Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Do a Genealogy Software Problem Report

I certainly didn't get the result I expected when I tried to do Randy Seaver's challenge in tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Have you created a Problem Report from your desktop genealogy software program?  Tell us which software you're using, how you found the "Problem Report", and your results using it.

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I almost had to concede defeat.

I use Family Tree Maker2019.  I blithely went to it and looked under Tools, as Randy did for Roots Magic.  I saw:
• Date Calculator
• Relationship Calculator
• Soundex Calculator
• Global Spell Check
• Resolve All Place Names
• Convert Names
• Compact File
• Sort All Children by Birth [which is a really convenient tool I didn't know was there]
• User Information
• References

So nothing there seems to be the general kind of "problem report" that I'm looking for.

The other top-level menus are Family Tree Maker 2019, File, Edit, View, Window, and Help.  I looked under the first five and found nothing apparently relevant to what I was looking for.  So I tried Help and entered "problem."  That netted me:

• Managing Places
• Sync Weather Reports
• Errors to Include [which is about dates]
• To send a sync error report
• Incorrect Date Format
• To re-establish a link
• Send Sync Error Report
• Edit Name
• To open a tree
• Double Dates
• To check a tree's synchronization status

I learned that FTM is inconsistent about capitalization but nothing about problem reports.

Next I searched in Help for "error", with similarly unhelpful results.

I then tried my failsafe:  Google.  I searched for <family tree maker problem report>.  And I got:
• Troubleshooting Family Tree Maker
• Report a Bug | The Software MacKiev Company
• Managing the Data Error Report - Part 1 (The English was so fractured I could not figure out what this page was about.)
• How to fix the orange sync weather report in Family Tree Maker
• Family Tree Maker 2019 App Started Having Problems

Okay, looking pretty bad.

But the sixth result finally looked promising:

"Another Way to Find Errors in Your Family Tree", with teaser text of "Family Tree Maker has a built-in error report that may surprised [sic] you with its findings."

When I clicked that link, I found a lovely explanation of how to create what Randy is calling a Problem Report and what FTM calls a Data Errors Report:

  • Click the Publish tab at the top of the program.
  • Click Person Reports in the left column and choose Data Errors Report.
  • Click Create Report, then click Cancel to make some enhancements:
    • Choose to include All individuals.
    • Click the first button under Data Errors Report Options to open the Errors to Include dialog box. I chose to deselect two choices:
      • Spouses have the same last name (so what?)
      • Marriage date missing (that's because the document is not available)
  • Close the dialog box, click Generate Report, and wait.

Now, why that didn't come up when I searched for "error" in Help, I have no idea.  I also have no idea why someone programming this thought this was an intelligent place to put this function.  But now I know where it is (and I hope I remember it the next time I want to do this).

I also deselected "Spouses have the same last name", as the author suggested, because I don't do my data entry by making a woman's married name her family name (I know lots of people who do, though).  If spouses have the same last name in my database, it's because that's what their names were.

I did not deselect "Marriage date missing", because one of the uses of this kind of report is to point out to you what data you are missing.  If you're going to omit "Marriage date missing", you may as well take out "Birth date missing" also (I would have included "Death date missing", but that is not an option in the list).

That said, when the report was finished, it was 121 pages long!  The vast majority of the items were missing birth and marriage dates.  I reran it without those items to see how long that report ended up:  a mere nine pages!  Much more manageable.

I noticed that in the new list the majority of the items were "Event divorce contains no data."  If I know that a marriage ended in divorce, I'll add a field for a divorce even when I don't have the date.  It appears that FTM considers that a data error.

So I ran a third version of the report, deselecting "Event contains no data."  And that report is only five pages long.  Better and better!

Well, I certainly learned more about Family Tree Maker tonight!


  1. Glad you figured it out. Another good reason why I prefer RootsMagic over Family Tree Maker. Back in the old days, I tried it, but it didn't mess with the way I think.

    1. FTM didn't used to be so difficult to figure out. The more they "improve" it, the more screwed up it gets. I do have Roots Magic installed; maybe I should go back to using it.


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