Better Relationship Features

It would be useful if RootsMagic 9 had the following Relationship Features:

  1. A numbered list of all the relationships; let’s say between Joe Doakes and King Edward I.

  2. The ability to choose 50 or 100 relationships between A and B; then actually see each individual generation of the relationship and then the option to print a relationship chart for each of the 50 or 100 closest relationships.

Is that possible to add as a feature to the current RootsMagic 9?

Thank You,
D. Spencer Hines

I can’t comment as to how easy it would be to add such a feature but I would imagine that the addition of new features is at least partly dependent upon demand. Whilst I have a couple of people in my tree who are related in more than one way I certainly don’t have any that would have 50 or 100 relationships. I am purely surmising here without any hard facts, but I would imagine that this applies to most users so it might be difficult to get the necessary support. There are probably other new feature requests that would garner more support but I would be interested to hear others views.

I would find it of interest with respect to non-familial relationships e.g. best friends, professional colleagues, neighbours, community groups … etc. However, this opens up a new Pandora’s box plethora of biologically unrelated individuals in a single database … this may not be a good thing.


I’m interested in the most direct connection - anything else is secondary.

And what’s the saying about six degrees of separation? We’re all related genetically (nature) but other (nurture) factors such as education, religion, culture, … are a bigger influence on who we are than biologically distant relatives.

Hence, the full development of the Associations feature and further development of the Shared Events feature are of greater importance in my mind.

Well, consider this hypothetical as an example:

You discover that your mother is related to Ava Gardner in nine different ways – on both her father’s and mother’s side. And you’re interested in that – because your mother looked like Ava Gardner.

Now, you want to print out all nine kinship charts between your mother and Ava Gardner.

The “We’re all related genetically” bromide is a consistent red herring.

The Proof of the Pudding for a powerful Genealogical Program is allowing us to prove the relation link by link and generation by generation – in all the variant ways we can.

For Terry Especially:

I should probably make clear that my hypothetical [and often actual] very large databases have thousands of people in them who may be related to others in the database, but not necessarily to me at all.

Could be useful in this instance

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Just pondering about potential of exponential increase in relationships leading to tool complexity of data management, visualisation and reporting. “User friendly and accessible” is a must have and my experience with various tools shows this to be a challenge. That aside, having capability to flex and extend associations feature would be awesome.

I think the visualization and reporting are not significant problems and can be done.

The key issue for me is whether RM can build it.

You hit it on the nail!

Agreed. RM should start treating Relationship as another kind of “Fact” on which a search can be done to allow, for instance, selecting all individuals that are 4th cousins or more distant and not alive. And there should be a button on the Set Relationships window to select the Root Person directly.

You really can’t treat relationships as as a “fact” as the relationships change depending on who the root person is. If it were treated as a fact, you would need to calculate the relationship of everyone in the database to everyone else. This just is not feasible. Now could they make the program generate a list of all fourth cousins to someone, sure, because the relationships are calculated on an as needed basis and they are going to be based on a single person. This would require a bit of computational power and might be much more doable if RM didn’t run everything in one process.

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The Set Relationships tool stores coded results in the database for quick display in various views for the selected person. The easiest solution for Person Search would be to operate on it and the easier criterion would be consanguinity degree than the name of the relationship.

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I assume that the Relationship data is in a separate relational DB from the main Facts data, and is rebuilt each time Set Relationships is executed. I don’t see why the DB query that results from an Advanced Search can’t use the separate Relationship DB in concert with (or serially to) other(s) to produce a results table.

In addition to biological / familial relationships, also need to consider the association relationships which I’d consider a superset of previous. E.g. friends, neighbours, school alumni, professional colleagues, community associations, etc, etc, etc. Now, linking known family persons with “non” family individuals via associations appears to be a trivial thing but I think there are some hidden complexities as “associations” increase in number. My reading of GEDCOM, particularly v7, associations (linking to individuals) can be done at family, family event, individual and individual event (fact) levels. RM is not at that point yet obviously.

A hypothetical example of future complexity: visualise a family tree, 4 generations, now overlay on that associations for each person. Two types of relationships: biological & association. Not possible atm.

Another consideration: associated individuals can each be an unlinked (non-related) person - effectively a stand alone family - optionally can have their own family tree. Not an issue, is supported, but something to be mindful of. It kind of goes against the premise of a focus on building familial linkages on a core family. So, if number of unlinked persons drastically increases, is that an issue? I don’t recall if RM clearly identifies unlinked persons in some report (have to check).

You assume wrong. If you think about it, it isn’t a smart thing to do. If you have 100 people, essentially you would have at least 100 x 100 relationships or about 10,000 lines in the table (give or take in the situation where people may be related to other people in multiple ways. If you have 50,000 people, then you have somewhere around 2,500,000,000 lines give or take. These numbers would be what would happen treating relationship as a fact. Obviously storing only relationships to the root or calculating on the fly would be far more efficient and quicker.

Here’s what should be an easy add-on for RootsMagic 10…

We already have the ability, with the Set Relationships Tool, to set the relationships of everyone in the database to a given person, A, in the database. We can choose that A to be anyone in the database.

Now, why not show those relationships on the main screen at each person in the database?

When you add a fact ( shared) or Association,-- the person you are sharing it with does NOT need to be in your database-- for example if Joe Clark and Elizabeth Noodle were the witnesses to my 5th g-grandparents wedding and I know nothing abt them, I can just type their names in and maybe make a short note-- if however I have the names of the Godparents ( seem to be neighbors) for my 2nd g-grandparents kids, I would add them in the database ( and research them) as I know nothing abt my 2nd g-grandmother’s parents except her dad was supposedly Carl Dorn–then while I was searching page by page thru the Baptismal records, I noticed Baptisms for the kids of a Nick Dorn in the same records–so I would definitely add all of those as this was a rural area and he probably is a relative.
Basically it’s your database–so do what you want or need to do–I have one whole database devoted to all the people in the area with the same last name as my g-grandfather-- this was a big city, so I stuck with EXACT spelling and those who lived close.

Blood Relationships are shown on the main person’s page BUT you have to update the set relationship every time you add new people