Saturday, April 26, 2014

Does the Software you use work for you?

An online genealogy researcher and friend +Hilary Gadsby did a blog post earlier today. Please visit her blog at and read

Hilary asks 3 very interesting questions:
What should our software do for us so that we are unable to fall into the habit of entering the data without adding a source citation?  
Do we need reminding to build our citation before we enter the data?

Do we need or could we have a system that automatically generates our citations as we enter them in the software?
I thought that I would create a blog post on this topic, link it to Hilary's blog post, and hope that others post comments on her blog.

I can only speak for a User of the Family Tree Maker (FTM2014) program as it has been my genealogy program of choice. Until yesterday, I have not put my main, working file into an Ancestry Member Tree / Public Member Tree for two reasons. One being Citations, and I had Research Notes all over the place. It wasn't a pretty picture.

From the question, and her earlier comment about "having a totally unsourced tree" I understand that first question.

As a new researcher, the program reminding me to Cite my Source would be helpful. OR might it discourage me from moving forward. After all, I am just starting and now "you" want me to learn something new. Even what is that. The other two questions would be helpful to learn.

Working with the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Dr. Thomas W Jones, the crafting of a Citation and the formatting of source information in Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills gets me into the details of what it is that I am looking at and start to evaluate that information.

There may be a conflict here of wanting to find everything I can find on my family in 30 seconds or less. We have seen that on several genealogy TV programs. But the Citation "stuff" will slow me down, some may say Stop me, from getting done in a "few minutes"

Here is my take on these questions, as a long time user. FTM2014 has some tools that helped me get to the point of publically sharing my family tree.

  • The ability to see what Facts do not have a Citation
  • The ability to create an Evidence Explained formatted Source
  • The ability to evaluate my source information in the Genealogical Proof Standard way
FTM2014 has those tools. When I am in a clean up mode I use the Undocumented Source Report. My working file is a mess, but "workin' on it".

I work on getting ALL my sources into the Source Template feature that was introduced in FTM2010. I am about 1/2 way through the clean up, BUT, that took some work.

I had to understand what Information in a Reference Note of Family Tree Maker, came from the Source or Container of information that is asked for in the Template screen, and what I had to enter in the Citation detail field, the Citation text field, and the Web Address field. I have blogged about that.

The trick for me in doing this is to use Evernote and the Comment field on the Template Screen. That 'extra' effort, OK WORK, was very helpful in understanding the make up of a Resource or End Note.

From helping others, the real issue is defining What I am looking at, and Where did I get it from.

Could it be easier, in FTM2014? Absolutely. Would I want it to be automatically? Absolutely NOT. If it were automatic I would probably never look at the details about what a Citation should look like.

Please join +Hilary Gadsby in this conversation on her new Blog.

Copyright © 2014 by H R Worthington

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