the mess ?? I tried so many ways over
the years that it is hard to describe all. I have the opportunity to hire a
person to organize the papers or make it all digital by scanning what is not
in electronic format and grabbing the PDF's when it is still available. Is
there any nice way to do this ? How to "decide" wich "categories" to have ?
Any software to do searchs after it is all in ?

       Sorry for asking so many questions but I really hate to reinvent the
wheel when someone probably has already done something similar...

Best regards,
Alexandre Guimaraes

2007\09\06@154251 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Alexandre Guimaraes wrote:

> I have a huge amount of paper with application notes, printouts from list
> messages, data sheets, interesting projects, etc, etc...
>
> I think most of the professionals on the list professionals on the list
> also have. How do you organize the mess ?? I tried so many ways over the
> years that it is hard to describe all. I have the opportunity to hire a
> person to organize the papers or make it all digital by scanning what is
> not in electronic format and grabbing the PDF's when it is still
> available. Is there any nice way to do this ? How to "decide" wich
> "categories" to have ? Any software to do searchs after it is all in ?

I don't think hierarchical categories make a lot of sense. What works very
well for me is assigning arbitrary keywords and have a list of the content
that filters down as I type the keywords. I don't have this for documents,
but I have it for bookmarks <http://www.kaylon.com/power.html>. For me,
that's the way everything on my system should be available. But I don't
know any product that works this way on the file system, even though it
shouldn't be too difficult.

Plus, of course, a traditional search through indexed content. On Windows,
you have at least Google and Microsoft providing reasonable and free
products for that. Of course that won't work with scanned and not OCRed
documents... no suggestions for this part. But both work with text-based
PDFs.

Gerhard

2007\09\06@161308 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
I organize according to the project. I include copies of all part specs,
BOM's printed out into 11"x7"
sheets and added to a three-ring binder. That binder becomes the
"gospel" for that project, and several sets are
issued- one set for me, one set for purchasing, and one set for production..

An exception is that I keep schematics as PDF's so they can be easily
made into plastic "menus" for the
technicians. These plastic-coated schematics last a long time and don't
get lost. Technicians also write
on the back as  notes to themselves.  The schematics are printed out
onto high-gloss white sheets, then
are made into menus at "Kinko's"  (a  graphics store popular all across
the US).

--Bob Axtell


Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\09\06@161639 by Eoin Ross

flavicon
face
This thread got me thinking - what about something like mediawiki?  http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki

Use a page to have an abstract, or version info, change log perhaps - and links to the right files?
Although the more I think about it - you still need a folder structure.

I organise my projects paths by:

\ project

\ type of item
         (Source code, manual, photos, installation location photos/data, etc)

\ revision date
          (YYYY MM DD format allows an easy sort into chronological order)
\ File(s)



>>> spam_OUTlistsTakeThisOuTspamconnectionbrazil.com 06 Sep 07 15:42:32 >>>
Alexandre Guimaraes wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I don't think hierarchical categories make a lot of sense. What works very
well for me is assigning arbitrary keywords and have a list of the content
that filters down as I type the keywords. I don't have this for documents,
but I have it for bookmarks <http://www.kaylon.com/power.html>. For me,
that's the way everything on my system should be available. But I don't
know any product that works this way on the file system, even though it
shouldn't be too difficult.

Plus, of course, a traditional search through indexed content. On Windows,
you have at least Google and Microsoft providing reasonable and free
products for that. Of course that won't work with scanned and not OCRed
documents... no suggestions for this part. But both work with text-based
PDFs.

Gerhard

2007\09\06@164449 by Cedric Chang

flavicon
face
After trying many things, this is what I  do:
I figure out where the physical item is to be filed.......
If it is paper, it can go in paper file.  If it is a CD, or DVD it  
can go in the general paper files or in separate paper files.  If it  
is a sample, It can go in the paper file if it is small enough,  
otherwise I throw it in a sample box.  If it is a finished project I  
throw it in a box large enough to hold it.

I then give it a filing # ( aka F# ) .
If it goes in the general paper file I label it Gnnn-xxxx.  I give it  
the next number in sequence.  If it is a DVD or CD or tape , I label  
it Tnnn-xxxx.   I give it the next number in sequence.   If it is a  
sample I bag it in a clear small bag and label and file it in Snnn-
xxxx. If it is a large thing, I tag it as Lnnn-xxxx and throw it in a  
box.   If the item has not physical substance ( image, source file,  
etc. , I label it Vnnn-xxxx ( virtual ).  I then electronically  file  
it in a V folder.  If I have a project , in which  I want  to keep to  
keep all the items together, I create a new Project category Pnnn-0000.

The key to all this is my database.  In my database I have a
2 filing # fields, first 4 symbols  (F# hi ) and last 4 symbols (F# lo )
a created date field,
a revised date field
an author field
a description field  ( be sure to include key words here )

This allows me to search for created date, revised date, description  
keywords, etc.
I then get a filing # that I can use to go access the file contents.



Example:
G001-9999 was the last general paper based thing I filed.  Now I want  
to file another paper based thing.  I increment the F# to get  
G002-0001 ( I never use 0000 for a lo number ).

If I am creating a new project I look for the largest Pnnn ( F# hi )  
number I can find.  If it is P043 , then I create a P044-0000 entry  
and in the description field I describe the project.  If I get to  
P999, then I create Pa99 as the next F# hi entry.






On Sep 6, 2007, at 11:10 AM, Alexandre Guimaraes wrote:

Hi,

       I have a huge amount of paper with application notes, printouts from
list messages, data sheets, interesting projects, etc, etc...

       I think most of the professionals on the list professionals on the
list also have. How do you organize the mess ?? I tried so many ways  
over
the years that it is hard to describe all. I have the opportunity to  
hire a
person to organize the papers or make it all digital by scanning what  
is not
in electronic format and grabbing the PDF's when it is still  
available. Is
there any nice way to do this ? How to "decide" wich "categories" to  
have ?
Any software to do searchs after it is all in ?

       Sorry for asking so many questions but I really hate to reinvent the
wheel when someone probably has already done something similar...

Best regards,
Alexandre Guimaraes

2007\09\06@210054 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Alexandre Guimaraes wrote:
> I have a huge amount of paper with application notes, printouts from
> list messages, data sheets, interesting projects, etc, etc...
>
> I think most of the professionals on the list professionals on the
> list also have. How do you organize the mess ?? I tried so many ways over
> the years that it is hard to describe all. I have the opportunity to hire
> a
> person to organize the papers or make it all digital by scanning what is
> not
> in electronic format and grabbing the PDF's when it is still available. Is
> there any nice way to do this ? How to "decide" wich "categories" to have
> ?
> Any software to do searchs after it is all in ?
>
> Sorry for asking so many questions but I really hate to reinvent the
> wheel when someone probably has already done something similar...

These are good questions, that everybody struggles with.


THE PROBLEM

In my opinion, the goal here is to minimize the overall effort, which
consists of two parts:

1. The effort required to enter an item into the system.
2. The effort required to find/retrieve an item.


THE SOLUTION

The best advice I can give you, is to buy the 'Getting Things Done' book by
David Allen.  It deals with precisely the problem you've described:
organizing the mess.

Prior to reading the book, my desk was an absolute mess: my coworkers had to
put papers on my chair to make sure they didn't get lost in the morass! It
took me a while to go through the mess, paper by paper, to find a particular
document.

Since I've started following the simple procedures given in the book,
several things have happened:

   - My desk and drawers are neat and organized.
   - I can find the document I need, in under a minute.
   - I can think a lot more clearly than before.

The big difference between the GTD method, and others (like "the 7 habits")
is the bottom-up approach: you put the low-level details in order first, and
then you figure out your higher priorities.

The most useful things I got out of the book are:

- A simple, alphabet-based filing system. _No_ categories, one folder per
hanging file, with files arranged in alphabetical order.

- Labeler is *essential* to making the above system work. Hand-written
labels, or labels printed on an inkjet/laser printer just don't cut it. The
cheap ($20) Brother PT-80 labeler has the best cost/performance ratio
(especially when you consider the cost of tapes).

- The inbox that gets processed and emptied every day, with things either
done, filed away, or delegated.

- The tickler file, which I am *just* starting to use.

The key to the GTD success is minimizing the effort you put into the system,
while getting as much as possible out of it.


HARDWARE PROJECTS

For hardware projects, we maintain documents in two forms: electronic and
paper.

= Electronic =

Datasheets, schematics, project notes, utilities specific to a project --  
basically, anything related to the project that is in electronic format, go
into a folder on the local fileserver (//server/proj_hw/myproject). The
project folder has subfolders for datasheets, schematics, manufacturers
files, etc. Those can also have subfolders if needed: for example,
datasheets can be broken down into ics, passives, transistors, etc.

I can normally find what I'm looking for by simply browsing to it. In rare
cases, I use the built-in Windows search function, to find a document by its
filename.

= Paper =

Everything in paper form, including frequently used pages from datasheets
(footprints, tables, etc) and handwritten notes, go into a paper folder.
When not in active use, the folder is put in a filing cabinet (and can be
retrieved in a matter of seconds).


THE BOTTOM LINE

When considering an organizing system, make sure that it takes the least
amount of effort possible to create, maintain, and use the system.


CRITIQUE

Gerhard suggested that hierarchical categories don't make a lot of sense,
and that one should rely on a search engine. This surely minimizes the
effort to create and maintain the system, but it can make finding things
very hard. If you don't have any categories at all, you may find yourself
running "global" searches, which tend to take a long time, and/or produce
too many results if the search terms aren't specific enough.

Bob Axtell's project binder is similar to what we use for our projects, but
it sounds like his takes more effort to create and maintain. We produce only
the bare minimum of printed documentation (e.g., one page from the
datasheet, rather than the whole thing), and put all of it in one folder.
Related pages are stapled together.

Eoin's electronic system sounds almost identical to ours. I would emphasize
the "YYYY MM DD" format for files/folders that are not on CVS, but that
shouldn't be overwritten. My examples include CAD files, successive versions
of files (ex: contracts, company logo) that get e-maield back and forth,
folders for storing images from the digital camera. Wiki is a good idea for
"evolving" documents, but I don't see it working as an organizing system for
external paperwork.

Cedric described a system that sounds like a great idea, but I don't like
the extra step that the database creates, and the fact that everything is
filed using a number (which are more difficult to remember than words). To
file something using Cedric's system, you have to:

1. Open the database.
2. Fill out the fields (created, revised, author, description, number).
3. Put the number in the document.
4. File the item.

To retrieve this item, you have to:

1. Open the database.
2. Enter the keyword(s).
3. Get the number (better write it down!)
4. Use the number to find the paper file.

As Cedric has pointed out, the database is the key to this system, but I
think it is also its bottleneck and Achilles' heel. Without access to the
database, everything unravels.

I find it easier to simply label the paper folder ("Lunar Strobe"), and put
it in the filing cabinet (after "Lucent Technologies"). Retrieval is just as
easy: open the drawer, and find the "Lunar Strobe" under "L". As an added
benefit, the labels transform the filing drawer into a neat, self-updating
table of contents.

Of course, it makes sense to separate different things by filing cabinet. If
you have lots of product samples, put them in their own filing cabinet. Same
goes for product manuals. This system has actually been field tested, works
great. Besides being more efficient than a computer DB-centric system, it is
also more robust.

---> HOWEVER, we are currently considering a database system similar to
Cedric's, for our component drawers. There are two reasons: 1) it is not
easy to add new drawers in alphabetical order, and 2) we need to be able to
quickly determine the quantity for a large number of components (as in a
BOM). The numbers in this system would correspond to rows and columns
(something like RRR:CCC). In this case, the cost of DB access is well
justified by the time savings in other areas.

Lastly, I would advise you against scanning all your existing papers into
PDFs, unless you're really short on physical space, or have some specific
need that only PDF can fill (such as being able to e-mail the document, or
use the text search function).

Good luck,

Vitaliy

2007\09\06@231543 by SM Ling

picon face
{Quote hidden}

Some thoughts...

IMHO organizing (keeping or storing) is to ease retrieval, so categorization
is needed.

Difficulties in categorization (what category? more than 1 possible? create
another category?) always generates procrastination for me as I am reluctant
to waste time for futile storage, or loose finding the item when it is
needed.  This delay creates more mess and more dis-resonant, therefore
impede work and clear thinking.

Tagging as an in-between seems to be a good way to do categorization.  With
a tag, the item can be associated to more than one category.  The categories
are arranged in an alphabetical order,  which is sufficient for now .

Cheers, Ling SM

2007\09\06@233310 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face

On Sep 6, 2007, at 6:59 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

> THE SOLUTION
>
> The best advice I can give you, is to buy the 'Getting Things Done'  
> book by
> David Allen.  It deals with precisely the problem you've described:
> organizing the mess.

I wholeheartedly agree.  Reading and applying GTD's methods has been  
a boon to my organization and productivity.  During the basement  
remodel (where the filing cabinet normally lives), I've let things go  
a bit... and previous to spending some time learning a system like  
GTD's, I wouldn't have really been able to "see" when I was getting  
un-organized, until the piles started blocking the desks, etc.  Now,  
it's easy to see when I need to go do a "re-start" if I got lazy and  
didn't keep up with daily filing.  Same thing with the e-mail  
inbox... if there's anything IN it, I didn't stay organized today.

> Prior to reading the book, my desk was an absolute mess: my  
> coworkers had to
> put papers on my chair to make sure they didn't get lost in the  
> morass! It
> took me a while to go through the mess, paper by paper, to find a  
> particular
> document.

I never had a hard time finding things in my "piles" but the mess was  
similar to your experience.  I recently watched a report based on a  
book that talked about "messy folks" being quite a bit more  
productive than "tidy folks" but I don't think I believe it.  I do  
believe that even when my filing system looked like a "mess" to  
others, it really did have structure and meaning -- to me -- but  
GTD's simple formula of "File it alphabetically under the first name  
you'll think of when you're looking for it, no matter what it is..."  
is so utterly simple, it works EVERY time.  I was skeptical (not  
being a great "filer" in the past) that I'd lose things, but quite to  
the contrary -- having the discipline to file it in a SIMPLE system,  
means it's all there, and all VERY easy to find.

E-mail has been a pain, and I've looked over a lot of systems on  
29folders.com etc... but what I settled on (since I use IMAP) was to  
duplicate my folders in email and invest in a scanner to get things I  
only had on paper into electronic format... I still have to file the  
paper, so I am creating a bit more work this way, but I can also SEE  
all my paper "stuff" in those electronic folders.  I'm not sure this  
is the end-all-be-all of how I like to use the system yet, I also  
found that just carrying around a file box and doing it all with real  
folders and paper (printing e-mails out to do so) wasn't too bad either.

Generally though -- I actually have TIME to look over the system now  
and tweak it to my personal preferences, something I wouldn't have  
been able to do before, because I couldn't easily manage my time.  If  
I need to change the system, it becomes a task or a project and just  
gets done.  I've switched from paper to electronic to paper a couple  
of times, and it was dead-simple.  I think those just starting out  
should do the paper thing... and go through the full "collection/
gathering" process described in the book.  I threw out at least two  
50 gallon trash cans worth of papers and crap I just didn't need or  
would never get around to, just doing the initial gather/purge  
process.  In fact since I'm a bit of a packrat, this system also  
naturally seems to keep that from happening.

> Since I've started following the simple procedures given in the book,
> several things have happened:
>
>     - My desk and drawers are neat and organized.
>     - I can find the document I need, in under a minute.
>     - I can think a lot more clearly than before.

Me too.  As the book says, once you have the "system" up and running,  
you never worry about forgetting to do anything, and you "trust" the  
system... you know it's all "in there" and will get done.  Relaxation  
time is more relaxing, work time is more productive... etc.

As far as other systems go, I went to Franklin-Covey courses and was  
heavily "mentally invested" in that program for years.  I enjoyed it,  
and it gave me a solid framework that I liked, but GTD (for me  
personally) is better.  Less fiddling with the system (daily  
movements of to-do style task lists from one page to another in FC  
drove me nuts, but since it was fairly effective, I kept it up - and  
it helped, but GTD is simpler and better thought out... for my brain  
anyway...

I don't get all "fan-boy" over any of them, ultimately they're all  
just mental tools for disciplined thinking about how you organize  
yourself, and they all have some nuggets of truth in them.  FC's  
focus on trying to balance your time between things you must do and  
things that motivate you deeply, etc... is a good mental check for  
anyone to do once in a while to see if they're out of whack or not  
spending time with family, etc... GTD isn't very good at that kind of  
mental picture.  But with GTD keeping track of what used to be  
disjointed to-do lists as real actions (another key to the system, to-
do lists suck compared with lists of actual ACTIONS to actually do  
next... hard to explain, read the book... heh...) I have time to  
think about other things more "lofty" than the day-to-day grind.

Pretty nice system, not too many quirks.

--
Nate Duehr
.....nateKILLspamspam@spam@natetech.com



2007\09\07@013810 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face

On Sep 6, 2007, at 9:32 PM, Nate Duehr wrote:

> E-mail has been a pain, and I've looked over a lot of systems on
> 29folders.com etc... but what I settled on (since I use IMAP) was to

Er, typo/brain goof.

43folders.com

:-)
--
Nate Duehr
natespamKILLspamnatetech.com



2007\09\07@092141 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

> Gerhard suggested that hierarchical categories don't make a lot of sense,
> and that one should rely on a search engine. This surely minimizes the
> effort to create and maintain the system, but it can make finding things
> very hard. If you don't have any categories at all,

I didn't mean to say "no hierarchies", and I didn't mean to say to rely
mainly on a search engine. I meant something similar to the tagging Ling is
talking about. But the difference between what I meant and the way tags
normally work is the retrieval. To really see what I mean, you may have to
install the PowerMarks product I linked to in my post and just try it.
There are very few products out there that work in this way, and you may
not have seen it yet working :)

Using file system and hierarchical categories, where do you file a
Microchip app note about use of dsPICs for speech recognition that you got
for a specific project? It belongs (at least) to Microchip docs, dsPIC
docs, a specific processor, speech recognition docs, app notes, and the
specific project. So tag it with "microchip dspic speech recognition
appnote <processor name> projectname". Just filing it under the project is
for me not efficient. (Even though this may be what I'm doing now, but I
don't like it :)

> you may find yourself running "global" searches, which tend to take a
> long time, and/or produce too many results if the search terms aren't
> specific enough.

I gather you haven't used neither Google Desktop Search
<http://desktop.google.com/> nor Windows Desktop Search
<http://www.microsoft.com/windows/desktopsearch/default.mspx>. Doesn't take
a long time to search at all. But as I wrote in my post, for me these are a
second choice, after tagging with the correct retrieval system. I think
having an efficient search is necessary, because tagging goes only so far;
there will always be content that you didn't put in a tag.

Gerhard

2007\09\07@115021 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

> I gather you haven't used neither Google Desktop Search
> <http://desktop.google.com/> nor Windows Desktop Search
> <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/desktopsearch/default.mspx>. Doesn't take
> a long time to search at all. But as I wrote in my post, for me these are a
> second choice, after tagging with the correct retrieval system. I think
> having an efficient search is necessary, because tagging goes only so far;
> there will always be content that you didn't put in a tag.

Windows Desktop Search can search for the Windows file system keywords. I
haven't used that extensively, but I think that's what I'm going to use
from now on. Works reasonably quick.

Does anybody know how/where Windows stores this file metadata?

Gerhard

2007\09\07@140545 by Cedric Chang

flavicon
face
v003

I can find things from 20 years ago ( I have been using this system  
for that long ).  I leave my database running, so I don't have that  
step.  I can search for common things.  I can use the database to  
refresh my memory.  Unless you have a photographic memory, I don't  
see how you can find stuff without a search engine.  My database has  
9451 entries for entities.


After trying many things, this is what I  do:
I figure out where the physical item is to be filed.......
If it is paper, it can go in paper file.  If it is a CD, or DVD it
can go in the general paper files or in separate paper files.  If it
is a sample, It can go in the paper file if it is small enough,
otherwise I throw it in a sample box.  If it is a finished project I
throw it in a box large enough to hold it.

I then give it a filing # ( aka F# ) .
If it goes in the general paper file I label it Gnnn-xxxx.  I give it
the next number in sequence.  If it is a DVD or CD or tape , I label
it Tnnn-xxxx.   I give it the next number in sequence.   If it is a
sample I bag it in a clear small bag and label and file it in Snnn-
xxxx. If it is a large thing, I tag it as Lnnn-xxxx and throw it in a
box.   If the item has not physical substance ( image, source file,
etc. , I label it Vnnn-xxxx ( virtual ).  I then electronically  file
it in a V folder.  If I have a project , in which  I want  to keep to
keep all the items together, I create a new Project category Pnnn-0000.

The key to all this is my database.  In my database I have a
2 filing # fields, first 4 symbols  (F# hi ) and last 4 symbols (F# lo )
a created date field,
a revised date field
an author field
a description field  ( be sure to include key words here )

This allows me to search for created date, revised date, description
keywords, etc.
I then get a filing # that I can use to go access the file contents.



Example:
G001-9999 was the last general paper based thing I filed.  Now I want
to file another paper based thing.  I increment the F# to get
G002-0001 ( I never use 0000 for a lo number ).

If I am creating a new project I look for the largest Pnnn ( F# hi )
number I can find.  If it is P043 , then I create a P044-0000 entry
and in the description field I describe the project.  If I get to
P999, then I create Pa99 as the next F# hi entry.


Oh, yeah     I use Filemaker for my database, and almost any other
database would be easy to use.  When I post my projects or documents
on the internet , I use my F# as the first part of the file name.
ex:    P023-0087  Cis-Lunar Strobe project timetable
To save this file on my F# server, I put this in a folder entitled
"P023"  which is in a folder P000   "Projects"
To do a search ( on a computer ) I use the Mac OS X spotlight search
to find any files that have strayed from the correct folder.
This system has few dependencies on database quirks or search quirks
or operating system quirks.




More... (looser matching)
- Last day of these posts
- In 2007 , 2008 only
- Today
- New search...