Feature Request: support more complex date formats


1301, 1314, 1316, 1318, 1322 and 1326
1301, 1314, 1316 to 1318, 1322 and 1326
1316 to 1318 and 1322 to 1326

Thank you

How do you see these in the realm of sorting?
after 1300 (1315)?
-or just-
before 1327?

Whenever ranges are entered it currently seems to sort by the smallest value, but you can always override it. This is no different here

I like the idea of parentheses being used for free text. I know that facts have notes but this is something specific to dates and very quick when entering data.

You can enter any string in the event Date field but RM can only handle specific input formats as dates that can be processed by its date functions and its setting for output format. While your complex examples do not comply with the accepted formats, they can still be inputted and they will be outputted literally. You are free to input a valid Sort Date of your choosing to position the event as you wish.

What more are you asking for?

The current structure for valid date storage in RM can only support two dates per event, e.g., “from date1 to date2” in its encoded format. Invalid dates such as your example are stored literally in the same column, prepended with the letter “t” to flag that is not to be treated as a date.


Also, keep in mind the incompatiblity that might arise with any usage outside the program where other competitors/genealogy sites might directly import the RM database or an exported GEDCOM and choke on the format.

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I would REALLY like there to be a “span of time” format at the very least. I have, for instance, a woman whom I know is someone’s 2nd wife, but haven’t found a record for their marriage. I know that the widower remarried sometime before his 1st wife’s death in 19212 and the 1920 census, in which his 2nd wife appears – but RM9 won’t allow me to enter the date as “1912-1920.” That’s ridiculous. TMG had no problem with that format.

But then, I’m also still waiting for the design team to get around to implementing the various standard Windows text-editing shortcuts that every other Windows application includes as a matter of course, Apparently they think they know better than the rest of the computing world. . . .

It does if you use “n” dash

Sorry @BobC what is a “n” date and how do you use it with the dates?

I think Bob means an ‘en’ dash, not ‘n’. Explanation of the differences between ‘em’, ‘en’ and hyphens can be found here:

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“n” dash is the verbiage used in the Help file but the correct verbiage is “En” dash as pointed out by kfunk. The minus key on the keypad works for me in this regard and if editing, the check mark to save needs to be used.

For usage see the Help file linked above.

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Thank you both-- but like Bob, I always use the hyphen/ minus key BUT don’t use the checkmark when editing and have no problems with it changing…

That said I noticed today that when using a hyphen in a fact, you need to CUSTOMIZE the sentence for the fact-- other wise it will say John and Sally were married on Jan 8 1821- Nov 7 1821–if you use Jan 8 182 TO Nov 7 1821, , it automatically changes to
FROM Jan 8 182 TO Nov 7 1821…

That’s bizarre. I’ve been doing side gigs as a copyeditor for commercial publishers since the late '80s, so I know perfectly well the proper use of an N-dash in typesetting – but I know of no other application or website that requires it on the Internet or in regular software. Everyone in the world just uses an ordinary hyphen as a connector between two numbers. I doubt most people even know what an “N-dash” is.

When a date is entered with hyphen (minus), RootsMagic changes it to an En Dash (for UI display purposes) upon clicking the checkmark or clicking anywhere, other than the Date field.

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And RM does not even store the dash. It merely stores both the first and second dates in the two date encoded column. Together with other modifier codes in the encoded column, it interprets the content as one of “dash” date, From/To date or Between/And date for human-readable outputs.

is En-Dash the longer one?

No! That is an Em-dash.

In typesetting, the N-dash is the width of the letter “N.” The M-dash is longer, being the width of the letter “M.” The M-dash is used mostly as a “dash” between words – which in ordinary typing, you usually indicate with two hyphens. The N-dash is used to connect numerals – dates, a span of page numbers, etc.

So, yes, if I were preparing a manuscript for publication, I wold mark a span of years with an N-dash. But the point is, that no one in the regular work-a-day world ever does that. Most people don’t even know the difference, because they don’t have to. Which makes the whole thing rather pompous in a genealogy database program. Like the designer is smugly saying “Ha, ha, ha! I know something you don’t know.!”

If it looked like any of the manuscripts I read, I doubt I could tell it was a dash.

Really! So by your admission the en dash is correct to be used in the way it is, yet the developers are being pompous for following what amounts to something like a grammatical rule?

And for your information, since you do typesetting, they are en and em dashes, not N and M. So don’t be pompous since it appears you don’t know the proper terms anyway. I have several old relatives that were type setters for newspapers and printing operations. I know the terminology. I grew up listening to it. I also worked as a web developer for some time, and em and even pt are units used in laying out pages using HTML and CSS.

I learned to set type with a hand stick and a wooden tape case, working in a print shop in the early '60s in college. I began doing copyediting for commercial & university presses as a source of side income n the early '80s, when that meant a stack of paper and a blue pencil, before email was a thing. “N-dash” and “en-sash” are understood to mean EXACTLY the same thing, and everyone in the trade uses both interchangeably. But even the editors and production managers with whom I have corresponded for years routinely use a hyphen to represent an N-dash and a double-hyphen to represent an M-dash when typing text on a computer keyboard. It’s a carryover from manual typewriters, on which everyone my age learned to type in the '50s. If you’re not actually producing a physical book for publication, the more technical aspects of punctuation are not something ANYONE needs to be concerned with. I was also Editor of the Louisiana Genealogical Register for 10 years, and I paid attention to proper type appearance when casting pages in InDesign. And since InDesign expected that, it provided shortcuts for typsesetting for publication – as distinct from ordinary, non-published writing. I know the difference very well.