Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Randy: How Do You Keep Your Workload Manageable and Everything Up-to-Date?

Genea-Musings reader Jeremy asked, in a comment on my Randy's Genealogy page, recently:

"I've been working on genealogy only for the past year and a half or so, and it's quickly become a favorite hobby of mine. I started on Ancestry, but have been keeping track of many things locally where Ancestry just doesn't capture things efficiently. I also started tracking on WikiTree recently, which I like quite a lot, and am using tools like Diigo, Evernote, and Mendeley to manage my research. Now I'm feeling bogged down by tracking things in multiple places and worrying about what's the best place to track what... I see that you have cited at least 4 places where you have your family tree documented. Can you give some insights into which tools you use for what and how you keep your workload manageable while keeping multiple things up to date? "

Dear Jeremy,

Here is what I use to perform my genealogy research and try to keep multiple things up-to-date:

1)  I use RootsMagic 6 to perform all additions to my genealogy research database.  I chose this program several years ago and am pleased with the results.  When something better comes along, I will evaluate the risks and benefits and change if necessary. 

2)  I download digital record images from online record collections and document/page scans or photographs.  I save them to my digital file collections organized by family group, surnames in each group, and families in each surname line.  I attach those media items, and source them, to persons and events in the RootsMagic database.  The key is to do these tasks as soon as possible after finding them so they don't get stuck in a "to be filed" folder or a paper pile of stuff to be entered into the database.  I try to obtain digital images (from my smart phone, a microfilm USB reader, etc.) so that I don't have more paper to file or lose.

3)  Occasionally I export a GEDCOM file of this database and import that database into Legacy Family Tree 8, Family Tree Maker 2014, Family Tree Maker 16, and any other genealogy program that I might test or use.  I use these other programs for their best features, mostly lists, reports and charts.  I do the same thing to use the programs on my laptop.

4)  I occasionally use Family Tree Maker 2014 to create a new Ancestry Member Tree, based on the GEDCOM import.  I delete the old tree and use the new Ancestry Member Tree to provide green leaf Hints.  I review them occasionally to add more content to my RootsMagic database.  It also acts as "cousin bait" that may incite cousins to contact me about our mutual ancestors.  I use one of the Ancestry Member Trees to synchronize with my smart phone and tablet so that I have my family tree in my pocket..

5)  I have a family tree on MyHeritage that I use to find Record Matches in MyHeritage record collections.  These are organized by record collection, and are very easy to "mine" for content to add to my RootsMagic database.

6)  I have used a GEDCOM file to add family trees to other websites such as Mocavo, FindMyPast, GenesReunited, Geneanet, etc.  I know that there are more!  These are also "cousin bait" trees and I haven't updated them since I initially uploaded them.

7)  I have added parts of my family tree to Geni, WikiTree and WeRelate, which are collaborative family trees (not "my" isolated tree).  I don't update these, in general, and they are also "cousin bait" trees.  I do occasionally edit them and review them for research clues and blog fodder.  

8)  I use the RootsMagic FamilySearch Person Tools feature to add content (names, dates, places, sources, discussions, etc.) to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  This is a collaborative family tree also but does not permit GEDCOM uploads.  The information is added one person, one event, one relationship, one source, etc. at a time.  

9)  You mentioned Diigo, Evernote and Mendeley that help you stay organized.  I  use Evernote on occasion but I'm not a big user.  I have a bookmark collection in my Chrome browser that is also on my laptop.  I use Feedly Reader to read blogs and Google Gmail to correspond with folks, and have them on my smart phone and tablet, and use them to read when I have free time away from the computer desktop.

I use Dropbox, Google Drive and to save important computer files in the cloud, and transfer back and forth to my laptop computer, all for free (for limited file space).  I backup my computer files to an external hard drive on a monthly basis.

10)  I expressed my desire for "a magic collaboration tool that synchronizes everything - a GeneaWeb program" in my post Dear Randy: How Can I Avoid Updating My Tree in 5 Different Places? (posted 19 May 2014).  That, to me, is the ideal in this decade in order to keep all of my online family trees updated. 

Since I should use a graphic on every post so it attracts readers, I'll use the "magic collaboration tool - GeneaWeb" graphic I created then:

As you can see, I don't keep every online tree that I contribute to up-to-date all the time.  None of them have my latest database information, but every one of them has 90 to 99% of my latest information since I've been working on this for 26 years.  What I do is imperfect, and I know it.  But it suits my purposes, doesn't take a lot of time, and permits me to write about all of it on my blog.

Thanks for asking, Jeremy, and I hope that this blog post helps.  

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

I keep everything in one program as well (Legacy). I have a bare bones gedcom (basically a pedigree chart) uploaded to for DNA purposes so that people with a connection can find me. I have selected individuals linked in FamilySearch's Family Tree (my direct line and a few collateral brick walls) but that is about it as far as what I have online. It seems like a lot of work to keep a lot of online trees up to date (frequent deleting of trees and reuploading new gedcoms) for the amount of benefit you get out of it.

When I did have my complete tree uploaded, I can't remember one message that I got from anyone that gave me any information that lead me into a new direction or gave me information that I didn't already know. Maybe I have just been unlucky or a I have a family that no one is working on :)

As far as adjunct programs, I try and do as much as I can in Legacy. I do write up complex proof arguments/case studies in MS Word so that I can have tables and ebedded graphics/images but then I attach the document to Legacy. If I update the document, the most current version is automatically reflected in Legacy so I don't have to relink it or anything.

I do use Evernote a bit for things like keeping a list of all the people I have received permission from to be able to use their photos (Find-A-Grave). I am going to IGHR next week and I have a check list of all the things I have to do before I go. I have lists of all my outside genealogy obligations and associated tasks (lectures, classes etc.). Basically, I use it for things that aren't directly related to research. I also use it to snag recipes from the internet :) :) :)

TheLadyClaire said...

I keep everything in one program (Ancestral Quest), although I'm writing articles on different software so my trees are now in 4 different software programs ,,, I have a partial tree in Genes Reunited and a full tree in MyHeritage, these two trees I update once a year like Randy does with a Gedcome of my latest at the time. I just uploaded a private tree in Ancestry because of DNA so we'll see how I do with that going forward. FamilySearch Family Tree only has a partial tree, am grateful I do have one tree that is kept up to date always! I haven't done Evernote, just not enought time with writing blogs, client research, etc. It is a job in and of itself to keep everything updated...a very good article and question!

Unknown said...

I just got a new computer with Windows 10. I have Legacy and FTM 2014, and subscribe to Ancestry. Since I have nearly 18,000 people in my tree I was very concerned about the changes going on with FTM 2014 and Ancestry. When I transferred my files from one computer to another and to Legacy, I noticed some media items were no longer there, the text was messed up in many places, and so on with these little nuisances. I've started something new using only my direct line ancestors. I am practicing using One Note to store pictures and source records on and also creating pages about individuals. I still have these images in my computer programs, but I feel a little safer having them somewhere else so I can access them and use them anytime I want. Would appreciate any comments as I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not.