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Using multiple computers to access the same database


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#1 Raydar

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 12:51 PM

Hi, I'm a total noob here but have been infected with the genealogy bug and just started to use Roots Magic 7.  I am sure this is being done elsewhere but my searchs of tesi forum resulted in nothing.  I have purchased the full version of Roots Magic and would like to work on it from multiple computers on my home network without backing up on one computer to my drop box then restoring it to the other computer when I want to work on the same database at a different computer.  I understand that Roots Magic 7 to Go would be an option but was wondering if anyone else is doing something similar to what I am trying to do.   This also brings up the question is can I have a data base that is available to other members of my family located in others parts of the US so we can work on it together?

 

Sorry if I posted this in the wrong area but I really appreciate any help someone can give me.  Thanks in Advance!



#2 zhangrau

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 04:02 PM

RM is not designed to allow simultaneous access by two or more computers to the same database. But there should be no problem with two computers separately (that is, never simultaneously) accessing the same database.

 

If you've read some of the prior discussions about using an RM database in the cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.) then you hopefully understand that a key concern is the latency in constantly saving RM data via the internet. Even small time delays can be problematic, and have been suspected in corrupting an RM database.

 

If you are tech savvy, and set up a home network with a shared drive & folder where your RM database (and associated multimedia files) reside, and if your home network is speedy, then your goal may be achievable.



#3 John_of_Ross_County

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 04:30 PM

Ethernet switches, CAT5 or CAT6 cable, and wall jacks for CAT5/CAT6 are relatively inexpensive.  Ethernet switches can be cascaded.  Depending on how many devices you need at one location, it is probably cheaper to run one cable to an Ethernet switch rather than multiple home runs of cable to multiple jacks at each location.  Just add up the cost of cable/foot and the individual jacks with cover plates.  You need patch cables also.

 

An inexpensive punchdown tool and a cable tester would be helpful.

 

While you could run CAT5/CAT6 cable device to device, troubleshooting is easier with wall jacks.



#4 TomH

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 04:45 PM

The developer(s) of the SQLite database engine used by RM warn against putting the database file on a network drive. More potential for things to go wrong although if only one person is working on it at a time and it is a fast network the risk could be quite low.


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.


#5 Raydar

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:35 PM

Thanks for everyone's input, I will run a test over my home network with my database stored on my 1 Tb hard drive.  I will be suing wireless to see if it is going to cause problems.  So far so good. again, thanks to all for your help.



#6 karibeth61

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 09:15 PM

I've been using OneDrive for a couple of years with my two computers and have never had any problem. I always make sure I've closed out of the RM data file on one computer before opening it on the other. And, of course I always backup my file just to be safe. (Don't know about running them simultaneously. Never tried it.)


Kari


#7 zhangrau

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 03:45 AM

 (Don't know about running them simultaneously. Never tried it.)

 

RM will allow you to open a file twice (on the same computer or two different computers) but the second opened copy will be in READ ONLY mode. Only ONE computer at a time can actually make changes to the database file.



#8 TomH

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 06:55 AM

WARNING! Pause OneDrive sync before you open a database file subject to sync. Resume sync after closing. Otherwise, you are elevating the risk of conflicting files or, worse, corruption.

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.


#9 karibeth61

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 07:46 PM

TomH: As I said, I've never had a problem keeping the data file for RM (or FTM, for that matter) on Onedrive, but I will certainly heed your advice. I'm not sure why this would cause any corruption of a database, but I do know that when I tried doing the same thing with the Gramps genealogy program it did corrupt the files. Wonder if that was why.

 

Thanks! :)


Kari


#10 mjashby

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 06:00 AM

Using a cloud service to constantly backup a live database is a bit like expecting two users to have full access and control of the same database file at the same time.  As joint usage continues; and/or the size of the database increases; and the volume of changes grows the chances of both 'users' attempting to perform some action on the database at precisely the same moment will become greater, i.e. What is going to happen if a RootsMagic User wants to write new data or a change existing data in their database at the same time as the Cloud service is synchronising the existing file data (i.e. overwriting) the copy it retains in the Cloud?  Similarly, what would you expect to happen if you were in the middle of editing an existing document on a networked computer and someone else on another linked computer attempted to access and save a duplicate copy of the existing document at the same time?

 

True network aware database software would lock any individual records in use to prevent their data being copied during a backup/synchronisation process, or if another user attempted to access the same record; it would retain any edits in a temporary file to ensure they were only committed to the main database after that backup/synchronisation process had been completed, which then helps to prevent data conflict/corruption.  RootsMagic, in common with many other genealogy programs, uses an SQLite database model that is not designed or intended to work in that way.  That's a downside to SQLite that is far outweighed by the upside of being entirely free for developers to use in their desktop software, which keeps (should keep) costs down for both the developer and end user.

 

Cloud services will, when correctly designed, often lock individual files during the backup/transmission process, but that of course can easily lead to the local user believing that their system/application has 'locked up' without warning, especially if a considerable amount of data needs to be synchronised, or if the internet connection is slow, which is why the recommended action is to suspend Cloud Backup services while using files that are being constantly written to.

 

If I remember correctly, Gramps does not currently use a traditional Database model, but stores its data in an XML File, i.e. a special form of text file which would suffer in the same way as any other text file if you tried to edit it and copy it at the same time.


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#11 TomH

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 08:11 AM

Very well explained mjashby. With your permission, I'd like to copy it to the wiki in ny sig.

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.


#12 mjashby

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 03:26 AM

No problem.

 

Mervyn


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#13 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 07:08 AM

If I remember correctly, Gramps does not currently use a traditional Database model, but stores its data in an XML File, i.e. a special form of text file which would suffer in the same way as any other text file if you tried to edit it and copy it at the same time.

 

My understanding is that current versions of Gramps use Berkeley database rather than XML. Gramps 1.0 used XML, but not current versions. Even so, the same problems exist for Berkeley database as for XML formats or SQLite when it comes to using the database on multiple machines simultaneously.

 

I think true sharing of a genealogical database across multiple machines would require a server based data storage with each desktop using an API to access the server. A user wouldn't have to know about the API because the desktop app would handle the API behind the scenes. And such a "server" wouldn't necessarily have to be in a huge server farm in the cloud. It could be on a machine in your living room if developers and vendors chose to do it that way. But I'm not aware of any desktop genealogy software that works that way unless you count the Family Search FamilyTree database and its API that is supported by RM.

 

Jerry



#14 TomH

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 09:51 PM

An example of a collaborative, personal family tree system is The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© ("TNG") which uses a MySQL database on a server with PHP.


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.


#15 Trebor22

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 03:30 AM

I guess its likely in the future I could want my database in the cloud with local backups, a reversal of my current practice. I suspect for those brought up with cloud computing it will be odd not to do it that way so an RMcloud app is going on my 'wish list'



#16 KFN

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 07:10 AM

Another example of a collaborative genealogy database in the cloud that you can run is webtrees. Www.webtrees.net Also uses uses PHP and Maria/MySQL.

#17 mjashby

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 10:55 AM

The nearest you can probably get using RootsMagic (currently) for multi-user access would probably be via a shared Ancestry Tree together with the use of TreeShare with the local RootsMagic database(s).  A single user using two (or multiple) computers could put together a method of keeping all files up-to-date, but it would require substantial self-discipline to ensure that the RootsMagic database files and source documents held on each computer remain in sync.  I believe this is the method adopted by more recent releases of FTM and is probably only possible because Ancestry Tree uses SQL (not SQLite) to store online data and log/manage all data changes, together with the fact that FTM's local database structure directly mirrors that of Ancestry Tree (100% compatibility); and so doesn't have to manage the same data compatibility issues that RootsMagic's developers have to work around.  In my experience data conflict can still occur with Ancestry Tree if the same family/individual records are edited on different computers, or on one computer and also on the Ancestry website, especially if data synchronisation is 'delayed' for any reason. 

 

As a Mac user I do know that there are at least 2 genealogy software programs, one of which definitely uses an SQLite database, which have implemented some measure of Cloud file sharing; but these only work in conjunction with specific Cloud services, i.e. one only works with Apple's iCloud and the other only with Dropbox. So, such possibilities exist to a limited extent but only, it seems, when software developers are prepared to choose to lock in, i.e. limit themselves and their users, to the use of specific Cloud services as that it is wholly dependent on the specific feature set provided by individual Cloud services through their own APIs; and also the individual service's own method of managing 'shared user access' to online data files to avoid/manage possible data conflicts. 

 

Mervyn


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#18 keithcstone

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 04:49 PM

Everyone needs to keep in mind the purpose of the various tools. OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, etc are FILE sharing tools that are NOT intended for multi-user access of individual files. They are intended to update entire files at once, not parts of a file. Where they can get you in trouble with your RM database is when the cloud agent senses a change it will attempt to copy the cached local copy to the cloud, and that can interfere with what RM is trying to do. 

 

Programs like RM (and MyHeritage 8) use SQLite, which is a single user database. So while multiple users can READ the database at once, only one of them can update. You could use a cloud file sharing service to distribute COPIES of your data, but you'll need some change broker (such as TreeShare) to move the changes around.

 

Personally I'll like to see RM use multiple databases, without proprietary extensions on any, so you could if desired use local SQLite, or a something like SQL Server or MySQL. Leave the desktop UI the same, and have it create the tables as needed in a new database (or new DB file in the SQLite case) but be able to "connect" to a SQL Server or MySQL database when users wanted to use large database capabilities. Essentially just like you can have multiple SQLite databases today, you could connect to multiple databases of various types depending on your need. 

 

That would allow people like me who have access to a cloud based multi-user database (i.e. Azure or AWS) could grant connection privileges to friends and relatives when multi-user access was desired. We could also extend RM capabilities (like RMTrix) both on the desktop and web.



#19 TomH

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 10:58 PM

That's a cool idea.

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.


#20 Renee Zamora

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 08:47 AM

Confirming this is on the enhancement request list. 


Renee
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