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Genealogy Software Tips

DISCLAIMER:  As of April 2006, there have been many changes and improvements in software programs for genealogy and history since the information on this web page was written and the links posted.  There are multitudes of genealogy software evaluation pages with their own commercialized statistical analysis of which is the best.  Their motivation is simple, but the important facts and ratings actually depend on the individual user, you.  Use the information on this page as a minimal guide just to familarize oneself with the features of genealogy software.  In no way does the Nacogdoches County TXGenWeb or any of its' affiliates endorse or back any of these products, or represent any of the opinions represented on this web page.  In other words, this page is only a guide.  It should raise more questions than what you came here with.  Good luck.  And, "May The Force Be With You."  Douglas Anderson

Before choosing a genealogy software program it is important to determine:

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU


Consider the following and ask several genealogy friends about these if you do not understand something:

  • What is the overall cost - consider initial cost plus updates
  • What are the computer requirements - does your computer meet the minimum requirements for the program - usually better performance if your computer exceeds the minimum requirements for memory size and CPU speed - VERIFY disk space as newer versions of programs take more disk space - if computer is more than 5 years old or has a small amount of MEMORY/RAM be sure to check requirements, newer computers most likely OK
  • Is the program easy to use - many programs have a beginner level that is easy but you need more computer skills to use the advanced features - "easy" is a relative thing and varies for every person - so trial versions help decide what YOU think
  • Will the program produce pretty charts, reports, or a family book - look for samples on web or from mail-lists or friends - output to Word Processor for final editing?
  • Will the program handle images / video / audio files
  • Will the program document sources of information - programs vary in how easily and completely sources are handled
  • Will the program check data entry for possible errors - mother too old/young at birth, etc.
  • Will the program handle non-standard dates (the third day after Easter, between 1903 and 1907, etc.)
  • Will the program assist in research planning - task list (ToDo), research log, correspondence log
  • Does the program provide tools - calendar converters, soundex, etc.
  • How well does the program support GEDCOM - check GEDCOM test book to see how well a program imports a standard GEDCOM file - be aware some advanced features cannot be imported to GEDCOM before you use those features (ie. TMG's witness feature)

SOME OF THE MOST WIDELY USED PROGRAMS STILL IN PRODUCTION AS OF 2004 ARE:
(the following contains personal opinions of the author that you may or may not agree with)

For PCs:
1. PAF 5 - free download - $5 CD - good for LDS submissions - used by many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but non-LDS church members might find more useful features in #2 or #4.
http://www.familysearch.com/

2. Legacy Family Tree - free edition and a $40 deluxe edition - catching up with TMG (#4) on features http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/

3. Family Tree Maker (FTM) - no trial version but has a 30 day refund - $30+ CD - easy to use and known for pretty charts and lots of data CDs (but all programs now have pretty charts and Family Archive Viewer is free and reads any FTM data CD). Family Tree Maker is often referred to as the most "popular" genealogy software but that is generally due to the fact it was the only genealogy software available in stores for many years therefore was bought by many people. It is still used by a lot of people but does not offer all of the features todays discriminating genealogists demand.
http://www.genealogy.com/

4. The Master Genealogist (TMG) 5 - 30 day trial version - $79 GOLD CD - the best program at organizing, analyzing and documenting your research, good reports - editable sentences on a per event/person basis for minimal word processor editing before publishing. The advanced features of TMG require the user to spend some time learning how best to take advantage of those features. But TMG is arguably the most user-configurable of the popular programs used today.
http://www.whollygenes.com/

5. Roots Magic 5 - fairly new but becoming more popular

There are many other genealogy programs available. This is not an endorsement for any particular product although it does offer personal opinions. As stated above, decide what features are important to you and use the software report cards (links below) to determine which best meets your needs.

For Apple/MAC:
1. Reunion - free demo 35 people max - $99.95 CD http://www.leisterpro.com/

GENEALOGY SOFTWARE COMPARISONS

Genealogical Software Report Card (300 items rated)
Bill Mumford for NGS - http://www.mumford.ca/reportcard/

Comparing Genealogy Software Programs
Richard S. Wilson - http://rwilson.us/comparison.htm

This table provides a partial summary of grades from the software report card as of January 2004. You will notice that the programs with a lower experience level (that is, that are easier to use) generally get a lower point value for each of these selected categories.

See http://www.mumford.ca/reportcard/ by Bill Mumford for the full, complete and updated Genealogical Software Report Card.


Genealogy Software Program / Version

Total Points

Experience Level

Reports

Charts

Publishing

Source Documentation

TMG5 - Master Genealogist

96.6

8

8.2

8.2

7.7

8.4

Legacy 4

88.2

8

8.0

6.0

6.1

7.1

Genbox 3

84.3

9

7.7

8.2

7.0

7.9

Ancestral Quest 2002

81.0

5

6.5

5.9

4.5

7.1

RootsMagic 1

78.2

4

7.0

4.8

5.5

6.7

Reunion 8

76.1

5

7.5

7.3

5.8

6.1

PAF 5

70.9

5

6.7

5.4

3.9

5.6

Family Tree Maker 10

67.8

5

5.9

7.7

5.0

3.5

Brother's Keeper 6.0

53.8

2

6.5

5.9

4.5

5.4



TMG 5 provides the following items that are not provided or are difficult to do in FTM 10/11:
- basic and advanced data entry modes
- Customizable data display, screen layout, fonts, colors AND template for data entry
- full control over sentence wording at global and individual level
- unlimited size memo field for every tag - info doesn't have to go in separate "fact" or "Note" as in FTM
- full control over printing of sensitive information (3 ways) and inclusion/exclusion of data based on surety levels (include all data for personal reports for research but only proven data for sharing with others)
- recording the 'sources' of information - with full control over ibid. and printing as full or short footnote and bibliography
- creating 'custom' reports and custom data tags - select to include/exclude individual tags on reports to get exactly what you want printed
- recording of conflicting data without using Alt-XX fact
- facts/events go into TAGs in TMG and not all jumbled together in Notes as in FTM (easier to see on screen and get chronological listings)
- record findings with more depth, more documentation, more cross-referencing
- database internals are made available so users can create utilities and tools that TMG doesn't provide
- language support - several provided and users can make custom languages
- multiple names supported - unique names for individual tags
- accent option - highlight ancestors or other characteristics of individuals
- user-definable focus groups and lists
- and much more

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This page last updated: Sunday, 31-Mar-2013 11:29:07 MDT