* Attribute vs. Event

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kfunk_ia
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Attribute vs. Event

Post by kfunk_ia » 01 Jan 2020 17:02

I am looking for an explanation/best thread to read that will explain best practices in regards to creating/using attributes or events.

My understanding of the two is that events are things that happened, such as birth/death/marriage/burial etc. Attributes are pieces of data associate to a person/family, such as my use of a custom facts called Obit and FindAGrave. In my previous world, these were the same thing.

My facts such as I mentioned above, they can have dates, places, addresses, multimedia and descriptions. My FindAGrave has only a description which contains the memorial number and nothing else. My Obit has date (of newspaper), Place of newspaper, Description (name of newspaper) and a JPG/PNG/PDF of the items. It may not have all, but it has at least some of the above. I also have a ResAt fact (which might be an attribute. ResAt is a bit different from residence. They are my way of tracking where a person was at other milestones of life, such as parents death, their marriage and so forth. This would have one a date and place and very possibly multimedia.

Knowing how I might use Attributes vs. Events is a good thing and I am willing to read previous threads but when searching for the terms, there is a lot of results. Is there a preferred time to use one vs. the other, is there a good thread where the past discussion can be followed??

I do have a copy of the Family Historian book on its way. It was supposed to have been delivered yesterday but for some reason it went out to be delivery then was returned to the postal facility so I won't be getting it until at least tomorrow. If my question is covered in there, please let me know and I will wait for the book.

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davidf
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Re: Attribute vs. Event

Post by davidf » 01 Jan 2020 17:15

I am not sure that the distinction is that useful (others will no doubt claim otherwise!) except that attributes in data terms are like "events with a value".

The two are often interchangeable:
"He has grave number XYZ (in value) at [place] (from date dd/mm/yyyy)" - is an attribute
but is so closely related to:
"He was buried (date dd/mm/yyyy) at [place] in grave XYZ (in note)" - an event
as to be virtually indistinguishable?
David
Running FH 6.2.7. Under Wine on Linux (Lubuntu 18.04 LTS)

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tatewise
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Re: Attribute vs. Event

Post by tatewise » 01 Jan 2020 17:52

In practical terms the only difference between an Event and an Attribute is that the latter can have a value, e.g.
Birth, Marriage, Census & Death events are not allowed a value and have no need for one.
Education, Occupation, National Id, Possessions & Religion attributes all need a descriptive value.
See Knowledge Base > Events and Attributes.
The formal GEDCOM specification on which FH is based makes the distinction clear, and implies that events happen on a particular date, whereas attributes can apply over a period of time.

Some users employ a custom attribute instead of a custom event simply because it offers an extra dedicated field.
Otherwise, all the Date, Age, Place, Address, Note, etc, fields are exactly the same.
In Tools > Fact Types you can choose to hide some of those fields in the Facts tab of the Property Box (similar to RootsMagic) but that does not entirely prevent those fields from being used via the All tab, etc.

However, many products do not enforce such a distinction and allow all facts to have a descriptive value.
That is where importing and exporting via GEDCOM becomes hazardous.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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AdrianBruce
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Re: Attribute vs. Event

Post by AdrianBruce » 01 Jan 2020 18:13

tatewise wrote:
01 Jan 2020 17:52
In practical terms the only difference between an Event and an Attribute is that the latter can have a value ...
I'd agree with Mike that, in terms of what happens in FH, this is the simplest and best definition to use.

The time business gets a bit flakey - events usually (but not always) happen on one day while attributes usually have a period of time - but might not have any time interval. So I'd stick to the "value" idea.

It's one of those things that, if you think too deeply about it, can lead you into ever deceasing circles. Like - what would an "Inheritance" fact be? An attribute because you want to record what the person inheritted? But what if we don't know what the bequest actually is? For me, I think I'd normally be able to find a "value" (saying what was inheritted), which makes it an attribute. If I didn't know what was being inheritted, I'd stick "an unknown bequest" (or similar) in the value of the attribute. So, it's an attribute for me.

But don't worry if you find something where the balance of probability is the other way round. If you decide to make something an event, then, as David says, if you do eventually come to wanting to record something like a value for that event, you can always record the supposed value in the notes to that event. It just means it's more difficult to find with a query.
Adrian

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tatewise
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Re: Attribute vs. Event

Post by tatewise » 01 Jan 2020 18:32

Faced with that dilemma of wanting a custom event to have a value, then use the Change Any Fact Tag Plugin to convert those facts from events to attributes.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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AdrianBruce
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Re: Attribute vs. Event

Post by AdrianBruce » 01 Jan 2020 23:44

tatewise wrote:
01 Jan 2020 18:32
Faced with that dilemma of wanting a custom event to have a value, then use the Change Any Fact Tag Plugin to convert those facts from events to attributes.
Good point - though I was thinking more along the line of there just being one specific event, of a number of events of that type, that I felt might benefit from reference to a sort-of value. Since I'm reluctant to spin off another attribute type that's virtually the same as an existing event type just for one single fact, I might fudge it by putting the "value" in the notes for the event. The fudge would suggest inadequate analysis on my part to start with, but that's life.

So there are two ways forward in such a case - use the Change Any Fact Tag Plugin to convert those facts from events to attributes, as you suggest - or fudge it by putting the "value" in the notes for the event. Either way, it's not the end of the proverbial world if we get it wrong.
Adrian

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