Creating source templates that follow the layered approach guidelines described in Evidence Explained (EE) by author Elizabeth Shown Mills have been relatively straightforward to create in RootsMagic. However, I have been having difficulty getting them to transfer acceptably to Ancestry trees via TreeShare. My goal has been to use TreeShare to post my research with well documented sources (hopefully) to Ancestry. I have not attempted to upload Ancestry developed source/citations directly into my RM files, as some of them are quite inadequate.
I posted a question to the Community asking if anyone knew how source/citation fields from RM mapped to the source/citations found in Ancestry trees, thinking that someone knew how the two were linked. I received responses from one individual, which has led me to believe there are probably a lot of other users like me, who don’t fully understand how information is being transferred. So, I have experimented heavily and have discovered some interesting issues that shed light on why I have had trouble.
Text for the source portion of the full footnote created from the RM source template appears to be transferred directly to the Ancestry tree in the “Other Sources” box under the headings “Source Information” and “Title”. There is a limit of 256 characters transferred for the title. Text formatting for italics, bold, or underlining is not done, however punctuation, extra words, and characters outside of the fields that are part of the source template are transferred. It is not necessary to include that information as part of the field text data. Simple switches to fill in default text for fields left blank are working properly. Special keyboard characters “<” and “>” in field text appear to be transferred to the “Other Sources” box on the Ancestry tree person view, but when expanding the box, those special characters are removed from the “Source Information - Title” heading. It appears that those characters pass through TreeShare, and then Ancestry strips them. Characters “<” and “>” appear to be the only ones where this happens.
It appears that the text for the citation portion of the full footnote created from the RM source template is not being used in the transfer to an Ancestry tree through TreeShare. It would seem intuitive that the citation should be handled the same way as the source, which is not the case. None of the punctuation or extra words and characters defined in the source template are transferred. Instead, citation fields from the RM source template are combined sequentially as they are defined in the template, separating each field with semicolons. This is a problem when source templates are set up with separate citation fields for the original item of interest, page number, line number, website author, database name, date accessed, image number, source-of-the-source, etc. For an EE style citation, these separate pieces of information are separated by commas. Semicolons are only used between the layers. The citation is then transferred to the Ancestry tree in the “Other Sources” box under the headings “Citation Information” and “Detail”. There is also a limit of 256 characters transferred for the citation. This is a problem for many citations, particularly ones for sources found on websites that require a layered citation to additionally identify the original information, the website information, and often the source-of-the-source information. Long citations are now truncated at the 256 character limit, leaving out a lot of important information.
In order to determine how TreeShare performs source and citation transfers, numerous changes to the source templates and the text used in the fields were required. It was during this process that I discovered that changes made to a source or citation did not automatically update the Ancestry tree source or citation when opening “TreeShare for Ancestry” window. The source citation icon turned red to indicate it had been changed. But when following the process to select the changed item then clicking on “Accept changes” did nothing. The source did not change in the Ancestry tree. I could delete the citation in RM, and then recreate it and the change would take effect in the Ancestry tree. But this required re-entering citation fields, a task I did not want to perform repeatedly. Luckily, I tried deleting the source from the Ancestry tree and found that following the change process actually worked. While this sped up the testing process, it does not seem logical that you would have to delete a source from the Ancestry tree to be able to edit it. I find that when I enter source and citation data, I have to see how it looks when creating the RM footnote and inevitably find that I entered a page number incorrectly or have a misspelled word. It would be much easier to not have to take an additional step to delete the Ancestry tree source to accomplish the change. Other data changes for names, places, facts, and dates are made automatically without having to make changes in the Ancestry tree first.
In summary, several changes could be made to make the transfer of EE based source and citation data between RM and Ancestry via TreeShare much better. It appears that some of these issues are attributed to how RM is sending information to Ancestry, and others are how Ancestry is converting the information passed.
Increase the number of characters for citations and sources. It seems important that the citation in Ancestry should be increased from 256 characters. Some of my sources, and the EE example sources I have examined would require this limit to be at least 500, but it would probably make sense to use a higher limit than that. The source limit may be acceptable at 256, but I would increase it also. Determine whether this limit is within RM or Ancestry API.
Modify the citation transfer so that citations follow the same process as the source. Transferring the citation footnote as created by RM will solve this issue. Simple switches should also work in the citation like they do in the source. This seems likely to be an RM issue.
Allow for characters “<” and “>” to be displayed within the Ancestry tree. The “>” character is used when describing the path used to locate source documents on a website. Based on my testing, this appears to be an Ancestry API issue.
Enable italics, bold and underline formatting. Item in italics are important for book and website titles in both source names and citations. When I attempted to use italics formatting within a field, the transfer showed an i before and after the associated field. This could also be an Ancestry API issue.
Enable edits to sources to be made without having to first delete the source in Ancestry trees. Doing this would make source changes the same as for names, places, facts, and dates. Determine whether this is within RM or Ancestry API.