Monday, April 13, 2009

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 9: Creating a Timeline Chart

I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and purchased the program on 30 March. I easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me.

Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 3: Adding a Child to the Family
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4A: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 4B: Creating a Pedigree Chart
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 5: Creating a Family Group Sheet
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 6: Creating a Narrative Ancestors Report
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 7: Creating a Narrative Descendants Report
* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 8: Creating a Wall Chart

In this post, I'm going to create a Timeline for the family of my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942). In the "Family" View, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and highlighted the "Charts" option, and the "Timeline" item:

The "Report Settings" menu opened, and it looks somewhat different than for other report/chart items. I added a Title for the timeline, and had to choose who to include on the Timeline. The default for the "People to include" box is "Everyone" - don't use this if you have a lot of people in your database!!!! With 23,000 people in this database, I crashed the RM4 Chart system. The only reasonable selection for "People to include" is "Select from list."

I selected "Select from list" and clicked on the "People" icon next to the box. The "Select people" menu opened and I scrolled to my start person, Frederick W. Seaver:

The user has to "Mark people" to include on the chart. I clicked on the check box next to his name - he is "Marked" now. I wanted everybody in his family to be checked, but at first the only way I saw to do this was to do them one at a time. The user can scroll up or down, or type in a name (surname, given name), or go to the "Family Member" box in the lower right hand corner of the menu and click on them one at a time. Later, I found that if I clicked on the "Mark people" button, that I could select from the following:

* Family of highlighted person
* Everyone in the database
* Everyone in the highlighted person's tree
* Ancestors of highlighted person
* Descendants of highlighted person
* Select people by data fields
* Living
* Dead

I clicked on "Family of highlighted person" and then clicked on the "OK" Button.

I wanted to add a background picture to this chart - the wedding photograph of Fred and Bessie (Richmond) Seaver. I clicked on the "Background" button, and could upload a picture from my computer files or the web. I found the picture I wanted in my picture files:

The only other button on the "Report Settings" menu is for "Fonts" and the only choices are for the Names (default = Times New Roman 10) and the Title (default = Arial 48), plus bold, underline, italics and strikethrough. There appear to be no color options for the fonts.

The "Name format" box setting provides several choices - I prefer the "John Smith (1842-1893) format. I could also choose the "Sort by" order by selecting from Surname or Birthdate. I kept the "Sort by" = Surname.

On the "Report Settings" menu, I could have changed the settings for number of years per inch (default = 20 years), and the tick-mark frequency (default = 10). I didn't modify them.

The other option on the "Report Settings" menu is the color of the timeline boxes - the defaults are light blue for males, light red for females, and light yellow for unknown gender. I didn't modify them either.

I'm ready to see my Timeline chart, so I click on the "Generate Report" button on the "Report Settlings" menu. The RootsMagic Chart program opened, and I saw:

Well, the time line part of it worked OK! The chart is 8.5 inches wide, and 7 inches high. The background photograph is distorted to fit in the timeline chart boundaries. The darkness of the background photograph obscures the black title, the lines and the year scale.

There are menus on the RootsMagic Chart program for File, Edit, View, Insert, Window and Help. I could not find anything in these menus that allowed me to change the font color, the scale and line color and weight, the chart size, etc.

In my opinion, the Timeline Chart needs to have added features for font color, scale color and weight, the ability to define a chart size, etc. The "People to include" menu really needs to have the default of "Select from list" and not "Everyone." There should be a user ability to define a chart size (e.g., 8.5 x 11) that would produce a properly scaled background.

If the user doesn't like the resulting chart and Xs out of the Chart program, the user loses some options, including the "Select People" settings, in the "Report Settings" menu.

I like the choices in the "Select people" menu, but it took me awhile to figure out how to Mark people effectively.

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