Sunday, November 8, 2009

Checking out ourFamily*ology - Post 3

I learned about the ourFamily*ology family tree web site last week, and reported on the signup and GEDCOM upload in the first post of this series. In the second post of the series, I explored the "Tree" tab on the Private Website page.

In this post, I am going to explore four of the Orange tabs at the top of the web page -- "People," "Content," "Analysis," and "Tools." When you click on the "People" tab you can input a surname or a person's name in the search field, or you can click on a letter of the alphabet. I chose to input the surname "Seaver" and was rewarded with a page of a long list of over 7,800 Seaver persons in my database (they show 25 names per page, and I captured the screen from the one with #651 to #675):

On this "People" screen, I could click on a name and information about that person would appear.

I went back to my grandfather's page, and clicked on the "Content" tab and saw the "Sources" information for him (I think because this is the first link on the list in the right-hand column):

All of the "Content" material seems to be similar to what we saw in Post 2 at the bottom of the "Tree" screens.

I clicked on the "Analysis" tab at the top of the page, and the Pedigree Chart opened:
There are other charts listed in the right-hand column - a descendants chart and a Bow-Tie Chart. I was more interested in the "Reports" link, so I clicked on that:

The "Reports" link on the "Analysis" tab has three selections - "Ahnentafel," "Family Fact Sheet" and "Individual." The screen above shows a three-generation "Ahnentafel" report for my grandfather - including a list of each family in his ahnentafel list by number - himself, then his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The list included the children with birth-death years. The number of generations is controlled at the top of the report - the default value seems to be three.

The "Individual" Report" link on the "Analysis" Tab has all of the available information about the selected person and his family (two screens):

I clicked on the "Lists" link on the "Analysis" Tab, and the available lists are "Anniversaries," "Birthdays," "Descendants," Family Members," "Marriages" and "Warning List." I clicked on "Birthdays" and saw:

This list starts with January 1 and goes to December 31, 25 names at a time. For my "family" with over 13,000 members, it runs over 500 screens! The first 25 are shown above. I could print, save as an image, or export the whole list to Excel or to a PDF file. I didn't. I didn't see any way to get to a particular month or day other than by putting a page number in the box above the list. There should be a way to request a certain month and/or date.

The "Tools" Tab on the top of the screen has several options in the right-hand column - "Date Calculator," "Relationship Calculator," "Source Rating Calculator," "Map My Family," "Merge People," "Manage Your Locations" and "Research Links."

I worked with the first three links a bit, and they were pretty straightforward. I clicked on the "Map My Family" link and saw:

The Google Map shows the localities in my database for the events of all of the family members of my grandfather.

I clicked on "Manage Your Locations" and, after inputting a locality (I chose Westminster, MA) and "Birth and Death" events, saw:

The list contained all of the birth and death localities for the 182 people in my database with "Westminster" in one of the fields.

I clicked on the "Research Links" link and saw:

Without any search criteria, there are 1,007 links provided for websites with genealogy information from all over the world. The user can input a country, a source type, or a specific state, city, county or province to reduce the list. I input "United States" in the country field, and there were 634 sources of information. With "Canada" in the country field, there were 24 sources of information. I input "California" in the State field and there were 13 sources listed. It appears that there are no subscription databases in these links, but there are data portals, with links to subscription database sites. This "Research Links" appears to be a pretty good list of links - there are many for the USA, Canada and California that I have not used before.

I'm going to stop here with the screen shots and not spend any more time or bandwidth describing the website.

My conclusions, after spending about four hours working on the site, include:

* The site is visually beautiful
* The site is logically laid out, and navigation from one tab to another is fairly easy to perform, although it often takes a long time to complete.
* Navigation on the site from person to person is easy when a link to a person is available (e.g., parent to child, or person to spouse) but is really cumbersome to jump from one person to a distantly related, or unrelated person, in the database.
* Adding persons and events, or editing events, is easy to perform, but every operation takes a finite time to execute.
* Loading of pages is very slow when the program has to do some calculation or search. This is my biggest criticism of the site - it is very slow.
* The Charts online are visually good, but the printout of the charts is difficult to read - the print is too small and everything is cramped together.
* The Reports online are useful, but there is not nearly the variety of reports offered by desktop software.
* The Lists can be very useful, but it is cumbersome to move around a large list essentially using try-and-see methods.
* The Research Links look to be very useful, on first look.

It may be that some of my criticisms above are the result of having a family tree with over 38,000 persons in it. The site may work much quicker with, say, less than 1,000 persons in it.

Based on my relatively brief evaluation in these three posts, I don't see that the ourFamily*ology family tree system offers anything special compared to other online family trees, especially when many other family tree systems are free to use.

I will not be subscribing to this website when my 15-day free trial period expires next week.

Disclosure: I am not an employee, contractor or subscriber of this website, and I received no remuneration of any kind for providing this analysis.


Unknown said...

Randy, Databases do inherently take time to process with large amounts of data, such as yours. You didn't write anything about the Progress Rating Chart, which sets us apart from all genealogy software programs or the ability to attach a person from one file into another and have their data updated in all files. Like any new software, we will work out any and all kinks as they arise. Our next feature is to become Family Search Certified and Imbed Search Results.

Donna Messerly-Brown said...

Randy, I love reading your blog. You always have awesome information to share.

May I remind your readers that the 2nd Annual Mesa, Arizona Family History Expo is Jan. 22-23, 2010? Our keynote speaker will be none other than the great Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of

Thanks for sharing your information and experience.