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Bundled Utilities - Example content
As an external utility for the RootsMagic genealogy program, what would it do, how would it look?
Initially, it would take the many tweaks and modifications discussed on this site and roll them into a format that is usable for the average RM user.
There are a lot of general database cleanup or modification items that users want to be able to do, but that RootsMagic doesn't do on its own. Some of these things RM may do in the future, some maybe not, but since it's possible to modify the database itself, it can be done. Users don't know or need to care about the database structure or the commands needed to get it done. In order to make the many wonderful things on this site more widely used (and make maximum use of the efforts folks have gone into to develop and explain these things) a layer needs to be put on top of the SQL Queries, so that the words SQL and Query are really not even mentioned.
Example from TMG Utility
The best way to ensure success is to look at how others have achieved it. TMG is a genealogy program much like RM, it's based on FoxPro, and there's a wonderful utility program for it. Many TMG users benefit from the TMG Utility program, and very few know or care about FoxPro.
The website for the utility is here: http://www.johncardinal.com/tmgutil/
I have made a screencast of the utility, showing the program's structure, the options provided to the users, and I've added notes of some of the parts of the program. It's a 5 minute screencast, found here:
You can, I think, watch the screencast via this frame, but for my notes, you probably need to go to the website itself.
The expanding folder view on the left is a very common, easily understood paradigm, and automatic "categorization" of all of the options. I highly recommend that RMutils use the same concept. The structure of TMG Utilities echoes the DBF files that are modified, for RMutils we'd use the database tables.
The function windows are pretty clean and straightforward.
The help "file" is an on-disk version of the program's website, I'd be tempted to suggest making our help file go to the live website itself rather than on disk files. In that way, the help system is always as up-to-date as possible.
The program's website, is, IMO, NOT a great example to copy.
Example from LTools
(added by ve3meo)
LTools is to Legacy Family Tree as TMG Utility is to The Master Genealogist, filling some needs that the main database program does not satisfy. Independently developed, it accesses the Legacy JET database (JET underlies Microsoft Access). Unlike the TMG Utility, it exposes the user to SQL queries, even supports user defined SQL queries, at least in the Deluxe (paid license) version. The Standard version is free. I downloaded the free version of LFT and LTools for the purpose of reviewing primarily the latter, insofar as we might also learn something from it that might be applicable to the rmutil design.
LTools also uses the expanding list feature. The grayed out area on the right in the Standard edition which shows the inaccessible Deluxe features is likely merged with the standard list in the Deluxe version, given the common root names.
Help is solely on-line.
As a SQLite user, I like the idea of being able to have an interactive SQL screen in the utility - I have asked for the same to be provided in RootsMagic itself. LTools appears to provide a way of storing and recalling user defined SQL queries - cool!