Saturday, December 08, 2007

READERS’ FEEDBACK: Genealogy Management Software

RE: Genealogy-specific software makes it easier


One Windows program that you failed to mention and which is outstanding (I know -- I used to teach genealogy software classes and have used about 8 different programs including FTM, TMG, RootsMagic, Legacy, Cumberland Family Tree, Kith & Kin, Brothers Keeper, and others) is GENBOX. I find it very annoying that genealogy "authorities" simply overlook (either intentionally or unconsciously) this wonderful program.

You may remember I have written to you in the past. I read your recent article Genealogy-specific software makes it easier and I agree with you throughout the entire article. There are two points I would recommend to readers. Firstly, that they should still take backups of their online data pools as a safety precaution and in order to pass on to other interested parties if they wish. Secondly, and in my opinion, more importantly is that Linux has an extremely and powerful genealogy program called GRAMPS

This software differs from your all your other recommendations because:
  • It is totally free, all of the software you have suggested have significant commercial sides to them.
  • Anyone can be involved in the software development. You can be involved in shaping the software, discussing directly with the developers instead of it being left behind closed doors.
  • This software can been transferred to run on the platforms of MS Windows and Mac, interestingly none of those in your article can so easily be run on other platforms.

I was using FTM, PAF, and to store my findings but it was the professionalism of GRAMPS that made me decide not only to solely use it for my records, by I also decided to migrate to Linux completely.

Just felt it could help balance the recommended software. Thanks for listening :)

Thank-you for your prompt replies.
Ol' Myrt's previous blog entry was not meant to slight anyone, nor was it intended to include every genealogy database program on the market (freebie or otherwise.) I think the gist of my comments was that one should choose the program "the majority of the members of your local genealogy society are already accustomed to using.” That was strictly from a “we get by with a little help from our friends” point of view.

I am aware that the Windows-compatible RootsMagic works beautifully on a MAC using Parallels, since I installed it for my friend Wendy and helped her begin entering data from her gobs of paper genealogy files. Theoretically, any Windows-compatible program can work on a MAC in that manner. However, all this information about cross-platform use is a bit more technical than I wished to be in the original blog entry.

Ol' Myrt here did fail to mention the necessity of making a series of backups on a regular basis. We need it not only because of possible hard drive failure, but because of human failure. What? Never made a big mistake in data entry and wished you could get back to how things were last week, before you created a snafu in your database? Well, take it from an experienced snafu creator, make backups as follows:

  • One every time you enter more than 2 names or correct entries for 2 ancestors in your database.
  • Place one copy of the backup on a flash drive.
  • Place another copy of the backup file on a rewritable CD or secondary hard drive if you have one.
  • Be sure to include the DATE as part of the name of the backup file such as:
    Richley 2007 March 1
    Richley 2007 June 15 after reunion
    Richley 2007 Nov 25
    Richley 2007 Dec 1

    NOTE: By typing the YEAR before the month and day, all backups made in 2007 will be grouped together in the default name-sorted list of files in your computer’s document folder, and there will be no need to take an extra step to sort the files by date created.

There are backup services where one can securely store data in a password-protected environment for a small monthly fee. See Dick Eastman’s blog entry of 22 April 2007 titled One Last (?) Word About Backups concerning hard drive failure, and his entry of 11 Sept 2007 Loss of backups where he discusses the need for multiple copies of backups.

This is different from the backing up (to your local computer) of one's online genealogy database. Again, this is a more advanced topic I didn't wish to burden a newbie with on his first time out of the "genealogical database management" starting gate.


Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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