Society Trello

Trello is an easy and affordable way for societies to manage operations, members, publications, speakers and more. Best of all, it will cost you nothing to use. Trello is an impressive project management platform, but unlike most other project management systems, Trello is quite easy to use.

Project showing lists and cards
A Trello board showing lists and cards

The main components in Trello are boards, lists and cards. A board is created for each project. Within the board you will find lists and cards. Cards contain information on each task involved in this project. Lists are used to manage the workflow as cards move through each project stage. A quick look at a board gives you an overview of the project’s status.

The example above shows a board for managing our society’s publications. There are three lists in this workflow – Researching, Writing and Published Issues. The cards will move from one list to the next as the task completes one level and moves on to the next. For example, once The Trello for Genealogy research effort is completed, the card will be dragged to the Writing list. Want a list for the actual publication so you can see which articles are finished? No problem! You can add lists at any time.

Speaker Bureau Project
Speaker Bureau Project

Trello can also be used to organize information. Our society is using Trello to build our own Speakers Bureau. We have four lists in this board. The first list describes potential speakers. Each card includes contact information for that person along with a bio when we can get them. Trello cards have a checklist feature which we use to list the presentations that speaker can give.

Sample card
Sample Trello card

When we contract with a speaker to present at an upcoming meeting, that person’s card is moved to the Contracted Speakers list long with dates, fee, bio and description of the presentation. If the speaker provides a handout document, that is added to the card as an attachment.

After the speaker has given his presentation, the speaker’s card is forwarded to the Speaker Review list. Board members can use the Comments element in the speaker’s card to give their opinions of the speaker and presentation. Once that is done, the speaker’s card is moved back to the Potential Speakers list for future engagements.

The last list in this board is the Resources list. This is where we keep track of the projectors, connecting cables, etc. needed to support the presenter’s needs.

The Trello Member Directory

Trello is an easy way to manage your membership. Create a New Members list and create a card for each new member. This card includes contact information, level of research experience, software and services used, areas of interest, etc. Society staff can then review each card to perform the necessary tasks – send welcome letter and member guide, add to mailing list, etc. Trello’s label feature adds a colored bar to the card. You can use labels to see at a glance which tasks are complete.

One of the very nice things about Trello is how easy it is to add others to your Trello boards. Using the example of our Programs board, when we get a new Programs chair all we have to do is invite him/her to this board. The new chair then has full access to the speakers, presentations, comments, etc. right away. No more wading though old emails to collect details on speakers and presentations. The chair can also invite others to help collect and organize new information.

Trello offers free apps for desktops (Mac and Windows) and mobile devices (iOS and Android). You can also access your Trello account via the Web. The Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers all support Trello.

This is just a couple of examples of how your society can put Trello to work. As you have seen here, Trello can also serve as a resource center. Stay tuned . . . there’s a lot more Trello goodness to come.

Ulysses for Family History

If you are waiting until your research is done before you begin writing your family history, I’ve got news for you. Your research is never done! Do you find the idea of writing “THE FAMILY HISTORY” so intimidating that you just can’t get started? Me too. Fortunately I discovered blogging and started writing “little” stories about the people, places and things I already knew about along with those I discovered in my research. It didn’t take long before I had quite a collection. I needed a way to organize them and repurpose them into family history publishing projects. Continue reading “Ulysses for Family History”

Wunderlist – Attaching Files to a List Item

Wunderlist – Attaching Files to a List Item

If you think Wunderlist [Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web] is just another to-do list, think again. It can be just about anything you want it to be – from a simple grocery list to the activity center for a major project. I use it to capture and organize topic ideas, keep up with my presentations – proposals, topics, schedules, contacts and files – and yes, even my shopping lists.…

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Ulysses [Mac – $49.99, iPad – $19.99] is an impressive writing platform yet quite easy to master. Unlike Scrivener, where every writing project is a separate file, Ulysses creates a library package that contains all your writing projects. This package is very similar to the library used in Photos. When a project package is saved in iCloud and you have the companion iPad app, you can easily write just about anywhere.


Ulysses groups panel

Content is organized as groups, sub-groups and sheets. In the example on the right you can see several writing projects – each set up as a separate group. I created a Template group to make it easy to begin a new writing project. It contains three groups – Research, Front Matter and Manuscript. Research has two sub-groups – Notes and ToDo.

Each group contains sheets. A sheet is a piece of writing. Sheets can contain as much or as little content as you wish. In my template’s Front Matter group I have sheets for the title page, copyright notice, acknowledgements and author info. All sheets and groups can be quickly rearranged by dragging and dropping them where you want them. For example, if I want the Manuscript as the first group in my project I just drag it above the Research group and it’s there.

The Groups with triangle icons in front of them contain sub-groups. Click the icon to display them. You can also choose the icon for each group. It’s not required, but I find it a lot easier to see what’s what.

Once the Template group is set up the way you want it, all you need to do to start a new writing project is duplicate the Template group and rename it.

Ulysses201Here you see the Ulysses work area expanded to three panels. The center panel displays the sheets contained within the selected group. In this case, the Template group is selected so you are seeing both the sub-groups and sheets it contains. On the right is the writing panel. There is also a fourth panel – Attachments – that slides in from the right when needed. More on that later.

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Navigating is easy. Click on a group to display the sub-groups and sheets it contains. Click on a sheet to write or edit. Swipe right or left to display/remove the panels so you just have the view you need.

As you can see in this example, Ulysses is a Markdown editor. This means the files containing your family history projects will still be readable long after the program is obsolete. It also means there are no massive toolbars to distract you. You just focus on writing. Don’t know the codes for the few formatting elements you do use? No problem! Click the A| button you see at the top of the writing panel, choose the formatting option you need and Ulysses will assign the code for you. Yes, there is a spell-checker too.


Here you see the Attachments panel. It appears/disappears when you click the paperclip icon in the toolbar. It’s where you can store notes, images and keywords. You can also set and review writing goals if you wish. Keywords can be put to a number of good uses (see Build Your Family History With Ulysses).

While Ulysses was designed to keep the focus on writing, that doesn’t mean it is lacking in features. They are there, but they stay out of your way until you need them. The iPad version is delightful and quickly becoming my writing platform of choice. Moving between the two apps is effortless. There’s no synching – everything is right there waiting for me whenever and wherever I find time to write.

Life is good.

Organize Writing Projects In Ulysses …

Ulysses [Mac – $49.99, iPad – $19.99] is an impressive writing platform yet quite easy to master.

Thoughts on Transcriptions

After being inspired by my newly-discovered cousin’s effort transcribing Georgiana’s diary, I’ve started moving forward with a long-neglected transcribing project of my own. My grandfather’s letters project is a fascinating project. His letters cover the five-year period (1908 – 1913) between the time he met my grandmother until they were married. During that period she was teaching at different…

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