*Help resources in TMG and fh

Importing from or exporting to another genealogy program. This is the place to ask.
E Wilcock
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Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby E Wilcock » 10 Feb 2018 15:02

I thought it might be useful and clear up some confusion to explain to fh experts the help one had for TMG and what we may now miss.

TMG help by the software designers was a book when I first bought the software but in the latest versions was on one's computer with the programme. Like fh it was Accessed through the HELP menu and the contents were arranged to handle each menu and (when opened out using the +) submenu in turn.
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As far as I know the printed TMG Help Guide covered everything - whereas Getting the Most from Family Historian does not but refers one back to the digital format Help.

This official help was supplemented by two user authored publications
The book Getting the Most out of the Master Genealogist edited by Lee H. Hoffmann 2003 was an advanced, weighty and comprehensive book. Its chapters on specific tasks, were contributed by nine expert users (including Terry Riegel) who explained their personal and capable use of every aspect of the software.
The first difficulty for TMG users is when we discover that Simon Orde's book with the similar title, Getting the Most from Family Historian 2016 is nothing like this - it is authored by the author of fh and it is not comprehensive.

In 2012 Terry Riegel published A Primer for the Master Genealogist
This is an excellent, straightforward introduction to the software, clearly set out and illustrated with screenshots (in b&w). It is concise, 152 pages. There are 16 chapters, divided up with many subheadings, and explanations are often provided in answer to a question, Why do genealogists do this or why should one use some aspect of the software, or customise.

I miss this book and have long felt that Mike's information provided on this forum could usefully be cut and pasted to produce a similar introduction to fh. I started pasting replies into a MS Word folder called Primer for fh. But if we had it in a book we would not have to keep bothering Mike.

Then there were web ressources. The main forum was a TMG users list on Roots web but the authors of the programme also had a website. And sometimes they and professional staff answered questions posted there. The Wholly genes website was invaluable because like the user knowledge base for fh, it allowed users to share their information.
But I feel it went further than that.
People showed other users what they had done.
One user for instance posted the report design that enabled her to output concise A4 trees.
Another showed the custom layout of the TMG screen with additional buttons for easier data entry. Both of these included colour screen shots.
I dont think the user knowledge base on fh includes these illustrated examples of expert layout from which I benefitted.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby tatewise » 10 Feb 2018 17:57

Evelyn, a useful insight.
For comparison the FH Help is show below, and includes Menus help like TMG, plus Toolbars that TMG Help omits.
It is true that Getting the Most from Family Historian is not comprehensive.
I try and add appropriate advice to the Knowledge Base from the Forums, and Knowledge Base > Key Features for Newcomers is meant to be a Primer. How could it be improved?

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Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby E Wilcock » 11 Feb 2018 10:01

Thank you for your understanding Mike.
I will give some thought to the key features for newcomers. Because this is the Primer material. But long term - may be next winter when I have more time. And if it might be useful I could lend you my copy of Riegel. He built his book partly from tips on his website - And my feeling is that you and Jane have already written a similar book for fh, providing answers on the forum

To my shame I have not previously seen fh help with that contents list and the menu help opened up.
One general problem is that most guides to genealogy software begin with basics of recording genealogy for first time users of any software at all, followed by instructions on creating or importing a tree.
But few people read through a guide book all at once. Terry Riegel even warns you need to start just with the first chapters and then add.

Once they have started using the software, what new users really need is to find clear succinct answers to questions - and to find the answers quickly, everything hangs on the index.

First the word must appear in the index. Orde's book for random example has no index entry for citation. Riegel's index has Citation with six subheadings.
Each of Reigel's Index entry subheadings refers the user to just one page. Orde uses some index subheadings but many of his entries list multiple page numbers. You have to work through a list of undifferentiated numbers hoping to unearth what you need. Even with a big book, one can have an easy index. I have just checked and the comprehensive Getting the Most out of TMG has an index like Riegel - sub headings and only one page reference per line.

If a user doesnt know what word to look for or hasnt yet memorised the words used by the software they cant find the help. Because they dont know what word to look for. I wonder what is a work space? Looking down the list I see a list of Windows. So in an introductory Primer why not call them Windows, a word most computer users recognise.

My recurring problem using fh has been to remember the terminology. Especially the names of the Focus Window and Property Box. And to remember which is which. Sometimes (I dont know when) my Focus Window vanishes and I cant reopen it because I could never remember what it was called. Same with the property box, but that has an icon at the top so I quickly learned to click that.
But tho many users now work with the Focus window alongside the property box, (i.e. dont work from the tree diagram) the Property box is not listed there in the list of workspace windows.

If I click on Workspace windows at the top of the contents list, what I would like to see is the colour image that opens when you click Focus window but with everything labelled. And with a source window probably open there too.
Just as when one buys a new TV one gets a diagram of the back telling you what all the sockets are. And I see now that in the intro to Riegel he has just such an image, headed The parts of TMG's Standard Screen. (In fh onemayneed a second image showing the original innovative idea, to work directly from the tree diagram.)

I am thinking of your time Mike. Again and again people like myself ask you very basic questions because they cant locate the information they need. Whereas your answers should be reserved for users exploring more advanced and creative use of the software.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby E Wilcock » 11 Feb 2018 10:38

An example of finding or not finding help - .

Ages ago when someone provided one. I added a tab to the property box for UK censuses. It is there, taking up space on Projects holding non-UK records. It isnt needed for anyone there but I leave it because I cant remember how to get rid of it.

The index to Orde provides many undifferentiate page references to Property box and the only index listing for Tab refers to the width of tab.

But from your many replies on the Forum, Mike, I have now learned the simple route seems to be to click the cogwheel.
Under the Cogwheel menu there are Options - so one looks there and is referred on to a further Options screen.

But one doesnt need the options. The menu item one needs turns out to be Customise data entry. And within that there is a button for further Tab tasks. To my simple mind, removing a Tab was to do with appearance and not with data entry?

Searching the fh help with the word Tab, did better than I expected because the first heading is Customising the property box. Masses of info but one has to scroll down. If you are more precise and enter words delete tab, you get to the same screen.

Now for the User Knowledge Base

A search there for delete Tab brings up a host of entries because it searches only under the word delete. Luckilly the second entry is
Delete a Custom Diagram, Fact Set, Plugin, Query, Record Flag, Report, etc . So I went to that page. Very nice a link to delete the tab.

Delete a Property Box Tab
To delete a Custom Property Box Tab , first open the appropriate type of Property Box, then use Menu > Customize, select the Tab name, and click the Delete Tab button.

This may be out of date but I search the menu headings for Menu - cant see it. So it must be the cog wheel.
Or I have not understood what is meant by open the appropriate type of Property Box - I had the Individual one open.
And the options must mean the Options for Data Entry.

I acknowledge that this went better than I expected - yet not as quick and easy as it possibly might have been?

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby tatewise » 11 Feb 2018 11:16

Evelyn, I'm amazed you have not seen the FH > Help Contents because that is usually shown when FH Help > Getting Started or Family Historian Help or Help with Current View F1 is chosen. All I've done is expand the Toolbars and Menus items.

I accept that the FH Book does not list Citation in the Index but it does have Source Citation. However, I agree its Index has room for improvement.

In defence of FH, Workspace Windows are different from its many other windows, because only they have icons in the left-hand vertical Navigation Bar as explained in the Help > Quick Start Guide and in Help > Family Historian Help > Contents > Getting Started > Workspace Windows. Also each Help > Family Historian Help > Contents > Workspace 1-9: The...Window illustrates its workspace with a screenshot that includes the Navigation Bar icon.

The Property Box is NOT a Workspace Window because it can optionally appear with EVERY Workspace Window, can be floating or docked, and always has its icon in the Toolbar even when closed. That is explained in the Help > Quick Start Guide and in Help > Family Historian Help > Contents > The Property Box.

I think the Help > Quick Start Guide provides the labelled standard screen images you ask for. Please check it out.

It often helps to enclose a search phrase in string quotes (as you would in Google Search) and that works in both FH Search Help and the Knowledge Base for "Delete Tab". Yes, the wording in the Knowledge Base needs updating slightly, but if you hover your cursor on the Property Box cog it says Menu. BTW: If you delete a Property Box custom Tab it is deleted in every Project, so may be better to just move it to the right. Those tabs are primarily to simplify data entry, but some Census Tab versions are read-only.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby David2416 » 12 Feb 2018 07:36

E Wilcock said "Once they have started using the software, what new users really need is to find clear succinct answers to questions".
Not only new users I suspect.

There are two sides to this
1. How do I as a user construct a search phrase that leads me to the answer? Experience, understanding the language, and imagination help, as does posing the question on this forum. I have had some really helpful responses and advice here . Thank you.
2. How does the Knowledge Base and forum respond to questions/searches made? Sometimes by clarifying the question, others providing a range of possible answers. I have found answers in both the forum and KB but they are not clear and distinct as embedded in a lot of the dialogue that has taken place. Transferring the advice, along with the question, to the KB as is being done will really help.

As a new FH user from Nov 17, I have learnt a lot just by following discussions here.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby David2416 » 12 Feb 2018 07:40

As a new user of FH from version 6, I don't need to learn about what happened in older versions. The KB sometimes takes me through a historical journey. Not what I need really.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby tatewise » 12 Feb 2018 10:37

David, the KB and FH have evolved together, so where the same feature uses different commands in different FH versions, the alternatives are often mentioned. That not only aids the many users still running earlier FH versions, but also helps them migrate to later versions. e.g. Reports were once in the View menu, but are now in the Publish menu, so both menus are often mentioned.

Some Knowledge Base > Animated Tutorials are based on earlier versions of FH and AS, but the concepts are usually still valid, and superficial differences are explained. It takes a fair amount of effort to regenerate those tutorials, and we are all just volunteers.

If there are particular KB pages that are an issue for you, then let us know in the User Group Forum. See the recent thread on Knowledge Base Index/Contents (15689) that is discussing a new initiative to assist with finding topics in the KB.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history.

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Re: Help resources in TMG and fh

Postby David2416 » 12 Feb 2018 14:28

Point taken Mike, will look at the indexing thread. The dynamism of this forum is one of the things that attracted me to FH. I do recognise that an awful lot of voluntary work has, and is, going into it. I am grateful for that.


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