Terry's TMG Tips

Creating a "Connected" Flag

This page updated 22 Feb 2008

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

Genealogists seem to often collect various people in their Data Sets that are not related in any way to known family members. They may be people of a surname of interest that are found in various records, but not yet connected to the known lines. Or they might be neighbors or others linked by shared events. It seems common that eventually the researcher wants to mark these people with a Flag.

It turns out to be more difficult than it might seem to identify such "unrelated" people. If they are linked to no one else in the Data Set as parent and child or spouse, it is possible to construct a filter to find them. But more commonly they are "family fragments" – small groups of people linked as parents and children, or by marriage. In this case, it's actually easier to find everyone else, that is, all the people who are connected. If one sets a Flag for those that are connected, everyone left is "unconnected." This article describes how to create and set such a Flag.

One common use for such a Flag is to control Accent colors. See my article on Accents for suggestions on combining the use of a Connected Flag with others for identifying both those who are "related" to a base person and those who are not.

What's Required to Create a Connected Flag?

There are three basic steps in creating and using such a Flag:

  1. Create the Flag (see my article on Flag Basic Concepts if you need a better understanding of the basics of Flags). I describe below in detail how to create the Connected Flag.
  2. Set the Flag for each person in your Data Set. While in theory you could do this manually, unless you know all your "unconnected" persons quite well, this becomes tiresome and error-prone. The method described below is more practical for real situations.
  3. Maintain the Flag as new people are added to your Data Set. You could ignore this step, and re-create the Flag settings using the method originally used whenever enough people have been added to be worthwhile. But I find it easier and more useful to set the Flag for each person as they are added. The easiest way to do this is to add the Connected Flag to the Add Person screen. Click the Setup button on the Add Person screen, and go to the Flag tab and add the Flag. Then, the Flag can be set for each new person as you enter that person.

Creating the Flag

Creating the Flag itself is pretty simple. Here are the steps:

In order to see the Flag settings for each person, or manually change the Flag as each person is cleaned, you need to open the Flag Window. It is not open in the default layout. You open it by clicking the Flags Window toolbar icon – – or use the Windows > Flags menu. If you want it to always be open, adjust the size of some of the other windows to make a space for it, and save your new layout. To save a layout, click the Save Custom Layout toolbar icon – – or use the View > Layouts > Manage Layouts menu to open the Layout Manager. Give your layout a name and click Save.

Setting the Flag for Existing People

If you have a very small number of unconnected people in your Data Set and know who they are, you could set the the Flag for each person individually. But for most users that would be a very daunting task. Fortunately, the List of People report, with its ability to use its Secondary Output to set Flags for the persons included in the report, can do the job for even a very large Data Set fairly quickly. What's required is to use appropriate Filters to select the correct persons for each step.

The basic idea is to change the Flag to Y for an initial group of people known to be related. Then by a series of iterations, find others linked to them by blood relationships or marriage and change the Flag for them as well. This continues until no more linked people can be found. Here are the steps to do that:

  1. Open the List of People report (Reports > List of ... > People) report definition.
  2. Click the Options button, and on the Report Options screen, go to the Secondary Output tab. On that tab, check Change Flag, select your Connected Flag, and select the value in next field to "Y."
  3. To avoid waiting for the actual list of people to be drawn each time, you may choose to check the "Suppress output to screen..." option. If you prefer to review the people being selected at each step, don't check that option. In either case, click OK to close the Options screen.
  4. If you didn't check the "Suppress output to screen..." above, make sure that the selection in the "Print to" box is set to Screen.
  5. In the "Subject(s) of the report" box, select "Filtered group" and then click the Add button under the field for the filter name.
  6. Create the following simple filter by using the drop-down lists and typing in the ID# of the any person who is part of the "connected" family line, or using the binoculars button to find their ID# in the Picklist:
Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
ID number   = Equals 123 END

And below, under "And then add their" check Spouses, Ancestors, and Descendants, and set the number of generations a bit higher than the total number in your Data Set. Note that the filter together with the "And then add their" options defines the all the ancestors and descendants of the selected person, and his or her spouse(s). Click OK to save the Filter and return to the Report Definition screen.

  1. Click "Create Report" to generate the report. If you have checked the "Suppress output to screen..." option in step 3, you will go directly to the question about changing the Flag. Otherwise, you will see the report first; if so after reviewing it, close it and you see the question about changing the Flag. In either case, click Yes, then click No to the question about updating the Last Edited Date. You have just temporarily marked an initial group as "Y," that is, as "connected."
  2. Now we begin our search for other "connected" people. Open the List of People Report again, and click Edit under the Filter name. Change the Filter to the following :
Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
Connected   = Equals Y END

Below, leave the "And then add their" terms unchanged. Note that this filter collects everyone marked as "Y" in the previous step, and the "And then add their" term then adds any spouses, ancestors, or descendants not already identified. Click OK to save the Filter and Yes on the "Are you sure?" question.

  1. Click "Create Report" and close the report if you've not suppressed it. Allow the Flag to be changed. You have just marked another group of "connected" people as "Y," in addition to those previously marked.
  2. We now continue to add connected people, until none are left. Open the List of People Report again, using the same settings, click "Create Report" and allow the Flag to be changed. Now watch the Filter Progress screen as the filter is run, particularly the three lines near the bottom labeled "Plus spouses," "Plus ancestors," and "Plus descendants." They tell you how many connected people are being added with this pass of the report. Keep repeating this step until the number of people on each of these three lines is zero. The number of times required depends on how many links of various lines by marriage are in the Data Set. If you have lots of extended links, many passes may be required.

When the number of people added reaches zero, you are done. Now all people linked in any way to your main line by parent/child relationship, or my marriage, are marked with a "Y" in the Connected Flag, and all others are marked with a "N."

The Fine Print

This process regards "connected" as being by any blood relationship, or by any series of marriages, no matter how extended. So if a cousin married someone, and that person had a relative in your Data Set that married someone else, anyone related to the latter person is regarded as "connected."

This process uses any parent/child relationship, or marriage, that is marked as Primary. If you have adopted children or others with a parent/child relationship with a related person marked as Primary, the adopted child will be regarded as "connected." If there is no primary parent/child relationship, they will not be included. If your data includes such cases, you may want to change the primary status of such tags, or change the Connected Flag manually, to obtain the results you prefer.


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