Extreme Source Splitting

Because of what I perceived to be limitations in the structure of sources and source details/citations in previous versions of RootsMagic, I adopted the “extreme source splitting” approach to managing my sources. I made copies of selected RootsMagic source templates and moved all source fields to the Master Source rather than the Source Details. Each source item, such as a specific birth record, is its own master source, where I enter all the details for that specific item such as an image of the document and all the citation details for that item, such as the name of a website and the URL for that item on that website. If I want to use this source to document multiple facts, I simply copied and pasted the citation multiple times. If I wanted to change something about the source, I could edit it in the master source and all copied citations would reflect the change.

I name all my sources in a consistent way, so it makes it very easy to find a particular source and to copy an existing master source to create a new master source for another similar item. For example:

Baptism - Everly, William (1898)
Baptism - Jones, Frank Andrew (1903)
Birth - Smith, David (1902)
Cemetery - Smith, David (1920)
Census - Jones, Victor - 1880 U.S., Louisiana, Ascension, Donaldsonville
Census - Jones, Victor - 1900 U.S., Louisiana, Ascension, Donaldsonville
Death - Smith, David (1920)
Marriage - Smith, Anthony and Jones, Mary (1923) - Certificate
Marriage - Smith, Anthony and Jones, Mary (1923) - Church
Marriage - Smith, Anthony and Jones, Mary (1923) - License
Obituary -Smith, David (1920)

RootsMagic 8 now allows citations to be reused when copying and pasting, which corrects one of previous issues when one wanted to change something in a copied citation. Previously, one would have to make the change in each copied citation if “extreme source splitting” wasn’t used.

But I’m not sure whether I want to move away from “extreme source splitting” in RootsMagic 8. Certainly, when I imported my RootsMagic 7 database into RootsMagic 8, I think it would be worthwhile to merge all my multiple citations for a master source into one shared citation, rather than having the multiple unnamed citations for the source that showed up after the import. But I still like how easy it is to find a marriage record for a couple by scrolling to the sources that start with “Marriage” rather than having to find a marriage record for a couple by searching for citations under different master sources that might be needed to reflect church, courthouse, or other types of records. It’s also easy to find all census records for someone alphabetically, rather than having to search possibly under multiple master sources for different censuses. Plus, at this point in my research, it probably wouldn’t be worthwhile to rework all my sources.

I’m curious how other “extreme source splitters” such as @thejerrybryan plan to adapt to RootsMagic 8.

I’m still considering the question of whether to remain an extreme source splitter or not in RM8. It’s probably going to be many months before I decide for sure.

I do find it much easier in RM8 than in RM7 to work with the Source list and to do things like copy a Master Source to start making a new one. I know I must come across sometimes as being antagonistic towards RM8, but I actually do find very much to like in RM8. One of many examples of things to like in RM8 is the search boxes that most all of its lists have. So working with the Source list is better and easier in RM8 than in RM7, simply by using the search box for Sources in RM8. Another example is that I can switch back and forth between the Source list and the Edit Person screen in RM8 without needing to close either one.

The problem where I keep bumping my head into a brick wall is when I try actually to work with sources and citations inside of RM8’s Edit Person screen rather than in the Sources tab. There are apparently users who are delighted with the way RM8 handles sources and citations. I’m not trying to be argumentative to say so, but I would love to understand what such users are seeing and doing that I’m missing. If I could understand how to be delighted with sources and citations in RM8’s Edit Person screen, I truly would be delighted. But I’m not there yet. I have described previously the problems I run into with sources and citations in RM8’s Edit Person screen, so I won’t repeat them all again right here.

I do know that if I want to remain as an extreme source splitter in RM8, I will need to use SQLite so assign Citations Names to citations in RM8. There is already a script to do so on Tom Holden’s SQLite site, and I have been working to adapt that script to my needs.

I do know that if I want to remain as an extreme source splitter in RM8, I will constantly be battling with the RM8 user interface. One problem is that RM8’s sliding panels for Master Source information are closed by default and they close back up at the slightest provocation. Those are the precise panels that you need to use as an extreme source splitter. As an extreme source splitter, I need those panels to be opened and stay opened, and I need the corresponding sliding panels for citations to be closed and stay closed.

If on the other hand I decide to switch back to using sources in RM8 that are not extremely split, I do know that I will constantly be battling with the RM8 user interface. The problem here is that when RM8 is showing you a list of citations, it really only shows you a list of Master Source names. You have to slide and unslide each citation in turn to see its actual Citation Name. It’s really almost impossible to determine all the citations that are attached to a single person or to a single fact for that person. Well, the problem in dealing with the citations is bigger than just not being able to see all their Citation Names, but that’s a huge brick wall to start banging your head against before you get any further. For example, there are four sliding panels in all in RM8 where you enter your source data, two for sources and two for citations. In RM7, you can easily see all four panels (non-sliding!) at the same time instead of the two or so panels you can see at the same time in RM8.

I’m sorry that I can’t be any more definitive than that, but I just don’t know yet what I’m going to do about source splitting in RM8. But let me mention one other problem I’m trying to understand with citations in RM8. I need to solve this one before I get any further into deciding about source splitting or not. Namely, when I run identical narrative reports in RM7 and RM8, the list of citations listed as endnotes is much longer in RM8 than it is in RM7. I’m merging all duplicate sources in RM8 after importing from RM7. There shouldn’t be any duplicates to merge, but RM8’s merge doesn’t tell me how many it merged. I’m merging all duplicate citations in RM8 after importing from RM7 and before doing anything else in RM8. And I’m very careful to set the option in RM8 to combine duplicate citations in the endnotes. But it’s not combining duplicate citations in the endnotes. I can’t use RM8’s narrative reports until I can get that problem solved.

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I am always interested to “hear” your thoughts on this Jerry even though I am the opposite, preferring to “lump” my sources. I am looking forward to seeing Bruce’s presentation on 26 Oct 2021 regarding Sources. His design concept will give both of us food for thought.

I’ve reported several issues with the citation edit panel, such as the citation details heading not even showing up for my extremely split sources (I guess because there are no citation detail fields) and if I expand the first master source heading before the second, some of the fields in the master source heading aren’t being displayed and there is blank space which doesn’t allow the second master source heading to be expanded.

Like you I’m bit frustrated that the master source headings open collapsed and there is no way to collapse the citation headings. I liked seeing the combined master source and source detail field display in RootsMagic 7. Maybe all the headings could open expanded with the “slide-in” workflow. This currently shows duplicated information under the list of citations and in the edit citation panel.

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It’s hard to remember all the permutations and combinations of the way things changed through various versions of the Community Preview. I think I remember versions where all four of the slide in panels in sources and citations (two for sources and citations) could be opened and closed. But even if I’m remembering correctly, I don’t remember if they stayed open after you opened them if they closed themselves. My concern is that I think you should be able to see all four of them at the same time as well as being able to see the sources notes (text and comments) all at the same time. This was easy in RM7 with no sliding, and it’s impossible in RM8.

The following idea may sound a little crazy, and probably really is. But much of the spirit of RM8 is to be able to switch main tabs without any of them blocking each other. The tabs aren’t quite non-modal windows. For example, I can’t have the People tab open on one monitor and the Sources tab open on a different monitor. Or at least, I don’t think I can. So the tabs are not like the true non-modal windows that I was expecting in RM8. But the tabs are non-modal. So I’m wondering if an additional major tab might be added on the left side of the screen to “edit source citations”. This would avoid any extra modal windows in the style of RM7 that are trying to be avoided in RM8 while effectively providing a full screen to “edit source citations”. That should enough screen space to make it possible for the “edit source citations” screen work more like the vastly easier to use “edit source citations” screen from RM7 while maintaining the spirit and style of RM8.

And like you, I’m looking forward to Bruce’s presentation. I hope he doesn’t just slide in and slide out sources and citations that are already made. I hope he actually makes some new ones and does things like copy and paste them. And I hope that he has facts with several different citations so I can see how he is able to distinguish the source names and the citation names in the list of citations.

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Even though not all of the features you proposed got implemented, I thought your idea, which turned into the slide-in workflow, was a good balance of real-estate vs workflow tensions. While I prefer the slide-in workflow layout, it’s still currently a bit clunky with several areas that could be improved. For example, the detail and footnote panes have too much overlap. (I realize how we got there but now there should be time to step back and make improvements.) Perhaps we might get faster traction to target implementing some of these ideas into this slide-in workflow window.

I have much of the same thoughts as Jerry. It would be interesting to see how Jerry’s proposed new tab for “Edit source citations” would work.

I cannot work with the sliding panels as they are now. Now matter how hard I try to use them, it leaves me confused. So I’m sticking with RM7 for time being.

I wish that was the way RM8 worked!

I mostly lump sources but do have others that are split.

There is an option in Settings to turn off the sliding.

I’m going to try this again. In the message I just posted, I conflated the notions of the slide-in workflow with the idea of the slide-in panels. So I deleted the erroneous message and this is a do-over.

I do think the slide-in workflow offers some significant improvements to the processing of sources and citations as compared to not having the slide-in workflow. I still don’t like the overall concept of the slide-in panels. And I’m not sure why it’s called a slide-in workflow. I’m not sure what else to call it, but it doesn’t add or remove any slide-in panels that I can see.

As I said, I think the slide-in workflow is a major improvement, especially if you move the vertical line that separates the “left-half” of the screen from the “right-half” of the screen further left to give yourself more room to work on sources and citations on the right half of the screen. Of course, you have to move the vertical divider line back to its original location as soon as you get done with a citation.