Choosing a Genealogy program
You need to choose a genealogy program that suits you!
Your needs, wishes, wants and your personality
You need to
enjoy the DATA ENTRY
You need to SOURCE the information (how you know this (certificate/familybible etc), where you found it, where it is stored (eg certificates in safe custody at ? Bank), what repository/record/page # etc etc) in a way that suites you! Otherwise you just will not do it - and that would be a great mistake and a great loss to your descendants
You need a RESOURCE tool - output from your input to help you further your research eg alpha lists, lists of people in a place born between 2 years etc etc
And you need CHARTS! For birthday presents? A Family Reunion? A book? To enjoy?
Would you like some thoughts from a keen and experienced genealogist who
also sells genealogy programs?
There are 4 areas where you need to match the program to you - your
personality really. This is where we are lucky there are demos available
for some programs.
1) Data entry - you MUST enjoy this!! Must feel comfortable and logical to
you. Good right mouse choices and icons (your choice!) you can click
on are a help. Watch for ease of moving around your families and finding people.
Fast lists (lists created from data you have entered eg your places) are a great
time saver. Automatically upper case the first letter in names and places. Verifying the information you enter. A To-Do list is essential, so you can see just what you need to do next time you visit - say - a Family History Centre.
Just a few items to look for.
2) Source - you MUST feel comfortable with this too. Otherwise you will not
do it! It needs to flow for you so that you enter data and then enter the
source of the data. I like a notes field that will take (B/C) (P/R) etc and
print this in appropriate places so it is clear to the reader just where
this information came from. Then you need to list details of the birth
certificate and parish register. eg I have my certificate originals in a
safe custody box in a bank. So, as well as giving details of when
certificate obtained etc the actual storage place is given. Because I won't
always be here to say where the originals are! Any certificate will link to
a number of people and put a person in a place at a date. So, a birth
certificate will source the birth, but also the place where parents where
living at that time and father's occupation etc. Now that all main programs
will take unlimited events, you should be including this information as
another fact and sourcing back to the certificate. So - your program needs
to do this in a way that is logical for you. A Source clip board is great - saves key strokes.
3) Resource - simply, you need output from your input that will help you
further your research. You need to produce lists you can take when
researching; to do lists you can print when visiting a repository; charts
that show where you need to research; reports that will list all the people
being (eg) born in a country or place between one year and another; lists of
all your places so you can check for original records and just what records
are available etc etc
4) Charts - to meet your personal needs - for birthday presents, family
reunions, to produce a book.
This last can easily come from a second program that compliments or
supplements your main program. TreeDraw, Charting Companion,
Family Tree Maker etc etc
I do believe the ability to very easily produce a book is important -
Family Origins, Legacy and Family Historian are very good at this. The Family Tree Maker book is more complicated and the end result quite different - but could be just what you want!
We never really recommended one program over another - rather
tried to match the needs and wants of the customer to the different
programs we sell.
But just some thoughts, - Family Tree Maker, Family Origins (RootsMagic), Legacy, Family Historian - we feel Family Origins is just great if you want to record 'Memories' - is a very straight forward simple program with great potential but easy to use if you do not want to be obsessed with either your genealogy or your computer!!
Legacy is easy to use, but also easy to record sources and to produce fantastic research and resource reports.
Family Tree Maker is a good choice if you really need charts! Does everything
else pretty well, but excels at charts!
Family Historian is really one out of the box! Different. Marvellous charts. Using gedcom files, so easy to import from other programs.
Reunion is a great program for the MAC.