Did you know – Assertions

as·ser·tion [uh-sur-shuh-n] (n.) a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason: a mere assertion; an unwarranted assertion.

Evidentia uses the terms assertion and claim interchangeably to refer to a statement made explicitly or implicitly by a source BEFORE that statement is proven. Some refer to these as ‘facts’, but a fact has to be proven.

Here are a few tips, in no partuclar order, for documenting assertions in Evidentia

  1. An assertion is always a statement. Complete the sentence ‘This source asserts that…‘. This will save you some keystrokes and work out when a report is generated from the claim. Ending with a period is optional (Evidentia will add one to a report if it is missing).
  2. Do not interpret what the source says; if the source says Rachel Thompson was the wife of David, and you know Rachel Thompson was originally Rachel Brown, do not document the claim as Rachel Brown – that interpretation is the venue of analysis.
  3. Do not perform calculations in the claim – if the claim is that John was 83 in 1980, do not document the claim that he was born in 1967 – calculations are the venue of analysis.
  4. If a date is part of the claim, use it in each assertion – it will make analysis easier when comparing sources. (e.g. - as of 1 June 1830 the household of David Thompson included two females between 30 and 39)
  5. Capturing where one assertion ends and another one starts is more art than science.  One rule of thumb is do not combine assertions where the classification of the informant may be different.
    • An informant might be a primary witness to where someone resided, but a secondary informant to where someone came from.  So do not document the claim as ‘moved from Chicago and lived in Boston in 1940′.  Break it up into  ‘moved from Chicago’ and  ‘lived in Boston in 1940′.
    • Make sure to combine enough information in the claim to do the analysis- ‘claims that as of July 18 1820 David Thompson had a wife, Rachel, aged 53‘ combines an age and marriage claim, but in this case the age claim will be used in the analysis to assist in confirming the identity of Rachel, and the informant is Indeterminable for both claims.
  6. If a name is misspelled in the source keep that spelling in the claim, knowing you can argue for the correct spelling in the analysis.  If you feel the need to correct, use brackets [ ] with the corrected text (but still capture the original spelling).
  7. Use the Mini editor!  Let it float on top of your source as you document the claim.  Flipping between two windows while documenting a claim is a great way to introduce an error (I was transcribing dates wrong all the time before the mini-editor).

Remember that proving or disproving a claim comes later. These are just a few tips to help document valid (if unproven) claims.

Did you know – Moving Attachments

Attachments not organized the way you want?  Did you place an attachment in the wrong directory?

Did you know that moving attachments to different location within the Records directory is pretty easy?

Simply edit the attachment:

correct1 And change the Source Type:correct2 correct3

Evidentia will move the file, synchronize the digital file manager directory, and even create any new sub directories you define!

Did you know – Buy More Real Estate!

When working with lots of information, screen real estate can be a real premium on any device.

To get the most on your screen look for the little ‘double-chevron‘ icons on any screen. (chevron – word of the day…)



As this image demonstrates, you can collapse unneeded lists and menus to display more on your screen at the push of a button! And not just on this screen, but on most screens, you will find a way to move unneeded tools out of your way, giving you a larger work space.

Did you know – Where is my database?

Okay, not a tip or trick, but we get asked this question a lot so we thought we would throw it out there.

‘Where is my database file located?’

The short answer is – it doesn’t matter.

The long answer:

In Evidentia 1 people could ‘see’ the database file.  They could copy it to different machines, and move it around.  In Evidentia 2 this accidental convenience went away.

Evidentia 2 was a ‘technology upgrade’.  The purpose was to improve turn around time on new features, provide Evidentia on more devices, and take advantage of opportunities to integrate with newer technologies.

In doing so  Evidentia is using a framework that is focused on security, whether it is being used online or not.  The framework stores all databases in a secure ‘sandbox’, and only Evidentia is allowed to open and manipulate those files.  Likewise Evidentia cannot play in other ‘sandboxes’ without permission.

Now many users are used to being able to move these files around – they can do it in Roots Magic, Family Tree Maker, etc…

Well you can in Evidentia too, sort of.  You just need to export the Database and import it into the new location.  We believe this intentional action is more secure, and in the long run more flexible.

“But I can see the database files on Dropbox.”

Yes, and to be honest that was a mistake.

db1 db2

Some cloud services provide a private location for applications to store it’s private files, the ones users should not touch. During development we placed the Dropbox copy of the database files in a visible location so we could see what was going on, make sure everything was working correctly.  It was useful for troubleshooting issues during BETA.

And then… we forgot.  We forgot to move those files to the hidden directory created specifically for Evidentia.

Pay no attention to those files behind the curtain…

So pay no attention to those files in the Database directory.  They may ‘disappear’.  They are not meant to be viewed or handled by users, and are specific to Evidentia.

Danger, danger Will Robinson!  Keep Out!  Beyond here there be dragons!

Did you know – Source Attachments

Did you know that files attached to a source appear on the citation screen?


Since attachments at the source level theoretically apply to ALL citations that reference that source, it makes sense to make them available on both the Document Source AND Catalogue Claims screen.

The lack of edit and delete icons (pencil and X) for an attachment on the Catalogue Claims screen indicates a source attachment.

If you want to edit or delete a source attachment you have to do it from the Document Source screen.

Did you know – Remote Databases

Did you know that if you use Dropbox with Evidentia, and create databases on different devices, Evidentia does NOT automatically copy databases to all devices?

The image above shows two databases. The ‘evidentia‘ database is currently open, and because it is local, it is displayed in black text. The second database, ‘ThompsonHayward‘, was created on another device, and this device does not have a copy, so it is displayed in blue.

Now the current device KNOWS about ‘ThompsonHayward‘ because it exists on Dropbox, and Evidentia has synchronized the list of available databases.

So why doesn’t the device have its own copy?

The short answer is because the user has never opened the database on this machine. As soon as the user opens the ‘ThompsonHayward‘ database on this machine, Evidentia will keep the copy on BOTH machines in synch.

Why not be proactive and synch to the local machine just in case the user wants to work with that file later? There are several reasons.

  • Not all devices have unlimited storage space. Evidentia tries to limit its use of storage space to the work actually being performed on the device.
  • Users may work with different databases on different devices, and not need or want a copy on all their devices. If they do, they can simply open up the remote database to insure a local copy
  • For performance reasons, Evidentia & Dropbox both have the philosophy of not moving files around unless the user requests it – the user is in control.

So if you see a database in blue, rest assured that it is not taking up any unnecessary space on your device, but a copy DOES exist on Dropbox. If you want to work with it on your current device, just open it and Evidentia will do the rest!

Did you know – Citing a Proof within a Proof

Did you know that you can use one Proof argument to support another Proof argument?

WHY would you want to do that?

Let’s say you are working on a Proof for the Parent(s) of Daniel, and you have a source record that indicates Daniel father was born in Salisbury, MA. If you believe that David is Daniel’s father, it would be helpful if your analysis included the fact that David was born in Salisbury MA.

Now you COULD build that argument right in the analysis field – but wouldn’t it be cleaner (and more complete) to just say “As demonstrated in the Proof of the Birth of David[1] we know that David was born in Salisbury, MA”? Then your reader could reference THAT proof for the complete argument supporting David’s place of birth.

Convinced? Here is how to reference one Proof from another AND get proper citations.

1) First, open the popup editor for the analysis you are working on by double-clicking inside the box.


2) In the reference Citation popup you can select a proof. This will automatically create the citation for the proof using the ‘Unpublished work, privately held’ template. If the Preparer field of the Reports screen has never been populated, ‘Evidentia’ will be listed as the owner of the privately held work.


3) After you hit ‘Select, the popup will show the double cross where the citation will be placed.


4) And when you close the popup, you can hover over the double cross to see the citation


Now you have an analysis argument based on a previously documented proof – and the proof will be cited in the end notes just like any other source!  (This works in the conclusion box as well.)

Of course there are a few things to be aware of when taking this approach:

  • Your analysis argument is only as good as the weakest proof in the chain.
  • Beware of circular proofs (proof 1 is based on proof 2 is based on proof 1). Evidentia won’t stop you, but this is generally not going to be good logic.
  • If the conclusion to proof 1 changes, Evidentia does not (yet?) flag proof 2 as needing review. Proof 2 SHOULD be reviewed to make sure the argument is still valid.

Did you know – Reordering Claims and Analysis

Did you know you can reorder how claims and analysis are displayed on the screen (and appear in reports)?

The purpose of Evidentia is to help you see your sources in different ways. Organizing your information is a part of this.

On the Catalogue Claims screen, hover over the central area of a row until the cursor chnages to the move icon, then hold down the left mouse button and drag the row to the desired location. Evidentia will save the order of the claims and use that order when displaying claims in the the future.


On the Analyze Evidence screen, again hover over the central area of a row to get the move icon. Evidentia will not only display the rows in the selected order, but it will also use that order when creating a Proof report.