Monday, August 2, 2010

Mailbag Monday: Genealogy Program Choices and More

Salt Lake Family History Expo

Dear Ancestry Insider,

A couple quick questions - I took a long at the outline - many open TBA spots - how does one decide to attend (if from out of town) when so much is up in the air one month before conference?

Also checked out the blog you referenced - how do you get pictures (when clicked on) to open in another window full size? *

Dear TBA,

Good questions, both.

As I write this, my session doesn’t show up on the presentation schedule. More is filled in than when you first checked. I must agree with you; it makes it difficult to make a decision with so many open slots.

A blog author can decide what happens when a visitor clicks on an image. The three most common options are:

  • Open a larger copy of the image, either in the current window or a different window. For an example, see “Salt Lake City 10th Ward, 1851” on the Ancestors of Wickliff Clayton Raymond example website. Click the map and a larger, more legible copy opens in the current window. As you mention, the author can also have the image open in a different window.
  • Do nothing. An example is the image of “Ireta Pitcher Raymond.”
  • Link to somewhere on the Internet. When I wrote an article about receiving the Family Tree Magazine 101 Best Websites for 2010 award, I linked the award image to the article on their website. I sometimes link to articles on my own website.

I invite your capable co-readers to explain how to use your browser to enlarge an image when the blog author hasn’t supplied a larger, more legible copy.

-- The Insider

What Genealogy Program Do You Use?

Dear Ancestry Insider,

So AI, what are you using these days to manage your trees on your desktop?

I have been using TMG 7 for some time now, but have become intrigued with Legacy 7 of late.

~ Jesse

Dear Jesse,

You might guess my choices reflect my editorial focus (FamilySearch and

I have enough family members doing genealogy that we have an “archivist” who is willing to maintain a master copy of our desktop genealogy database. We use one of the FamilySearch Certified desktop genealogy programs. Yes, I know there are online trees that make it more convenient to share a tree among physically separate individuals. Suffice it to say that inertia plays a big role in the practices of large, physically distributed families.

That’s not to say that we aren’t doing any online collaborating. We have an Public Member Tree for sharing photographs, biographies, and scanned documents. I would not be surprised if the number of scanned source documents in our tree is surpassed by only a few other trees. (Photographs are another story; I think there are dozens or hundreds of people that have uploaded more photographs.)

As these documents quickly spread across the Internet, I’m sure we’re killing more than one genealogical myth… whether we get the credit or not.

Someone will ask about the New FamilySearch Tree (NFS), so let me tell you my current approach. I ignore the bad data… for now. FamilySearch talks about a future time when it will be easier to keep corrections from being undone. If the correct data is not present, I add it. Why wait? Just as I can’t currently delete the bad data added by others, they can’t delete the good data added by me.

I even add sources in situations where persistent myths exist. Sure, I’ll wait for a better citation system before I enter citations to uncontested data. Why not wait?

I hope your co-readers will ring in with their feelings about desktop genealogy programs. Click Comments at the end of this article. (Please don’t use Reply; no one else will benefit from your response besides me.)

Thanks for your question, Jesse!
-- The Insider

(Letters are modified for editorial style and to fit in your television screen.)


  1. In answer to your question of how to enlarge an image. I 'right click' on the image. The box comes up and I choose 'save picture as'. Then I can either use the same name or rename it. After this I go to my 'start' key & 'my documents'. There it is listed in the dropdown menu. I click on the name & it opens in my 'Microsoft Office Picture Manager'. At the top of the screen I can enlarge it, view it, edit or save, etc.

    Keep up the great articles & info.

  2. I am a proficient PC-user and experienced amateur genealogist, so I tried TMG 6 for a while. But to my surprise and disappointment, I just didn't take to it. Now, I am using Legacy 7, and I like it much better. I think that it has a good balance of power and simplicity, and it is more appealing visually. But Legacy is a heavyweight program, so as for TMG, the tutorials are a MUST--it has concepts and features that are not immediately obvious. The tutorials are well done, so they are not a chore. Good luck!

  3. The choice of desktop database depends on one's needs. The LDS user looking for all the features that are used to work with NFS has an easy decision with only Ancestral Quest and Roots Magic able to to do it all. After 3 years, Legacy still does not appear to have it figured out, and some things still cannot be done.

    I have used PAF 5 for about 10 years and have more than 20,000 names that I have personally entered, so I am very comfortable with it, so my choice is AQ because of the common provenance and manner of use. Roots Magic is also a marvelous program and IMHO somewhat "prettier" and in some ways a bit more user-friendly, so many of my friends who are starting out are using that one (which I think is a great choice), but I still prefer the sync process on AQ.

    I think that you cannot go wrong with either one. For the non-LDS genealogist or anyone not interested in interfacing with NFS, the options are many, and Legacy will do almost anything but cook breakfast for you, but if you are involved with NFS, your patience is being tested.

  4. My first program was FTM 16 which I've continued to use in spite of the many upgrades since version 16 was introduced. A couple of weeks ago we had to buy a new computer with Windows 7. Sadly, the FTM 16 won't work with Win 7 so now I must switch to the new version of FTM or another program entirely.

    I have a paid copy of Roots Magic so I installed it & added my files to it. However, I don't care for the Family Group Sheets or some of the other reports. I'm also having a difficult time moving around in the program.

    I have a copy of Legacy 7 (the free version) but I'm undecided whether it would be best to just add my files to it as I did with Roots Magic or if it would be better for me to just manually key in the info & double-check for errors & duplicates while keying everything in. One bonus where Legacy is concerned is that our local Genealogy Society (of which I'm a member) has a Legacy User Group so I could get help (locally) if needed.

    Does anyone have any suggestions about my dilemma?

  5. Woah, weird facelift. Liked the old one better. Very hard to read. Its like its on geriatric version or something.

  6. Re genie program of choice: I'm geek enough to run a webserver so PhpGedView does it for me. One feature which has worked very well for me is that I have lots of Chinese names in my tree. UTF-8, while not strictly GEDCOM standard, is has become essential for me.

  7. If you have a Mac, look at Reunion. I have a lot of development experience with PC databases. At home, I mostly use a MacBook laptop. I downloaded the demo version, and began to enter my info. Before the day was out, I had paid - yes, paid - for the full version - it was so well done. The comment made by rafuhrman about Legacy 7 - "a good balance of power and simplicity" applies to Reunion. It even plays nice with Snow Leopard.


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