Archive utility, research assistants, and dropbox versus external hard drive

Hi - I’m just beginning to learn about Tropy to have a research assistant work on tagging photos in my database. If I want both of us to be able to access the database, I have seen threads that say having access to Dropbox is the best way.
Is that still true, and if so, does my research assistant need to pay for a large number of GBs on dropbox or is the free account ok?
Does it work equally well in theory to base the database on an external hard drive that we pass back and forth?
Or is it possible to use the zip archive plugin to share the databse, have the tags added, and then have it zipped and sent back to me?
Thank you!

I think all of these are viable options. A Tropy project consists of your project file (which is a SQLite database file) and all the original photos. When working on the same project file you will probably need to make it ‘portable’ as described in other threads here. Because Tropy still lacks some tools to make it easy to sync/merge copies of the same project file, this is still experimental – but all it really means is that Tropy will store paths to your photos relative to the project file (not using absolute paths). This allows you to put one project and all your photos into a folder and share it: whether that’s via Dropbox or similar network folders or an external drive.

Using an external drive will make it easier never to overwrite anything, because only one person will have access to the drive at a time; it also gives you very cheap disk space, which might be useful if the project covers many GB worth of photos (but I’d be careful to make frequent updates in case the external drive breaks or gets lost). On the other hand, using folders shared via the network, makes it easy to always have access to the latest version.

Using the archive plugin is certainly a possibility too: however, when doing this you’re essentially creating copies of your data. That is, when you export items to your assistant, then later import the updated items back, you will have two copies of your items. You would then either merge the two items (if you have made changes yourself) or just delete the old ones and keep the new ones. For this reason I think using the archive plugin is a good option if you work on related but essentially different items; or, even better, if you assistants compile or curate data which has not been added to your project yet: in such a case they could work on their own Tropy projects and then export selected items, which can later be imported into your canonical project.

Thank you so much! Dropbox looks like the best choice in the end.