Monday, May 27, 2013

Identifying Errors in My Family Tree Maker Program

I have had a couple articles over the past week regarding features of Family Tree Builder (FTB) that will scan the total data base of tree member facts and list all of the inconsistencies.  Since I am just getting started with developing my family tree on FTB and my primary family history data base is on my Family Tree Maker (FTM) program, I thought I should focus on resolving all the conflicts on my primary data base, FTM, prior to spending a lot of time on FTB.  In fact, it would save a lot of time to only resolve the issues one time and then to use that data to populate other trees.  Thus, I will get my FTM tree cleaned up and then reload it on FTB.

The first place I looked in FTM to identify inconsistencies was the "Tools" tab on the Menu Bar.  It seemed logical because other aids like resolve all place names, relationship calculator, and convert names were all there.  After checking my manual, I learned that there is a report called "Data Errors Report".  You generate the report by selecting "Publish", "Person Reports" and then "Data Errors Report".  These selections are highlighted in yellow in the below page view. 

I still think it should be under tools; but at least I figured out where it was.  Once you click on "Generate Report" a window appears entitled "Data Errors Report Options".  It allows you three different scan options to generate the report: Immediate family, All individuals or Selected individuals.  I selected "all individuals" and immediately hit generate report.  The report was 148 pages long with about 25 errors per page--about 3700 errors.  OOps!  At first I thought I would print it out, then I decided that was a lot of printing and lots of errors.  I decided to see if there was some sort of filtering process such as FTB has. Notice the yellow highlighted icon in the upper left of the below window.  When you hover

your pointer over the icon it reads "Errors to include".  Clicking on it opens a window divided into two parts: Person errors and Date errors.  Within each of those two parts you can select those specific errors or omissions to include in the report.  Each individual will have different preferences; but I decided that I was primarily concerned with date errors.  Additionally, I noted that in the 148 page report, a large number of the errors were birth date or marriage date missing--most likely meaning--I didn't know the dates. So, I only checked three boxes in the person errors: Name contains title, wife's surname same as husband's and Children out of order.  

I left all 15 of the items checked in the date errors part (there are five more selections you can see by sliding down the tab on the right).  By doing this I reduced my report to 64 pages containing about 1600 errors.  This is still a large task; but certainly more manageable than 3700.

The report generated by FTM consists of three columns: Name, Birth Date, and Potential Error and is printed out in alphabetical order based on the individual's surname and given name. I believe I like the report generated by FTB better, as it broke the listing into groupings based on the type of error and then was alphabetical within each of those groupings.  

I know that this is a daunting task; but it must be done.  Otherwise, my family tree will be very suspect because of those errors and the errors will be transmitted to others whenever they import data from my tree.

No matter what genealogy software program you are using, I am certain it has the capability to scan the data base for errors.  If you haven't performed this function recently (or ever), you owe it to yourself to do so; and if your tree is being shared with others out there on the internet, you definitely owe it to those within that community to ensure your data is as accurate as possible.