Home Genealogica Grafica: specifying FAM relationships 13 Nov 2010
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In a simple-minded report, husband and wife married and maybe separated at a later date. We only need to know how to express he/she married and he/she separated. But in a more sophisticated report, this is not acceptable for situations where a formal marriage did not take place. We need to know in addition how to express that they lived together, had a common law marriage and the likes.

It gets more demanding if the report must also say things about the earlier and later relationships of the partner, like He married Sue. She was widow of Carl. Later she had a relationship with Bert.

This document describes how to specify these phrases. One complication in this is that the gedcom standard is not adequate to record some of the more modern relationships. Genealogical programs have therefore introduced their own private gedcom tags. These are not standardized and they may even be contradicting with similar tags from other programs. So, not only do we need to specify the phrases to be used in the report, we also need to specify how to recognize the special relationships in the gedcom.

In menu Layout - Report layout - Information depth you can specify that you do not want any sophistication. Make sure to turn yhis off if you do want state-of-the-art reports.

Gedcom FAM conditions

Via menu Options - Gedcom FAM definitions you can specify how relationships are coded in the gedcom and what phrasing convention to apply for such a relationship.

The various relationships that a gedcom may contain are given a (user-specified) name. The known ones are listed in the top scroll box. You can add and delete if you like by selecting the list and clicking INS or DEL.

The bottom box shows the conditions that make up the definition of the relationship. Take for example the relationship labeled MARR. This is meant for a traditional marriage. The conditions list shows that it is defined as any FAM record in the gedcom that contains the MARR tag. Now look at Living together, past. Here the conditions show that three tags are of relevance: the relationship is defined for gedcoms from Brothers Keeper only (gedcom = BROSKEEP), a non-standard tag _NMR (not married) must be present in the FAM record and another non-standard tag _MST must have PARTNERS in its field. (Nb: GG only recognizes the first four characters of a tag!) The checkbox above the conditions list indicates that Living together, past is a formal relationship. This means that there is a begin and an end, even though these may not be recorded (unlike an informal relationship, which will never have a begin and end record).

The conditions can be edited (by clicking on a line). You can add by pressing INS while in the box. Deletion is accomplished by editing a line and removing its contents.

Conditions have a left side and in most cases a right side. The left side specifies a tag, the right side says what to check about that tag. Any tag can be used and in many cases you can also use tags within tags by using a construct with a separating dot, eg.
MARR.DATE = >1800
In these cases the FAM record is searched for the occurrence of a MARR tag and within that sub-record searched for DATE and TYPE tags respectively.


In addition to the standard and non-standard gedcom tags, you can use a few specials:
GEDCOM = <list of names of gedcom creators>
ACTIVE (without a right-hand side)
The first is used to say that this relation type is limited to gedcoms produced by certain programs only. The right-hand side will contain a list of names, separated by blanks.
ACTIVE tests if both partners in a FAM are currently alive (and still together).
PARTNER = PRESENT tests if both HUSB and WIFE are known.
PARTNER = ABSENT is true if HUSB or WIFE is missing in the FAM.
SUMM (summary) can only be used as a sub-tag. It tests if DATE and/or PLAC tags are present (eg MARR.SUMM=PRESENT).

The right-hand sides take the following  format:
PRESENT tests true if the tag is found.
ABSENT tests true if the tag is not in the FAM record.
A FIELD VALUE means: check if the tag has that value in its field (like GEDCOM = BROSKEEP or MARR.TYPE = LIVING).
A DATE tag can have a date on the right-hand side, with or without a > or <  comparison operator (eg. MARR.DATE= >1811).

Note that a FAM is tested against all the defined relationship types, starting from the top. The first one that has all conditions met will determine the type. This test is done at an early stage, before it is known whether the FAM is referenced from the HUSB's side or from the WIFE's side in the report. Therefore, if you want to have a relationship definition that depends on an aspect of one of the partners (like "still alive"), you can specify
but you will need to create another relationship type where this test is replaced by


Relationship type specifics: formality and phrasing convention

You can specify only two aspects of any relationship type (menu  Options - Gedcom FAM definitions):
  • Whether the relationship can be seen as a formal one or an informal one. (Click the checkbox.) The relevance of this is when Genealogica Grafica needs to determine if two relationships can have been concurrent, like a marriage and a child from another man.
  • What phrasing convention to use for the relationship type. These conventions are defined elsewhere (see below).  Each convention has a (user defined) name and you can pick one from the list to the right. Many relationship types can share the same phrasing convention. This is most useful if you add a type for a gedcom that uses private tags and therefore needs a re-definition of some relationship types.


Specifying FAM phrases

While in the Options - Gedcom FAM definitions window you can click Edit phrases or you can go directly to menu Options- Report phrases (FAM phrases) to get to the page where you can specify the phrases to be used in your report.

The page contains much related information, which we'll describe, from top to bottom.

All the phrases and info on the page relate to the convention selected in the topmost combo box. You pick another convention, and you get other phrases.

In the box below the combo box you can edit the phrase used to introduce the children from a relationship. After listing husband and wife, the children will be listed (if you have specified such in menu Layout - Report layout - Include items) with a heading. Like "Children:" or "From this marriage:". Which heading to use is specified in this field.

Top-right is a matrix of small panels, some or all of them green. Some may have an "x" mark in them. To describe this matrix we need to introduce two concepts:

Use of a phrase
You must realize that there are two places in a report where the FAM can be referenced. They are:

  1. FOCUS - in the then-and-there actual description of a person's relationships, eg:
    married (1) Mary, Paris, 1856 (divorced 1860)
    married (2) Carla, London, 1864
  2. In describing the history of a partner:
    married John, London, 1864. He was divorced fromCarla.

The partner's history can be in the (relative) PAST (like he was divorced) it can be CONCURRENT (eg. at the same time he had a relationship with Cynthia) or in the (relative) FUTURE (such as Later he married Sue).

So, expect to specify phrases for these four uses. And then possibly a different phrase for a man than for a woman (like widower or widow, he or she). But there is more:

End of a relationship
For the reference type phrases (in particular for the PAST use), we need to  distinguish between an explicit end (like a divorce), a natural end (i.e. one of the partners died) and the cases where it is not known how the FAM ended. For instance, describing an earlier marriage, you will encouter he was divorced husband of, he was widower of, or he was married before.
We refer to these end-types as EXPLICIT, NATURAL and GENERAL.

The matrix
The matrix in the right top combines these four uses with the three end-types. So, the top-left matrix element represents the situation that a relationship that has ended explicitly is described in the then-and-there part of the report. If it is colored green, then there are phrases defined for that situation. If not, Genealogica Grafica will fall back on the phrases for the General end type (ie. top roght element of the matrix).
An "x" mark in a matrix element, signals that that situation does actually occur in the gedcom. And examples can be inspected.

Click on a matrix element to select one of the 12 possible combinations of Use and End type. The corresponding phrases will be listed in the three large edit fields and you can modify them at will.

If the selected combination of Use and End type is present in the gedcom, the examples combo box at the bottom will list the first dozen or so. Select one (and press View) to see how the case comes up in a report. The focus shifts to that person and you can inspect the nearby family to check what the report says.

If the report describes a FAM incorrectly, there are two possibilities:

  1. You use phrases inappropriately - click the matrix and check if you really want to use the phrase in the selected situation
  2. The type of relationship that you intended to describe is not recognized as such. You will need to review the gedcom family type definitions. Possibly introduce a new one, or shift one up in the list (see above).

It may well be that you have FAM records without MARR tags (because you didn't know date nor place) while you know it is a marriage. But the gedcom family types list such a FAM most likely as an informal relationship. Go back to your recording program and change them there - if you want a professional report, representing all your research knowledge!

Use of parameters in phrases

There are simple phrases, like
  He was married before
and there are phrases that contain a reference to another person or a date, such as
  He married (1) Sue 21 March 1900, Paris (divorced 1910)
  He married (2) Maria 22 June 1912. She was widow of Bert

These phrases contain parameters which will be replaced by data from the FAM under consideration.
There are three types of parameter:

  1. A counter. It numbers the relationships, like the (1) and (2) above. In the phrase it must be represented by a #. So, above phrases will have a start like He married # ... The number will be put in brackets. If there is only one relationship quoted, it will be suppressed.
  2. A partner reference. It will be replaced by the name of the partner in the FAM. It must be represented by a $. So, above phrases will have a start like He married # $ ... If there is no partner, or the partner reference has no name or its name is NN, the $ will be replaced by a standard string which you can specify on the Unknown tab of the Report specification window.
  3. The contents of a field in the gedcom. Normally this will be a date, place or combination thereof. Such a paramater will have to start with a @, followed by the name of the gedcom tag within the FAM record, like @MARR.PLAC and @MARR.DIV.DATE.
    You can use two special indicators for dates and places:
    DATE.YEAR will show the year part of a date
    SUMM will show date and/or place in the way you have defined in Options - Date/place formats. This will ensure that repetions of placenames can be suppressed.
The phrases are of course specific to the situation you describe and may well depend on Use and end-type of the relationship.

So, for a marriage that ended explicitly with a divorce, you would want to say He married # $ @MARR.SUMM (divorced @DIV.DATE.YEAR) while for a marriage that did not end, or ended because one of the partners died, you'd simply say He married # $ @MARR.SUMM.

There is a special provision for cases where a tag is not present for a certain FAM. Like in above example: if the date of the divorce is not recorded, the report would say He married Sue 21 March 1900, Paris (divorced ). When a field can not be found, it will be suppressed. If it is in a bracketed part of the phrase and one of the brackets touches the field reference, the whole bracketed part will be suppressed. So, the output will be He married Sue 21 March 1900, Paris since the field reference is next to the closing parenthesis. If there had been a space in between, (divorced ) would have stayed.
As brackets we count ( ), [ ] and { }.

For examples of parameter use, browse through the phrases in the Options - Report phrases window.

Note that the tag reference in a parameter can be anything - there is no check if it is a valid tag.

If you see no difference between say DIV (divorce) and DIVF (divorce filed) and yet your gedcom contains both forms, you will have to create two relationship types. And they need separate phrases, for the first will reference @DIV.DATE while the second uses @DIVF.DATE. Luckily, you can reuse all phrases when you start a new convention.

When you are desparate

If you want to start from scratch, proceed as follows:

Open the FAM types and conditions editor  (menu  Options - Gedcom FAM definitions) and remove all defined relationships except MARR and except Anything else  (click a line and press DEL).

With MARR selected, you will see that the condition for it is MARR = PRESENT. Anything else does not have any conditions, so that relationship will apply to any FAM that lacks a MARR tag.

Select MARR. You will see that it is formal and that it uses the phrasing convention MARRIAGE.  Press Edit phrases under the convention combo box. You can now modify the phrases if you like, but this should only be necessary when you work with a language other than Dutch or English.

In this phrases page (a tab of the Report specification window) you can also select INFORMAL RELATIONSHIP and see what it will produce. This is the convention used for Anything else.

Check out how the report will be phrased for a number of cases from the examples list at the bottom. (The examples are specific for the combination of Use and relation-end that you have selected in the matrix - you'll have to read the section above, sorry.)

If all your formal marriages come out with he married, she was widow, etc. you are in business.

Reopen the FAM types and conditions editor  (menu  Options - Gedcom FAM definitions) and add a LIVING TOGETHER relationship or anything else specific to your gedcom. Work out how it can be recognized in the gedcom and translate that into conditions. For instance, living together might be:
MARR.TYPE = LIVING (implying that there must be a MARR tag and within it a TYPE tag; and the field of the TYPE record should contain the string LIVING).
Or it might be:
(Nb: Of any gedcom tag, specify only the firt four characters)

Then select formal or informal (living together would be formal) and select a phrasing convention. If none is of your liking, you will have to create a new one and then select it.