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Using RM's User Defined Facts as Todo Lists and Research Logs


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#1 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 08:46 AM

I'm doubtful that anybody but me will find these ideas useful, but I will share them anyway - just in case.

 

I'm inspired somewhat by the TMG refugees who are looking at RM, The TMG refugees are looking for a way to accomodate TMG's flags in RM. I realize that creating user defined facts in RM to simulate TMG's flags is not really adequate for many TMG users, but I think the idea is really interesting anyway. I have already been doing a similar thing by placing something akin to flags into RM's Reference Number field since I wasn't using the Reference Number field for reference numbers. But I have embarked on a project to move these "something akin to flags" things to user defined facts, and I'm extremely happy with the results so far.

 

One of the ways I'm using RM's user defined facts as "something akin to flags" is to create sort of a combined ToDo list and Research Log. Why would I do such a crazy thing when RM already has a perfectly servicible ToDo list facility and a perfectly servicible Research Log facility? Well, for reasons I don't understand I simply don't like RM's ToDo list. I do sort of like RM's Research Log facility and I have warmed up to it. Unfortunately, I find that the labels that the Research Log has for the boxes where I enter my data not to my liking. Laura suggests simply ignoring those labels and pretending they mean what I want them to mean. I can do that, but it's hard for me - being a very literal person.

 

But that is not really why I'm inventing my own ToDo list system and Research Log system within RM. The overarching reason for inventing my own ToDo list system and Research Log system by using RM's user defined facts is that it gives me full integration with the rest RM and it gives me full exportability with any other genealogy software. For example, I can search my new ToDo list and Research log, including color coding and creating Named Groups based on my ToDo lists and Research Log. I can place the Description field of my user defined facts into a column in People View. I can use the Note field of my ToDo lists and Research Log to store any information I want in any format I want, without any restrictions on what I call things or how they are formatted. It then becomes quite trivial to make very useful reports about my ToDo lists and Research Logs with RM's custom report facility. It is also quite trivial to make very useful reports using SQLite, but I find that it's not necessary to do so because it's so powerful to do the work in People View instead.

 

So let's give a couple of examples. I have a very long term project to gather every single courthouse marriage record that I can find for every marriage in my database. To that end, I have created a user defined fact called *flag_marriage.  All of these user defined facts that I'm talking about are called *flag_something, where "something" is "marriage" or "obit" or "death_certificate" or something like that. This naming convention places my user defined facts all together and places them at the beginning of my fact list. If I'm working on one of them a great deal, I will rename it temporarily as **flag_something to place the active one at the very beginning of the list to make it easy to select. I will later rename it back to only having only a single asterisk. For all my user defined facts of this form, I'm enabling the date field and the description field (but not the place field), and I'm including it only in GEDCOM export (not in publish online, narrative reports, etc.)

 

Back to the example my courthouse marriage record project, all I have to do to work on my marriage record project is to add my *flag_marriage fact as a column in People View. Individuals for which the *flag_marriage fact is blank  or null are the people for whom I don't have a courthouse marriage record. I use the *flag_marriage Description field as a ToDo list, and I use the *flag_marriage Note as a Research Log. For example, on 30 Oct 2014, I e-mailed the Carbon County, Pennsylvania courthouse to request a marriage record from 1946. I added a *flag_marriage event with 30 Oct 2014 as the event date (which I'm using as the most recent activity date, there can be more date details in Note field), with "emailed Carbon County courthouse on 30 Oct 2014" as the Description field, and with a copy of my email in the Note field. They responded promptly with instructions on ordering the record. So I added their email to the note, changed the event date to 11/1/2014, changed to the description field to "mailed a check to Carbon County courthouse on 11/1/2014", and mailed them a check. When I get the image of the courthouse record, I'll scan it in and process it as normal. I'll change the event date of the *flag_marriage date to the current date, and change the description field to "ok" or "done" or something like that. It's all very simple. It's all very visible. It's all very easy to manage. And my user defined *flag_marriage fact should export just fine to most any genealogy program, including its date, description, and note.

 

It turns out to be really useful to place a Named Group into People View rather than my entire database. This is especially true with my user defined facts that are serving as a ToDo list and as a Research Log.

 

Here are some examples of other user defined facts that I have defined so far as ToDo lists and Research Logs: *flag_grave (my project to gather photographs and GPS coordinates of all grave markers), *flag_obit (my project to gather all obits where such obits exist), *flag_paragraph (my project to be sure user every person's data prints with appropriate white space in narrative report - no data has to be collected, but having gotten a person's white space correct in a report I want to have some way to know that I don't have to look at them again), and *flag_city_directory (my project to gather all city directory entries where such city directory entries exist). I expect to be adding many, many more of these special user defined facts.

 

Jerry



#2 kcard

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 09:40 AM

Actually, Jerry, I find it very helpful and thank you for sharing your methods. I'm using RM under MacBridge and find the ToDo and ResearchLogs to be almost unusable. The fonts are so small as to be impossible to read without a magnifying glass or utility, even after adjusting the font size for the program. It does not apply to these items.

 

So, if I understand you correctly, you create one flag for each "item" you are researching? Marriage, death, grave, land purchase, etc? And then all notes on that go into the Note field for the flag/fact?

 

Kathy


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#3 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 10:00 AM

So, if I understand you correctly, you create one flag for each "item" you are researching? Marriage, death, grave, land purchase, etc? And then all notes on that go into the Note field for the flag/fact?

 

Basically, yes.

 

I include a very brief description (often only one or two words) in the Description field, and everything else goes into the Note.  I change the Description as required as research progresses, and I just keep adding on and adding on to the end of the note as required without deleting anything at the front of the note.

 

The Description field can be made visible in People View, and the Note cannot. You can see both from Edit Person, and you can display both with RM's custom reports.

 

I do have to create user defined facts, but this only has to be done one time for each general category of research item such as marriages, obituaries, tombstones, wills, death certificates, etc.

 

I'm still sort of making up my rules as I go along. For example, on my marriage research, I'm flagging the research as done for individuals who never married. The done flag is in the Description field. All I'm really saying in the Description field is "ok", which is even shorter than "done". So I say "ok" where the research is really done, and I also say "ok" for people who never married. The difference is that the note field has details of my research for married people where I researched the marriage record and the note field says "never married" for people who never married. Of course, in some cases I may not know in advance that the person never married, and initially I may have to research them as if they had married. My note for the flag can reflect all of that sort of thing in any sort of free form way that I wish. But the key for me is that I can look at the flag as a column in People View and tell very quickly which people I'm done with and which I still need to research. And if the research is active, I can tell at a glance what the most recent activity was, such as "sent a check for the marriage record".

 

Jerry



#4 TomH

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 10:29 AM

I like your idea, too, Jerry. It is something of a UI flattener...

 

I might suggest adding the updates to the top of the Note, rather than the bottom (top-posting instead of bottom-posting) because you see the first line or part thereof in the Details of the fact when it is selected in Edit Person screen and, thus, a more direct relationship between the latest log and the status in the Description.


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#5 Laura

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 10:37 AM

Jerry, I have been doing that for a long time although I never set it up as a full research tracker.

You can group the user defined facts together by type if wanted by which character you use at the beginning of the fact name. ! sorts first on the list so that is the character I use for projects I am working on at the time and the user defined facts I add to every person.

Some of my user defined facts for tracking:

& Research, description enabled:

Description: Keywords for what needs to be researched, birth, marriage, etc.

! Census check, date, place, description enabled
Date: Census year
Place: most likely location
Description: most likely head of household, spouse, age, etc.
Notes if needed. Delete after census record is found and entered in Census fact.

# Obituary (Y/N/G, discription enabled

Description: Y = Yes. NF = checked, not found G = Get. [Blank] = haven't looked for

# Death certificate, description enabled:

Description: Same as Obituary

# Tomb pic Y/G [for tombstone picture], description enabled

I used this fact as a column in a Custom report when printing a report to take to a cemetery. Now, with laptops, I don't need to make a Custom report or print the Custom report.

All my database maintence and tracking user defined facts are marked Private when linked. If a user defined fact is going to be marked Private and not printed in a Narrative report, I put a comment about what and how to use that fact after the fact default sentence.

I hqve a few user defined facts that I do sometimes want to print in a report so I start those fact names with * and don't mark them as Private. I csn go to Lists, Fsct type lists, and mark or unmark where I want the fact to be included or excluded depending on the project at the time.

One thing to consider when deciding to just depend on user defined facts to track research is whether you will want to use RM's portable app.

ToDo's and Research logs are included in the app, but there is no way to filter a sesrch criteria by a fact and show those results.

#6 J P

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:59 AM

I'm using RM under MacBridge and find the ToDo and ResearchLogs to be almost unusable. The fonts are so small as to be impossible to read without a magnifying glass or utility, even after adjusting the font size for the program. It does not apply to these.
Kathy

Can I suggest that if you haven't already raised this issue of the impossibly small font size that you should raise it as an issue. There may well be some changes that could be made to MacBridge - not something you can change - but we need to agitate or things may never improve.

#7 kcard

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 04:49 PM

Can I suggest that if you haven't already raised this issue of the impossibly small font size that you should raise it as an issue. There may well be some changes that could be made to MacBridge - not something you can change - but we need to agitate or things may never improve.

You're right, J. R. I will do that. Thanks for the reminder.


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Happily using RootsMagic 7 under MacBridge7 on my  MacBook Pro using Mac OS 10.10


#8 kcard

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 05:20 PM

 

 

The Description field can be made visible in People View, and the Note cannot. You can see both from Edit Person, and you can display both with RM's custom reports.

 

 

Jerry, I'm new at this....... I figured out how to create a group of people who I need to do certain research for....... using your methods. How can I make a custom report for each of these facts? Possibly to print out as a To Do list of sorts to take with me on a Library trip? Something that would print out the Notes for that Fact type? Is there a way?

 

Thank you!


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#9 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 05:48 PM

It would probably be best for you to watch RM Webinar #9, "Creating Custom Reports with RootsMagic", than for me to try to explain the whole thing. All the Webinars can be found under the Learn tab on the main RM Web site. If I have enough time, I'll try to make a very brief screencast of using custom reports just for this specific purpose.

 

Jerry



#10 kcard

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 06:42 PM

Thank you, Jerry. I will do that.


Kathy

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#11 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 09:53 PM

Here are the promised screencasts. The first is about 7 minutes long, and is about the general ideas of using user defined facts as flags which become todo lists and research logs. It works in People View. The second is about is about 4 minutes long and is how to display the same data in a Custom Report that you can print off and take to the library.

 

http://screencast.com/t/jPVNi4pE

http://screencast.com/t/IZiyykZ6B

 

Jerry



#12 Nettie

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 07:10 AM

Nicely done Jerry....  


Genealogy:
"I work on genealogy only on days that end in "Y"." [Grin!!!]
from www.GenealogyDaily.com.
"Documentation....The hardest part of genealogy"
"Genealogy is like Hide & Seek: They Hide & I Seek!"
" Genealogists: People helping people.....that's what it's all about!"
from http://www.rootsweb....nry/gentags.htm
Using FO and RM since FO2.0 


#13 kcard

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 10:04 PM

Thank you, Jerry!


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#14 Vyger

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 01:33 PM

I'm doubtful that anybody but me will find these ideas useful, but I will share them anyway - just in case.

 

 

I'm only seeing this now and your ideas and method of working are very useful and also the explanations Laura gave on how she works. 

 

I use something similar but just through one custom fact, now after reading this thread I am thinking of revising that system to be more specific and useful.

 

Thanks for sharing.


“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today"

 

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#15 Nettie

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:30 AM

I also do not use the To Do List or Research Manager.  Does not fit my needs.

My fact types for this are:

  1. !adtRevised =Date, Description
  2. !Fact = Date,Place, Description
  3. !No Problem = Date,Place, Description
  4. !Parent History  = Date,Place, Description - using for  for two sets of parents found
  5. !Problem = Date, Description
  6. !ADTTo Do = Date,Description
  7. !Unresolved = Date,Place, Description
  8. !Census To Do = Date, Description

Uncheck =  Exporting Gedcom files, Publish Online, Narrative reports.

Use no sentence template.

As I find or if I find other facts/events that do not fit in the To Do I will add and delete as necessary. 


Genealogy:
"I work on genealogy only on days that end in "Y"." [Grin!!!]
from www.GenealogyDaily.com.
"Documentation....The hardest part of genealogy"
"Genealogy is like Hide & Seek: They Hide & I Seek!"
" Genealogists: People helping people.....that's what it's all about!"
from http://www.rootsweb....nry/gentags.htm
Using FO and RM since FO2.0 


#16 Vyger

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 12:45 PM

I also do not use the To Do List or Research Manager.  Does not fit my needs.

 

I probably should have said I do use the To-Do list and Research Manager, maybe better integration would make these items more appealing to users, I know I would welcome integration with Address, Repository and Correspondence logs.

 

There also seems to be a common theme here with what can be seen on People View and filtered there, so the developers should want to recognize that trend.


“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today"

 

Current user of Rootsmagic version 7.5.0.0, Family Tree Maker 2014 and Legacy 8.0 on Win 7

 

Excel to Gedcom conversion - simple getting started tutorials here

 

Root


#17 Laura

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 01:12 PM

I have a database to find the sort order for characters in the Fact type list.

I created a user defined fact for each character. That is all that is in that datanase

I have been thinking about rearranging my user defined facts categories by changing the leading character.

As an experiment, I just opened my Play database and did File, Import file from the Character sort database.

I think it is going to be very helpful to have the characters sorted in the database I am making changes to rather than going back and forth between the two databases to see the sort order.

I am considering adding the category name to the character fact name, also.

I could either delete the character fact when I am through using it or uncheck every box and not include it in gedcoms, web pages, and reports.

When I decide just what I want to do, I will then do the same to make the changes in my main database.

All I have to do to go to any marriage tracking user defined fact is type - and I am at that part of the list. Then I can choose which fact I want, i.e.-TN marriage or -TX marriage.

I tried just starting the user defined fact with code letters, but I like the characters better. I think it is because the character takes up less space on the Edit person screen which is a consideration for the length of the fact name abbreviation.

I also use Research logs. User defined facts serves one purpose and Research logs serves another.

If or when to use user defined facts, Research logs, To Dos or Groups are up to eaxh user and what that user us most comfortable with.

#18 TomH

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:54 PM

Laura, when I read this the first time it made no sense. By "character", I now think you mean one of these: !?-/$&@#%^*+~... Is that right? So this leading character is sort of a category filter.

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#19 Laura

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 11:03 PM

Tom, yes, that is what I mean by character keys.

And, I use them as a category filter to group user defined facts.

Examples:

& Marriage related user defined facts:

Facts:

&ARmarriages
&OKmarriages
&TNmarriages

/ Military related user defined facts:

Facts:

/CivilWar
/EnlistedWWI
/EnlistedWWII
/RevWar
/WWIdraft
/WWIIdraft

Typing / will take you directly to the user defined facts relating to Military service or & will take you directly to marriage related user defined facts.

~ and | sorts after the program defined facts so if a user defined fact starting with a character doesn't seem to have been saved, check after the program defined fact. There may be others