Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adding a Smart Story to Family Tree Maker 2011 - Post 1

I answered a reader's query on Tuesday in Dear Randy: I Want Better FTM/Ancestry Synchronization.  In the post, I noted that a "Smart Story" created and added to the Media tab in Family Tree Maker 2011 will be uploaded to an Member Tree and placed in the Media tab, but only if the database file is uploaded using the FTM 2011 "Share" button.  If a "Story" is created in the Member Tree and  saved, and then the Member Tree is imported into FTM 2011 using the FTM 2011  "Download a tree from Ancestry" in the "Plan" workspace, then the FTM 2011 file will have a "Smart Story" in the "Media" tab.

Creating the "Smart Story" in Family Tree Maker 2011 is a fairly complicated process.  I checked the "Help" file before I tried to do it:

I searched for "smart story" in the Help "Search" tab, and the text said at the top of the article:

"Smart Stories allow you to compose documents that include free-form text as well as fielded text and images from the records of the people in your tree. Fielded text (presented in the Options pane) is linked to the facts, events, notes, and source citations for the individuals in your tree and is automatically updated in your Smart Story when any of its associated date is changed. Smart Stories can be saved as media items linked to people or as publications and can be included in books."

That sounds pretty good - a user can add content to a "Smart Story" and a narrative will be created, and the user can edit the "fielded text" (meaning facts, events, notes and source citations) and the Story will change.  And, as we've seen, the "Smart Story" can be uploaded to an Member Tree and show up in the "Media" tab for the Person there. 

The Help screen describes several ways to add a "Smart Story" in the "People" workspace and "Person" tab, select the "Media" tab and choose "New (Create new Smart Story);" in the "Publish" workspace, select the "Other" item in the "Publication Type" list and choose "Smart story (text item);" in the "Media" workspace, select the "Media" menu and select "Create a New Smart Story."

On my great-grandfather's Person page in the "People" workspace, I chose the first method and saw:

The options in the dropdown menu includes "Create New Smart Story" so I clicked on that:

The popup menu gives me the choice between "Auto-populate" or "Blank page."  I chose to Auto-Populate the page.  When I clicked on the button, the "Smart Story Preview" page appeared.  The larger panel shows the top of the Smart Story with the "Personal Biography" created from the person's "Facts" - this is done automatically:

More information can be added to the Smart Story using the drop-down menu in the right-hand panel - the "Facts," the "Notes," and the "Fact Sources."  In the drop-down menu shown above in the right-hand panel, I chose "Notes" and the person "Notes" appeared in the right-hand panel (with blue background).  To add all of the "Notes" to the Smart Story, the user has to click the "Insert" button at the top right of the right hand panel, or you can drag the "Notes" into the Smart Story.  It appears that you cannot select only part of the "Notes."  I clicked the "Insert" button and saw:

The "Notes" were added to the Smart Story, as shown above.  However,  the start of the "Notes" was added to the end of the "Personal Biography" paragraph.  The user can go into the Smart Story at any time to add a line break between the two sections.  Frankly, I think that it should be "automatic."

I went back to the dropdown list in the right-hand panel, and clicked on "Fact Sources:" 

The list of Person "Facts" show up in the right-hand panel (see above).  By clicking each "Fact " the bottom of the right-hand panel indicates if there is a Source Citation for that Fact.  To add each Source Citation to the Smart Story, the user has to click on each one and then click on the "Insert" button.  The screen above shows all of the selected "Fact Sources" in the Smart Story.

However, the Fact Sources are all run together - the start of the second is put at the end of the first Fact Source in the Smart Story, and so on, as shown above.  In my opinion, this should be "automatic" - each element of the Smart Story should be put on a new line in the Smart Story.

Fortunately, the user can go in and put line breaks between each Fact Source.  I even added source numbers in parentheses at the beginning of each Fact Source, as shown below:

The Fact Sources in the Smart Story are, of course, exactly what is in the source fields in the program.  I imported a RootsMagic 4 GEDCOM file to FTM 2011 and so the Fact Sources are fairly mangled.  They do include the master source elements, the repository, and the source details, in that order.

Some points to make here:

*  The Person's Facts in the "Personal Biography" can be deleted or moved to another location using Cut/Paste.  Line breaks can be added between elements.  Added words can be typed into the Story.  However, the elements added automatically cannot be edited - the user has to edit or add information to the "Facts" and then create a new Smart Story.

*  The Person's Notes cannot be edited at all - you have to go back to the "Notes" and edit them, then create a new Smart Story.  You can add text at the beginning of the "Notes" or at the end of the "Notes," but not within the "Notes" in the Smart Story.

*  The Person's "Fact Sources" cannot be edited at all - you have to go back to the "Source" for each "Fact" and edit it.  As noted, you can add text before each "Source Fact."  You can delete "Source Facts" in the Smart Story one at a time.

In the next post in this series, I will determine if the Smart Story really changes when new information, or edited information, is added to the Facts.


Cousin Russ said...


Here is another example:


Rick Crume said...

I haven't been able to figure out how to make good use of Smart Stories. Do they have any practical function? Wouldn't it be a lot more useful if Family Tree Maker could create a regular Register report in HTML format? Or if you could save a Register report as an RTF file with embedded codes so you could edit the file and then generate a name index? Now that would be a real smart story.