NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2013
Behind the Scenes with Legacy
By Bill Ellis,
member of the Computer Users of Erie, PA


cuerie1 (at) verizon.net (click to email author)

Have you ever wondered what the Legacy Family Tree program was doing for you as you keyed in your family data. I never did, until one day, as I sat staring at my family file in the family view screen and I noticed there was some data showing up that I hadn’t entered or that some of the information that I had entered was in a place other then where I had put it. This got me to wondering what the Legacy program was doing behind to scenes and why. Let me run a few of these behind the scenes operations by you and see if they ring a bell. First off, I would key in my family data, much like a robot, and not give any thought to what was really happening to that information. I mean, what the heck, I put the name here, and the date and place of birth goes on this line. Marriage info goes in this section. And let’s not forget about that whole brood of kids. We’ll key them into the spaces below the parent’s name. We are entering this information routinely from documents that we gathered and we are more concerned with being accurate, than to be concerned about anything else. While we are doing our thing, the Legacy program is doing its thing in the background. First of all, when we name our family file and tell Legacy to save it, Legacy turns the file into a database file. It doesn’t look like a database file that we are familiar with, as we view our family file in a pedigree or family view, but that’s what it is. As we know, a database file keeps everything in order and labeled correctly. The database file created by Legacy will end with an .fdb extension. (Family database?) As we continue to add people to our family file, Legacy creates another file as a companion to the database file. This companion file will have a .TC extension. (Table on contents?). This file holds the names of all the people that are entered into the Legacy program and we can view these names by going to the name list within Legacy. As we add more names to our family file, this name list file will continue to grow and be updated automatically. When we’re done working with our family and shut the Legacy program down, we are asked if you want to make a backup copy of the family file. That is, of course, if you haven’t changed the defaults setting for closing down Legacy. When we select yes to make a backup, Legacy creates another file. This third file will have the same name as the other two files, but with a .ZIP extension. A ZIP file is a compacted file. Its size is smaller than the original file and easier to store or transport. These are the basic files that are created, behind the scenes, as we work with Legacy. As we work with Legacy’s other features, Legacy will continue to create additional files to keep how we work simple and easy to understand and recreate.

To see more of Legacy’s behind the scenes work, let’s take a look at our family file using the family view screen. Hopefully, you’ll be looking at your own family file or a close relative’s file with parents listed above and children listed below. In other words, I’d like you to have a full screen of people as we navigate through this window. Let’s look at the male on the left side. In Legacy, males are on the left and females on the right. Above the males name is the label “Husb”. Looking at the female, you’ll see “Wife” above her name. By default, Legacy labels all married couples as husband and wife. If they are not married, or if you only a female on the right and no male on the left or vise versa, they are labeled “Male” and “Female”, instead of husband and wife since there is no spouse. Above the man and woman you’ll see the parents for each. For each parent that is deceased, you will see their birth and death year. If the person is still living you will only see their birth year. You will also see a plus sign at the end of their entries. This indicates that they have descendants. I know you’re going to say this is rather obvious, since a child is listed below. That sign also indicates that there are more descendants than the one you are seeing. Legacy puts this information there, so your family file is easy to read, understand and easy to navigate. Below this man and woman will be the section for their marriage information such as date and place if they were married. This section will also indicate the status of their union such as, married, unmarried, divorced, separated and so on. In the children’s section you’ll see the birth year for each child. If a child is deceased, you’ll also see the death year. You will also see some strange symbols. These symbols indicate different events about the child. They indicate whether a child has children, whether a child is married and doesn’t have children, whether a child never married and never had children, etc. These are just some of Legacy’s behind the scenes operations. You’ve entered all the information, but Legacy will lump it together to make the family file easier to read and understood.

Looking at the very bottom of the family view screen, you’ll see the time of day in the middle. Legacy gets this from your computer’s internal clock. This is also an alarm clock. If you’re like me and work on your family history until the wee hours, an alarms clock really comes in handy. Place your cursor on the time of day and left click. This will open a window so you can set the alarm. You can also type in a reminder message, so you know what you’re supposed to do when the alarm goes off.

To the right of the time of day are four windows. The information in these windows is also created by Legacy behind the scenes. In the first three windows are numbers with an H, M, or W. prefix. These are (RIN) record identification numbers and an H, W or M prefix stands for Husband (Male), Wife (Female) and Marriage respectively. As each individual and/or marriage is entered into your family tree the record identification number is increased by one. For example, if you were the first male to be entered in your family file, your RIN would be H1 and if you are married, your marriage will be assigned the married record identification number of MRIN1. To some people, the H and W prefix for man and woman are considered a flaw in the program. I call it a quirk and no big deal. No matter what, I’m glad that Legacy keeps track of my individuals and their marriages chronologically, because I don’t have to remember to do it. I file all of my documents for each individual or marriage by their RIN. I label the documents with the RIN, put them in acid free, clear sheet protectors and file them in several three ring binders. Previously, I had filed all of my documents in a file cabinet, using the same RIN filing system. It didn’t take me long to figure out is it much easier to lug binders with me on my genealogical research excursions then a file cabinet. Needless to say, I’ve abandoned my first filing system.

The date at the far right is the last date that this couples and/or individual’s records were modified. If you modified the record today, it will show today’s date. Otherwise you’ll see a previous date. Maybe you will to.

All of these appearances are being done, behind the scenes, by the Legacy program. It has been setup this way by default. You have the power to change any or all of these behind the scenes operations by going to the custom menu under options. Most will be found under the view tab. I have found the default settings to be AOK for my use and have left them that way. Maybe you will to.

I hope you enjoy what Legacy does for you, behind the scenes. Creating a family history is a daunting task and it’s great to have a little help on our side.

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