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10 Things Genealogy Software Should Do


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#1 Romer

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 06:24 PM

I was recently reading Mark Tucker's blog over at ThinkGenealogy.com and came across the following entry:

http://www.thinkgene...ware-should-do/

He discusses a shift in thinking from people learning to do genealogy from books, courses, others' help, etc. to instead by the genealogy software that they use to enter their data. It's an ambitious thought.

The ten items that would contribute to that end are as follows:

1. Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS)
2. Organize
3. Transcribe, Extract, and Abstract
4. Source Citation
5. Stress-Free Imports
6. Link and Layer
7. Source Provenance
8. Visualize
9. Remember
10. Share

I'd be very interested in hearing which items others would most want to see integrated into future RootsMagic releases and in what manner.

Given some of the RootsMagician's posts on the RM blog ( http://blog.rootsmagic.com ), it appears as though some of the points that Mark proposes are ones that also happen to be addressed in version 4.0. Other points seem to be more ground-breaking in nature, so might require significant effort beyond what will be introduced in the upcoming release.

Either way, the next several years could be very interesting ones in terms of software development. At the very least, the blog entry certainly raises the bar on the entire discussion.

#2 Romer

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 11:42 PM

Well, I've been drawn in by "GPS", "Source Citation", "Source Provenance", and "Remember", all of which happen to be somewhat related. Mark visually presents some of these key concepts through the Genealogy Research Process Map. Version 2.0 can be found at http://www.thinkgene...-map-version-2/.

The RM blog seems to indicate that Source (Original, Derivative), Information (Primary, Secondary), and Evidence (Direct, Indirect, Negative) elements will be included in version 4.0 ( http://blog.rootsmagic.com/?p=41 ). As of yet, it's unknown as to whether or not the Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace standard source citation will also be adopted, but we'll see. At the very least, the groundwork has been laid, with a user's answers to the Source, Information, and Evidence questions potentially used to adhere to that standard.

Essentially allowing users to easily pick up research where it was last left off with a minimum of review would be a terrific benefit. Through items such as the To-Do List and Last Edit Date, RM does at least somewhat speak to the spirit of some of these proposed features, but making them more robust would result in an even more powerful and useful product.

The ability to better manage past research and upcoming tasks could take a variety of forms. Research goals might be able to be tracked by means of a research plan/project to which tasks could be created and linked (with the ability to assign a name, whether the user of the software or others involved in a particular project -- particularly in light of "Share", item #10), a research log of sources accessed and when (with an automatic reminder to revisit a website generated after a period of time), and progress made/conclusions made. Features addressing these types of items would make it easier to avoid duplicating past efforts. Mark also suggests a dashboard providing links to the last, say, ten items worked on and other important information.

Finally, automatic logging of additions and changes to data entered into our software, with the ability to track the history of those items and a means to undo an erroneous change (or multiple changes) made at some point in the past would also be very useful features.

#3 Romer

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 12:15 AM

The possibilities of "Stress-Free Imports" and "Link and Layer" look to be very exciting.

These items would in effect allow importing GEDCOM data into a separate part of one's database, but not actually merge that data with one's own. An import history list would show when an import was done, from where the information came, and other relevant data.

Clicking an icon would allow one or multiple sets of imported information to be hidden or shown throughout the software. Mark demonstrates how this would work in action with respect to a Family Group Sheet, and it's very powerful.

Linking people (versus merging them) would create these layers of source information, with the ability to hide or lock (to prevent accidental modification) any number of these layers.

Very slick!

#4 Romer

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 10:58 PM

Just came back across this thread from several years ago and realized that RM5's Research Log feature was relevant. As previously mentioned, RM4 also fulfilled some wishes, including source templates (Evidence Explained and others)/quality designations.

Several other of the wished-for items are still ripe for future picking, of course!

#5 Nettie

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 07:05 AM

Mark Tucker's Genealogy Research Process now called Research Process Map is a good tool to have in front of you when you are working with your Sources/Citations. :) http://www.thinkgenealogy.com/

Thanks for bringing this forward in light of recent RM discussions. :)

added: His blog of 28 Feb 2011 has very interesting information then go to http://www.thinkgene...rveyResults.pdf

to see the survey on usage of citations etc.. Very revealing information on all 34 pages. :)

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 


#6 leeirons

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:18 PM

I have used and/or dabbled in three (not counting PAF) different genealogy software packages: Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, and now Roots Magic. Every time a new version of one of these come out, I get it just to see if we are getting any closer to these 10 things. I always come away hopeful yet perplexed. Software developers (and/or their users who float ideas to them) come up with some pretty nifty things, but it always seems more like nibbling around the edges of the 10 things, rather than doing a deep-dive development of them. I would think that the first company to completely address these 10 general things would walk away with at least 50% of the market, and probably more. I'm beginning to think that none of the top three genealogy platforms I mentioned above are going to be the one. And of course, all of the other existing genealogy programs are so far off either in capability or in operating system modernization to not even be of consequence in the race. I think we need fresh competition.

#7 Ludlow Bay

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 06:10 PM

I have used and/or dabbled in three (not counting PAF) different genealogy software packages: Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, and now Roots Magic. Every time a new version of one of these come out, I get it just to see if we are getting any closer to these 10 things. I always come away hopeful yet perplexed. Software developers (and/or their users who float ideas to them) come up with some pretty nifty things, but it always seems more like nibbling around the edges of the 10 things, rather than doing a deep-dive development of them. I would think that the first company to completely address these 10 general things would walk away with at least 50% of the market, and probably more. I'm beginning to think that none of the top three genealogy platforms I mentioned above are going to be the one. And of course, all of the other existing genealogy programs are so far off either in capability or in operating system modernization to not even be of consequence in the race. I think we need fresh competition.


So you think that RootsMagic hasn't achieved any of the 10?

#8 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:18 PM

I have had sort of a love/hate relationship with Mark Tucker's "10 Things" ever since I first encountered the list shortly after it was posted online. The "love" part of my love/hate relationship comes from reviewing his paper and his slides. It's very hard to argue with anything he says in those documents. But when I watched the video, I remember thinking that the devil is in the details and I didn't really like some of the details he was talking about. I thought that maybe half of his "10 Things" were really ideas I was not very supportive of after he included some details of what he had in mind. Unfortunately, the video appears to have been taken down, and I'm therefore unable to review what he said in his video. For all I know, I'm remembering it all wrong, and I might be very supportive of the ideas from his video if only I could watch it again.

Even though I can't remember the video exactly, I remember thinking that his ideas reminded me of what happens when you maintain your tree online at ancestry.com. In this environment, it's very easy just to copy large chunks of somebody else's tree into your own. In addition to not really having your own primary sources if you do it this way, you also end up being stuck with all the data entry conventions about names and places that are present in the tree from which you are copying. I suppose that some of Mark's "Link and Layer" ideas address these concerns, but I would really like to watch the video again to be sure.

As far genealogy software on the market and Mark's "10 Things", I don't think that any product on the market really implements a single one of the "10 Things". That doesn't mean that no product supports sources and citations (they all do), that no product supports sharing (they all do), etc. Indeed, essentially all the products on the market including RM at least touch 5 or 6 or 7 of Mark's "10 Things". But I don't think any of them do any of the "10 Things" in the same comprehensive sense that Mark intends. In the other direction, products seem to be full of features that are not involved with any of Mark's "10 Things". Take a couple of my personal favorite features in RM: color coding and Named Groups. It's hard to see how either of them really relate to any of Mark's "10 Things". It seems to me that if you sat down to develop a new genealogy software package using Mark's "10 Things" as a guide, you would end up with a product devoid of color coding and Named Groups (and probably devoid of lots of other really cool and useful features, as well).

Jerry