Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Consistency Check Reminders

One of the Blogs that I follow is that created by Tamura Jones, Modern Software Experience. Today his blog was on Consistency Check Reminders. I hadn't thought about that as a topic of this blog, but I agree with Tamura on what he wrote. Our genealogy software should provide us with options on this topic, as well as the Back Up mention at the end of the article.

Back Ups:

Family Tree Maker has always provided us with Back Up features. But Tamura went further then having a feature available, but reminders or user options to have the Back Up's performed.  FTM2012 does have options for us, plus offers us a Back Up reminder when preparing to perform some tasks within the program.

For example: the Tools, Compact File utility does offer a Back Up window / reminder before the compacting of the file is performed. Going to the Tools menu and selecting Compact File, this window will open.

Placing the cursor in that box will start the back up process. WE, the user, should take advantage of that.

We also have options on WHERE to put that back up. The Default is in the SAME folder where the Family File is located. Usually in My Documents, under Family Tree Maker. I do NOT put my Back Ups on the SAME Hard Drive where my Family File is located.

I put my Back Up's in a Custom Directory, on an External Drive. (my "J" drive)

We also have options in what we want to include in the Back Up. I always Back Up every thing. I am NOT concerned about disk space. I want to ensure that I can recover any problem with the file quickly and easily.

OH, I also run a Restore from Back Up, once a month, to make sure that the Back Up works.

If you look at the filename of the Back Up (FTMB), you will see that it included the DATE of the Back Up. It makes it very easy to see the most recent file to restore.

There are other operations, that may impact the entire file, where the Back Option is offered. I take advantage of that when offered.

Taking Tamura's statements to heart, FTM2012 also provides us with the Option to Back Up the file automatically, when we close the file, without actually having to do any mouse clicks. That option is in the Tools, Options menu, General Tab.

Putting a check mark in that box, which is the default setting, will cause the program to create a back up of the family file. Using the Automatic Back Up feature, will put a Back Up in the SAME folder as the family file and it will NOT include images. So, the size of this back up will be smaller the the Back Up mentioned earlier.


The major thrust of Tamura's article, by my reading, was our ability to make our data consistent.

FTM2012 provide two versions or help in this area. 1) during Data Entry, and 2) a report, in this case the Data Error Report.

The Tools, Options menu has a Warnings Tab.

We have options on what data we want to have a Warning Screen appear, or not appear.
  • Double Dates
  • Title in Name fact
  • One or two digit years
  • Text in quotes (nickname) in the name fact
  • Copy media files to media folder
  • Auto populate Smart Stories
I keep all by the One or two digit years in the PROMPT ME mode. So, during data entry, if I were to put the nick name of a person, in quotes, into the Name Fact, I'll receive a warning, and cause me to confirm this is what I intended to do. I put a nick name into the AKA (Also Known As) Fact, so I want to be reminded that I have done something that would not be consistent with my data entry for the nick name.

IF I enter a 2 digit year, I will be warned to enter a 4 digit year.

For example: I entered 06/06/12 into the Date field. There is a Warning ICON on the Right of the Date field. It took my 12 to mean 12 AD, instead of 2012.

The warning says "Error: The data you entered has an ambiguous year" message.

Below the previous Waring screen are three more options:
  • Show alerts for unlikely birth, death and marriage dates
  • Show unrecognized place name indicators
  • Show informational alerts (i.e., changed name, changed home person...)
I find these very helpful. There are proactive warnings on data entry. They will appear as pop-up windows, or an ICON for the Place Name indicators. (will show shortly)

There is a Data Entry Report in the Publish Workspace.

The Person Reports and select the Data Error Report. Once the report is generating the Items to Include where the below window will open.

We have plenty of options of what we want in the report. I use this report frequently, but normally focus on certain bits of information at a time. For example, the Children being out of order.

So, in my mind, we have the proactive Warning messages during data entry, then a report to work from.

Place Name Consistency

This has always been a concern of mine. However, until FTM2012 (704), the struggle has been around Historical Place Names. That update has resolved that for me. I can visually see my "current" Place Names and the Historical Place Names at a glance.

For example: All Hallows Parish, is a historical place name, while the All Hallows Church Cemetery is in the town of Birdsville. The Cemeteries and the Plantation are in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

The ICON with the Check Mark, is the visual indication that these place names have yet to be resolved. In each of these cases, I am researching what the place name should be. Upper Burlington County, New Jersey, doesn't currently exist. So, I need to view the DATES of the events that took place in Upper Burlington County, New Jersey to see if it is a historical name based on that time frame.

 If I understand the trust of Tamura's article, for me, FTM2012 offers me the features we described in his article.


Copyright © 2012 by H R Worthington

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