Understanding Projects

Projects were introduced in V4 so if you are moving up from V3 or earlier, it's a good idea to read and understand what projects are and why they are useful.

The most important thing to do when you start with V4 or above is to "read the help", just follow the Tips for New & Upgrading Users link at the bottom of the Project Window, and subsequently the Notes for Upgrading Users link at the bottom of the Family Historian Help window.

Introducing the Project Window

Simon's Explanation of Projects

Taken From: General Forum Topic To upgrade or not? by Simon Orde posted: 13/05/09 12:28:15


There do seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about projects, so perhaps this may help:

FH has always lets you put your GEDCOM files wherever you want and still does. The only difference is that if you create a project, it will maintain the GEDCOM file in the folder that is created for that project. In the past because it had no project folder to put them in, it was forced to store a small number of settings files (files that kept track of your recently-used settings - e.g. website settings) in tucked away places - something that people (understandably) didn't like. Thanks to project folders, it now has somewhere much better to put them.

You can put your project folders wherever you want to put them. By default, FH will put them in the "Family Historian Projects" folder - but that's just a default. You can change that to wherever you want. You do not need to keep all your projects in one folder anyway. You can have them where you want and use "Browse for Project" on the "More Tasks" button on the Project Window to open projects located anywhere.

FH does not put your images in its project folder unless you ask it to. It's entirely up to you. You can keep all image files there, none, or a mixture. You can switch between keeping media files in your project folder, or storing them externally at any time (using the "Work with External File Links" tool). If you have your own system for managing your media in structured folders, you can either continue to use that by simply not copying the media into your project folder; or, you can if you wish let FH copy all your multimedia files into its project folder and continue to maintain your own system for organising media within the project's media folder. Every time you add a picture into the project you are effectively given the choice of (a) whether you want to copy the picture file into the project folder and (b) if so, do you want to decide where it is to go in the 'Media' subfolder, or would you prefer to just leave it to FH.

Within each project folder there is a subfolder called 'Public'. The idea behind this is provides a convenient place for users to store any other files of their own (including subfolders etc) that they want to keep together with all their other project data. Obviously - like all the other features - you don't need to use this; but it's there if you want to.

Project Benefits

There are several advantages in using Projects, and few (if any) draw backs.

The following features are only supported within Projects:

  • Family Historian Chart style Diagrams from V4 onwards
  • Create a Website and Make a Family Tree CD/DVD from V4 onwards
  • Book style Reports added in V5
  • Backup/Restore of Medium/Full Backups added in V5
  • Internet Data Matches added in V6
  • Some Plugins added in V5 need a Project structure

You can Copy Project folders and change the Location of Projects without breaking Multimedia file links. However, this only works if the media files are stored within the Media subfolder of the Project, and Relative File Links apply throughout. To check for Relative File Links, use Tools > Work with External File Links and ensure all links are listed within the Project Data Folder and no lettered drives such as C:\ are mentioned.

Project Structure

When a Project is created, a folder & file structure is formed. If this structure is disrupted then Family Historian will not recognise it as a Project. The title bar at the top of the Family Historian window will either say - Family Historian Project - for a Project, or - Family Historian Gedcom - for a standalone Gedcom file. Furthermore, a Project will be listed in the File > Project Window but a standalone Gedcom will not, and only a Project will support all three modes of Backup/Restore.

The folder & file structure of the Family Historian Sample Project is shown below, and this can be created by using File > Project Window > More Tasks > Samples > Reset Sample Project. Sample Project Folder Structure

By default the master Family Historian Projects folder is created within the Windows My Documents folder, but any Location may be chosen from within the Project Window by clicking the blue link next to Location: or using More Tasks > Project List > Choose Location for Projects.

Within this master folder is the root folder for each Project, and each such folder has the same name as the Project, which is Family Historian Sample Project in the example above.

Each such root folder holds the Public folder, and the .fh_data folder, which is prefixed with the Project name. It also holds the Family Historian Project File that has the Project name as its file name, and .fh_proj as its file extension. The content of this file is identical for each Project.

Finally, the .fh_data folder holds the .ged Gedcom file that contains your family history data, and a series of folders such as Books, Charts, Media, etc. Most importantly, the Media folder holds all your multimedia files.

To reiterate, it is crucial to maintain this folder & file structure, otherwise the Project will no longer be recognised by Family Historian.