Terry's TMG Tips

Using Accent Colors

This page updated 22 Jan 2012

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

One of TMG's better features, in my opinion, is the ability to apply Accents to color code persons with most any characteristic. A virtually endless set of conditions can be displayed by Accents. The names of persons marked appear in distinctive colors in the Details window, Children and Siblings windows, the Project Explorer, and the expanded version of the Picklist. You can choose both the text and background color for each Accent condition you define. You can save different sets of accents and recall them for later use.

Topics Included in this Article
Accents can be Based on?
What kind of conditions can be accented?
Enabling Accents
How to enable and define Accents
An Example
Terry's favorite Accent definition
Adding them to a Toolbar
Adding buttons for Accents to the Toolbar

The screen shot below illustrates how accents can provide a quick display of how the people on screen are related to a base person, in this case, to me.

This article describes how Accents are turned on, offers some tips on their use, and suggests some useful Accent systems and how to create them. If you want to "Accent" Tags, rather then People, use the Tag Label Color feature, described in my article on Customizing Your Workspace.

What Kind of Conditions can be Used?

Accents can be based on Flags (see my article on Flags for more information), or on any of over 1400 filter conditions. The filters include such conditions as the number of various types of Tags; the contents of the Date, Place, or other fields in various tags; the name of a parent or sibling; or whether the person is an ancestor or descendant of someone; to cite some examples. The Flags used can be standard Flags, like Sex or Living, or any custom Flag you might create. By creating and using custom Flags quite complex Accent systems can be defined, as illustrated in the system I use, which is described below.

TMG ships with a few sample Accent conditions defined. They are:

These examples illustrate several useful techniques for controlling Accents. The first two use Flags to control the Accent condition. The last two use filters, Father "Is Not Known" and Mother "Is Not Known" for the End of Line Ancestors Accent, and "Any Birth Group tag; State" = Virginia and "Any Birth Group tag; State" = Tennessee for the other. The End of Line Ancestors example illustrates an Accent definition requiring all conditions to be met, while the others use only the first condition met. The colors used demonstrate various combinations of text and background colors.

Enabling Accents

You turn on Accents from the Accent Definition screen. You access that screen by one of the following:

Any of these actions open the Accent Definition screen:Accent Definition screen

You turn on Accents by selecting the second or third option at the top of the screen, instead of "Accent OFF." Generally the second option – First matching condition – is best. It is somewhat quicker when you change focus to a new person as TMG can stop searching once it finds a condition that matches those specified. And generally it provides the desired result, as described in my Example, below.

You can use an existing Accent definition, including the samples described above, by clicking the Load... button at the bottom of the screen, and selecting one of the defined Accent files in the dialog box that opens. It may be helpful to Load each of the sample conditions and examine how they are defined to understand some of the methods available.

To create a new Accent definition:

  1. Select either the second or third setting in the box at the top of the screen.
  2. Select a line in the "Accent Conditions" box.
  3. Define the conditions for that line using the drop-down lists in the "Selected Accent Condition" box near the bottom of the screen, and typing text in the field if needed. Note that the Flags are listed at the top of the list for the first field, with the filter conditions below them.
  4. Choose the colors by clicking on the [...] button for background color, or [ A ] button for the text color, and selecting the desired color in the dialog box that opens.
  5. When you've defined that condition, click the Update button to apply the definition you have just defined.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for any additional conditions, using the Add button to add additional lines if needed.

Help offers detailed description of each of the controls – click the Help button to open the correct Help page.

Use the Apply button to apply your accents without closing the Accent Definition screen, or OK to exit the screen and apply the definition. If you might want to use the definition again later, you can give it a name and save it by clicking the Save as... button. If you save the definition, the name you use will appear in the status bar when this definition is in use.

When you close TMG, the Accent condition in use, if any, will be applied next time you open the program.

Tip Use Flags Rather than Filters for Better Performance

When you define Accents based on filters, such as "Is an Ancestor of" some person, TMG must re-compute the filter every time you change focus from one person to another. Depending on the specific filter used, the size of your Project, and the power of your computer system, this may result in an undesirable delay. By contrast, Accents based on Flags are much faster – TMG only has to look at the predefined Flag values for that one person.

The filters are fine for quickly creating an Accent definition. But for Accent definitions you use often, consider creating custom Flags, as described below, especially if you find filter-based Accents are degrading your system's performance.

An Example – Terry's Favorite Accent Definition

Users have developed a wide variety of Accent definitions, some for a special analysis, and others that they use most of the time to easily identify people with certain characteristics. Common examples are Accents to mark persons not yet "cleaned up" after import or a change in personal data entry practices, and any of a number of systems to show how persons are related to the user or other persons. The Accent system I use is a combination of several of these ideas.

My Accent definition has three different parts, each based on a different custom Flag:

  1. Cleaned – My first condition is based on my Cleaned Flag (see the "keeping track" section of my article on Importing for details). I place this condition first so the other conditions are not visible until the person is "cleaned," which I find is a great motivator to do some cleanup work when I'm working with a family branch that I've not previously gotten to. I also apply an ugly pinkish shade to this Accent condition as a further motivator.
  2. Related By – This is based on my version of the popular "related-by" Flag, which shows how a person is related to me or my wife. I have different colors for ancestors, siblings of ancestors, more distant relatives, spouse of a relative, and parents of such a spouse. For details of this flag, and directions for creating it, see my article on Creating a Related-by Flag. Since my wife and I are related distantly, many ancestors and cousins are related to both of us, but have a different relationship. Trying to code all the possibilities in a single Accent definition required more color combinations than I could keep track of, so I decided to just make two separate Accent definitions. Users with no known blood relationship to their spouse may be able to create a single Accent definition for everyone. See the section below for adding buttons to the Toolbar for an easy way to switch between Accent definitions.
  3. Connected – My last condition is based on my Connected Flag. It identifies people in my Data Set which I've not connected by blood or marriage to my family. They include persons of a surname of interest who may or may not prove to be related, and neighbors and others involved with events linked to my family who are not known to be related. For details of creating such a Flag, see my article Creating a Connected Flag.

The screen shot below shows the Accent definition I use for my family.

Adding Accent Definitions to the Toolbar

Users who create several Accent Definitions for common use, such as I do for me and my wife, may want an easy way to change from one to another definition. The best way I've found is to add a button to the custom Toolbar to turn on each accent. Details of how to do that are discussed in my article on Using Toolbars.

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