RootsMagic Explorer Improvements Needed for New Copy Fact Feature

RootsMagic 10 includes lots of wonderful new features that have long been wished for. I therefore hate to complain about any of them. But here goes anyway for the new Copy Fact feature.

My current use case is to use the new Copy Fact feature to add a census fact to everyone who was enumerated in the same family in the census. My test case is the following census entry. I should mention that the census enumerator misspelled the surname as Peaters rather than as Peters, but that has no impact on the issue with RM’s new Copy Fact feature.

My current process for entering a census entry into RM is to enter a complete census fact for the head of household, including date, place, note, citation, and media file. Then I do a very manual “copy fact” process to copy this information into a new census fact for all the other family members. I create a census fact for the other family members. I copy and paste the census note to the census fact for the other family members. I Memorize and Paste the census citation to the census fact for the other family members. I memorize the file name for the media file then do an Add Media => Select Existing Media for the census fact for the other family members. I do choose to customize the census note a little bit for each family member, but it’s much easier to paste the note from the head of household and customize it a little bit than it is to type the census note in from scratch for each family member.

It seems obvious that using the new Copy Fact feature to copy the census fact from the head of household to each family member and then doing the census note customization should be much easier and faster than my current manual process. But so far, it hasn’t seemed much faster. The sticking point is that you can’t memorize the fact and then go to each family member in turn and paste the fact. Instead, the workflow is to use the new Copy Fact feature in Edit Person. From there, you use RootsMagic Explorer to mark each person who is to receive the copied fact. The hard part for me with the census fact is marking the family members who are to receive the copy of the census fact.

On its face, the use of RootsMagic Explorer to mark each family member who is to receive the census fact doesn’t seem like any big deal. And in fact, it’s a great procedure if you have a fact that you wish to copy to hundreds or even thousands of people. You can simply Mark people using criteria for the people to be marked. But it seems to me that RM10’s version of RootsMagic Explorer doesn’t really support navigating from family member to family member in the same family to mark each family member in turn. That is the source of the problem of using Copy Fact to add a census fact to everyone in the census entry. If family member to family member navigation were supported adequately by RM10’s RootsMagic Explorer, then adding census entries to an entire family using the new Copy Fact feature would be easy and would be great for adding census facts to an entire family.

In my testing, I have made a copy of my production RM10 database. In the test RM10 database, I have deleted the 1910 census fact from all the family members in the Alva Peters family except for Alva himself. I am then using the new Copy Fact feature to copy Alva’s 1910 census fact to every one else. I almost need a video to show the problem, but let’s see if I can show the problem without a video.

After initiating the Copy Fact feature, here is what I first see.

That’s not too bad. I’m copying the Census fact for the head of household who was Alva Peters. It has pre-positioned to Alva. It also has highlighted Alva. However, the highlighting is very weak and hard to see. And Alva is at the bottom of the RootsMagic Explorer panel instead of at the top where he needs to be. Those are relative minor issues. The real issue is that I now need to start marking other family members, for example let’s start with his mother. How do I do that? Well I start by clicking the Parents tab in the right hand panel. And there she is.

But I can’t mark her by clicking on her or anything like that. The only way to mark her is to type her name or her ID number into the search box. So that’s what I’m doing, and I have to do it for each family member. That’s what I mean by RM10’s RM Explorer not supporting navigation from family member to family member. You actually see all the family members. But you can’t mark the family members you are seeing. I think that what’s needed instead is for the right hand panel of the RootsMagic Explorer screen to look something like the following. Please forgive my meager artistic skills in making check boxes that are properly sized and which are lined up correctly.

In addition to having check boxes, the names in the right hand panel should actually be clickable and when clicked should position the highlight to that person in left hand panel.

In general, the right hand panel of the RootsMagic Explorer screen - the panel with the Details tab, the Parents tab, and the Spouses tab - is one of RM10’s weakest features. I think it would benefit greatly by looking instead more or less like my mockup.

I’m sure someone is going to suggest the feature in RootsMagic Explorer where the Mark dialog supports marking families. The problem is that it marks everybody in the family - either spouse and children or else parents and siblings. That’s marking too many people because not all of the people in the family are necessarily in the census. People in the families could be born after the census or have died before the census or could have married and left the nuclear family before the census. So you really do need check boxes where you can pick the family members who are to receive a copy of the census fact.

Finally, the Copy Fact feature should not be hidden behind the 3 Dots icon. Instead, it should have its own icon, viz.


rather than the following as it is now.



I’ve been thinking about this some more, and it has made me wonder how users who use shared roles for the Census fact do their marking. It seems to me that the marking for shared roles has exactly the same problem with navigating to close family members as I described for the Copy Fact feature. Except that with sharing roles, it’s even worse because it doesn’t even pre-position the list of people to the person owning the Census fact.

So how do people who use shared roles for the Census fact actually do the marking? Do they type in the name or ID number of each person in the family’s census record? If not, is there some better way?

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Great idea. I found that in v7, it was easier to select people to share with due to the fact that you could click on a person name in the family. In 9/10, you need to enter their name or RIN even tho their name is displayed.
Hope they implement your idea!

I leave the sidebar open to the Family tab so after using Mark, Families if there is someone I don’t want to include I enter their RIN and uncheck them.

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I had tried that. It sort of works, but it can be awkward. For one thing, I normally want the Edit Person window to be fullscreen, and I have remember to to adjust the window size before doing the Copy Fact to be sure the sidebar is visible. Then after going into Edit Person, the sidebar is no longer scrollable. In my example, I needed to mark Alva Peters, his spouse, all his children except one, his mother but not his father, and one of his brothers but none of the other siblings. Alva was one of 14 children and not all of them are visible on the sidebar without scrolling.

The Copy Fact tool is a major improvement and enhancement in RM, and it’s one that’s much appreciated. The standard Marking and Unmarking tools are excellent ways to choose people to receive the copied fact when there is a criterion that is available. But selecting the people to receive the copied fact seems really awkward for something like copying a census fact where there may not be a straightforward criterion that can be used. Surely copying census facts is going to be one of the major uses of the Copy Fact tool.

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Jerry I have never used the ID # or type the name-- I just typically go in, scroll up or down and mark who I want in the list-- typically I know all the kids, spouses, siblings, parents names etc ( and approximate dates) BECAUSE I am usually adding a lot of info for the family rather than adding a lot of 1950 census to a bunch of families… now if I had 10 to 12 people, I might need a cheat sheet.

The marking method is annoying to me. I was hoping for the ability to right-click and copy, then right click and paste much like one of the competitors does.

At the very least from a person’s edit screen, one should be able to click and select from the spouse’s and children’s tab but even that is not possible.

It was a good idea, just not practically implemented but I have been saying that about the UI since RM8 climbed out of the deep pits of Hades!

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Another option is to select family and add the fact to every family member. Then switch to the family members using the drop list under parent or spouse and delete what didn’t apply to them.

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The mention of the copy and paste method made me giggle. We’re already being told the program is too clicky. Having to visit every person and paste a copy of a fact seems a lot clicker to me than the selection option using families.


I’m still thinking about how best to handle copying census facts in the event that improvements are not made in the ability to mark selected family members rather than all family members. I guess I don’t understand exactly what you mean by “using the drop list under parent or spouse and delete what didn’t apply to them”.

Instead of just playing, I’m trying to use the Copy Fact tool for real. In my current use case, I have a mother and father and 11 children. It’s the 1870 census and I have an 1870 census fact all set up for the head of household and ready to copy. The oldest child was born in 1868 and the other 10 children were all born after 1870. So the census entry only has the two parents and the one child.

I highlight the 1870 census fact for the head of household and choose the Copy Selected Fact tool. RM Explorer opens up with the head of household highlighted and selected in the left hand column. I click Mark and choose Families with the As A Parent option. It has marked the spouse and all 11 children, but I can’t see that in the left hand panel where the checkmarks are because the family member names are so spread across the alphabet, even though they all have the same surname except for the mother. I click the spouses tab, and it says there are 11 children. So I click the 11 children line and it opens up with a list of the children. I can’t see them all because the list is in a two line format. But in any case, there is no opportunity to see who is checked nor to uncheck anybody.

So do you mean that I need to click on the Select button in the lower right of the screen, and then open each of the last 10 children in turn and delete their 1870 Census fact? Or is there some way to unmark them all from here?

Well, I know how to unmark them all from here, but doing so is tedious and clicky. I have to look at the list and then type in the name or ID number of each child in turn and uncheck them each one at a time. And each time I do, there are two clicks in the right hand panel to get back to where I was in the list of children.

If this is the approach, then in all honesty it would be a lot less clicks just to copy the census fact to the whole family and then to go back to the main Descendant view and open each of the last 10 children in turn and delete each of their 1870 census facts. Is that what you mean?

By the way, I well aware that it would easier in this case just to mark the wife and oldest child as individuals than to use the Mark => Family tool. But that still gets you into having to expand the right hand panel, look at it, copy the name or ID number into the search box at the left, and mark the person. That messes up the right hand panel which I have to restore. Then I have to repeat for each person who actually is in the census.

I think she means the pane above the Index pane (to the right of Home) that has tabs for Details and Parents and Spouses (with Children) which are navigable and have triple-dot menus with Edit action availability.

If that’s what it is, then I don’t see how that helps. I am deeply embedded in the Copy Fact dialog.when I really need to be able to mark people or not and the pane in the upper left hand corner of all the people screens is not available at that time.

On the other hand, if that is what is intended, then the intention must be that I allow the Copy Fact to proceed to the logical end and copy the fact to everybody in the family. Then the intention would be to go through the family one by one as needed and to delete the fact from some but not all the people. If so, I know how to do that and it’s easier just to do it from Family View or Descendant View than it is from the info pane in the upper left corner of the screen.

Agree that more thought needs to go into the selection of people & Copy. I write down the RIN of who I want to Copy to and plug that in.

Yes, I meant the Edit Person screen’s Spouse row to reference the family members you need to remove the fact from that didn’t belong. Common sense would indicate its not a smart move to mark the whole family if only 2 out of 13 need to be marked. I think it a far better option to just reference the family tab in the side bar when you need to select or unselect a few people. That is the beauty of the Edit Person screen being non-modal.

Thank you. That’s very helpful answer.

I do know how to reference family members from places like the Spouse row of Edit Person and from Family View and from Descendant View and the from Family tab in the side bar. The real thrust of my question was a little different, and I surely didn’t express it very clearly.

Namely, after 3 Dots => Copy Selected Fact, I am in the RootsMagic Explorer screen. And then suppose I do a Mark => Family. At that point, family members are marked but nothing really happens until I click the Select button. So I would still have the option from right there to unmark a few family members before clicking the Select button.

Doing it that way, the unmarked family members would never receive the copied fact in the first place. But I find that unmarking a few family members from right there to be a very clicky operation. I thought that was what you were suggesting, but I understand now that’s not what you were suggesting.

Rather, you were suggesting going ahead and clicking the Select button while all the children were still marked, even though some of them were not in the census entry. Then you were suggesting a way to go through the family members who weren’t actually in the census entry and deleting their newly added census fact.

I think it sounds convoluted and clicky, but at least I now understand what is being suggested.

And by the way, I do agree that if you have 10 children in the family of whom 9 were in the current census enumeration, it sort of makes sense to copy the census fact to all 10 of them and then to delete it from the 1. And I do agree that if you have 10 children in the family of whom 1 is in the current census enumeration, it sort of makes sense just to copy the census fact to the 1 and not to the other 9. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were really easy (and not clicky) to select either the 9 children or the 1 child in the first place without the convolution of copying a fact and then deleting the fact that you just copied? That’s what my little mockup was getting at. I guess I just don’t like the idea of adding facts to people when I know that I’m immediately going to have to turn around and delete those very facts.

Jerry-- Understand now what you are saying and why—If I only had a couple of people, I would do as Renee suggested and just mark those few people or use the DROP DOWN menu under mark
BUT @rzamor1 the reason this is so hard for Jerry to do is because ( probably) he has 300 or 400 people with the last name of Peters ( as I do with Green) and that’s why something along the lines of what he drew would be better in that case…

Unfortunately Jerry the ID # or their name is the only way to do it when you have a large amount of people with the surname…

1205 with surname Peters, 937 with surname Bryan. Therefore, they don’t show up as family units in the Mark list in RM Explorer. I pretty much have to type the RIN number or the entire name to get to the correct one in the Mark List in RM Explorer.when I need to mark or unmark just one of them. That’s why I want to be able to mark and unmark in the right hand pane of RM Explorer where the people actually are organized by family unit.

My idea is that any checkmarks or cleared checkmarks in the right hand pane would be echoed to the main mark list in the left pane and vice versa. Also, the right pane should display both family units (Parents and Spouses) instead of one or the other, and the family unit lists should not collapse any time I do something like marking or unmarking in the left pane.


I had wanted to mention that your comment about giggling also made me giggle. I guess the concept of clickiness can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. :grinning:


Obviously your family must have been much more inventive with names, When you have families of 8-10 children all naming their children after parents and grandparents your tree becomes filled with Janes, Annes, James and Williams and it is essential to have context to be sure of selecting the right family group. That is why RM7’s ability to select and “go to” other family members for selection was so important.

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I come from a very large family-- so yes all my parents, grandparents and g-grandparents EXCEPT for my grandma’s line ( dad’s side) used unique/ different names for the given and family names (aunts etc) for the middle name…
My hubby’s 4th g-grandfather Green had 17 kids who lived long lives and had many descendants-- I have 3 databases of Greens --actually more than that BUT 3 I primarily work with which I refer to as Hers ( her lines and ours had an association for over 150 years and DNA proved they/hubby descend from the same 8th g-grandfather), Mine ( hubby’s) and Theirs ( other DNA cousin matches) with a total of just under 3000 GREENS between the 3 databases–so I definitely understand what Jerry and you are saying abt why it is needed.
BUT what I said to Jerry was that typically I am ENTERING A BUNCH OF FACTS all at once FOR 1 FAMILY therefore I can just go and check them off BUT if I was adding 1 FACT to a BUNCH of people then I would use RIN # , search or mark family and uncheck those not needed.