How best to modify templates

I am new to Tropy and have no experience with constructing databases, with metadata terminology, or with the concepts used in contemporary library programs for information classification and transfer. From a specific recommendation as well as reviews, I thought that Tropy would be useful, and require fewer modifications to work than other software programs I had read about. Further, I judged that it would be robust and that its usefulness would improve in future iterations. I have reviewed its accompanying documentation and about 5 videos and websites on its use. However, application has stalled. My operating system is Windows 10.
I have two major issues and several questions that arose when tried to modify the generic Tropy Photo template in order to begin to archive 4 generations worth of unorganized photos and documents. In this process, I found that I could not add additional properties, such as unique identifier, source, date of original image, date of acquisition, place, event, photographer, etc. to the metadata for an individual image. Is this modification possible? If so, how? It this kind of metadata were attached to an image before transfer to Tropy program, would that metadata be retained? First Issue: What is the role of “Vocabulary” in the Tropy system? Does a given vocabulary generate universally recognized and more usefully searchable tags? In an historical archive, why choose one “vocabulary” as opposed to another? Is acquisition of a new vocabulary and its specific terms a necessary step before a template can be modified only with those additional terms? Second Issue: Where to find a more comprehensive (and, to a tyro’s eyes, more comprehensible) guide to use of Tropy and to modification of templates? Is there a manual? How to acquire such a thing? In particular, where can I find a simple-minded, step-by-step account of how to modify templates? In what folders /locations are data stored by default? Are tags from one project searchable from within another project? And lastly, recommendations for a concise review of the ideas behind the design. Would gratefully also accept advice and answers to questions that I should have asked but did not know that I needed to. Many thanks for reading so far.

You can certainly add additional properties to an individual image. Because Tropy does not use a fixed vocabulary and because you can attach metadata at the item, photo, or selection level it is difficult to give out general best practices, because the best approach typically depends on your data and the way you’re planning to work with them.

Whether to add metadata at the item or photo level usually depends on how many photos there are per item, in your project. To make best use of Tropy’s UI I would generally suggest to keep the number of photos per item relatively small (not more than about 20 photos per item; with the exception of long monographs or similar, with hundreds of pages, where you do not expect to add lots of detailed information to individual pages).

That being said, you can add additional fields to individual items, at any level, in the metadata panel. If you need certain fields in many items, it’s best to create a custom template for this; again there is a distinction between item and photo templates – depending on where you want to attach your fields you may need to create one or the other, or both. To you template you can add properties of any vocabulary Tropy knows about and you can install additional vocabularies. The benefit of using existing vocabularies is mainly to make your data useful to others or other tools. Which vocabulary to choose really depends on your data and your field: for instance, if you’re working with archival data your archive will likely use specific vocabularies which you would adopt.

Before using additional terms in a template, the vocabulary in question first needs to be installed. We’re happy to help with this if you point us to a specific vocabulary.

You cannot search across projects in Tropy. But as far as Tropy is concerned a ‘project’ is really a database file; it’s up to you to define what constitutes the information that goes into one project. That is, you could add several ‘projects’ into a single project file in Tropy and use nested lists to distinguish between these projects: this allows for searches within a single project and also across project boundaries.

I hope this answers some of your questions. In general, the user manual is the most comprehensive documentation we have.