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A Trio of Source Templates (compared)


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#1 TomH

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 07:17 PM

After too many hours, I have semi-completed a study of the usage of and results from three (+1/2) source templates when citing the same source - the 1930 US Census. The three are:

• !MyFreeForm3 – A Better Free Form Source Template (differences with the built-in Free Form template constitute the extra 1/2)
• Simplified Citations – Census – custom template by Jeff La Marca
• Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images) – a RootsMagic Standard Template

I cobbled together a report while doing so and admit that I have not pulled all the results together on one page - my brain is fried, sorting out RM bugs from template design flaws. However, there is much to see and feedback welcomed so please have a look for the PDF file near the top of the page Source Templates. The short summary is that the study proves that !MyFreeForm3 is overall superior, given the current state of RootsMagic 5. And, yes, I'm probably biased, but I hope it is objectively so.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> Rmtrix_tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#2 TomH

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:12 AM

have a look for the PDF file near the top of the page Source Templates. The short summary is that the study proves that !MyFreeForm3 is overall superior, given the current state of RootsMagic 5.


Here are my conclusions and recommendations from my study:
Conclusions and Recommendations
1. Many built-in source templates should be avoidedor a copy made and revised if you intend to:

a. Use the website tool with the "Include sourcesas bibliography" option because those having a Source Details field included inthe Bibliography sentence template will have that field's name in squarebrackets outputted in their sentences in the source list.

b. Export to standard GEDCOM because:

i. Field values containing a long form||abbreviated formstring are exported completely, instead of exporting just the long form

ii. Order of embedded text and field values may be disjointed

iii. Some key embedded words may be lost, e.g., "enumerationdistrict"

2. The built-in source template Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images) shouldbe avoided or a copy made and corrected if it is desired to lump all citationsof a given census year under one Master Source by leaving the Jurisdiction field blank because itresults in extraneous punctuation in all three sentence types. Moreover, the URL field is wrongly placed in MasterSource if it is to provide a link to the specific person of interest in adatabase or to the corresponding digital image. By inference, other built-intemplates have similar unwanted results.

3. The only one of the three source templates testedthat outputted correctly and consistently to all outputs was !MyFreeForm3 (and, from experience, sotoo does its parent, Free Form).

4. The FreeForm and !MyFreeForm3 templates can provide the easiest scanning from ShortFootnote to the first Footnote for a source because they can provide a matchbetween both footnotes starting words and their ending words. The other two templateshave a more complex relationship between their Short Footnote and first Footnotethat is not as easy to find among many footnotes.

5. Exporting to PAF requires constraining thelength of the values output to the TITL (Master Source fields) and PAGE (SourceDetails fields) tags to be limited to 80 characters else they will be truncatedby PAF on import. This is most easily managed in a template with the fewestfields and no embedded text, e.g., FreeForm and !MyFreeForm3.

6. The study is silent on the results of GEDCOMexports to third party applications other than PAF.

7. The custom source template Simplified Citations – Census (and, by inference, its siblings) shouldbe avoided or extensively revised because:

a. Either its Short Footnote is unacceptably vagueor it requires a unique source for every person cited, which is excessive inthe extreme.

b. Its Bibliography sentence is just a repeat ofthe full Footnote and thus generates a list in the Bibliography section of areport that is equal to the number of unique footnotes from that source, thussplitting a source to the extreme.

c. It shares the shortcomings of many built-insource templates in outputs other than RootsMagic reports.

d. It exports to a GEDCOM citation a field value thatis intended to be for personal use.

8. Use FreeForm or !MyFreeForm3 sourcetemplates, the latter if you wish to take advantage of its more succinct ShortFootnotes, to avoid all the problems of the built-in source templates and theeffort involved in revising copies thereof to mitigate their defects. Use thebuilt-in templates to help draft citations in the freer form versions.

9. RootsMagic still has work to do to fix bugs in itsvarious outputs of sources and to complete its implementation of its SourceTemplates feature.


Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> Rmtrix_tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#3 APerson

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:29 PM

After too many hours, I have semi-completed a study of the usage of and results from three (+1/2) source templates . . .The short summary is that the study proves that !MyFreeForm3 is overall superior, given the current state of RootsMagic 5. And, yes, I'm probably biased, but I hope it is objectively so.


I haven't been around much lately and just came across this thread a couple of days ago. At first, I thought, "how Interesting." That first impression, however, quickly turned into one of amusement and now I just laugh (very hard) every time I think your "study". In addition to that fact that you're comparing apples with oranges (any "FREE FORM" approach can't be compared to any real citation system), the fact that you've declared your "Free Form" template as "the one that sings" and is also "superior" to the templates is, to put it mildly, arrogant! :)

Of course, your claim to "objectivity" is also moot - one doesn't "objectively" examine one's own work! Duh! Furthermore, you have inaccurately represented the other templates in order to promote your own. As you seem to have a penchant for doing so, I've created a web site that shows the CORRECT usage of Simple Citations. That site may be found here:

Simple Citations: Making Life Easier for Family Historians


I'm almost tempted to do a "study" on why FREE FORM templates, such as !MyFreeForm3, are completely useless to those trying to accurately and consistently document anything. BTW, if "FREE FORM" is the way to go, I was wondering if you use MS Notepad to maintain your own family history? Notepad is compatible with just about EVERYTHING! LOL!

#4 APerson

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:59 PM

Here are my conclusions and recommendations from my study:


7. The custom source template Simplified Citations – Census (and, by inference, its siblings) shouldbe avoided or extensively revised because:

a. Either its Short Footnote is unacceptably vagueor it requires a unique source for every person cited, which is excessive inthe extreme.
b. Its Bibliography sentence is just a repeat ofthe full Footnote and thus generates a list in the Bibliography section of areport that is equal to the number of unique footnotes from that source, thussplitting a source to the extreme.
c. It shares the shortcomings of many built-insource templates in outputs other than RootsMagic reports.
d. It exports to a GEDCOM citation a field value thatis intended to be for personal use.



I couldn't resist so I'm responding to your fallacious statements listed above.

There are TOO MANY different types of footnotes and they are redundant. No other academic citation system requires THREE different types of citations for the same source in a single document - your insistence that three are needed is a prime example of what splitters do.

Too bad you didn't READ what I've written about Simple Citations. You complain that the template "exports to a GEDCOM citation a field value that is intended to be for personal use" (which is the Personal ID) but you fail to mention that field is entirely OPTIONAL! If you don't want to use it, then ignore it! You can also do the same thing if you don't want to catalog your family history materials - you can throw everything in a box and forget about cataloging them too. For that matter, you can use Notepad to maintain you entire family history - that way, it'll be compatible with everything! LOL!

BTW, GEDCOM is a horrendously designed "pseudo-standard" that should been completely replaced many years ago. The fact that you claim that any template doesn't conform to requirements of all other genealogy programs is laughable. Heck, that's the primary problem with FREE FORM notes (as well as with GEDCOM) in the first place! I'm not aware of any genealogy program that exports perfectly to all other programs.

Also, if you don't like the output from any template (including your own), you can always go in and change that by editing the template. Of course, because you throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into your own template (and in no particular order), it would be impossible for others to import your data into other templates without entirely retyping every piece of data. To rearrange or alter the output of the data entered using many templates into other formats is quite easy, assuming that the data included in each field has been adequately and very narrowly defined. Of course, you fail to note that this is precisely the problem with your template, as well as with most of the other ones found in RootsMagic. Simple Citations is the ONLY template that uses a finite number of fields for all sources. Futhermore, the information that is to be entered into each of those fields is very, very clear.

Your statement about anything being "unacceptably vague" is exactly the problem with "FREE FORM" templates - including yours. Users are kept completely in the dark about the exact information they need to enter into a FREE FORM template in order to document their sources! Looking at your own example, you fill yours with formatting codes and provide no documentation as to WHAT should be documented. As a result, your own "template" suffers from ALL of problems you ascribe to the others.

Then there's the problem with !MyFreeForm3 which places an emphasis on the OUTPUT and not on the data within each citation. Not only is there no standardization as to what information must be included in each field, but your templates also require that users enter the SAME DATA in different fields on the same template. That not only leads to considerable confusion (especially as you have not narrowly defined the content of each field) but also greatly enhances the number of errors that will occur. In addition, the lack of standardization for data input on your template, results in considerable inconsistency between each citation! Oh well. . .