Facts: An Overview
Recording “facts” is kind of what genealogists do, or at least what they strive for. Sometimes facts start as just guesses or suppositions until you’ve found enough supporting sources to feel confident that your supposition is correct.
With Origins, we’re trying to making working with Facts easier and more intuitive. We’re trying to err on the side of enforcing genealogical standards and rigorous research and documentation while simultaneously make the recording of facts easy and straightforward. If it’s too cumbersome, no one will use it and that doesn’t work for anyone. We’re working very hard to make this all easy and straightforward.
It’s a tall task, but I think we’re off to a good start. Read further and see what you think.
The Task Pane
All “task” work happens in the Task Pane, a resizable panel on the right hand side of the screen. It allows you to have your main research pane and/or document viewer open to the left and enter details in the Task Pane on the right. We’ll go into more detail and show more screenshots, but here’s what it looks like initially:
All fact information is in collapsible sections. You can see the ones available to all Facts here – Basics, Details, Sources/Citations, Notes/Description. We’ll look at these and other dynamic sections in just a bit.
The first thing you’ll need to do is select what “type” of Fact you’re entering. You do that with the dropdown at the top:
We currently have 80+ Fact types, which can be a lot to scroll through. Instead, you can begin typing in the filter box at the top of the dropdown to reduce the available options to just those that contain the letters you type in. Here I’ve filtered to show just types containing “dea”:
Two things which we haven’t programmed yet, but that are on the list:
- The ability to globally configure which Fact types you want to include in your tree if you don’t want to work with all 80+. This will reduce the number of items in the dropdown list.
- The ability to add custom Fact types if none of the ones we supply work for you.
Once you’ve selected a Fact type, Origins will pre-select which types of details are useful for that Fact type, but you can always override it. For example, if I pick a Fact type of Baptism it makes sense to be able to enter a date and a location, so those sections show up:
Whereas selecting a Fact type of Residence should include an “end date” as well:
But a Fact type of “Ancestral File Number” doesn’t require any additional sections, so you just get the basics, shown in the first image above. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with what Origins thinks you need, though. If you expand the “Basic” section, you have the chance to customize which sections are available for the Fact you are entering:
Checking or unchecking any of these four boxes will show or hide those sections of the Fact Pane for the current Fact you are entering.
Also available in the “Basic” section is the ability to set the Fact Confidence level for the current Fact, indicating how sure you are that this fact is correct and well-supported by Sources. Currently the Fact Confidence selection is a dropdown, but it may change appearance in coming iterations:
For more information abour our Fact Confidence capability, as well as the Vitals Gauge© and other research capabilities of Origins, see the short video available here. Note that the UI shown in the video is slightly outdated, but the capabilities are still accurate.
Fact Pane Sections
Not all of the sections for the Task Pane are complete yet, but we can give you an idea of what’s coming.
This section allows you to enter any notes relevant to the current Fact.
This section is only partially complete currently so I would expect more changes in here as we work to make Source and Citation management as easy and flexible as possible. Here’s what it looks like as of now:
Clicking the magnifying glass will open the source document. Clicking the icon on the far left will expand or collapse the Citation display. You can see that the Citation section for the 1940 Census Source is open. You can add as many Sources as you need and as many Citations per Source as you need as well.
We still have to create the screens to enter a new Source or Citation, so they will be shown in a later post.
Dates (Start Date / End Date)
We cover this in far more detail in the post Smart Fields: Dates, but here’s a screenshot of this section:
Location allows you to enter the attributes of a place. We start with the big four – City, County, State, Country, but we’ll see other details in just a moment. First an important note that I’ll make a few times:
Here is the basic Location section:
Once you start typing in one of the big-four fields, you’ll get a dropdown showing other locations you’ve already entered or that are available in your database:
If you have more information to enter for a Location beyond the big-4, simply expand the details section:
Notice that the information you entered above for the big-4 are already filled in below – you do not need to retype them, and if you change them in Details, the changes will be reflected above. You can see all of the other fields available to enter Location information, keeping in mind that all of the labels shown can easily be customized to whatever you need to store in there, or whatever you want to label the field.
One last thing to point out is the little plus icon below the Street field. If you need more than one Street field, go ahead and click it. You can have up to 4 lines for the “street” portion of an address:
Click the x next to a Street field to remove it.
NOTE: We haven’t gotten past the design phase for this section because there are so many variations, but I can give you some descriptions of where we’re going with this to help you understand.
The details for any given Fact type are different from any other Fact type. For example, to adequately record an ancestors arrival, you might need to enter any of the following, in addition to the dates and locations and other sections we’ve covered already:
- Method (ship, plane, train, etc)
- Name of ship
- Port of Arrival
- Port of arrival
- Accommodation information
Whereas for a Marriage, you might need these, again in addition to dates, locations, etc:
- Witness (es)
- Wedding party
And for Military Service:
- Branch of service
- Conflict(s) served in
And more. The general idea is that different events in a person’s life have different details, and supporting distinct values for these items allows you to, among other things:
- color code
This is another section we haven’t gotten past mockups with, but in a nutshell, this section will allow you to view and manage the other people in your tree with whom this Fact is shared.
Details will be coming later.
That’s a brief overview of how Origins will handle Facts.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback – positive or negative, either as comments here or in our feedback Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/heirloomfeedback
As always, thanks for helping us to build the best genealogy software on the planet. We couldn’t do this without you.
Dave & Lil