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Special Sorting of Event Tags for Witnesses


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#1 Lee Irons

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:59 PM

Now that I have been trying TMG 8 for a week, I am beginning to like it. It really helps with my way of documenting research and evidence. One thing I don't like, however, is the inability to control the sequence of tag sentences in a narrative report independent of how the event tags appear in the Person View. Whatever the sequence is in the person view, that is the sequence in which it appears in a narrative. So, users have to use the sort date field in the event tag to establish the ordering sequence in the person view so that the narrative reports print the way the user wants them. The problem with this is that every person who is a principal or a witness to a given event tag get the same sort date. To make a long story short, I need to be able to set the ordering sequence of each witness to an event tag independent of each other. In order to get the sequence the way I want it for each person, I have to be able to give each witness a different sort date.

This could be solved by giving each witness a unique sort date. This field could be added to the Edit Witness window.

Aside: Of course, the entire concept of sort dates is kind of strange. Why not just give each tag a sort number (1, 2, 3, etc.). Or why not just enable the user to manually move a tag up or down the list in the Person View. This latter approach would completely eliminate the need for a sort date field and would resolve the difficulty I stated in the first paragraph.

#2 Michael Hannah

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 03:57 PM

Now that I have been trying TMG 8 for a week, I am beginning to like it. It really helps with my way of documenting research and evidence.

Welcome aboard, Lee. I have been a user of TMG for over 15 years, and like each release better than the one before.

One thing I don't like, however, is the inability to control the sequence of tag sentences in a narrative report independent of how the event tags appear in the Person View. Whatever the sequence is in the person view, that is the sequence in which it appears in a narrative. So, users have to use the sort date field in the event tag to establish the ordering sequence in the person view so that the narrative reports print the way the user wants them.

Yes, that is the whole purpose of the sort date sequencing. The assumption is that the goal of most genealogy narratives is a chronological report of events in a person's life, so the sequencing is intended for the report and the Person View reflects that sequencing.

... The problem with this is that every person who is a principal or a witness to a given event tag get the same sort date... In order to get the sequence the way I want it for each person, I have to be able to give each witness a different sort date.

Except for invoking the option of BMDB events being output first, most users are content with a narrative where the events are reported in the chronology of those events. However, your's is a wish for an enhancement a few users have requested before. For alternatives, TMG is extremely flexible and configurable in a number of ways and many different ideas have been suggested over time to create a narrative more to the user's liking.

For example, one of the more powerful customizable features of TMG is the ability to create custom tag types, and then select which tag types are or are not included in a report. I have heard some users enter the data in the "typical" tag types, but then create a few custom "story" tag types to contain the custom kind of narrative you want for that person. A special narrative report could be configured to output only those "story" tags, while still permitting more "typical" reports to output the standard tags.

Having looked at TMG for only a week I think you probably have a lot of TMG features yet to discover. :rolleyes: There are a number of features I have not yet learned to use even after all these years.

You might want to look at the TMG Tips provided on Terry Reigel's web site. Of special interest to you may be his article on Producing a Publishable Article. He has a number of suggestions which use some of the advanced customizable options of TMG for report sequencing.

You also should take a look at the separate software product written by John Cardinal called Second Site (details are here). His product takes the raw TMG database and creates a full set of customizable web pages with the click of a button. One of his special output options is Tag Groups which permit grouping tag types in a custom order for more control over the sequencing of output.

Hope this gives you ideas,
Michael
See my book on how I customize TMG My Way.
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#3 Terry Reigel

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:26 PM

Lee,

I understand the issue of having just a single sort date to control the sequencing of tags for all the Principals and Witnesses. I frequently encounter that problem as I create narratives for people whose activities are interconnected. I generally find that a straight chronological narrative doesn't work, and arranging one my subject is particularly difficult when the participants are from different generations. I too would like to see a solution offered in a future enhancement.

In the meantime, the technique I find works best is to set aside a block of dates for each topic, paying attention to how I want the narratives of the various participants to flow. On rare occasions I find the need to create duplicate tags, and exclude the sentences of of some partied in one tag and the rest in the second.

You can see the result of my approach in the page on my site for Robert L Cobb, where his narrative is intertwined with those of older and younger brothers, his sons, and other family members. The links to the pages of the other participants are created by entering them as Principals or Witnesses in common tags. The site is built with Second Site, the program Michael recommends.
Terry

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#4 Lee Irons

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:58 PM

Thanks for the recommendations, Michael and Terry. I'll check them out.

My challenge is that chronological sequencing does not support my method of analysis. I'm trying to produce a narrative that makes claims based on sources that provide evidence require supportive explanation. Basically, I am trying to generate narratives that are genealogical theses that are both logical and easy to be understood. TMG 8 is the best I have found because of tag sentence lengths that seem to be unlimited and an extensive list of tag variables.

Edited by Lee Irons, 31 December 2011 - 04:59 PM.


#5 Michael Hannah

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 10:44 AM

In your case then, Lee, I think a combination of mine and Terry's suggestions will probably work the best. I would probably enter the factual data, with Witness links, in the "standard" tags. Then for each person, have a custom set of tags (without Witnesses) for the analyses for only that person, where ranges of Sort Dates were reserved for those custom tags to put them in desired order. Now I could either produce standard reports where the standard tags were selected for output, or a custom configured analysis report where the custom tags were selected. It may be a bit of duplicate entry due to the Principal/Witness dates issue, but at least TMG might provide a way to accomplish what you seem to want.

I understand your and Terry's goal, but I choose a different approach. I let the basic report be in typical chronological order, including typical chronological events, but sometimes add a custom tag or two with an overall narrative about that person sorted where it seems to make sense. For reporting source analysis I have customized my Source Templates to include both Citation Details and Citation Memos. And I include my overall analysis of the source itself which I record in the Source Comments. Now starting with TMG Version 8 we will also have Citation and Source Exhibits (although they are still somewhat in development). Since Exhibits can be text and/or images, they can include extensive comments, and can be external to the main database to keep its backup smaller. I will also be able to link the same external exhibit to multiple citations. I choose to record my analysis of each citation for that chronological event in these different fields as part of the multiple citations to an event. This gives me a typical genealogical report as a framework, but allows inclusion of my analysis of how each source supports that specific chronological event. I think I am especially going to like the new Source and Citation exhibits, since I will be able to select whether these comments are or are not included in a given report. Further, TMG provides a List of Citations report, where I can print out all citations to a single source to review all my analyses from that source.

Obviously TMG is designed to most easily produce the "typical" chronological genealogy report. While each of us may prefer other different kinds of reports, at least TMG seems to have enough flexibility to get us "close" to what we want, although some kinds of reports will be more difficult to create than others.

Hope this gives you ideas,
Michael
See my book on how I customize TMG My Way.
My website.

#6 Lee Irons

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 12:46 PM

Thanks Michael,

I analyze the source and the citation from the source in the source citation memo field and would also be using customized cource citations that inlcude the citation deatil and citation memo. But then I go an extra analysis step further to demonstrate why I think the person in the citation is the same person as the person in all of the other citations that I am linking to that person. In other words, how do I know that person 3 in Family A in the 1850 census is the same as person 4 in Family B in the 1860 census.

#7 Michael Hannah

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 05:08 PM

I also include that extra analysis comment as part of the citation. Just my way of doing it.
Michael
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