I had some very interesting discussion with Tom Wetmore over at BetterGEDCOM. He’s the other genealogy software developer involved with the BetterGEDCOM endeavor.
Tom has been around the genealogy world for a long time. He is the original developer of the LifeLines program for Unix, maybe 20 years ago. Tom may not know this, but when I had my Genealogy Software Links page, I had his program rated as one of the 4 Contenders for the Best Genealogy Program. I very much respect the work he has done.
Well, Tom and I seemed to have very different views on the way GEDCOM should go. We ended up having a couple of very interesting, almost argumentative conversations. The funny thing was that in the end, we both were after the very same thing, but we were looking at it from two viewpoints.
What we were both after was to add an evidence/conclusion model into GEDCOM. We see that as the most important thing missing from the current standard. Interestingly, during our conversations, we both expressed how we would like to see this model work, for Tom in his new program under development called DeadEnds, and for me in Behold.
But it’s what I expressed about the evidence/conclusion model in Behold that I’d like to now share:
In Behold we have the Source Index. Under each source in the Source Index, we have each source-citation (as it is called in GEDCOM). In a way, these are the individual pieces of evidence that you have found from that source. From now on let’s call that the pieces of evidence.
In the Source Index, under each source, and for each piece of evidence, Behold then lists all the events that piece of evidence pertains to, and links back to the people and places. This so far is great. It is built up by the events and sources that are currently attached to individuals and families as they were created and passed to Behold via the GEDCOM file.
In the future, when editing is added to Behold, you’ll still be able to add events to people and families (and even to places), and then include the source/evidence for them at the time you added. That is the traditional way it is done.
But I’ll also be giving you a second option, a rather exciting one …
You’ll be able to enter your source information directly into the Source Index. Let’s say you find a new Census record. Then right in the Source Index, you’ll be able to add the bits of evidence out of that record. Maybe there are 5 records for 5 families of interest. For each of the records, you’ll be able to add all the events that the record indicates, e.g. Age of ___ in ___ on ___ with notes. I’d have tools to help you link that up to the correct individuals quickly and efficiently.
This is very exciting to me and is the way I’ve always wanted to enter my genealogy data: as a comprehensive data entry source-by-source. But up to now, I don’t know of any real effort by other genealogy software developers to promote that.
So this will be source/evidence based genealogy data entry. But there’s more …
Each individual will now start getting “loaded” with the events that pertain to them. You’ll get different and conflicting information about the same event. The second step is the conclusion process. Behold may warn you about the conflict. You’ll then go to the individual, family or place, decide which one is most correct, and move the events around (maybe with drag and drop) to order them from most to least likely. You can then add comments there as to why you arrived at the conclusions you did.
Ta Da! A simple, efficient, yet comprehensive evidence-conclusion methodology implemented into Behold.
I won’t mention the “Search Sources” function that I’ll probably add as well, that will allow filtering by person (with spelling variations), place, date range, event type, or notes contents to allow you to find the events that you interpreted from the evidence that you might want to review. This might be useful, but might also be overkill and possibly even not needed if the source based entry system works well enough.
I hope this sounds exciting to you. I have to get to version 2.0 and editing before I can think of implementing it, so my work is very well cut out for me now.