[APG Public List] Best genealogy software for historical research?
DESloan at aol.com
DESloan at aol.com
Tue Oct 26 22:01:23 MDT 2010
I think that Brother's Keeper can do either all or at least most of what
you want. You can download a copy at _www.bk.com_ (http://www.bk.com) Also
at the bottom you can send an email to John Steed the author of Brother's
Keeper. Explain why and what you want to be able to do and ask John if you
can do it with his program. I have found that John is very responsive and you
can find out from the author himself if his program will do what you want.
Let me know what you find up and what you end up doing.
Grandkids Ancestors LLC
Specializing in East central IN, West central Ohio, Quaker Records, and
"The world is my country, and my religion is to do right" David Hoover
In a message dated 10/26/2010 10:51:54 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
raybeere at yahoo.com writes:
I've added my comments on your specific requirements, below.
--- On Tue, 10/26/10, Katherine Pickering Antonova
<katherine.antonova at qc.cuny.edu> wrote:
> - I want to keep track of three interrelated families from the 17th
> century to the present. So, I need to be able to print something more
> complex than a “tree” structure with all the branches coming from one
> common ancestor or one common descendant. This has been a problem with
> some of the trials I’ve looked at.
With _any_ software I am aware of, you'll have problems with this,
depending on what you're trying to do. You could print trees of each of the three
families, and you could print certain other charts - but you probably
cannot print a single chart showing all individuals in these three families. (I
say probably because the precise answer would depend on the exact nature of
> - I have to be able to attach notes to each entry. At least one bit of
> block text, along with birth, marriage and death dates.
Almost all genealogical software allows for notes, usually formatted as
block text. Some allow you to print notes on charts - but since notes are
very variable in size and thus different programs handle them differently, you
may have trouble with this feature using just about any program.
> - I want to be able to print a report that includes birth and death
> dates, and distinguishes between males and females
I cannot think of any software that will _not_ allow you to do this.
> - I want to input all the info I have, but be able to choose to print
> only simplified versions of the tree with only the branches I’m most
> interested in on it.
The Master Genealogist for Windows is quite strong in this area. It allows
you a _great_ deal of flexibility in choosing who will be included when
you generate a report or chart.
> - I want to be able to use the software on different computers, and
> backup files very easily. It would be nice if the files were easily
> converted to other formats. These features are not essential, just
Since you mention using it on different computers, I suspect you mean you
should be able to _sync_ files, not just back them up. I happen to have a
very strong interest in emergency preparedness - and there is _no_ genealogy
program with a built in function suitable to rely on for critical work.
You'd be much better off setting up a separate, custom solution.
The software I use myself to sync my most important files is an open
source application called Toucan. Unlike nearly every backup / syncing solution
I've tested, I am reasonably sure that I cannot make a mistake which will
result in the loss of irreplaceable data. _But_, I am a fairly experienced
computer user, comfortable writing batch files and macros - and after I set
up the settings for my environment, I tested them thoroughly.
The bottom line here: unless you are an experienced user, you would be
_much_ better off paying a _reliable_ geek - _not_ the "Geek Squad" - to
either set up Toucan or a similar tool for your needs, and show you how to use
it, or to write and install a custom AutoHotKey script on your computers
which will perform as you need it to. With something as critical as this - and
the use of multiple computers - I think in your situation, I'd choose the
AHK script, since it can be bulletproofed for your situation. And the
expense would be more than justified, considering the amount of work you'll be
putting into this.
> - I have a lot of information to enter and time is a very big factor,
> so I need the input to be easy, and the learning curve minimal (I
> already tried doing all this on a database of my own devising using
> Filemaker, and it became hopelessly complex)
A minimal learning curve rules out the programs most likely to suit most
of your other requirements - except the most basic ones. You need unusual
flexibility. Flexible programs take a long time to learn, because they can't
be flexible without providing a lot of complex options.
A custom database might actually be a better solution - but unless you are
a database designer, don't even think of trying to do it yourself. Since
it would be designed to fit your needs, it need only include the options you
want, which would make it simpler to learn. But you'd need to hire a good
database designer - and a database capable of reflecting genealogical
relationships is a major project. I doubt you could afford to do this, although
I've never tried to price a project of that magnitude.
Either you're going to have to spend thousands to get someone to set
something special up for you, you're going to have to accept a very steep
learning curve, or you're going to have to forget about all your most demanding
requirements. You just can't get a program which will do the things you
need, and which is also easy to learn.
Ray Beere Johnson II
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