Friday, 6 February 2015

Initial progress report for the genealogy log tool

I will prolly copy over any previous development blog posts from my other blog, Tracing the Footsteps of Amos, just so I can keep everything in one place, but for now I'll give a brief run-down of my progress to date. (BTW, this domain name is only a couple of days old and I already have received several emails from spammers offering to "register" my site with "all the major search engines" for a modest fee. How thoughtful of them!)

I have decided that the first tool I'll create will be a web-based genealogy log tool. I have a few spreadsheet templates that I had been using for my own log, so the initial feature-set will be based off a mix of these. Users will be able to register with the site, once registered (and email is verified) the user can log in and will be presented with a list of previous research sessions and a fresh, blank session ready to fill in. Each session will record the location of the research session (i.e., local library, archives, or a website) along with the date, time and a session goal. Within each session the user can record what searches they have undertaken and the results of those searches. Sessions and search results will be searchable, so users can quickly check whether they have performed the same search previously and if so, what the results were.

One thing I am hoping to include in this tool is a bit of smarts for reverse-engineering search terms for the major genealogy websites. This will allow the user to simply copy and paste the search URL from for example, and the log will attempt to pull out the exact search criteria used. Of course the tool will also be capturing as much source citation information as possible, to help make relocating the results as easy as possible.

I am developing this tool using Ruby on Rails, mainly as an excuse to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty on a Rails project. I have the initial sign up and login pages working and the session list is part-way complete. My aim for a usable beta version is sometime in early March, so I will be putting out a call for volunteers to test the app in about a month.

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