This suggestion only deals with the part of treeshare, after an intial upload/download, which allows the user to exchange further information between RM and Ancestry.
As somone whose main tree (of 55,000 individuals) is in Ancestry, Treeshare is potentially a major benefit in RM, but some bugs and missing features and the need for an excessive number of clicks makes it only borderlne usable for me. I think it could be improved significantly without too much difficulty. I suggest fixing some bugs, making some improvements and cutting out at least 90% of the clicks, more if possible.
Fix bugs that corrupt data
I am aware of two of these.
When using the main screen to add relatives of a person who is already matched, adding two children with the same first name creates corrupt data in RM, which is not cleaned up by the database tools. This situation happened quite a bit when one child died in infancy and a second was given the same name.
After adding a married/divorced couple to RM, the process of transferring them to Ancestry creates corrupt marriage/divorce data there. The two people in the couple are inevitably transferred one at a time, each time with their marriage. The result is that the first person ends up with two marriages to the same spouse only one of which appears on the spouse. It is appalling that Ancestry’s interface allows this to happen, but even so RM should avoid triggering the problem. To do so, it should not add a marriage to Ancestry unless the spouse already exists there.
Abolish update screens
When you choose to update (rather than add, link or delete) a person, a name or an event, you are presented with a screen which asks you to select the specific items to update. In RM 7, you had the option update all, but even this took several clicks, In RM 9 you have to select each item separately, which is intollerable. I think that the whole thing is over-engineered and should just be dropped. I have never chosen to update one item and not others and I can’t see why I ever would. RM should just update everything.
Alternatively, the main screen could contain two update options, ‘update detail’ which would open the current screen and ‘update all’ which would have the same effect as ticking all the boxes in the current screen without ever opening it.
Improve transfer of marriages to RM
Transferring marriages from Ancestry to RM is a hassle. RM currently requires you to add the spouse and the marriage in two stages, which requires you to toggle between showing everyone and only showing unchanged people. It should allow you to add a marriage for a spouse who already exists in the database or is being added; the database procedure would then obviously add the new spouse first and the marriage afterwards.
Improve adding of not changed marker
When Treeshare first came out, the user had to click the option to mark a person as not changed after accepting all the changes. Then RM updated the marker automatically whenever a person was added or changes to the person were made. The problem with this is that people with new events (like marriage or divorce) or new relatives to add are marked as not changed even though more processing on them is needed. I have to be extremely careful if I am adding people who married each other; if I add both the people concerned from their parents, then I may never notice that a marriage is missing. People should only automatically be set to ‘not changed’ when they have no missing events or relatives.
Default the choices from the main screen
RM already goes some way to deciding whether person details, names, events and relatives of the person in focus match, appear to need updating or appear to be new (or candidates for deletion). It should complement this by selecting the appropriate option for the user.
To help RM, I would give the user a button at the top of the screen to toggle between ‘Update RM’ and ‘Update Ancestry’. RM would then use this selection to populate the choices for each item. For example, if there is one name on both the source and the destination but they differ, I would update the name. If there are two names on the source and one in the destination, I would add the second name. When a new marriage event is present in the souce and the person has only one spouse there, I would default this person as the spouse for the marriage. When an event is missing from the source and present in the destination, I would select to delete it.
The end result would look rather like the screen does now after going through the individual items, except that it should be possible to see and modify the option that RM has chosen, or indeed to see that RM had not been able to choose an option, eg with one marriage to add and two spouses. When finished, the user would accept changes as now.
Get rid of phantom updates
There is one rather obscure case in which RM wrongly marks its own data as changed adding an uncessesary person to be managed in Treeshare. This happens when using the ‘Share data’ function to match someone between RM and FamilySearch. If person A is already matched between RM and FS, I share data for person A and from that screen match some of person A’s relatives, then person A shows up as changed the next time I open treeshare. The people who have been matched are not affected.
I believe that something simlilar happens as a result of certain person changes in Ancestry which are not mirrored to RM. Certainly if I add a web link in Ancestry, the person appears changed in Treeshare, although the web link never appears in RM. There are also some well known problems where RM shows a different number of name and person sources between RM and Ancestry, apparently because of differences in the data model. I have no idea whether it would be possible to fix these.
No doubt there are many ways in which functionality could be improved. I am particularly keen on two.
Bring web links into RM. I have many thousands of web links in Ancestry, which I started using long before RM. RM is the main backup of my Ancestry data, and it is a significant weakness that the web links are not present there. I have no idea whether they are available to you in the API, but if they are, you should bring them in as web tags
Give users an option on replicating ‘cosmetic’ changes from RM to Ancestry. Some time ago, RM stopped actions like merging place names from triggering an update to Ancestry. This makes sense for people who only use Treeshare and Ancestry to generate hints in RM, but it makes these data administration tools in RM useless for people whose master tree is in Ancestry. Since our requirements are completely inconsistent, it would make sense to give us a system (or file) option about whether or not to mirror these changes to Ancestry.
I hope that these suggestions receive a positive response from RM. Needless to say, I would be very interested in hearing others’ comments and suggestions and would be happy to expand on/clarify anything which is not clear.