Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Family Tree Maker--Identifying and Correcting Errors

Two days ago we discussed the method for identifying errors and inconsistencies in Family Tree Maker.  Now that I have gone through the process of correcting a couple hundred of the errors, I have what I think are some helpful observations and some suggestions as to how FTM could improve the process.

I noticed right away that a HUGE majority of the corrections listed on the 173 pages of corrections were "This individual's children sort order may be incorrect".  In other words, in the family view which lists all of the children at the bottom of the window, the children aren't in chronological order of  birth.  

In the example above, my three children from top to bottom are Debora, b. 1960; Cheryl, b. 1961; and Linda, b. 1964.  Displayed correctly (below) Cheryl is moved up to the top ahead of Debora so that they are in correct chronological order.  

This is corrected simply by right clicking on any of the children and selecting "sort children by birth order".  It isn't really an error in your data; but is more an issue of proper form.  When I eliminated this as an error to include in my error list, the list went from 173 pages to 15.  That equates to about 3950 items to correct!  I have a couple suggestions how the FTM programmers could make this a more manageable problem.  First, would be create a global correction tool for your program that would correct all of these with a single action.  Currently, under the tools menu, are similar global functions such as: global spell check, convert names and resolve all place names.  Secondly, if there are two parents in the family and the children are out of order, it shows up as two separate errors--once with each parent's name.  This seems unnecessary, as it is corrected for both parents by clicking on the list of children once!

I know this might seem trivial to some; but I assure you that I am not the only user who has several hundred such errors in their FTM program.  Correcting all 158 pages of that sorting error isn't trivial either, even if I really only have to do half of them (one for each family vice each parent).  My blog isn't well enough known that FTM would read it; but I hope to bring this to their attention by some other means.  

I also noted that in some date conflict errors,  the error really wasn't an issue.  Let me explain using the below graphic for George Brown Dean.  The Death and Burial facts in yellow are both marked

"preferred" and are in logical sequence: Death, 27 June 1920 and Burial, about 30 June 1920.  However, the Death fact marked in green has a date of 27 June 1921.  This generated an error "The burial date occurred before his/her death" even though it was not the preferred death date.

  I noticed this same problem with other date conflicts such as "mother or father not being 13 yet when child was born" or "burial coming prior to date of death".  You can see in all these cases where facts could be listed in the person window and generate an "error" item, yet not be selected as "preferred".  This could encourage us to delete facts even though they have a source and could prove to be helpful in later analysis, just because they conflict with other data. 

Have fun making those corrections.