Using place details

I have put a lot of thought into this question so, being new to RootsMagic 8 and this group, hope this is taken the right way. Bottom line question is this; why would I want to use place detail? From my experience and comments, I’ve seen, it seems to make things more difficult.

I have a lot of cemeteries, churches, villages etc. in my tree. I decided to split them into details and now am questioning my decision.

  • I have several places that have many place details. Looking at the list of places, it looks like I have 20 duplicates (20 cemeteries or churches etc).
  • You cannot search for a detailed place from the place list so you must click on > to see the detail.
  • When working with a person you cannot (easily) locate a detailed place.
  • You cannot simply run a place report for the detailed place.

Just trying to understand if I’m doing something wrong or missing something.

Thanks for positive feedback.

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I created a Custom Report or 2 that uses the Place Detail field in RM7.

If you can’t recall what place a place detail belongs to Find Everywhere under Search can help you locate it.

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I’m still using RM7. The CONCEPT of Find Everywhere is appealing. It’s just not practical. In my database, it takes over 90 minutes to do a Find Everywhere search. That could be tremendously improved by providing a setup screen with checkboxes for sources, citations, notes, general notes, etc, etc. Focusing the search with user-selected criteria should improve the time to completion, right?

As my comment stated, using place details makes things more complicated and I don’t understand the benefits. I have 20 places in Southampton NY. Some of them are cemeteries, churches etc. Very easy if I just search places for “Southampton” and see a complete list. More difficult if I have to search everywhere.

Since no one has pointed out that I’m doing things wrong I may be correct in my assessment.

I will have to try to find if this can be done from within RM. I have a PowerBI that can accomplish this, which could be also done in Excel. Curious if any has done this using the Custom report (if “Address Details” Exist).then show on report etc.

I use the place detail field for typical data such as streets, churches, cemeteries, etc. That data has greatly helped me search for and identify other records such as census, death, city directories, draft records, etc.

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There are two kinds of concerns about RM’s implementation of Place Details. Let me call them “big picture” concerns and “little picture” concerns. I will write two messages, This message will be about the “big picture” concerns and the other message will be about the “little picture” concerns.

The “big picture” concerns have to do with exchanging RM data with other genealogy software. Some other software does not support RM’s Place Details. If the other software does not support RM’s Place Details, then the Place Details data is lost when you transfer your data.

Here follows a brief and very incomplete summary of the kinds of things that can happen when RM’s Place Details data is exchanged with other software.

GEDCOM. RM’s Place Details data is placed into ADDR records in GEDCOM. This is somewhat in conflict with the intended purpose of ADDR records in GEDCOM because ADDR records are intended to contain full postal addresses rather than just something like the name of a cemetery or the name of a hospital or the name of a church or the name of a street etc. Whether RM’s Place Details data is lost on a GEDCOM transfer ultimately depends upon how the software importing RM’s GEDCOM stores the ADDR data into its own database. My experience is that most other software does not import RM’s Place Details from GEDCOM in a way that is very useful.

FamilySearch. Until about 2019, FamilySearch didn’t really want things like cemetery names and hospital names and church names and street names etc. stored as part of their database at all. A place name in FamilySearch was simply city, county, state, country and there was no other place data. That has now been changed but there is still just one place field. So for example you can now have cemetery, city, county, state, country or hospital, city, county, state, country etc. When RM stores places directly into FamilySearch, the RM Place Details are not added to the front of the other place data and the cemetery names or hospitals names or church names or street names are lost.

Ancestry. Ancestry has not prohibited things like cemetery or hospital names to be a part of place names, but there is only one field. RM’s TreeShare feature supports an option to add the cemetery name or hospital name from its own Place Details field to the front of the place name when it is sending data to Ancestry. I’m not quite sure what happens when the same data comes in the other direction from Ancestry back into RM.

GedSite (a Web site generator). GedSite supports RM’s Place Details when it process RM’s GEDCOM. I’m not sure exactly what happens within GedSite’s internal database, but Web sites created with GedSite display RM’s Place Details + Place fields correctly without data loss.

GRAMPS (an RM competitor which is free and which is very limited in function compared to RM). GRAMPS imports a GEDCOM ADDR record as intended by GEDCOM. Namely, GRAMPS imports a GEDCOM ADDR record as a postal address and not as a Place Detail. Also, if a single Place in RM should happend to have more than one Place Detail, all the various Place Details are merged together into a single postal address in GRAMPS. Most Places in RM will have more than one Place Detail. For these reasons, GRAMPS cannot really handle RM’s Place Details.

Family Historian (a full function commercial product which is a competitor to RM). Family Historian can do a direct import from an RM database. It places RM’s Place Details field into a Family Historian field called Address. But Family Historian is able to process such imported Address fields very much in the same manner that RM treats its Place Detail field. The net result is that RM’s Place Details data is not lost upon import into Family Historian.

The bottom line is that you should not use RM’s Place Details feature if you are concerned about data loss when your data is transferred to other software. Some users care a great deal about this issue and some RM users care not at all about this issue. This issue would be much mitigated if RM’s interface to FamilySearch had an option to add the Place Details field to the front of the main place field like RM’s interface to Ancestry. This issue would be much mitigated if RM’s GEDCOM export process had an option to add the Place Details field to the front of the main place field like RM’s interface to Ancestry.

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This is the message about “little picture” concerns with RM’s Place Details. These concerns are mostly about the RM8 user interface for Place Details. In RM7, you could click on a Place and immediately see all its subordinate Place Details. In RM8, you have to click a > character to slide in the list of Place Details. The original poster in this thread described this issue in much more eloquent detail than I have just done.

To me, this design makes RM8 clickier than RM7 and harder to use than RM7. Given that one of the design goals of RM8 was to flatten the user interface and to reduce the number of clicks and drill downs, it seems like a very curious design choice. But it’s not just Places and Place Details. The same kind of clickier and more drill down design choices have been made throughout the RM8 user interface. It’s one of the several reasons that a few or maybe more users have not embraced that RM8 is really an improvement on RM7.

Any RM8 user can use the Place Details feature or not. Even if you do not use the Place Details feature, you can still add things like cemeteries and hospitals and churches and streets and so forth to the beginning of the main Place field. And if you do choose to use the Place Details feature, you should do so while taking both the “big picture” and the “little picture” concerns into account.

In fairness to RM8, RM7 did have a problem with Place Details which RM8 does not have. Namely, in RM7 you could highlight a Place Detail in the Place list and then click Delete. RM7 would then delete the entire Place, not just the Place Detail you were intending to delete. But I think this problem could have been solved without RM8’s draconian choice of not showing you any Place Details at all for each Place until you did another drill down.


I agree with Jerry that some software may not handle Place Details correctly. For Me I have yet to find that to be an issue. I find place details cleaner than on same line. However, that is a personal subjective view. The Bottom line may come down to, doing whatever one feels best. I did find issues with an earlier version of FTM GEDCOM export did not properly import to my website when place details were include on the same line. The Database structure for FTM was different than RM7 / RM8. I prefer the look and feel of having less clutter by city. All “Addresses” (Place details) are grouped by City. Over past year I did have to clean up some of the “duplicates” (variants on spelling of cemeteries for example).

I guess to Charles point / question – it is unclear exactly all the pros / cons of why one would or should pick one over the other. Also, RM formatting of GEDCOM exports differs from some other software I believe. So what is in the export matters in addition to the way the import is handled by the other software. At somepoint RM will advance beyond 5.5 Gedcom so that may matter down the road.

I am speechless by the great responses to my post after being so concerned how it would be perceived. To Jerry’s post let me say that my concern falls under “little picture”. After reading all responses and researching here is my take. Place detail would be extremely useful if it were integrated better within RM8. First, it should show up within the list of places without the need to click. The ability to search within places, not “everywhere” should be a given. My biggest frustration came when I was working on a person and tried to find a cemetery that I knew was in my place detail. I ended up using SQLite to locate and remove a duplicate place that was created.

I started using place detail because I thought it would make things easier and clearer. This has been the case with so many aspects of RM8. Perhaps this should be a feature request? “Incorporate Place Details within Places without drill down”? “Better Search Capabilities for Place Detail”? “Incorporate Place Detail with facts”? If I’m working with burial are there place details for cemeteries?

Thanks again

By the way, when Place Details were first introduced in RM4, I embraced them eagerly. The advantages for data entry and managing my places and even for reporting were obvious. Previously, I had included cemeteries and hospitals and such at the beginning of the main Place field and so I switched them to Place Details. It was only after a couple of years that I realized that I was running into problems transferring my data outside of RM. So I switched back to not using Place Details.

And of course for RM4 through RM7, it was easy to see the Place Details for a Place. It was only in RM8 that Place Details became hard to see. And both in RM8 and before RM8, you can’t go from Place Details to see where they are used.

In any version of RM from RM4 through RM8, you can find Place Details via Advanced Search, you can make groups based on Place Details, you can color code based on Place Details, and you can run Custom Reports based on Place Details. The only problem is that this kind of processing can be extremely slow in RM8 as compared to RM4 through RM7. This particular slowness in RM8 needs to be fixed for lots of reasons, not just for management of Place Details.

I rarely use Find Everywhere. It has several problems. It doesn’t really find everywhere. It’s very slow, all the way back to RM4. It cannot be filtered to speed it up. And even after a Find Everywhere is completed, it often doesn’t provide the context I need to address whatever it was I was looking for. Even though it requires a little extra work to set up and even though it’s very slow in RM8, Advanced Search is a much better searching tool than Find Everywhere most of the time.

If said place details have GPS coordinates, those get dumped into the Notes for the fact.

FTM2019 also pulls in the place details, if I recall correctly. However it dumps those actual ‘Place details’ section into the fact note. So nothing gets lost there, but it really is not convenient.

I would disagree on this option. My 5500 places would probably triple if it showed up this way. I like to scroll through my place list now and then. I think this would be much better as a user selected option to display them in the list as opposed to forcing it on everyone…or even better, they go back to displaying the way they do in RM7.

I do not want to debate details, but rather have a discussion. Not sure what you mean by liking to scroll through your place list. My thinking is, if you are looking for a place (detailed or not) you start a search and narrow down the number of places in the list. Let me point out, again, my biggest issue is the extra work involved with having detail places. That and not being able to find them when working with people.

Have you tried using Advanced Search and searching on something like the following.

Burial => Place Details => Contains => shadygrove cemetery

There is no ‘discussion’ without details. One of those details is the city of Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa. This is a town where members of my family have lived for the better part of the last 160 years. As such, there are some 1000+ place details in my database. These include addresses where people lived, hospitals where they were born and died, cemeteries where they were buried and so forth. If we broaden this to Wapello County and the other small towns near Ottumwa, that takes me to 1500+ place details.

To make your request work, the place detail would need to proceed the place such as:
Shaul Cemetery, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
Memorial Lawn Cemetery, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
716 S. Adella, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
716 Queen Street, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
Ottumwa Hospital, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
Ottumwa Regional Medical Center, Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa
…and so on and so forth…

I will have Ottumwa or Wapello County pieces scattered throughout the entire place list instead of having one entry for Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa and off to the side having a box with the place details (as RM7 currently does it).

So adding place details in the place list is an absolutely horrendous idea, hence making it a user configurable thing, or making it a bit more like RM7, are pretty much the only palatable ideas. I suppose one could always keep the place list as it is, and if it has place details, the designate it as such so the use could clicked and drop down a submenu of place details, kind of the way Windows deals with subfolders in Explorer.

I don’t use Place Details anymore. But when I did, I often had dozens of them or even hundreds of them for some main Places, just like your Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa example. I certainly hadn’t pictured adding Place Details to the main Place List. Rather, I had pictured that highlighting any one particular main Place would show the Place Details for that place in the right panel without first clicking the >. In other words, it would display the Place Details immediately and without further clicking, just like RM7. But the Place Details would not be intermixed in the main Place List.

That is precisely what I was getting at when I said ‘making it a lot more like RM’. I see the place details handling in RM7 to be solid and not in need of fixing!

Charles said “it should show up within the list of places without the need to click” which is precisely what I disagree with.

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I may not have expressed myself very well, but your response is exactly what I was hoping for. It took me a while to digest what you were saying before I realized the unintended consequences of splitting my places into details. This also became another source of my frustration as it now looks like I have duplicated places in my list. You are correct that it is better to keep places together and that putting the details. Going back to my initial issue let me ask you a question. How do you find Memorial Lawn Cemetery when you are work on burial for someone? Ok, two questions; how do you know that you haven’t duplicate a place?

Before using RM8 I had Family Tree Maker. One of few items I did like about it was the way it handled places. They used a tree structure with nodes that grouped places together. After bringing my tree over to RM8 I originally accepted the “loss” of that and just used searches to bring my places together. Again, not ideal but at least I could find my places.

So, the pros for using details is keeping places together. Cons are: not being able to search (easily) and not being able to quickly see the complete place.