Monday, March 19, 2012

Dear Randy - Why Do You Use Several Genealogy Programs?

I've received several emails and blog comments asking me why I use several different genealogy management programs, so I wanted to answer it once and for all.

I currently have Family Tree Maker 16, Family Tree Maker 2012, RootsMagic 5, Legacy Family Tree 7.5, and Family Tree Builder 6 on my desktop computer (and on my laptop).  I've paid for all but Family Tree Builder, but have received free copies of Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree from the companies in the past as part of genea-blogger goodie bags at conferences and meetings.

The simple answer to the question is "Because I want to learn to use each program so that I can advise my society colleagues on the features of each program, and so that I can use the best features of each program in my own research."

I currently use RootsMagic 5 to enter information (names, dates, places, relationships, events, sources, notes, etc.) into my "master" genealogy database.  The ease of creating free-form source citations in RootsMagic 5 decided that for me in 2011.  Navigation and data entry in RootsMagic are relatively easy to perform in terms of minimum keystrokes and intuitiveness.  I like buttons with names on them rather than icons.  The RootsMagic interface with the FamilySearch Family Tree is easy to use.  The RoiotsMagic-To-Go feature is very useful.  However, I don't especially like the report and chart capabilities in RootsMagic.

I occasionally create a GEDCOM file (perhaps once a month) and import that into the other programs.  I add and edit information only in my master database using RootsMagic 5.  I don't add document images or photographs to my master database, except to test the features.  I don't do web searches from within the software except to test the features.  I don't attach document images or source citations directly from because Ancestry's sources are poorly crafted.  I do save document images in historical record collections  to my computer file folders and can then attach them to my database if I choose to.

I use the other programs for:

*  Family Tree Maker 16 STILL makes the best narrative reports.  I use it to create the report for the Surname Saturday posts.  Navigation and data entry is very easy (but I don't do that any longer in FTM 16).

*  Family Tree Maker 2012 is the only program that syncs with my Ancestry Member Trees.  It has some unique reports that I like, but the charts are fairly primitive.  Navigation and data entry are fairly easy.  Source citation creation is not as easy as in RootsMagic IMHO.  GEDCOM imports are still imperfect.

*  Legacy Family Tree 7.5 has some unique reports and chart features that I like.  Navigation and data entry are fairly easy, and source citations are easy to create and edit.  GEDCOM imports and exports work well.

*  Family Tree Builder 6 makes it easy to upload a new tree to the MyHeritage website.  Navigation and data entry are fairly easy.  Source citations can only be created with a generic source template.  I dislike the narrative reports in this program since they are not "standard" or "sequential."

While I am not an expert on using any of these programs, I know enough to be "dangerous" in each of them. I can usually help my society colleagues with a problem using the Help button if I don't know the answer immediately.  I can usually find a way to create a report or a chart with the information I want in a format I like.

The URL for this post is: html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


JG in MD said...

Yes—what you said! If I could I'd do all my data entry in FTM 16—it's so simple and intuitive. FTM 2011 is almost impossible for me to use. It reminds me of the relational databases that I never could fathom back in the 1990s.

When I first saw the reports from FTM 2011 and Legacy, I wept. Is anyone trying to find a way to improve those narratives? Pleeze?

Lauri said...

Love the reports out of FTM 16 but have FTM 2011 now. I am used to it and really like how easy it is to bring in sources from ancestry, but the reports aren't good.

Karen said...

Thank you for the details. I also have multiple programs for various reasons. I guess I don't expect one program to do everything the way I prefer; and it's really easy to have more than one.

Anonymous said...

I use FTM 2011 for all data input, but regularly export to FTM 16 Gedcom for the narrative reports and for better ancester files (fan where I can not have empty leaves). FTM2011 narrative reports waste SOO much paper.

sorry about anonymous, have just started following genealogy blogs