I received an email from Andy Hatchett, one of the expert users deeply involved in the BetterGEDCOM initiative. He had downloaded and tried Behold and then asked me, “How does one get the events within individuals and families to show in chronological order?”.
Currently, I display all the events in the order they come in the GEDCOM. That order is at the whim of the program that writes the GEDCOM. Generally, the order is acceptable, but I do see good reason why, in a report like Behold’s Everything Report, that it may be preferential to order the events chronologically.
But there was one concern I had in doing so. GEDCOM says:
“The occurrence of equal level numbers and equal tags within the same context imply that multiple opinions or multiple values of the data exist. The significance of the order in these cases is interpreted as the submitter’s preference. The most preferred value being the first with the least preferred data listed in subsequent lines by order of decreasing preference. For example, a researcher who discovers conflicting evidence about a person’s birth event would list the most credible information first and the least credible or least preferred items last.”
What this means is that for some events, which should only occur once, e,g, if I have two birth events:
2 DATE 1880
2 DATE 1870
then the preferred one should be the first. If I sort it by date, then the preferred one is listed 2nd, which is something I don’t want to do.
But for other events which can occur multiple times, e.g.:
2 DATE 1940
2 DATE 1930
These may be different information for the same Residence event, or it may be information for two different Residence events. In the first case, they should not be sorted. In the second, they should. I guess you might be able to infer if the place is the same, but that is no guarantee, especially because the place on the two records might be different as well.
There doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution. You either lose date order, or you lose significance. I could mark the most significant ones some way (e.g. bold or a ***Preferred*** tag - which would also end up on the residence which is not wanted), or I could give an option to display it either way (adds an extra complication - options aren’t always good and often cause more confusion. especially for something as difficult to explain and understand as this.
Andy suggested that GEDCOM is making a wrong assumption. He found that based on discussions on both the TMG List and the Ancestry FTM message boards over the years, users prefer to see data in a chronological order - particularly in narrative reports.
I told Andy that think I agree with him that date order is best. I have some data structure changes that I’ll need to make to save the Behold database to a file, so that will be the right time to implement a reordering of the events by date within individuals and families.
I am still concerned about how to handle those “more preferred” and “less preferred” data items. By showing things chronologically, we lose their significance. Maybe the way people will have to identify their preference might have to be through the QUAY (Quality) value. Or maybe by putting the less preferred one on a NOTE of the preferred one so that it will not show up as an event unto its own.
I’ll have to think about this a bit as I finalize the data structures.
Meanwhile, I had a similar suggestion from esd on the Behold User Forum, who asked if the events in the Place Details could be ordered chronologically.
I wasn’t very polite to esd in my answer. Maybe it was because my Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team lost the Grey Cup Championship Game last night, but I hope I’m forgiven. In the end, there is every reason to allow that option in the Place Details and maybe the Source Details as well. It will take another change to the data structure, and might be a fair bit of work. But we’ll see if I can squeeze it in.
… And now that I look, it seems that some of the dates and places are missing from some of the Source Details. Aaargghh! That’s got to be fixed. Point release will be coming out soon.