Introducing Projects

Project WindowIf you are new to using Family Historian an/or migrating from another product, it is advisable to understand what projects are and why they are useful. This tutorial is based on ƒh Version 4 but the features are much the same for later versions.


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
  • Revert to Snapshots of GEDCOM file added in V6
  • Internet Data Matches added in V6
  • Some Plugins added in V5 need a Project structure
  • Some settings are saved in the Family Historian Project file (.fh_proj) since V6
  • Project specific local Fact Sets added in V7
  • Import report Log Files retained in Project
  • On startup ‘Display the Last-Used Focus Person in the Focus Window’ added in V7

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 may 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 – Standalone GEDCOM File (LIMITED FUNCTIONALITY) – for a standalone GEDCOM file. Furthermore, a Project will be listed in the File > Project Window dialog but a standalone GEDCOM will not; and only a Project will support all three modes of File > 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.

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.

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 the multimedia files that are automatically included in ƒh Backups and automatically migrate if the Project is moved.

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

Project Disruptions

The following abnormal displays may appear in the File > Project Window dialog and you should ask for advice in the support forums.

If a Project is listed with a Last Updated timestamp of 01/01/1971 00:00 then the GEDCOM file is probably missing or corrupted and will need to be recovered from Snapshots or Backups. The only other possibility is that a recent import from another product contained no record Updated timestamps.

If a Project is listed with the suffix (Folder: <name of folder>) then the Project folders, the .fh_proj file, and the .ged file are inconsistently named in some way. That will need investigating using File Explorer and may need to be recovered from Backups.

Last update: 27 Feb 2024