Most family history programs focus on recording the history of individuals (‘Persons’) and their interrelationships within families.
HRE is more general and allows researchers to focus on multiple areas of research or Research Types, accessed via user-definable sets of windows called Viewpoints.
Where HRE is being used for traditional genealogy, the user may need only a single viewpoint, namely the Person Viewpoint. This might typically comprise a main Person Details window, along with a series of linked secondary windows that show Siblings, Children, Associates, Flags and so on which automatically update as the focus person is changed.
For more wide-ranging historical research, the user may want to access the database in a variety of different ways, to provide different perspectives.
For example, an art collection database might have
- an Item Viewpoint for an item-by-item perspective in the main window, with secondary windows for persons (previous owners) and historic locations that update automatically as the focus item is changed.
- a Person Viewpoint for researching previous owners, with automatically updating secondary windows for items and locations
- a Location Viewpoint, with automatically updating windows for items and persons.
A Viewpoint Manager allows the creation of multiple Viewpoints incorporating pre-configured dockable and sizable windows. Several screen layouts may be defined for each Viewpoint, enabling a single Viewpoint to be used for example on a large-screen desktop computer and on a laptop.
The main window of a Viewpoint can be chosen to provide a perspective on any supported Object Type. The primary types are:
The identity of an Item Object is essentially fixed, although it may be splittable and/or may be capable of having children. Item Objects may be Inanimate or Biological. Examples include persons, animals, plants, artworks, sculptures, books, images.
The identity of a Group Object is more fluid, and may change over time. Group Objects may divide in multiple ways, with or without change of identity, and may be capable of merging. Examples of Group Objects include businesses, art collections, populations, sets of locations, land parcels, planning zones.
Groups may consist of collections of objects of identical or of differing types. Sets of locations or areas are handled via a special Spatial Group.
Object Type attributes
Each specific Object Type may have its own attributes and enforced rules of behaviour. For example Biological Items have a sex, while Inanimate Items do not.
There can be associations between members of the same type or between types, for example “A person owns a dog” (both Biological Items), or “A dog has a kennel” (Biological Item to Inanimate Item).
Other Data Objects
HRE includes two additional fundamental objects:
- Event –has an historical date or date-range and a location or set of locations. Events link to one or more Objects with citations to sources. They describe specific occurrences, which may be precise in time and location (such as a marriage) or which may extend over both time and space (such as the building of a railway network).
- Task – describes a dated step in a research plan and records the outcomes/conclusions of a research action.
Events may be linked to multiple Objects, to Tasks, and to other Events.
Tasks may be linked to multiple Objects, to Events, and to other Tasks.