What genealogy software do you use, and why?
August 8, 2017 8:28 AM   Subscribe

What genealogy software do you use, and why?

About 10 years ago I did a lot of family history research, using The Master Genealogist. Unfortunately, that software is now defunct, and I am thus exploring new options. If you love your genealogy software, please let me know its name and why you think that it is great. I would be especially interested in learning about software that is good for a real-world, messy, "family history" approach to genealogy, not just making a genetic family tree. In other words, I would like the software to be able to do a good job to document multiple marriages, same-sex partners, unwed couples, stepchildren, and so on. It would be great if the software can accommodate some biographical blurbs about people. A bonus would be if the software can also be used to manage digital copies of obituaries, photos, and other ephemera, perhaps even outputting them as a PDF scrapbook. Thanks in advance for your insights.
posted by mortaddams to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My cousin, the family genealogist, has been using My Heritage; Wikipedia entry on My Heritage. I think it has a fair number of the features you are asking for. You can use it online, and you can download software to your own computer.
posted by gudrun at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2017

Family Tree Maker will do all of the things you described.
posted by jgirl at 9:07 AM on August 8, 2017

Gramps does about everything you mention and is free and open source, if that matters to you.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:42 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's not for everybody, but I use and very much love TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Software) because it can be endlessly customized*, e.g., I have integrated TNG and WordPress. (I have it installed on my computer, but don't currently have a website.)

I tried endless programs before finding TNG (including Gramps, FTM, and The Master Genealogist) and found all of them lacking. Also, I will not use any option that requires that I store my research online. I'm not at all opposed to sharing info, but I prefer to know who is using the data so that I can contact them if I find an error. I have no interest in participating in websites that are linking whatever gets uploaded, regardless of whether or not the research is documented. (Still not happy that a picture of my great-grandparents that I uploaded to Ancestry.com several years ago has since become associated with another couple. I gave up trying to convince people of their error.)

*Assuming you know or are willing to learn enough php to edit files and have a basic understanding of relational databases.
posted by she's not there at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2017

I've tried Gramps and Scion, and found them too difficult / tedious to use, and not visual enough. Both feel like editing a database, whereas I see this as a visual tree first and foremost.

I finally found what I wanted in an online tool called FamilyEcho. The entire editing experience is in the form of a family tree. It is ridiculously easy to use, I found it actually quite addictive.

Unfortunately its ease of use comes at the cost of simplicity. It is not a very good repository if you have large numbers of documents and photos you'd like to store with each record. It has simple text fields for biographical notes etc., but only a single photo per record and no attachments. While it has an active user community, the application is not under development anymore either.

FamilyEcho may be a good starting point though. It makes it very fast to populate the core of the family tree quickly, and it exports data to the standard GEDCOM format, meaning you could take it further in a more full-featured application like Gramps. It seems to do a pretty good job with "messy" families too - unwed couples, multiple marriages, same-sex couples, etc.
posted by snarfois at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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