This next award is long overdue. The second winner of the ThinkGenealogy Innovator award is Legacy Family Tree version 7. When the innovator award is presented for software innovation, it is for a specific feature. The innovative feature that is being recognized today is Legacy 7′s source citation templates following Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.
Previous versions of Legacy allowed for source citations, but not anywhere near this level. So this improved citaion feature can be considered an incremental innovation. Evidence Explained (or EE ) is 885 pages and contains around a thousand citation models for U.S. and international documents. Just reading the book is an accomplishment in itself but then translating that into software? Amazing!
EE was published around August 2007 and Legacy 7 was released in June 2008. I know that Geoff Rasmussen put in many hours during those months reading and re-reading EE, thinking about it, talking with ESM, translating citation models into software requirements, creating templates, and then testing them. I dare say that Geoff is in an elite class of a few that know this book backwards and forwards. Ken McGinnis and Dave Berdan spent many hours coding SourceWriter and the other Legacy 7 features.
With SourceWriter, a genealogist can more easily find the appropriate template among so many and then fill in the blanks with the needed information. There is no question of which citation information is needed for the document that you are citing.
Quite possibly because of the innovative work of the Legacy team, other genealogy software applications now support or will soon support EE source templates. If my 2009 genealogy predictions come true, more and more genealogy applications (desktop and online) will support these templates. They will become a new standard. So does that mean that this feature is an incremental change with side effects or a transformational change?
Let me end with a story. For many years I have thought about EE‘s predecessor, Evidence!, and how it could be implemented in software. When EE was published, I got more excited as I saw how the QuickCheck Models could be translated into software requirements. It would take a lot of effort and time, but the time felt right. I would catch myself thinking about this over and over, doing preliminary designs in my head. One day I was driving home from work listening to a DearMYRTLE podcast interview with Geoff. He was leaking some information about Legacy 7. When he said something to the effect of “source citation models following Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained” I literally cried out “Nooooo!” They had beat me to it.
I have since met the Legacy team and consider them as friends. This is the first time they have heard this story. They have had no warning about this post and will likely be surprised that they are the winners of the second ThinkGenealogy Innovator award.