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Versatile Free Form Hybrids - best of both worlds?

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#1 TomH

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 10:27 PM

Here's a novel conversion of source templates into hybrids combining the original template with the properties of Free Form. It's an answer to a longstanding wish I have had for a way to easily use the templates to help build Free Form sources. And it's an answer to a question Jerry raised about converting sources that he could not get quite right in Free Form to a custom template. While the best solution to both needs undoubtedly involves revising the RootsMagic software, this SQLite query aims for the same goals by exploiting the RootsMagic sentence template system and language. It's described at Source Templates - Versatile Free Form Hybrids. Have a look and give it a try (on a copy of your database, natch!).

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 17 December 2013 - 11:24 PM

Since the prior post, I have revised the Hybrid converter for faster speed and to not modify the !MyFreeForm3 template which is inherently a (and the original) Free Form Hybrid.

And I have developed two additional queries to toggle the output sentences between the Free Form and the source-specific sentences. Why? Lumpy sources based on conventional source templates export poorly to GEDCOM, not the case for Jerry's extreme splits nor for Free Form sources. These Hybrid sources give you two footnote sentences: one from the Free Form fields, the other from the source-specific fields. You control which one is output using a non-printing control field. You can do that one-by-one manually or use these queries to toggle them in seconds. Set the outputs to Free Form for better GEDCOM; set to the source-specific sentences for better reports.

Lumper or splitter? Makes no difference. These Hybrid queries work either way. The resulting sources can also be split to the ultimate using the same query described some time ago; you're not locked into being a lumper any more than you are with conventional templates.

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 TomH

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:01 PM

Sometimes I get carried away with enthusiasm when I think I know how things work and come up with what seems a breakthrough. It was Donald Rumsfeld who popularised the distinction between "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns". In my case, I think I got caught between "known knowns" and "imagined knowns": I imagined I knew something different from what I know I know - got it? Anyway, it turns out that my Versatile Free Form Hybrid Source Templates aren't so versatile after all. What I knew is that the export of any templated source to GEDCOM outputs ALL the Source Detail field values separated by semi-colons ("; "). But, in the heat of development and the thrill of toggling the footnote sentence in the Edit Source screen between the source-specific fields and the Free Form fields, I imagined differently and erroneously allowed myself to be trapped into thinking that the export sentence was what I was seeing in the sentence preview. Of course, that is the wish that I have longed to have fulfilled, having banged my head against this problem with source templates for years.

As it turned out, the exports from VFFH sources have extra or repeated values and are actually worse than those from either the Free Form or source-specific template on their own, except for the special case of Ultimately Split sources which output exactly what you see in preview. However, that is exactly what you get from any Ultimately Split source, regardless of template or Free Form so VFFH has no export advantage at all, rather a fatal disadvantage for all but Ultimately Split sources.

So, what good are VFFH sources?
  • Conversion of Free Form, ultimately-split sources to source-specific templates as Jerry described in the thread Extreme Source Splitting with RM's Source Templates.
  • Conversion in the opposite direction. Arguably, why would one want to if the source-specific template produces an acceptable set of sentences? If ultimately-split, the export is as good as it gets.
  • If export is of no concern, then conversion either way, between Free Form and source-specific, for lumped sources.
"Conversion" can also mean "drafting" - e.g., using the Footnote (FF) field as a store for a citation copied from somewhere that you wish to parse into a template.

Solving this export problem with lumped VFFH sources using another SQLIte query is not out of the question. I imagine (there I go again) making a backup of the SourceTemplateTable and then replacing the template FieldDefs with just the fields used by the selected Footnote sentence. After export, the FieldDefs would be restored from the backup table. This might be a complicated query to develop and might never happen. And, procedurally, most may find it daunting. Ultimate-splits looking better and better...if only the Source Listings had a tree display you could expand/collapse.

So, once again, I appeal to the RootsMagician, bring your half-baked source template implementation to fruition. Solve the traps that you have left unresolved in GEDCOM export and in conversion between different templates.

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.


#4 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:12 PM

So, once again, I appeal to the RootsMagician, bring your half-baked source template implementation to fruition. Solve the traps that you have left unresolved in GEDCOM export and in conversion between different templates.


I have actually wondered if the FamilySearch Family Tree support in RM might drive RM in this direction. Renee has said that whenever the FSFT API supports the interchange of citations including source details that RM would support such interchange. But until then, there are several design changes that could be made in RM that would greatly facilitate the compatibility of RM with FSFT. (And who knows if FSFT will ever support the interchange of citations including source details? Is there a publicly available future plans document for FSFT?)

Jerry