Monday, November 23, 2009

Adding Other Search Providers to RootsMagic 4 WebSearch

RootsMagic 4 has a number of Standard Search Providers in their WebSearch capability - they are Ancestry, Ancestry Message Boards, Family Search, Find a Grave, Footnote, Genealogy Bank, Google, Bing, Rootsweb, World Vital Records and Yahoo. That's wonderful, as long as they work.

When I clicked on the FamilySearch link I received matches only on the classical FamilySearch results (Ancestral file, IGI, Pedigree Resource File, 1880 US, 1881 Canada and 1881 UK), not for the FamilySearch Record Search where all of the new imaged and indexed databases are going. Can I add that site, and others, to the RootsMagic WebSearch list?

RootsMagic 4 allows the user to add other Search providers to the WebSearch capability, On the screen below, I have opened the list of Search providers and at the bottom of the list is "Manage Search Providers..."

I clicked on the link for "Manage Search Providers" and noted that there were two tabs on the popup window - "Standard Search Providers" and "Custom Search Providers." I clicked on "Custom Search Providers" and it was empty:

I decided to add FamilySearch Record Search to the list, so I clicked on the "Add" button to the right of the empty box, and saw:

I added the words "FamilySearch Record Search" to the first line for "Search Provider Name."

There are three instructions then to enable adding the desired search provider - they are:

1. Visit the desired search engine in your web browser.

2. Use the search engine to search for "John Doe (1700-1800)"

3. Paste the URL (Ctrl-V) of the search results page into the following box.

I used my browser and went to the FamilySearch Record Search page, and entered John Doe 1700-1800 in the appropriate (well, only) search boxes:

I clicked "Search" and the results showed up on the screen below:

I highlighted the URL in the address line, copied it using Ctrl-C, and went back to the RootsMagic WebSearch screen and entered it into the box titled "Search Results URL"

Then I clicked on "OK" and the FamilySearch Record Search item was added to my "Custom Search Provider" list:

I clicked "OK" here, and noted that "FamilySearch Record Search" was added to the dropdown WebSearch provider menu:

All good so far! That was pretty easy. I can see what RootsMagic is doing here - the URL for the search for John Doe and 1700-1800 can be modified by changing the given name, surname, birth year and death year of the target person in RootsMagic - the system should put my "Frank Walton" in place of "John," should put "Seaver" in place of "Doe," and the years "1852" and "1922" in place of "1700" and "1800" in the search query.

Let's see if it works. I clicked on the "FamilySearch Record Search (highlighted above) in the dropdown list and saw:

Results for John Doe. Not for Frank Walton Seaver, as I had hoped. I tried it for several other names (with and without middle names) and it didn't work for them either. The data for John Doe is in the URL searched for by RootsMagic - the data for my person did not replace the John Doe information in the search URL.

I could use the FamilySearch Record Search box within the RootsMagic screen and search for any name and obtain results. I just can't click on the link in the dropdown WebSearch box and get the results I want.

So this capability is messed up, at least for FamilySearch Web Search, and needs to be fixed.

I wondered about some other search website - would it work for any Custom Search Provider? The short answer is YES - it worked for, Family Tree Legends, and Genealogy Today. It didn't work for for some reason - it put the name in correctly but didn't find records (I used John Kelly 1900 to search and it should have found many of them!). It didn't work for - the search terms aren't put into the results URL. I haven't checked any other sites.

I cannot tell if RootsMagic 4 has a capability to capture the document image from a database found in a WebSearch. I looked in the RootsMagic 4 Help > Contents > Search for keywords like "capture image" and found no matches in the Help function.

I guess a user could copy and paste information from a WebSearch screen into a Person's Edit Screen, but that would be somewhat onerous with all of the switching back and forth.

If RootsMagic 4 cannot capture the document images, and their sources, then what is the real value of the WebSearch?


Kimmrg said...

Thanks Randy!

Unknown said...

Nice treatise, Randy. I'll experiment with it, too, and share my successes. Sorry about your failures, but I learned from them. I expect what fails in my tests will be similar and I'm prepared for that.

Happy Dae·

Anonymous said...

Thank You for your post; I tried to add Family Search Record Search also and thought I did something wrong. I gave up trying cause I didn't think I knew what I was doing, so I will go back and try again for other web searches.

Earline Hines Bradt said...

Hi Randy, I don't use the web search feature much in RM4 because mine goes to, it doesn't go straight tho the site I want.

Eileen said...

Your post got me interested in trying out htis feature. I didn't even know I had this ability. While it does not do the automatic merge of the data into our software like FTM 2010, the search is much faster. Thanks for sharing.