IntelliShare: An Alternative to Great Big Trees Online | Legacy Family Tree

Legacy Family TreeOver at Kerry’s there’s a debate underway about The Value of Great Big Trees Online. I come down on the side of being not all that interested. I agree with the many who say that regurgitated incorrect and un-sourced material is a root problem. But, it can be a place to start.

I know that in my five years online only 0.01% of the 10,000 or so people visiting my genealogy charts have taken any interest in contributing or conversing. Not a single one has ever asked me for my sources. Except for that genealogy police one. If that’s a general indication of how things go with shared trees, well, I rest my case.

Meanwhile, there’s something in this vein that does interest me. It doesn’t replace Great Big Trees but it’s big enough for me and far more satisfying. My #1 genealogy-cousin is expecting her copy of Legacy 7.5 to arrive this week along with the manual and training CDs. FTM is not suiting her anymore and she decided it’s time to switch.

I’ve waited a long time for this day. On the one hand, I’m already feeling daunted by the amount of work ahead but, on the other hand, it’s pretty darn exciting.

First step will be to get her family file out of Family Tree Maker into Legacy via gedcom. Does anyone have experience with this? I’m hoping, but not assuming, that we can cruise right through it and go on to the next step.

IntelliShare, Legacy Family Tree

IntelliShare. As far as I know, this is a feature unique to Legacy. It is going to allow us to merge our family files, work on copies of the same file and synchronize our changes periodically.

The benefits to this are outstanding. Primarily, it will keep us from duplicating the same work. It will also put us in touch with places where we have differences to become points of discussion.

I haven’t done this yet but I’m guessing that the source citations are automatically inserted when she merges my data and vice versa so that brings her right into the MRIN Filing System. With a simple mind mapping technique I can send her my entire Source Library listing.

MRIN Source Library, FreePlane File Explorer

Since she already has a filing system of her own, synchronizing the way we handle sources could be more challenging.

Regardless of how we file them, sharing a family file lessens the chance of us purchasing, downloading or scanning the same source documents twice.

Surely, more hands make genealogy work lighter. And more fun, I think, if there’s someone else who enjoys it at a similar level of interest. We both prefer well-sourced family history. She’s better versed in the history. I’m better at the technology to bring it together. I’m looking forward to taking our collaboration to a new level.

As we get settled, we may find another person or two to bring into it and that could solve the issue of inheritors as we grow older and step aside. It will give us a vehicle for mentoring and natural transition.

IntelliShare can be used to share a family file between two or more people. I’m assuming there’s no limit. Has anyone tried this and have any tips to pass on?

6 thoughts on “IntelliShare: An Alternative to Great Big Trees Online | Legacy Family Tree

  1. Steve

    Intellishare is useful, to be sure. But it requires careful handling, especially in the source-citation realm.

    A merge of a couple of moderately-sized files (ours are around 10,000 individuals) can take a half hour or so, the operation is modal and Legacy, as is its wont, generally refuses to surrender the focus. I.e., start the merge and go make some coffee. Then, after the automated process is completed, you’ll spend x-amount of time reviewing the individuals Legacy is unsure of. And, sometimes, I just can’t figure out what it is Legacy thinks is different between two records.

    As best I can tell Legacy doesn’t even look at source citations; it just slams them together. Which is to say, if you delete a citation and your partner doesn’t, that citation reappears in the merged file. If you accidentally (or purposefully, of course) modify a citation (not the source itself, mind you) — say, adding a period to a sentence in the detail text — you’ll end up with two* copies of the citation on file, one with and one without the period.

    I’ve taken to making a to-do entry for each individual for whom I modify or delete citations. After the merge is complete I go through all the to-do items to make sure the changes are ship-shape. Of course, if the modification was an accident I won’t have made a to-do item and then it’s only by happenstance I’ll come across the double-entry or whatever.

    There are a few other quirks to watch out for. Nothing as irritating as the source citation deal, though.

    1. JL Post author

      It will be a few days before I get to experiment with this. I’ll be looking to keep a backup file before I begin, for sure. I also remembered there’s a tagging option so I can tag people as I work my way through and look at that search list afterward.

      I think this is going to be quite challenging in the area of sources as we will already have the same in many cases from previous sharing but the chance of them being cited in exactly the same way would be nil. I wonder why Merge doesn’t have a ‘Sources’ tab so that could be looked at while in process.

  2. Trent Larson

    Thanks for sharing this: I feel like there’s a lot we can do to make this sharing better, and this is the first I’ve seen of a program that tackles it. I’m off to buy a copy.

    FYI: I’ve started a project at to ease some of the pain (using P2P for delivery), and there are others around (here in Utah) who are interested in other pieces.

    I believe genealogy will be more fun for more people when it’s easy to review changes from trusted friend(s), pull the relevant/interesting parts into my records, and ignore all the stuff I don’t want (automatically, as the program learns my preferences). I look forward to hearing more of your experiences with this whole process. Thanks!

    1. JL Post author

      If you build it, they will come.

      IntelliShare is basically the same as Merge, with the addition of ID numbers, and I think it’s going to be extremely challenging. The part of our family files that my cousin and I have in common covers about 7,500 individuals but with different styles of data entry and source citation. I expect the first round of merging is going to result in only near-duplicates that will all have to be rewritten manually and we’ll have to come to an agreement about which way.

      The lines I’ve worked on that she hasn’t and vice versa will be the easier part.

      Perhaps converting all sources through the Source Writer will establish a standard for the future. And then there’s Events and Notes. After the initial merge things smooth out and the road ahead is easier. That’s the point of it but I foresee the initial merge is going to take a lot of work.

      1. Trent Larson

        What do you mean by “Merge”… another program?

        Yep: I don’t have direct experience, but others who experience that pain of merging have mentioned that an effective program will have to establish a common starting point before people can easily collaborate. It sounds like that’s where you are with your cousin. I wish you luck.

        1. JL Post author

          Merge is a feature of Legacy Family Tree. Same program.

          As far as I can tell IntelliShare is the same thing as Merge except there’s an addition of ID numbers that shorten the process. In a regular merge you’re presented with every single possible ‘same person’ to consider. With IntelliShare the special ID numbers automatically combine records that have not been changed, showing only the changed items. When you’re dealing with large files that could mean considerable time saved.

          As I’m imagining this process so far, I think IntelliShare would be at its best when people are first starting out in collecting data and decide to pool their efforts. With the complex and large files my cousin and I have already established separately I think it’s going to be difficult to get the initial merge done. There are sources, notes, events and locations that all have to be brought into a common format, as well as filing systems because there are tens of thousands of citations linked to external photos and documents.

          I’m beginning to think I understand the attraction of Great Big Trees Online. How the pieces fit is someone else’s headache.

          I have some ideas about how we can work toward the goal in smaller segments but the proof is yet to be. There might be another blog post out of this. 😉


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