Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:
It’s Saturday Night again –
Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):
1) Then and Now – Which genealogy software have you used over your genealogy career to document your genealogy and family history research? What did you start with (Then) and what do you presently use (Now). Please share your experiences.
When I first started researching my family history, my ‘software’ was a pencil and my output was on a piece of paper. At the time, some people were putting brief mentions of sources on their family group sheets. However, most family group sheets and pedigree charts, including my own, did not indicate where the information was from.
While on a vacation to the Tetons with my parents we took a ‘detour’ thru Salt Lake City where we spent about three days in the library. It was during that stay at the Family History Library that I learned about the software sold by the church called PAF. My husband agreed that I could purchase a copy of PAF.
While our first computer was a Commodore 64, I believe we had migrated to an Apple IIE computer at the time of my software purchase. Thus, I was able to enter all of the information from my family group sheets and pedigree charts into PAF. During those early years of using PAF, I still wasn’t entering source documentation. At some point in my usage of PAF, I obtained a book on how to document my research using ‘Notes’ in the PAF program. While most of those ‘Notes’ have been replaced by citations, there is still ‘evidence’ of that work in my database.
Wanting a better way to document the events I was collecting for the people in my tree, I started looking at other software packages. Since we had transitioned from an Apple computer to a DOS based computer, I had several options to choose from. At the time, ROOTS was the software promoted by members of the Topeka Genealogical Society. Since that software was out of my price range, I started looking around and evaluated Family Tree Maker and The Master Genealogist. I selected The Master Genealogist (TMG) because of its ability to attach sources to each event. It also allowed me to have events beyond birth, marriage, death and census records.
During my ‘transition’ from PAF to TMG, most of my efforts revolved around changing the NOTES to actual events with source citations. I also participated in the TMG message board and learned to improve my research and my documentation from other users of TMG.
While using TMG, I also used an add on program by John Cardinal called Second Site. This software took my TMG database and turned it into a web site. Thus, I was able to share my research with others on a web page.
Even though TMG was a wonderful program, it was written with older code. Thus, it became difficult to upgrade the software as the operating systems matured. It was at this point that Wholly Genes, the company behind TMG, discontinued supporting the software. While it is still a usable program and still has people actively using it, I elected to migrate away from TMG.
During this ‘migration’ process, I evaluated several software packages including Family Tree Maker, Legacy and RootsMagic. The ability to work with a variety of events and sources was an important feature that I was looking for in a new software package. However, it was a comparison of the underlying computer languages for each package that influenced my decision the most. Like TMG, many of the genealogy software programs in 2016 were built on older computer code. The one exception was RootsMagic which was written on newer SQL code. Thus, I migrated from TMG to RootsMagic.
Like PAF, there are bits of my old TMG sourcing evident in my genealogy file.
My RootsMagic journey started with version 6 and I am currently using version 9. This journey from version 6 to version 9 included the addition of TreeShare and the complete re-writing of the underlying code for the program. While I still miss some of the features found in TMG, like the ability to create complex sentences using a memo field, I am very happy with my decision to transition to RootsMagic.
I wrote about some of my RootsMagic journey on this blog. My RootsMagic page captures most of those posts.