...I would like to be able to highlight a person (either in Pedigree view or in Family view), right click, input a new Surname for that line. The program would then rename the highlighted person and all direct line descendants that have the old Surname with the new Surname...
I believe I see what you want to do with such a feature; however, I don't agree that it is a good feature for RM to adopt. People use whatever name and spelling they use. While you can make attempts to standardize, those standardized names are not what the people themselves used. Nothing wrong with it necessarily, but it tends to move away from genealogy when "we" choose what their name is/was.
In my mother's family, she was one of 14 children. About half of them spelled their surname Atkins, while the rest spelled it Adkins. Of course, their descendants "typically" spell it how their parent did...so the two spellings continue from the same nuclear family. From what information I have been able to find, Adkins was the spelling their father used; however, if you follow back a few generations, it was Atkinson, which was most likely derived from Atkins, which was most likely derived from Adkins (meaning kin of Adam). Throughout the geographic region where this rather large family group is and was found, people spell this name in many ways. There is no "correct" way. It is simply a matter of how people whose name it was spelled it.
My mother used Adkins, changed her middle name from Marie to Ann abitrarily without legal process. So her legal records show her as Margaret Ann Adkins because that is what she used on legal forms, etc. But it could just as easily be Margaret Marie Atkinson. Her choices overrode her parents' choices. So her birth name is Margaret Marie Adkins, with an alternate name of Margaret Ann Adkins. Since many of her fairly close relatives are still living, and since she always used Ann for her middle name, I keep it in the database how she used it...but Marie is the more proper name because her parents gave her that name.
As you go back into older lineages, this problem increases, for people did not have surnames per se, did not name their children until they came of age, didn't know how to read and write, and had many overlapping conventions defining what they were called...which changed throughout their lives. Their names changed from birth name to grown name, to titles (often plural, and where title actually becomes their name for all practical purposes), to their trade or occupation, to locations where they were born, locations where they ruled or were ruled by others or just lived, locations where they fought in battles, titles of honor because of battles, and other purely anecdotal names that stuck and were widely used. Additionally, they lived or married into spouses' families (plural) from different localities, under different royal and other titles, and often tried to incorporate both spouses' names, establish priorities, please the public politically and religiously, etc., resulting in a single person having a dozen or more names...including translations of these names into the languages of the various family branches involved. Hence a LOT of spellings of a LOT of names, for one person.
An example is Harald I "Fairhair" Halfdansson King of Norway: see some of his information at the wiki page:
He is not necessarily a prime example, but comes to mind...trying to sort him out from amongst other Haralds with similar sounding spouses, etc.
So, if you opt to standardize naming for your own database simply to maintain sanity, that is understandable, but it doesn't fit well into the genealogical name referencing schemes, which necessarily are so widely varied. If you do opt to standardize, always remember to include alternate name references for clarity of those who may read your data later on.
Doug (list member)