Terry's TMG Tips

Using People Filters - Getting the People You Expect

This page Updated 14 Aug 2005

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 &9

TMG has very powerful filter features that enable the user to collect various information for a wide variety of tasks. Filters are available to select groups of people, events, sources, citations, and more. This article focuses on people filters – those used to select groups of people.

Topics Included in this Article
The Problem
Why does our Filter not collect the people we intend?
Filter Method
Simple cases can be solved with the correct Filter
Focus Group Method
Sometimes using a Focus Group is Better
Temporary Flag Method
Adding buttons for Accents to the Toolbar

People filters are used in the List of People report, and to display a selected set of people in the Project Explorer and the Picklist. The main body of the people filter is the same for all three applications, but there are differences in the options offered at the bottom of the filter in each application:

Our discussion here will primarily deal with people filters as used in the List of People report, as this seems to be the area most commonly found confusing. Often confusion results when attempting to create a List of People to mark certain individuals with flags, perhaps to use with accent colors, or to export them to a GEDCOM file, or in creating a new TMG Data Set or Project. These are very useful applications of people filters, but until you get used to them, using these filters can be confusing.

The Problem

A common problem new users have is selecting the descendants (or ancestors) of an individual. Often, the intent is to include all the spouses of this direct line, along with the parents and perhaps other spouses of those who married into the direct line. So the obvious thing to do is create a filter like the one below.

Report Filter screen


But when you look at the result, you find that the starting ancestor and his or her spouse are included as are the descendants for 10 generations, but the descendants' spouses and their parents are missing. Why?

To understand why, look carefully at the filter definition. First, the filter tells TMG, look for the people defined by the area marked by the blue box – that is, the target ancestor. Next, in the area marked by the red box, it says to TMG, add their (the target ancestor's) spouses. Then it says, add their (the target ancestor's) ancestors. Finally, it says add their (the target ancestor's) descendants. Notice that it never says to add the spouses of the spouses, nor the ancestors of the spouses. Each section of the "add" portion at the bottom refers back always to the people identified inside the blue box.

Of course, the desired result can be obtained. As is usual in TMG, there are several methods, with the best depending on the exact result desired. Three of them are described below, starting with the simplest and progressing to more complex methods capable of dealing with more complicated groups of people.

Filter Method

If one wants just the descendants and their spouses (no parents of spouses, or other spouses of spouses) the easiest solution is to change the main part of the filter to include both the target ancestor and the descendants. That way the "And then add their spouses" term applies to both the ancestor and the descendants. The following filter will do that:

Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
ID number   = Equals 523 OR
Is a Descendant   of ID# 523 END

Note that this method does not permit limiting the number of generations of descendants.

Focus Group Method

If one wants descendants, spouses of descendants, and the parents of the spouses as well, using a Focus Group may be a better choice.

Start by opening the Focus Group (Window > Focus Group, or click the Focus Group icon iconon the toolbar). If there is already anyone in the Focus Group, clear them by clicking the Remove All button. Then collect all the desired people in the Focus Group. Some typical steps, depending on exactly who is to be included:

  1. Add the target ancestor. The easiest way is to navigate until that person is visible in any window, right-click on the name, and select "Add to Focus Group."

  2. Add descendants. Select the target ancestor in the Focus Group, check "Descendants" in the box on the right (clearing any other items checked in the box), set the number of generations, and click the Add Others button.

  3. Add spouses of the descendants. Select everyone in the Focus Group (click the "Select All" button). Then check "Spouses" in the box on the right (clearing any other items checked in the box) and click the Add Others button.

  4. Add parents of spouses. Select everyone, then check "Ancestors" in the box on the right (clearing any other items checked in the box), set the number of generations if you like, and click the Add Others button. Note that this will also add all the ancestors of the target person and those of all his or her descendants, unless you select in this step only the spouses of the descendants rather than selecting everyone, which is very difficult to do if there are very many of them.

  5. You can manually add or remove selected persons to "fine tune" the group if necessary.

Once you have collected everyone in a Focus Group, you can use that group in Step 4 of the Export Wizard to export to a GEDCOM file. Or, you can use the Focus Group as the Subject in a List of People report for a variety of tasks, including using the Secondary Output of that report to set a Flag or create a new Data Set or Project.

Temporary Flag Method

This is a more robust method, providing more flexibility in limiting the number of generations and including parents of spouses and others, but it requires several steps, using a temporary flag. The idea is to create a group of people marked with a flag, then add spouses, etc., until you get the right list. Then use the flag to create the GEDCOM, new Data Set, or whatever the objective is. The steps required are:

1. Create the Flag

To create a flag, use Flag manager, accessed from File > Flag Manager on the main menu. Click Add, and enter a Label like Scratch (you can't use Temp because it's reserved for the system). Enter values N,Y for no and yes. N is first so it's the default, and the flag will be set to N for everybody at the start. You can ignore the Description area. Click OK twice to return to the main screen.

2. Use the List of People Report to Select Desired People

Now you use the List of People (LoP) report several times to change the Scratch flag to Y for the people you want to include. Open the LoP report definition (Reports > List of... > People) and click on Options. On the Secondary Output tab, select "Change Flag" and select your Scratch flag in the first drop-down and "Y" in the second. You next make a series of "runs" with this report, using different filters, to collect all the people we want. Each time you add people to the group marked in the preceding runs.

The following is a typical set of steps, but which ones are required in a specific case depends on exactly which people you want to include. Being successful depends on thinking clearly about just who you want to include, and how they are related to one another. You must proceed in a logical order, because in each step you add people who are related to all those selected in the previous steps.

2a. Mark the Direct Line

Assuming we are looking for the descendants of an ancestor, set the filter to:

Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
ID number   = Equals 123 END

(or whatever the ID number of the ancestor is) and at the bottom check Descendants, and enter the number of generations needed.

You can of course adapt this procedure if you want the ancestors of a given individual rather than the descendants.

Let TMG generate the report. After you verify that you've got the right group, close the report and click "Yes" when asked to change the flag. You are next asked if you want to change the "Last Edited Date" for these people. I can't imagine why one would choose anything but "No" for this option, so I would suggest turning it off in Preferences > Program Options > Reports.

2b. Add Spouses, Ancestors, and Descendants

Next, you take the group of people marked in step 2a above, and add the others that you want to include. To do this, make as many additional runs of the LoP as needed to add the people you want. Each time the secondary output remains as before, but the filter is:

Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
SCRATCH   = Equals Y END

(substituting the name of your flag if different) and you change the items at the bottom as required. Some likely possibilities:

3. Use the Flag for Your Desired Final Output

When you are satisfied that you have the right list, use the Scratch flag for whatever your original objective was. For example, if you wanted to create a new Data Set or Project, use the Secondary Output of the List of People report to do that, using a filter of:

Field Subfield Operator Value Connect
SCRATCH   = Equals Y END

If you want to create a GEDCOM file, use the same filter in the Project Explorer. Then, select everyone in the Project Explorer (click on the first person, scroll to the bottom of the list, and hold shift while clicking on the last person). Then use the Export wizard (File > Export...) and at Step 4 select the second option (the one with the name of your Data Set) and below that, select "Selected people on the Project Explorer."

If you are creating a GEDCOM to submit to an Internet site, also see my article on Uploading Your Data to a Public Site.

ReigelRidge Home Terry's Tips Home Contact Terry



Copyright 2000- by Terry Reigel