Thursday, July 2, 2009

Online Family Trees - Post 1: What I Want

After writing the Genealogy in the Cloud piece about how the "future of genealogy" is in using online databases, and not in desktop genealogy family tree software, I wrote What I Want in a Family Tree Program fully intending that it apply to both local computer software and online platforms.

What I did not mention in my "wants" and "needs" for online family trees was:

* If I make a change to my local software program - whether it be a name, date, place, relationship, image, note, source, etc., I want to be able to upload it to my online family tree also so that the two are synchronized (have exactly the same information).

* If I make a change to my online family tree - whether it be a name, place, relationship, image, note, source, etc., I want to be able to download it to my local software program so that the two are synchronized (have exactly the same information).

* I want both the local software program and the online family tree to have approximately the same navigation features, and to be able to move quickly within the database. By "quickly" I mean almost instantaneously - less than one or two seconds to jump from one person to another in the pedigree chart or the tree name index.

* I want the online family tree to be able to capture record images from any website (e.g., Ancestry, Footnote, FamilySearch, WorldVitalRecords, FindMyPast, Rootsweb, etc.) and attach it to a person in my online family tree.

* I want the online family tree to be able to capture the standard source citation for any record on any database and insert it into my online family tree.

* I want to be able to "copy-and-paste" text from a document on my local computer or from an Internet website into the Notes field in the online family tree.

* I want both the online family tree to be able to create, save and print out essentially the same types of reports with basic formatting options. My preference is that the online family tree program will create RTF, HTML and PDF reports similar to those in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7, and RootsMagic 4.

* I want the online family tree to be able to create, save and print out essentially the same types of charts with basic formatting options. My preference is that the online family tree program will create pedigree, family group sheet, all-in-one, bow-tie, fan, wall and other charts similar to those in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7, and RootsMagic 4.

* I want online family trees to be collaborative, so that other researchers can add to or edit my work, subject to some sort of privacy filter and approval process. This "want" conflicts with the first two "wants," I fear!

* I want the online family trees to be on the Internet forever ... not subject to the marketplace, hosting services, or death of the tree creator.

* I want access to the online family trees to be free to search by anybody.

Whew! I don't want much, do I? And some of those "wants" may conflict with others of the "wants." And with the "wants" of the online family tree providers. But hey - we're talking about "genealogy in the cloud" here...

Actually, all of those "wants" are essentially what I, and everybody else with genealogy software, has in the current crop of genealogy software programs. I'm using Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy Family Tree 7 and RootsMagic 4 (and I know that there are other programs, but I don't have those other programs). They are my current standards of family tree excellence. However, they are not perfect - each can be improved, and probably will be improved over time.

Why should I accept anything less than what I have in an online family tree program? I shouldn't, and I won't. The minimum standard has to be the current crop local genealogy software programs, not the current crop of online family tree websites.

So the challenge is for the suppliers of online family trees to make their offerings so attractive and so capable that people will flock to their website and make the tree suppliers rich, or at least famous, and their customers happy.

So which family tree systems should I consider? The obvious answers include:

* www.Ancestry.com
* FamilySearch Family Tree
* www.Geni.com
* www.MyHeritage.com
* www.WeRelate.org
* www.GeneaNet.org
* www.OneGreatFamily.com
* www.Dynastree.com
* www.FamilyPursuit.com
* www.FamilyBuilder.com

And any other sites! What other online family tree website should I pursue here? Which one currently provides the most capability and meets my "wants" best?

I have a tree on almost every one of the listed websites (not FS Family Tree or OneGreatFamily - yet!). It is difficult to keep up with them all in any organized way.

What else do you want in an online family tree system? Tell me, tell the providers. That's what we're all here for.

4 comments:

reh ncw said...

Please add all those nifty changes can be done with a drag and drop.

New suggestion ---- Gather a your own software team and develope your own software program with all these bells and whistles. Present it at Genealogy Jamborees and get rich!!!! Then we all can be treated to a "company paid" genealogy themed cruise around the world. Gee this cloud is fun!!!

Hazel said...

My Heritage works computer to Internet, but not the other way round. Updates photos and facts.

Another site: Tribalpages.com

Geolover said...

Randy, one of your items is "* I want the online family tree to be able to capture the standard source citation for any record on any database and insert it into my online family tree."

That is not so much a Tree Program issue as what the source-site generates that can be retrieved *together with with the image* simultaneously with uploading it or viewing it.

At present, for example, one can retrieve a partial original-source description together with **none of the images** on the Ancestry.com site unless the image is taken as a screenshot. Another partial original-source citation is available linked to the actual image, if you add Ancestry's error-prone partial notes/extracts of an image to your tree on ancestry.com.

You think Ancestry.com is going to add the actual proper citation to each image on its site?

Hohohohohahahahahaheheheheeeee!

Stefani said...

Some say that Facebook will offer many of these features at some point in the future. Meanwhile, it will take some time. I would just like a seamless back and forth communication between desktop program and online tree as well. We have a huge Geni.com family profile but when I export the Gedcom file, it just shows names and birthdates and not a lot of the other information.
I agree with reh ncw, let's make our own program!