Sunday, November 22, 2009

RootsMagic 4 WebSearch Quirk

I attended the RootsMagic user group at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meeting on Saturday, led by Pam Journey. I downloaded RootsMagic Version at the meeting to my laptop (a quick download and install), and Pam did also.

Pam demonstrated the WebSearch feature of RootsMagic 4 which is one of the main navigation tabs (along with Pedigree View, Family View, Descendants View and People).

As is my wont (and often my downfall) I wandered off on my own to "play around" with the software. While everybody else was clicking on the WebSearch for, I went clicking on some of the other "Standard Search Providers" websites (Ancestry, Ancestry Message Boards, Bing, Family Search, Find a Grave, Footnote, GenealogyBank, Google, Rootsweb, WorldVitalRecords and Yahoo!).

I had my great-grandfather, Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922) as my selected person, so when I clicked on the "Search" button, his name was in the Search fields in RootsMagic. The results showed:

No matches? Hmmm, strange - I know that he's in the 1860 census and in other documents, but perhaps without a middle name or initial. Checking the Footnote screen carefully, I noticed that the search on Footnote was only for a given name of "Frank Walton" - there was no search field with the surname "Seaver."

I put "Frank Walton Seaver" in the search field (within the WebSearch system) and found:

324 matches, not all of them for persons named "Frank Walton Seaver." Most of them were "Frank Seaver" matches.

Strange, I thought. so I went to and used the Keyword search field and entered "Frank Walton Seaver:"

And after hitting the "Search" button, received 324 matches:

I recalled that there was a "Person" search, so I clicked on that and entered "Frank" and "Seaver" in the search fields:

After clicking "Search," I received 47 matches for persons named "Frank Seaver:"

I tested out the RootsMagic 4 WebSearch on with several other persons, and in every case the RootsMagic 4 WebSearch put only the Given Name in the search field and returned matches only for the Given Name.

I went looking on the RootsMagic Message Boards for Issues for this specific problem but I didn't see it mentioned.

It appears that RootsMagic 4 needs to be modified to use the "Person" Search box on rather than the Keyword search box, and the search needs to consider using only the first name and not the middle name for the Search query. Very few records in (and other website databases) include the middle names.

It turns out that using the Given Name = "Frank Walton" and Surname = "Seaver" on results in zero matches, as I expected. However, by doing this little exercise, I managed to find a quirk in the RootsMagic 4 WebSearch system that needs to be corrected so that the WebSearch returns meaningful results from for any name requested by a RootsMagic user.

I tested all of the other "Standard Search Providers" and they all worked fine - they found results for "Frank Walton Seaver" (but for Frank Seaver persons, not FWS persons) or included the surname in the search criteria (which the user can observe in RootsMagic 4 in the URL searched on the WebSearch screen. As seen in the first two screens above, the URL for doesn't appear in the URL field - the URL is shown as "about:blank" for some reason.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Mr. Seaver,

This is not so much a comment (although I'm looking forward to reading and learning more from your great site), as it is a request for help. Mom's computer was on the brink of dying, so she took it to best buy, where they "saved" what they could, primarily her Family Tree Maker, Dinosaur Version. Now I have the cd they "saved" the info. to, and it is a bunch of dll files. I don't understand why they are in dll form, but worse, I don't know what is in the files to see if they are the gedcoms I'm hoping for. Can you help me figure this out?

My email is: