Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What do you want genealogy software to do for you?

Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog posted this question last night in his "What Do You Wish Genealogy Software Did?"

Almost all genealogists and family historians use one form of genealogy database software or another, and most of them serve the simple purpose of showing names, dates, places, and relationships with facts, research notes, source citations, charts, reports, books, web site creation, etc. The most recent programs include maps, timelines, and web search capabilities. I posted "Genealogy Roftware Reviews" here last week.

As I've stated before, I currently use FamilyTreeMaker 16. I am frustrated by "small" things that happen in FTM 16. The list I put on Mark's blog in a comment include:

1) Do everything FamilyTreeMaker 16 does and lots more.
2) Create an ahnentafel list (just ancestors names, dates, places, no children, in a list) - FTM 16 doesn’t do this.
3) Create Time Lines with important events for user-selected people in the database - FTM 16 doesn't do this.
4) Create Word Processor editable pages with field codes embedded for a name index and TOC - FTM 16 doesn't do this (it creates it in PDF format).

Unfortunately, I have found that I am not a visionary. My strengths are researching, testing, analysis and discussion, not trying to figure out the next nifty geewhiz gimcrackery (I'm not calling anything currently used on genealogy software as 'gimcrackery,' I just wanted to use the word on my blog to get more hits! I could have used 'gewgaw' too). When the nifty features in software appear, I appreciate them, figure them out and use them.

What Mark is doing is called "Listening to the Voice of the Customer (VOC)." It is a vital part of marketing any new product. A company that does this well usually produces a superior product out of the box. A company that continues to listen to the VOC and continues to continually improve their product will have a very successful product. Naturally, I don't know if Mark or his company is creating a new product...

I encourage all of my readers to think about what they would like to have in their genealogy software that isn't in their present software or isn't done well in their present software. Then go to Mark's post and add to the list - add your Voice to the din that might create a new product. If nothing else, Mark can always pass it to the next software company trying to create The Mother of all Genealogy Databases.


James said...

Interesting post Randy. I don't actually use any software at all, though I have tried in the past. I actually like the process of drawing the trees for myself and I like completing time-lines and that sort of thing. I can see how software can be useful for things like showing you which obvious sources you haven't looked at yet for a particular individual. However, I also think that doing some of these things yourself actually helps stimulate those little neurons and give you ideas for future research.

Mark Tucker said...

Hello, I am Mark Tucker from the ThinkGenealogy blog. My genealogy software wish list post is my hope to begin a dialog within the genealogy community about innovation in genealogy software. My day job as a software architect is unfortunately not doing genealogy software. One day I hope that I can combine my technical skills with my passion for genealogy. Until then I hope to encourage thinking and sharing ideas about software. Currently ThinkGenealogy is a blog, but I want it to evolve into a community. Randy, thanks for responding as well as blogging about this. Please visit my blog and send me a comment that includes your e-mail address. I would love to chat with you further.