* Published Report styles for discussion

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Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 31 Aug 2017 11:53

The 'Ancestors by Generation' - NOT in narrative form? (15245) thread as prompted a lively debate.
This thread exists to discuss the pros & cons of the various style options for reporting people & families, and hopefully a way forward to satisfy most users.

The 'out-of-the-box' reports each have different characteristics that I've tried to summarise below.
  • Individual Summary Report (ISR)
    Label List style, without Timeline & Witness facts, but All other facts by default.
    Relationships listed by Father, Mother, Spouse & Children and in Select Records use of Add Relatives.
  • Family Group Sheet (FGS)
    Label List style, without Timeline & Witness facts, but All other facts by default.
    Relationships similar to ISR above, but with parents & children grouped in one report.
  • Outline Reports (OR)
    Comma List style, without Timeline & Witness facts, but All other facts possible.
    Usually needs Report Options > Main tab All and on separate lines set for Events & Attributes.
    Relationships for unlimited generations in one report indicated by indentations & numbers.
  • Narrative Reports (NR)
    Narrative style, without Timeline facts, but with Witness facts, and All other facts by default.
    Relationships for unlimited generations in one report indicated by clear headings and references to parents & children.
Users like the way NR indicate generation relationships and include Witness facts, but some prefer a List style for facts.

A drawback of all three current List style reports is none include the Witness facts.

To customise NR into a List style is quite tricky, and needs each fact definition Sentence Template to be edited.
Even simply adding <br> or <para> to the start or end of each template has unwanted side effects.
  • If added to the start, then the leading fact is separated from its heading number, and the trailing fact often has the "<she> and <he> had the following children:" sentence tacked on the end.
  • If added to the end, then the Inc. Event/Attr Addresses/Notes options often upset the layout.
Further customisation of the Sentence Templates is tedious, and if {address} and {note} codes are used to format them into lists, then the Inc. Event/Attr Addresses/Notes options have no effect. But this may the best technique to avoid upsetting the layout.

It would help to know what styles are important to users, with examples of reports from other products that illustrate both the way facts are shown and the way relationships are shown.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by ColeValleyGirl » 31 Aug 2017 16:08

Mike,

I've been thinking about this a bit, with this structure for the problem of what may be needed in my head. (I'm afraid I always need to structure the whole landscape to identify where to focus). Skip ahead to the end if you're short of time!

Report styles (general appearance and structure)
  • ISR
  • FGS
  • OR
  • NR
  • Record detail
Content (how to select/customise what's included, and any limitations of particular report types wrt what can be included)
  • Individuals, grouping of individuals (relationships)
  • Facts, timeline, witnesses
  • Sources and citations
  • Pictures
  • Other information
Presentation and navigation
  • Options to customise narrative sentences, plus pros and cons of doing so
  • Options to customise fact labels and abbreviations, plus pros and cons of doing so
  • Other options that affect how information is presented, e.g. facts on separate lines.
  • How relationships are shown (lines, links)
  • Impact elsewhere in the project of doing these customisations -- i.e. where will the changes also show up
  • Indexes
Formatting
  • Colours
  • Fonts
  • Styles
  • Headings
  • Page layouts
Using reports
  • Custom versus standard reports, and best practice
  • Printing/PDF
  • Books
  • Web/CD/DVD
Other options and workarounds (if FH can't deliver what's needed)
  • Post-processing in a Word Processor etc.
  • Specialist reporting and web generation tools
  • Other techniques if any
Although it's a long list, most things are handled in the help file and/or the Knowledge base already. (I'm not convinced that referring people to Getting the Most out of Family Historian is always helpful as many people -- including myself -- will not own the book.)

I think what's missing is:
  • The pros and cons of the different report types, based on structure and content capabilities (which you've made a start on) -- however, I'm not clear what you mean by a Comma List, and you haven't covered Record Detail reports.
  • More tips and tricks (based on what comes up on the Forums) for getting particular presentation and formatting features, or for using reports (for example, if somebody wants to spell check their data in a word processor, the Individual Record Detail report is a good way of doing it but the options need care -- pity FH doesn't have it's own spell checker; and others will have other uses for reports that we haven't thought of).
  • More recipes (and custom report downloads) for creating particular reports/report types to mimic as closely as possible reports that have been used by people coming to FH from elsewhere -- with some guidance on how they can be further customised
  • Possibly, restructuring parts of the knowledge base to have 'Basic reporting' and 'Intermediate reporting' as topics; and to add Reporting Tools alongside Website Generators as a particular category of links?
  • And of course, understanding what report/reporting options are most important to people!

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 31 Aug 2017 17:19

There are some good ideas there Helen.

For many cases the Book & Tutorials Getting the Most From Family Historian 5 is OK, with free downloads in several formats from Knowledge Base > Family Historian Documentation. Apart from two new chapters for Web Hints and Place Records it appears that the V6 Book is much the same. (If you have upgraded from V5 you probably still have it in C:\Program Files (x86)\Family Historian\Program\Getting the Most From Family Historian 5.pdf with the Tutorial files still installed.)

Having described ISR & FGS as using a Label List it was a struggle to describe the OR style of list and I agree Comma List is not ideal (I was seeing the Date and Place separated by a comma) so perhaps Line List is better unless you can suggest an alternative.

I omitted Record Detail Reports because they do not seem to offer a style that users would find attractive for reporting people & families, but they could be included in a wider summary, along with all the other reports for completeness.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by themoudie » 31 Aug 2017 23:18

Aye Mike,

Knowing my past and present history with FH and that of trying to use my past employers "off the shelf" database product, which was then heavily "modified" inhouse and by expensive "consultants", may I just suggest that the "KISS" acronym needs to be kept at the forefront of any thoughts about FH, including the published report styles.

The ability to extract a literate and comprehensive report from a database, albeit stilted in style, is nothing short of miraculous to me. If I wish to take this report and then create a piece of prose, I think word processing or publishing software written specifically for the job is the better option.

I am still intimidated trying to put the data into FH, even with AS acting as a template that I fear to modify! :? I am getting more comfortable, having used FH since v2, but suspect that many potential users of FH are turned away from an excellent piece of software by the plethora of "options" now available. This along with irregular use, as when using a GIS, means that after a month of inactivity you can forget the nuances of FH and AS. I find that it isn't like swimming or riding a bike. ;) My eureka moment has still to arrive! :idea:

All the best with your project and my continued thanks for your un-stinting service to all FH users.

Good health, Bill

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by E Wilcock » 01 Sep 2017 06:21

I welcome this thread.
First, it needs to be said that the majority of reports offered by other software are in narrative form, i.e. using sentences. This is a problem for me only if import has recently replaced my sentences from previous software or where one is sending information to overseas contacts with limited understanding of the English language.

In TMG I regularly used the Journal (descendants report) to share information. Although it used numbering, the line of descent of individuals in later generations was indicated with the forenames of their ancestors given in brackets.

But TMG had an excellent webpage listing all available reports with examples of the output. You will need to click on the page images to read them.
http://www.whollygenes.com/samplereport ... pe=JOURNAL

Roots magic 7 provides for genealogists adhering to USA standards:
NGSQ (modified register)
NEHGS (register)
Outline Indented
Henry indented
D'Aboville indented

These numbering systems are explained at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogi ... ng_systems

It seems to me that Calico Pie had the brilliant idea of genealogy software that allowed one to work from the image of a traditional tree and incorporating users own images and media. This drew me to the software and I often use instant diagrams to understand and move around a family group. But the other priority was Gedcom adherence to facilitate the import and export of data.
Reports took second place.
Simon Orde put much effort into enabling the import of data from TMG including introducing witnesses to fh - but it would seem that the witness element was not thought through to the output of Reports.

Reports printed on paper may have seemed redundant in software where the guiding principle was a computer screen and GEDCOM. But the problems with Gedcom was the very ease with which it could be re-imported, stolen, displayed and data published without permission. A word document or pdf is a far more convenient way to share information with other researchers.

I will also confess that when I was using Generations and then TMG I envied the descendants reports people sent me from Family Tree Maker. Those were the days before FTM provided for academic genealogy. It did not include sources and no one had witnesses either. It seemed as if software designed to draw nice trees was also geared to output good reports.
Last edited by E Wilcock on 01 Sep 2017 06:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by craigmollekin » 01 Sep 2017 18:58

When I used to use Family Tree Maker, pre-2008, I used to be able to create nice and easy to read reports. I've attached an example. There was no special configuration, I just selected a report (ancestors or descendants) and hey presto, I got what I wanted. This is a very old report that I generated ten years ago. I was producing reports like this 15 years ago, but I still cannot produce anything like this in Family Historian in 2017.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by craigmollekin » 01 Sep 2017 19:04

In this example, generated by 'The Complete Genealogy Reporter', we have a no nonsense and very easy to read descendants by generation report. No blocks of text, just nice and easy to read facts.
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Complete Genealogy Reporter.JPG
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 01 Sep 2017 19:56

Craig, to me that doesn't look greatly different than the Descendant Outline report posted by Helen here without blocks of text, just line by line facts.
That only needs a few very simple Report Options > Main tab changes to set All and on separate lines for Events & Attributes, untick Connecting Lines, plus Page Layout reduction of the Tab Width indentation if necessary.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by craigmollekin » 01 Sep 2017 20:20

Yes, that's not bad actually (I missed Helen's reply (sorry Helen)) although as Colin mentioned, some people might find the format a bit hard to follow. But I suppose for my purposes, it almost what I'd like. I don't think it's as good as the two examples that I posted earlier though; I can't quite put my finger on what it is that I don't like about it.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 01 Sep 2017 21:19

Conversely, although I'd prefer bullets like TCGR, the descendant relationships are much clearer to me in the FH report.
Also in FH you have complete control over which facts are listed.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 22 Sep 2017 14:48

Further to Helen's suggestions earlier, I have started to make some changes to the [kb]|[/kb]as outlined below.

In the Knowledge Base > Beginners Guide I have added a link to Knowledge Base > Family Historian Menus as a general cross-reference.

Further down I have add Knowledge Base > Publishing Reports that to some extent mirrors Knowledge Base > Manipulating Diagrams above.

There is still plenty to do, but is this a step in the right direction?
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by AdrianBruce » 22 Sep 2017 19:02

In each of the report pages accessed via Knowledge Base > Publishing Reports, the phrasing is sensibly consistent - would it help if the sentences
A ... style report, without / with Timeline & Witness facts, ... other facts ...
Relationships listed by ...
were to be duplicated in the Standard Report Types page in a table containing the links to the individual report pages, to enable the reader to see the basic characteristics of them altogether?

I would also suggest that it's not clear what the references to Timeline facts in those pages actually means. Presumably, you mean events belonging to people other than the principal of that bit of the report? (Even I'm hand-waving at this point trying to produce an explanation....)
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 23 Sep 2017 16:53

Some sound ideas Adrian.

I have added a table to Knowledge Base > Standard Report Types, and if you are happy with that, then the bullet lists above can be deleted.

In each report type I have added cross-references to Knowledge Base > Timeline Facts and Knowledge Base > Witness Facts e.g. see Knowledge Base > Individual Summary Report.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by AdrianBruce » 23 Sep 2017 20:36

I think that looks good to me, Mike.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 29 Sep 2017 17:27

I have updated Knowledge Base > Standard Report Types and its referenced Standard Report Types, and added some more details to Knowledge Base > Report Tips and Tricks.

Is this all still heading in the right direction?

Are there any improvements anyone would like to see?

Is it keeping to the basics and not getting too advanced?

The advanced technique are covered in Knowledge Base > Report Content, Media, Format and Layout.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by AdrianBruce » 29 Sep 2017 19:34

Looks OK to me Mike.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 10 Nov 2017 14:52

I have added some more details to Knowledge Base > Report Tips and Tricks especially in the latter Report Formatting and Using Reports sections.

Any constructive feedback would be welcome, as this thread has gone quiet recently.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by RCasey » 07 Apr 2018 13:02

craigmollekin wrote:When I used to use Family Tree Maker, pre-2008, I used to be able to create nice and easy to read reports. I've attached an example. There was no special configuration, I just selected a report (ancestors or descendants) and hey presto, I got what I wanted. This is a very old report that I generated ten years ago. I was producing reports like this 15 years ago, but I still cannot produce anything like this in Family Historian in 2017.
I have been trying to create this style report. I finally switched from my old version of Family Tree Make to Family Historian around this time last year, and have been lamenting the loss of this style of report ever since. It's simple, and concise, lists the facts, not trying to turn them into a garbled story. The narrative style makes me want to toss my computer out the window, as I end up with a mess, every time, so I end up making stack of Family Group sheets.
The Family Tree Maker version gave you options to include facts, notes, sources, etc, and other than that was the press of a button.

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 07 Apr 2018 13:44

Did you see my response to Craig? Don't use Narrative reports. Try the Descendant Outline report as suggested.
tatewise wrote:Craig, to me that doesn't look greatly different than the Descendant Outline report posted by Helen here without blocks of text, just line by line facts.
That only needs a few very simple Report Options > Main tab changes to set All and on separate lines for Events & Attributes, untick Connecting Lines, plus Page Layout reduction of the Tab Width indentation if necessary.
See Knowledge Base > Report Type ~ Descendant Outline with all Events that is a pre-customised version but still with Connecting Lines.

Checkout the Knowledge Base > Standard Report Types that explains all the types of report.
Knowledge Base > Descendant Outline explains the popular Report Options to achieve something that I believe is close to what you are looking for.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by RCasey » 08 Apr 2018 03:12

Hi Mike

Thanks, that does get me a bit closer, and with a bit more work, may be able to get what I want. I have been collaborating with a friend since 1999, and as we add details, I generate new reports, so it helps if they are similar.
Here's a snapshot of the two styles. With detailed facts on, the report is getting closer, but gets a little wacky, when they are turned off. The details, on or off is simple in both programs, just a turning off of an option. I have an old computer with a very old version of FTM on it, but don't have an up-to-date version to do a true compare. These reports were just ones I had saved, and I used the same individuals in my Family Historian file to generate the new report.
report_compare_detailed.jpg
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 08 Apr 2018 12:05

Firstly, it will be highly unlikely that two products will be able to produce identical Report styles.
(If the situation was reversed, would FTM be able to mimic all the Report styles in FH?)
It would help if you gave more specific feedback than saying "but gets a little wacky".
The notes on the images however are very good.

As a general comment, do spend some time investigating all the Report > Options tabs and settings.
As stated in Knowledge Base > Descendant Outline:
Further advanced customisation is explained in Knowledge Base > Report Content, Media, Format and Layout where it mentions Knowledge Base > Report Options ~ Page Layout Tab for adjusting Indents, Tabs, etc.

Just experiment with that Page Layout tab to reduce the tab indents.
I presume you know that the settings can be saved in a Report Type to avoid having to set them again in future.

To get a summary similar to your yellow highlight would require that to be composed by hand in a custom Biography fact that was positioned first in each Individual record. The other features you highlighted cannot be produced by FH.

The size of indent and quantity of digits in the D'Aboville number identifies the Generation arguably better than a heading, because if one generation spreads over several pages you don't have to refer back to a heading on a previous page.

It is matter of opinion which numbering styles are clearer, but FH cannot mimic FTM numbering.

Some users suggest that 'better' reports are available from:
Knowledge Base > Utility ~ The Complete Genealogy Reporter (TCGR)
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by E Wilcock » 08 Apr 2018 19:40

I have been very busy and not kept up with this thread.
I do not think it a solution to recommend buying Report software. I expect my main genealogy software to do the job.
And if one is exporting a GEDCOM from fh to make a report in an entirely different programme, one could simply export it back to one's previous programme.
I will examine the new instructions Mike when I am no longer working to a deadline.

But you made for me a custom report that used the fh Descendants Detail to mimic the Journal reports in other software and the reason I havent spent time scrutinising the updated help is that I use your custom report all the time and for everything.

One thing I did find confusing about fh is the references to diagrams as reports. Diagrams are what I call family trees and report out put is text. May be with a portrait pic or two, In TMG one could select a primary portrait for each person.

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 08 Apr 2018 19:48

Evelyn, I agree with most of your comments.
I was only passing on what other users had recommended for Report writing.
RCasey probably cannot export GEDCOM to his copy of FTM because he says he has "an old computer with a very old version of FTM on it" which would presumably be unsuitable, but that might be an option.

BTW: Where does FH refer to Diagrams as Reports?
I don't recall that anywhere.

My (biassed) view is that FH should be applauded for its ability to produce custom Reports similar to those of so many other products, rather than criticised for not being able to mimic every single detail. If the roles were reversed, how would those other products cope with producing all the FH styles of Report? Luckily, I chose the 'best' product a long time ago, so have not had to cope with migrating to a new product, where I suspect much of the 'resistance' is simply unfamiliarity just because it is different.
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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by E Wilcock » 09 Apr 2018 08:40

Mike, I respond as someone who failed completely with fh version 2. And was perfectly satisfied to adopt TMG instead.
Remember that you are a computer expert. So tho it may be true that fh can be tailored to produce custom reports, e.g. without indents, what people are talking about here is off the peg reports. I needed you to make me my fh report and it remains my only custom report. My compact tree diagram in TMG also came from a kind expert, whereas in fh I can do it myself.

Nor are users to blame for adopting software that needs to be replaced. TMG closed because it depended on the health of one individual. fh is likewise the creation of one person, and tho I wish Simon Orde long life, I do not understand your claim that the choice of fh was more secure?

I also think it unfair to imply that people want fh to copy other software. This thread has already mentioned genealogical standards - i.e. report standards that presumably existed when people typed them out and prior to computers.

Numbering schemes were not invented by software designers. And true that fh offers a choice.

Looking at the images posted by RCasey- And outputting a report for a long family rather than a place study - I too can see things I really dont like in fh.
Most important is the failure to insert line of descent by giving names, so we get only the number 1.2.8.5.

Then I hate the abbreviation Sp. I suppose this is a word chosen to be unisex? But even English people dont immediately understand it. And for overseas people the first thing one has to do is replace it with the whole word Spouse. It could surely be output by gender Husband or wife?

Similarly I cant see an option to put in the whole name for an event rather than its shortened gedcom label. That is a problem for custom events and may be one needs to put the full name in the sentence for that event?

When I mentioned the confusing terminology, for newcomers from other software,I meant that diagrams appear on the same publication menu list as reports. Another confusion for TMG users is that list reports in TMG produced a choice of reports on listed items such as sources or places. Whereas the List heading in fh is to report only on ones own named lists.

The thing is that I really agree with the people who think fh falls short on report output when it comes to long genealogical histories. But I am not using it much for that. But when I do, I will come back to this question please.
I have to add that output of reports isnt a problem unique to fh. A contact of mine using FTM (as an elderly newcomer) has problems outputting a tree from that!

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Re: Published Report styles for discussion

Post by tatewise » 09 Apr 2018 10:14

Evelyn, all genealogy products are different, so what is an 'off the peg' Report for one is unlikely to be 'off the peg' for another.
However, after an FH Report has been customised just once and saved, it is as 'off the peg' as any other Report.

I did not claim FH was more secure. I said I was lucky in choosing it a long time ago.
I think you will find there is a team of developers at Calico Pie, not just Simon Orde.

The only reference to genealogical standards I can find was yours way back on 01 Sep:
"Roots magic 7 provides for genealogists adhering to USA standards:
NGSQ (modified register)
NEHGS (register)
Outline Indented
Henry indented
D'Aboville indented
"
I have checked the RootsMagic7 Reports and the standard reports mentioned above are only available as Narrative Reports, which is NOT what CraigMollekin nor RCasey are requesting, as they want simple lists.
The FH Outline Descendants Report offers D'Aboville indented numbering 'off the peg' and Henry indented as an option.
The FH Descendants by Generation Narrative Report uses NGSQ Modified Register format with Generation headings.
It is a pity that the FH Outline Descendants Report does not offer NGSQ Modified Register format with Generation headings that would satisfy some of the earlier requests.
It is also remiss that line of decent names are not offered, but the number 1.2.8.5 follows the D'Aboville standard.

Many users complain about using Husband and Wife when the couple is not married, and may never have even lived together.
So wording that suits everyone is almost impossible without options, but with options it is not 'off the peg'.

Regarding the name of an event, especially custom events in Reports, it depends on the style of Report.
Knowledge Base > Standard Report Types was created to answer that kind of question, and was meant to be the primary focus of this discussion thread that deviated somewhat. Each Report Type explains the naming of facts. e.g.
Knowledge Base > Descendant Outline explains that:
The fact labels are governed by the Tools > Fact Types > Edit setting of the Abbreviation or if blank then the Label.
Knowledge Base > Individual Narrative explains that:
The narrative sentences are governed by Narrative Report Fact Sentence Templates.
Regarding the Publishing Tools Finder, yes both Reports and Diagrams are listed (clearly named as such), because they are both Publications. Other forms of Publication are also listed, such as Books, Websites, and Queries. I don't see the confusion.

Yes, the List Report lists Named Lists and I suspect what you are looking for are Record Detail Reports that cover every type of record including Sources and Places.

I think your last comment supports my belief that it is simply unfamiliarity.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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