Like most people, I regularly collect data on people that I can't immediately connect directly to my family. For example, one of the main surnames I research is Peters, there were (and are) many people from my Peters family in Morgan County, Tennessee, and I've never really encountered data for a person named Peters in Morgan County that was not or is not related to my Peters family. Morgan County is a rural county with small population. Such inclusiveness of a surname within my tree typically wouldn't be true in a more urban area with more people. But as an example, I try to find all Peters tombstone inscriptions in Morgan County and enter them into my database. Such people will become a "tree of one" (or a "tree of two", in case there is a couple) until I'm able to connect the person to the rest of my Peters family. Multiply this effect by a dozen or more surnames in many different counties and eventually I end up with dozens or even hundreds of individuals who are in a "tree of one" or a "tree of two".
I decided that it would prove convenient to color code all people in such disconnected trees so that they are readily apparent as disconnected in the Index Sidebar or in the name list in RM Explorer, or anywhere else I might encounter them. On its face, you can color code all people who are in a particular tree but you can't color code all people who are not in a particular tree. But it turns out, there is a very easy way to color code all people who are not in a particular tree.
I should explain that most of the people in my database are not color coded (or as another way to think about it, most of the people in my database are color coded with a black font). My direct ancestors are color coded with a red font, and a collection of a few hundred people who are being actively researched are color coded with a green font. All the people with a green font are in my tree, but even within my tree most of the people have a black font. In any case, I wanted to be sure that nothing I did in the process of color coding my disconnected trees would upset the color coding of people with red and green fonts.
A yellow font is not the greatest font in the world because of the lack of contrast between the yellow font and the white background, but I decided to use yellow for my disconnected trees. Here is the process.
- Tools -> Color Code People -> Set Color Yellow and People selected from list -> OK
- You will be in the "Select people to color code" dialog, which essentially is running a piece of RM Explorer in your behalf. Unfortunately, you will be positioned at the first person in alphabetic order in your database. I have frequently wished that instead you were positioned at the person who is already highlighted in the main view you were in at the time you chose the Tools -> Color Code option. In any case, you must position the highlight onto a person (any person) who is in your main tree. Positioning on yourself is typically a good choice. They easiest way to accomplish such positioning is usually just to type in the person's name - last name first followed by a comma and first name.
- Mark Group -> Everyone in the database
- Unmark Group -> Everyone in the highlighted person's tree (can take a while)
It will be necessary to "refresh" such color coding occasionally. Just as Named Groups are not dynamic, neither is color coding. The reason it will be necessary to "refresh" such color coding occasionally is that you will have added new people to your database who need to be color coded as yellow, and also some of the people who originally were color coded yellow will have been joined to your main tree. The process of "refreshing" your color coding will be very similar to the process described above. You will need to add one step to the beginning to clear the color coding from anybody who is already color coded as yellow. You will need to be very careful not to clear all color coding. Otherwise, as in my case with my red and green color coding, you will destroy any other color coding in your database.
A Named Group can be created in a manner that's exactly analogous to the process described above, except go into the Group dialog rather than the Color dialog before Marking everyone in the database and Unmarking everyone in the highlighted person's tree. As an alternative, you can create your Named Group based on the yellow (or other color coding) that you might already have established for people who are not in your main tree.
Color coding and Named Groups can be used for many of the same purposes. For some purposes, color coding is more useful and for other purposes, Named Groups are more useful. And the two techniques are not mutually exclusive, because it can make sense sometimes for a Named Group to correspond precisely to a collection of people who are all color coded in a particular way. For this particular application, color coding is probably more useful than Named Groups precisely because color coding is very visible in the Index Sidebar, in RM Explorer, etc. whereas group membership is not readily visible at all.