RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Supercharged SourceWizard


Sources are awesome.  They are the lifeblood of the genealogist, and sometimes a frustration we would just as soon skip.  But we all know how important they are.  Documenting our family history is the greatest genealogical gift we can give our family.  Sure we can pass down a bunch of names, dates and places, but if we don’t say where we got that information they will just have to verify it all over again.

RootsMagic has always made it easy to enter your sources with its groundbreaking SourceWizard released back in 2003, which let you select a source type and then fill in the blanks.  The SourceWizard then wrote the properly formatted source for you.

And now the SourceWizard is better than ever.

Now some things work much the same as they did in version 3.  When you bring up the list of sources for a person, fact, or family, you can still add a new source, use (cite) an existing source, memorize / paste citations, etc.

But when you choose to add a new source, that’s when things start getting fun.  You are no longer limited to the 25 or so source types offered in version 3.  You can now select source types from Evidence!, Evidence Explained, Cite Your Sources (Lackey), or the Evidence QuickSheet.  Or you can just use a default “free-form” template to enter the footnote, short footnote,  and bibliography directly.  Now that’s a lot of source types, so of course we needed to make it easy to find the one you are looking for.

Of course you *could* just scroll down through the list of sources, but we have added a search / filter where you can type in words relating to the type of source you have.  For example, type the word “birth” and RootsMagic will display a list of source types with “birth” in their name or description.  Or type multiple words and RootsMagic will show you the entries with all those words in it.  RootsMagic 4 even gives you details about each source type and tells you where that format is from.

If you are like me, you tend to work with just a few different source types at any one time.  So we’ve added a favorites list where you can put those commonly used source types.  Just highlight any source type in the list, click the star button on the toolbar, and it is now a favorite.  You can easily spot your favorites (they have a star next to them in the list), or you can click the Favorites button and instantly select from there.  RootsMagic also keeps track of the source types you use, and adds them to a recently used source type list as well.

Once you select the type of source you want to enter, RootsMagic 4 will open the new “Edit Source” screen.  The first thing many of you probably noticed is that the master source and source (citation) details are together at last.  No more switching back and forth to edit the different parts of a source citation.  And yes, sources are still reusable… when you cite an existing source you will get this same screen with the source (citation) details ready to fill out.

Just begin filling in the blanks and RootsMagic will write the properly formatted source citation for you.  As always, the SourceWizard provides hints as to what it is asking for in each field.

And of course you can still enter the actual text, comments, and media for both the master source and source (citation) details.  Just click the “More” button next to the master source or the details.

Now of course this only barely touches the power of the new SourceWizard.  Most people can just select a source type, fill in the blanks, and go.  Others can use more advanced features like entering both a long and short version of the data in a field to be used in the citations.  And there is another new feature of the SourceWizard that I’m going to write about in my next blog entry.  Not because I’m trying to tease you, but because I need to get back to fixing bugs to get RM4 ready to go ;)

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Reader Comments

Huge improvement. Evidence! and Evidence Explained should be on every researcher’s bookshelf. I totally agree on the importance of citation, but they are still dull and a pain to write correctly. Wizards are a boon. One thing, though. Thank you for including Canada, but I notice that all the other wizards have a US bias. One of the reasons that I purchased RM was because it had a UK bias. Please, will this be reflected in the wizards? I certainly hope so.

I think this should satisfy every need of source recording. The making of a favorite list is smart, and reminds me of a wish – that we could have a similar favorite list also for fact types.

These improvements are worth waiting for. Sources and citations are a big hangup for patrons when learning family history. Keep up the good work!

Is there any way to save our own templates?

Bruce,

This looks fantastic. I can only guess at how much time it took to do this.

But (and you knew one was coming) when you tie “primary” to the source doesn’t that say that it is a primary source for all citations?

As an example, my great-grandfather has a parish register entry for his birth. Now that is primary, but it also has the only reference to his parents’ marriage. That is secondary since it is basically hearsay, not recorded at the time of the event, blah, blah, blah.

Will there be a way to record the type of evidence on the citation to override the tpye on the source?

If there’s not, I’ll just live with it. It’s such a minor inconvenience for such a major feature.

Very nice. Looks like source citations follwing Evidence Explained is becoming a standard feature of the major genealogy applications.

You mentioned that RM4 supports source types from Evidence!, Evidence Explained, Cite Your Sources (Lackey), or the Evidence QuickSheet. Is there a list of these on a preferences page that would allow me to pick which ones show up in the list?

It has been a log dry spell since your last post. Each one is a treat. Awesome doesn’t sound like hyperbole when describing the new sourcing capability. I’m still looking forward to the public beta as a Christmas present (maybe New Years?)

Rich, if you look at the upper left corner there is a button that says “Quality” (it has a star on it). If you click that button you can enter the quality (Source, Information, and Evidence) as described in this previous blog entry:

http://blog.rootsmagic.com/?p=41

I just had to take my gag off momentarily to applaud this latest feature. The standardisation you are introducing through RM4 will stand the genealogical research community well in the years to come.

I’m really impressed with what the Source Wizard offers but feel I must support Penny Holt in the hope that the US bias can be/is limited. I certainly understand why this situation exists. However, the US, like my country, Australia, is a country mostly of immigrants. This means, of course, that research will soon mean other systems will be encountered. Will the wizards reflect this? I, too certainly hope
so.

Will we be able to add Hyperlinks to the source citation. With so many records now online this would really be a plus to link right to an image of a source document.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making an Evidence Explained template. This is the news I’ve been waiting for!

Gary
Most locations that have the source
images urge you not to link to them as the location can change.
I wish they didn’t say that because it would be easier than downloading them.
If you link they might not be there when you check back, but then it is their site.

Now this is what I’ve been waiting for. I am currently using both RM and Legacy to keep my files going. Legacy has some features that RM didn’t have and RM has some Legacy doesn’t. Bruce, from what I have read in your blog, you put everything I wanted from both into one program. Thank you, thank you thank you!!!

One question. When you relase RM4, will there be the ability to transfer my Legacy files to RM4 without having to do the gedcom thing and so I won’t loose some of the things like my custom written event sentences I’ve made in Legacy?

I have been reviewing some of the comments and wonder when the new RM is to be available for purchase. I started with fo4 and now use fo 10. I have been waiting for this new version to purchase… adoptions in rm will be very helpful in my database…

Okay, so when will the beta be available for us all to give a whirl?

Simply said, Keep things easy to work with. I have been working with RM since its birth from Family Origins and like the uncomplicated ease of useage. I rarely use the Source Wizard. I find it easier to use sources of Register of Deeds, Family Bible, Church Records,etc and list vol, pg, etc for citation. Keeping items brief.

can we scan photocopies of birth certs. etc. and link to it within RM. Mike

Mike, yes you can scan pictures, documents, etc and link to them from RM.

This looks great, Bruce. I’m really anxious to get my hands on this new version, but I also understand how much work it is–I’m also a software developer. Just out of curiosity, what kind of development environment/language is this being developed in? It sure looks sharp!

Jeff Smith
Oklahoma City, OK

As I find sourcing/citing to be a pain, I’d been hoping this improved Source Wizard feature would be implemented, and it looks terrific.

I certainly wasn’t expecting all the different source type options, but they’re a pleasant surprise. They’ll allow us wide flexibility (including free-form if they wish to bypass them).

I also noticed that helpful comments are included for the various fields, which should be a real benefit in deciding what information might be appropriate to enter.

My only concern relates to the “More” drop-down box. I’m afraid that source text, comments, and media could be overlooked since it appears as though they can only be accessed by clicking this box. Once you realize that they’re there, however, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Overall, I think this should be an incredibly helpful and useful addition to the program, and I very much look forward to using it and getting my sources/citations in order!

I’ve found that RM3 seemed unique in that you could easily scoll thru your sources for a particular fact and as you do, the citation text and comments that had been entered would display. This made it very handy to quickly compare your sources for that fact. (e.g. Source A says 24 years old in 1900, Source B says 33 years old in 1910.) In your example in this post for the new Source/citation capabilities, in the window entitled “Birth sources for John Rostron Booth-123″ in the left pane is “Smith Family Bible”; in the right pane Quality, Source Type, Footnote, Bibliography. If you had entered citation comment and text, would it appear in that right pane as well? I hope so. I would not want to lose that functionality. I would want my citation text to display on the right as I scrolled down my Birth fact sources on the left.

Jeff, yes, source text/comments and detail text/comments will both appear on that right side like in RM3.

It all sounds great! Will RootsMagic4 work smoothly with Vista? I was afraid to install RootsMagic3 on my Vista-Run computer after reading that it required some tweeking. Instead I’ve been using RootsMagic2 on my Windows XP laptop. Will somebody please e-mail a response?

What capability does RM4 provide to manage/utilize the “Source File #” and “Details File #” fields? Are they (like RM3′s: “Personal File #”, “Multimedia Reference #”, and “Call Number”) simply fields that the researcher can use to enter a unidirectional cross-reference to physical files? If so, I’ve got some ideas on how to improve the program by making better use of such fields. For example, the program ought to be able to sort the source list on these fields and select records and create reports using them.

I’ve owned every version of FO/RM you’ve created. Thank you for your carefully constructed products.

I love the extent of the new SourceWizard, but I do have two questions.

1) In RMT3, I sometimes had a source that I didn’t have full information for so I filled it out using the Wizard for what I had. Later I would come back with the additional information to complete the source, but when you hit the SourceWizard button to take you to the fields, all of the information that was previous entered disappears. Please tell me that RMT4 will allow you to go in and will still be showing all the previous information in the fields, so that you’re not having to retype all of it from scratch?

2) When those of us on RMT3 upgrade to RMT4, what will the default mapping of our existing sources be versus all of these new possibilities?

1. Yes, the fields are retained in RM4.

2. RM3 sources will import as “free-form”, which means they will be in the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography format just like they are in RM3.