Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Genealogy Do-Over Part 1 – The Software Dilemma

Back in December, Thomas MacEntee announced the Genealogy Do-Over. Since then the big red button above has been popping up all over! There is also a related Facebook group that has generated a ton of good ideas.

I decided to join in for a couple of reasons so I will have a post outlining a goal for each of those reasons.

Today – it’s all about the software! 

The Genealogy Do-Over comes at a great time for me because my database of choice, The Master Genealogist, is no longer supported as of 01 Jan 2015. Yes, I realize that I can continue to use it – probably for years and years. However I prefer to be pro-active and make a new choice while my old database is still viable. So, as part of the Do-Over, I will be starting two new databases from scratch…one in RootsMagic and one in Legacy. I will work in both databases up to, and including, my 4 grandparents. That should give me enough experience to decide which one to keep especially since, for me, this mean siblings and families in each generation.

Here are a few of my issues. The first is color – I love it! In TMG I used it extensively to keep track of the various Zaugg families I had - all descendants of Jakob Zaugg and Anna Stetler. I assigned each of the children a different color and all that child’s descendants (including spouses and children’s spouses) were assigned that color. When I had a great working chart done by Family ChartMasters I had it done in colors to match my database pictured below:

In RootsMagic I can almost approximate that, but there are not enough colors and some of them are ugly! I can’t seem to change them. Also, I can only find a way to color the text not the background. Sometimes that just doesn't stand out enough for me.  I'm still exploring all the ins and outs of the color schemes.

In Legacy it seems I can only assign color going in one direction – I can pick a person and go back their direct line but I can’t pick a person and all their descendants and go forward. I like the fact that Legacy used the background for the color, and also that I can set the colors to be what I want.  What I don't like is that those colors don't seem to "stick" - so when I am looking at the index of names, NO COLORS.

Overall I’m not in love with the options in either software.

The next issue is best put in a picture. This is part of the main screen for my maternal grandfather (in TMG): As you can easily see, he has three children. The issues is that those children did not all have the same mother. In my mind that shouldn’t matter – those are all his children and when I am working on a person I want to see all their children.

In Legacy I’ve been able to do that with the half-siblings option. In Roots Magic I haven’t found a way to view those children without flipping back and forth between spouses.

Finally there is the matter of a timeline. There are approximately a billion posts/webinars/sessions on how to create timelines and how important they are. I totally agree. The thing is I never really worried about creating one because my main “page” for any person in TMG IS a timeline. I can easily see what census info I have (or don’t have) and what events I’ve chosen to document for that person and, by extension, what events I haven’t yet documented.

Both Roots Magic and Legacy have an option to click on a tab and display a timeline. I like the feature in both although I don’t like that it’s a separate "thing" but it’s OK.

One thing I need to do is stop looking at my TMG database and just work in RootsMagic and Legacy during this Do-Over so I can be sure I'm exploring the cool things they can do that possibly I've never considered in my current database.  One of those things is DNA.  I've just gotten started in this area and I want a database that can document this new information.

I should say that what I’ve written here is based on my dumping a GEDCOM into each program when I was doing my Zaugg tracking and then just trying out a few things. I have not yet explored in any depth what is available in each software package. So, it’s possible that I just don’t yet know how to do something – not that a feature is unavailable. That is why I thought starting from scratch in each would allow me to do a good comparison. I know there are tons of options online for learning the features of each.

The Goal: Chose which to go forward with and then continue to update only in that database.
Time: By the end of the Do-Over (13 weeks)

I know that doesn't seem profound, but I'm one that has trouble committing to software because there is always something else new and shiny.  [which is why I already have both RM and Legacy on my computer.]