Advice needed about getting started

I’ve been reading the various topics and discussions here and watching videos. Now I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the minutiae and subtilties of RootsMagic. My sources and citations transferred pretty well and are not needing revisions for now, but there are a huge number of sentences that need defining. Can you advise on how to begin without feeling overwhelmed by all I need to learn and do? Creating templates for sentences is especially daunting at the moment.

Welcome Carolyn!

I’m fairly new to using RootsMagic too & can sympathize with you about it being a little overwhelming.

When I face a big, complex challenge, I break it down into smaller, bit-sized chunks. By having little, incremental successes, before long I start to see some progress. Then it starts to seem less daunting.

For example, after downloading my Ancestry tree via TreeShare, I didn’t really like the particular default source template for census records. I wanted to capture more information and structure the citations a little differently. So I created a template more to my liking. Now I’m in the process of converting roughly 1000 citations for census records from 1790 forward. A pretty big task.

But, first I just set an objective to work slowly through the 1790s first, which were fairly small in number. Then reflected on how it went to see if I was still up for the challenge. I was and I’m still gradually making progress.

As a side benefit, going over records again has actually helped me see a few new things I missed the first time.

Try to reframe it from being one giant ‘all I need to learn and do’ into littler pieces of ‘what I want to do next?’ and ‘what progress do I want to achieve next?’ Also enjoy the exploration and new learning you get to do!

And if you get stuck on something, there are lots of nice people here that will give you their insights and suggestions. You’re not alone.

I started with printing a small narrative report for one person to see if it read smoothly.
Maybe start with Fact Sentences. Are they printing the way you want? I found I occasionally needed to customize the sentence if I added a description. Frequently I would need to add plain to a place or place detail so it would read smoothly. Example: [date] [person] [Desc]< [PlaceDetails:plain]>< [Place]>.

Refer to the Wiki for Sentence Template Language. (Click on the RootsMagic Wiki icon to go to RM8 wiki which is the same for template language.)

Then just pick a Source you use a lot and see if the Footnotes & Biography look right. If not, I will often take a screen print of an example so I can look at it while I’m playing with changes. Most often I have to add brackets <> around items that I may leave blank, and then play with the spaces & punctuation to make sure they come out right.

I’m not sure I understand why KimberlyGreen needed to change individual citations for census records. For me, I just change them in the Source Template, and it changes them for all the census records.

Hope this helps.

The TreeSync creates all the downloads using the Master Source ‘Ancestry Record’, along with the associated Footnote sentence, etc. I don’t consider Ancestry to be a true source, but rather just a repository because they didn’t actually originate the records.

So I decided to create a Master Source template that I gave me the flexibility that I needed. Now I’m slowly converting all the ‘Ancestry Record’ downloads to the template I created. There isn’t a ‘change all’ option for that. And whew it’s a big job, lol. But it’s also kind of fun revisiting all the records I haven’t looked at in some time and seeing new things.

@Carowms@GailG 's suggestions are terrific, particularly referring to the Wiki. Even though it’s for RM8, a lot of it still applies. When I was trying to design the new sentences for my custom template, the Sentence Template Language section was immensely helpful.

I have a similar job in hand - I want to replace both FreeForm and Ancestry Record templates. At present I just change them as I happen to come across them, but I really would like to do the job in a more organised way. I occasionally indulge in an orgy of searching through the Sources list, but it’s very tedious.
If only there was a way of extracting a list of them from the Source Templates. I expect an sql guru could write a script to do it, but I’m not one, unfortunately!

Thank you, I, too, have thought about doing as I go. Like you I would prefer a system. Possibly a way to get it over and done. (in 24 hours? LOL) I’ve seen sql referred to, but I have no idea what it is and considering my computer abilities, I don’t think I want to. It’s good to know there is help “nearby.”


Thanks for all the suggestions. I printed out the Wiki page. I’m going to try going through a narrative report and maybe start with those sentences. They are probably found in most reports. I’ll see how they turn out and should then know more about what I’m doing. I found the sample for Find-a-Grave in one discussion. It will be helpful, too. Thanks again.

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It’s the instructions used to query a database and get results back. @TomH can wax poetic about it :wink:

Underneath the hood, RootsMagic uses a flavor of database known as SQLite. And so SQL inquiries can pull data directly from that database without using the normal RootsMagic application interface.

I’m pretty sure then I should wait on that until I can write a sentence! Thank you.

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@Carowms If you have RM 9, it is fairly easy and quick to fix your facts–not going to promise you that you can do it in 24 hours or less but it is a lot faster than doing in RM 8…

First off you need to know that while editing facts or deleting a lot of people from Rootsmagic, I have had many Access Violations happen-- others have said that they have had Access Violations happen when editing citations etc --it’s no big deal ( but is annoying)–just send the report ( or not), close out all instances of RM MAKING SURE YOU BACKUP THE DATABASE–open it again and continue on where you left off.

FIRST–MAKE SURE YOU BACKUP YOUR DATABASE BEFORE DOING ANYTHING-- I personally don’t see a reason to backup your database after you change every fact BUT you MIGHT want to backup after doing a bit if you don’t encounter access violations.

Then I would go in and make a list of all the facts that need to be fixed-- on the FAMILY VIEW, you will see see 5 icons ( +, trashcan etc),–click on the 3 dots and you will see FACT TYPE LIST in the drop down menu–click on that and you will see a list of all FACTS-- click on every fact to find all that say need to define sentence.

Once you know which ones need to be fixed, you can then use TOOLS on the left side of the screen to quickly fix some of them for every instance in the database- once you have changed a fact from say Military Service to Military, you can do a quick report ( FACT LIST UNDER REPORTS AND CHARTS) for Military Service and it should show nobody-- then delete the fact.

Others you will need to write the sentence but can a lot of times, copy the sentence from a similar fact in RM and just change a few words–just make sure that PLACE AND PLACE DETAILS ARE CHECKED and DESCRIPTION if you want to use it-- if you add description, you will have to add <[desc]> to the sentence…
will send you a personal message ( on your message page) with a little more details.