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Understanding portrait database packages (PSPA format)

Portrait pages are created using information (data) linked to portrait photos. This data describes the people depicted in their portrait, and can be used to group and sort portraits into panel grids. Labels and page titles are auto-generated using the database information.

Portrait Photo+ Data=  Portrait Panel page
Grade 3
Lastname: Jeffreys
Firstname: Lucas
Homeroom: 201
Teacher: Jameson
Priority: 5
Grade 3
Lastname: Jameson
Firstname: Sandra
Homeroom: 201
Teacher: Stephens
Department: Faculty
Title: Homeroom Teacher
Priority: 3
Salutation: Mrs.

School photography companies usually supply portraits with a database to schools in what is called the PSPA format. This format is recommended by the Professional School Photographers’ Association.  

How the PSPA package is made

Before photo day, your school provides the photographer with a spreadsheet listing all students and staff, organized by their place in the school - grades, classroom assignment, etc. On photo day, every person is given a paper slip with a barcode on it, which is scanned before each person is photographed. This barcode is linked to your school roster, so the photo is automatically linked to the person's name, grade, and/or homeroom as soon as it is taken.  

In order for the yearbook portrait pages to be created, the photographer exports a PSPA package that includes a database and portrait images, usually on a USB key or downloaded as a large zip file. The PSPA package contains the portrait images (small jpg files) saved into one or more folders, and a database file saved as an .txt format file.

A standard PSPA database includes the following information -  some of it is mandatory,  some is very important, and some is not required.

A. Volume Name: a client name for your school, or a default field, eg. “Yearbook”

B. Image Folder: the name(s) of the folder(s) containing your images

C. Image File Name (including file extension): file names given to the portrait photos, usually a .jpg

D. GradeAssigned to students and possibly their homeroom teachers.

E. Last Name: Family name of the person in the portrait.

F. First Name: Given name of the person in the portrait.

G. Homeroom: Number/designation for students’ classroom (elementary schools.)

H. Period: Special designation for some schools, not usually used.

I. Teacher Name: Homeroom teacher’s name (usually last name only - for elementary schools.)

J. Track: Special designation for some schools, not usually used.

The index.txt file may be opened up in a spreadsheet software - it will display as a series of rows & columns showing what information is linked to each photo. 

Ready to import your PSPA package into Memento Yearbook? Consult this step-by-step article

No professional portraits this year? You can still make portrait pages - learn more.

Enhancing the PSPA Data

The PSPA standard does not include important information that can help you make panel pages easily, such as the roles of people in your school (Students, Teachers, Administration, etc.), or job hierarchy relative to each other (Principal, Vice-Principal, Teacher, Assistant Teacher, Student).

Memento Yearbook adds extra categories to its portrait manager to provide this missing information so you can build custom portrait panel pages with great ease.

K. Department:  staff members work group, eg. faculty, administration, support staff, etc.

L. Title: Job descriptions, eg. Vice-Principal, Custodian, Music Teacher, Assistant Teacher

M. Priority: Priority breaks alphabetical order in panels. For instance, the Principal is usually the first person on the staff page, followed by the Vice Principal. Teachers often appear at the front of their homeroom class pages.

N. Salutation: the formal address of staff, eg. Mr., Mrs., Ms, Dr., Professor

This additional information can be added into the index.txt file before import, but it is easier to assign roles after importing, then add titles and salutations directly to portraits after import.

Need help troubleshooting your portrait import? Consult the Portrait Database Issues and Errors article.

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