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AKA Names (A Wish for Another Way)


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#1 leeirons

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 07:17 PM

This wish deals with AKA names. But before I get to that, I need to provide some background information.

Folks, we need to get beyond the "primary fact" paradigm. Giving every source of every vital event its own fact makes the person much too cluttered and does not allow the user to provide a comparative analysis of the multiple sources that can feed into a vital event (birth, marriage, death). Identifying one such fact for a vital event as primary assumes that it is even possible to use only a single source to come up with all information for a given fact. This is rarely the case. Primary facts are an archaism of the genealogy software of two decades ago and should be left in the past.

There are two different and better ways to handle this with the Roots Magic 5 as it currently stands:

1. The Vital Fact: Using the birth life event as an example, each person has only one birth. All possible source citations of birth information can be tied to a single birth Vital Fact, with each source citation being given its own Quality rating relative to the birth Vital Fact, with the Comments field on the Source Detail tab being used to provide you analysis and opinion as to how you are interpreting the source of the information to obtain information on the fact. You can also use the Notes button associated with each Vital Fact to provide your overall analysis and conclusion on the fact based upon all sources together. Finally, you can use the Proof field to flag whether you have sufficient source citations of sufficient quality to say that you have proven the Vital Fact.

2. The Event Fact: If you still wish to have one source citation per fact, then treat each source as an event in that person's life and document the fact as an event. Then, have only one Vital Fact per vital life event that uses direct and indirect evidence from all of the Event Facts tied to the person. For example, a census source can be tied to a person as a census Event Fact. Then, the information in a census Event Fact that says a person was age 13 in 1850 would allow you to state in the Notes field of the birth Vital Fact that the 1850 census event leads you to believe that the person was born in 1836 or 1837. Any other events that give other direct or indirect evidence on vital life events would also be analyzed in the Notes field of the associated Vital Fact.

Using either of the above approaches, each person would have only one Vital Fact for each major life event (one Vital Fact for one birth per person, one Vital Fact for each marriage of a person, and one Vital Fact for one death per person).

Now, regarding AKA Names ...

The Person Fact: If you are using option 1 above, then you would take the same approach with the Person Fact. If you open the Edit Person view and click on Person, it shows you fields for Given Name, Surname, Prefix, Suffix, and Nickname. It also has a Notes field and the ability to tie multiple sources to it. The Given Names and Surname fields should contain only the final conclusion of the totality of a person's name based upon all sources tied to that Person fact, just like there should only be one birth fact. Each source that is tied to the Person fact identifies that person by some name. This name usually is not the full name. Anything that is not the full name is, by definition, an AKA name, which can be typed in the Detail Text of the Source Citation.

So far, everything I have discussed above can be done with current functionality of Roots Magic 5.

Now comes my wishlist item. For those who use option 2 above, I would like to propose a better way of associating AKA Names with a person. Using the option 2 approach, there is one source citation per Event Fact. That source refers to each person linked to that Event Fact by a name, which is an AKA name for that Event Fact. Thus, each Event Fact (as opposed to a Person Fact or a Vital Fact) should have an AKA Name field in it for each person linked to the Event Fact. For a family-type Event Fact, there should be Husband AKA Name and Wife AKA Name fields in the fact pane on the right of the Edit Person view. For each personal-type Event Fact, there should be just one AKA Name field in the fact pane on the right. For shared Event Facts (both family-type and personal-type), each person with which an Event Fact is shared should have an AKA Name field in the Edit Shared Event window of the person. To top this off, there should be a code to add the AKA Name from the proper AKA Name field to a sentence template for a role of a fact. Thus, role sentences could be customized to refer to the person by their AKA Name and their complete Person Fact name in a narrative report of the given Event Fact, which is really cool.

The Master Genealogist version 8 comes close to doing my recommendation above, but it does not enable the use of the selected AKA Name in a sentence template for a person linked to the Event Fact. If Roots Magic were to do this, it would be one step ahead of The Master Genealogist.

#2 Laura

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 08:36 PM

The Alternate name is still a fact which can be listed or not listed by user choice on the name lists and People view in RM. You can get a report for that fact and it exports and imports as a fact.

If RM allowed a fact field to be used in the sentence structure, just how is RM to choose which of the multiple Alternate name facts for that person to print in the sentence. With some women, I have more than one married surname with an Alternate name fact for each married name for some people I have more than one nickname or spellings.

Does Master Genealogist have fields to enable other facts besides the Alternate name fact to be used in their sentences?

#3 leeirons

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 09:38 PM

The Alternate name is still a fact which can be listed or not listed by user choice on the name lists and People view in RM. You can get a report for that fact and it exports and imports as a fact.

If RM allowed a fact field to be used in the sentence structure, just how is RM to choose which of the multiple Alternate name facts for that person to print in the sentence. With some women, I have more than one married surname with an Alternate name fact for each married name for some people I have more than one nickname or spellings.

Does Master Genealogist have fields to enable other facts besides the Alternate name fact to be used in their sentences?


I think that the use of Alternate Name Facts do not make that data very useful to me in generating report narratives or in associating those names with actual events, which actually makes the name more meaningful. Alternate (AKA) names have two uses that I can see. The first use is in deriving the complete name of a person. The researcher uses all known alternate (AKA) names to compile a complete name. In this use, these alternate names are coming from source citations, and these source citations should be tied to the Person Fact (open the Edit Person view and click on Person) with each alternate name identified in the Detail Text of each source citation. The second use is in report narratives, in which the person is referred to using the name by which they were known at a given event according to the source citation linked to the Event Fact. For each of these uses, sequestering alternate (aka) names in separate Alternate Name Facts do not help us.

For the second use, I am proposing that the AKA Name would be a separate field in an Event Fact (as opposed to a Person Fact or a Vital Fact) on the right side pane of the Edit Person view. For a family-type Event Fact, there would be two AKA Name fields, one for the husband and one for the wife. For a personal-type Event Fact, there would be just one AKA Name field. For each person that is linked to a shared fact, the Edit Shared Event window for the person would have an AKA Name field. Yes, The Master Genealogist has something like this, but it only allows you to select names from separate AKA facts already listed under the person and the sentence variable for AKA name only pulls the AKA name from the "preferred" AKA Name Fact. What I am proposing is that the AKA Name be entered directly in the field that is in the fact pane and that a sentence for an Event Fact be able to pull the AKA Name variable from that field. I am saying that there is no need to try to pull an AKA Name from a separate AKA Fact to be used in a sentence for an Event Fact, because the AKA Name associated with that Event Fact would come from the single source citation that is linked to that Event Fact.

The Master Genealogist does have the most extensive sentence variable list I have seen in any genealogy program. It also allows the user to parse the Notes field and use different parsed sections of the Notes field in a sentence. However, to me, this latter capability just proves that it has not yet figured out all of the fields that should be in an Event Fact, just like Roots Magic has not yet figured that out.

In an advanced capability maturity model of sentence functionality in genealogy software, the most advanced genealogy software would be able to generate the following sentence by simply pulling data from fields rather than the user having to type a customized sentence for every person in their database,

"John Adam Smith, who would have been age 38, went by the name Adam Smith and was the head of household in a census listing on 23 Oct 1880 in Toms River, Ocean, New Jersey, USA. He was listed as being age 37 and was a farmer."

"John Adam Smith" would come from the Person Fact as the complete name that this person is believed to have based upon all name source citations. "Age 38" would be calculated based upon the date of this census Event Fact and the date entered in the birth Vital Fact. "Adam Smith" would be entered in the AKA Name field for this person in the Event Fact. "Head of household" would be entered in the Role field for this person in this Event Fact (yes, even the primary person of a fact would have a selectable role). "23 Oct 1880" would come from the Date field for the Event Fact. "Toms River, Ocean, New Jersey, USA" would come from the Place Name field of the Event Fact. The pronoun "he" would be derived from the Sex field of the Person Fact. "Age 37" would be pulled from an Age field for this person in this Event Fact. "Farmer" would be pulled from the Occupation field for this person in this Event Fact.

So, you can see, we can go beyond just dealing with the AKA Name in the Event Fact, but I am simply asking for the AKA Name for now.

#4 Renee Zamora

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:37 PM

Confirming enhancement request is in our tracking system.
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#5 leeirons

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 11:37 PM

I just figured out a way to add an AKA name that can be used in a sentence template of an Event Fact. Add a Person to the Fact, select the radio button for "This person is NOT in my file," enter the AKA name in the spaces provided, and give the name a role of "AKA." You can then use this AKA name in the sentence template by using the variable [AKA].

This works when the person is a Principal to a Fact.

However, when the person who has the AKA name is not a Principal to the Fact, this is not working. I can't reference the name of one witness in another witness's sentence template. For example, when I add a person to a Fact with a role of "Witness01" and I link this person's AKA name to this same fact with a role of "AKAWitness01", I can't seem to get the variable [AKAWitness01] to work in the "Witness01" sentence template.

I'm not sure whether this is a glitch, a capability that was missed when originally programming the sentence template capabilities, or simply a capability that was purposefully not programmed. I'm guessing one of the first two, for I can't imagine purposfully not enabling one witness sentence template to use the names of other witnesses attached to the same fact. For example, this capability would allow a narrative report for John Smith to have a sentence such as, "John Smith witnessed the marriage of Josiah Miller and Edith Applegate, along with Adam Decker and William Bell."

Renee, could you look into whether this is a glitch, a capability that was missed when originally programming the sentence template capabilities, or simply a capability that was purposefully not programmed?

#6 TomH

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 08:36 AM

The database design has your AKA value stored quite differently than the names of persons in your database. The AKA in this case belongs to the fact, not to the person. To use it in ways you can use person names requires significant programming and, probably, database redesign.

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#7 leeirons

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 05:09 PM

The database design has your AKA value stored quite differently than the names of persons in your database. The AKA in this case belongs to the fact, not to the person. To use it in ways you can use person names requires significant programming and, probably, database redesign.


I don't think this is the issue. This does work for sentence templates of persons with the role of Principal. It just does not work for persons with a witness role. The program does not even allow the name of a witness who actually is in the database to be used in the sentence template of another witness. The Help article on sentence templates does not say that this is a limit. It implies that you can put the name of any witness in any fact sentence template using [Role] or [Role(#)].

#8 Laura

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 10:21 PM

There is this in the Share Events or Shared Facts help article [The bold is my addition]:

"There are three steps to sharing a fact:

1) Add roles and role sentences to the fact type (this can be done in the fact type or on the fly when adding shared people.)

2) Add the people to the shared fact (see below.)

3) Add the "shared" people into the fact sentence for the principal. (This is the step that shows all the shared people together in the main fact sentence.) Usually this is done by Customizing fact sentence. "

Clicking on Customizing fact sentence goes to the Customize (local) sentences article.

#9 Laura

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 11:55 PM

I can get the same printout showing the name used in a source in the printout for a Principle or sharee without having a major rewrite of the program to use some form of an Alternate name switch. For me, that puts RootsMagic way ahead of TMG already. :)

I print the name used on the source by entering the name in the description field. Once it is set up for the facts on the Fact type list, enter the name used on the source in the description field.

Enable the description field for each fact.

In the default sentences for the roles, add < as [desc]> to the sentence where ever you want it to print in the sentence for the Principal and other roles.

[Person] is listed< as [desc]><[placeDetails]< [Place]><in the [date:year:plain] census>.
James Henry Jones is listed as J. H. Jones in May Township, Flower County, Texas in the 1860 census.

[Thisperson:given] is listed< as [desc]><[placeDetails]< [Place]><in the [date:year:plain] census>.
Mary Jane is listed as Mary J. Jones in May Township, Flower County, Texas in the 1860 census.

or just use [Desc] in place of [Person] or [Thisperson].

[Desc] is listed<[placeDetails]< [Place]><in the [date:year:plain] census>.
Mary J. Jones is listed in May Township, Flower County, Texas in the 1860 census.

Alternate sentences could be:

[Thisperson:given] is listed< as [desc]> in the household of [Person]<[placeDetails]< [Place]><in the [date:year:plain] census>.

[Desc] is listed in the household of [Person]<[placeDetails]< [Place]><in the [date:year:plain] census>.