Online Genealogy Programs

Seems I have a lot to post about these days! Well, today I’ve been reading various posts on other genealogy blogs about online genealogy programs (Eastman has a post, Randy has a post, as does Jasia), so I thought I would contribute as well.

In January 2006, I found the best thing that ever happened to me for my genealogy hobby – Darrin Lythgoe’s web-based genealogy software, The Next Generation (TNG). For the past several months prior, I had been looking for the perfect program to host my genealogy information online. My personal philosophy to data management over the past couple of years has been to transition to web-based products as much as possible, so that I could reduce my dependency upon any one personal computer. Therefore, I was looking to do this with my genealogy data as well. TNG is a great program in my personal experience, and I use it for my own family tree (and I used RootsMagic to do reports, PDF files, etc.) It has so many features that I have found it hard to beat as far as my personal preferences go. The one thing that I would say is lacking is a calendar view to the dates in my files that could be sent to me automatically via email like Google Calendar does. Other than that, I could hardly ask for more!

Other programs I have looked into are:

Tribal Pages – I did actually create a site, but I felt the views to the trees were limited as not enough information could be displayed about an individual. I was looking for something that would allow me to link in documents, photos, and more and TNG provides that.

With the recent announcement of PHPGedView, I looked at it briefly, but honestly have not taken the time to truly investigate it. PHPGedView does have a calendar view to dates like I only wish TNG had. However, at this point, I don’t feel the need to switch, so I’m not likely to investigate it further.

Geni - I looked at this briefly too. I did not like the approach of having to enter data individually and that it was a “private” community. I like open access as much as possible, with restrictions on living individuals. While that may appeal to some, it does not appeal to me. Mabye b/c I’m a librarian :-)

Ancestry Family Tree – I love Ancestry Trees! However, there are features that I wish it had, but for the mere fact that Ancestry is one of the MAJOR resources for genealogy, and that the data entered into the Family Tree becomes searcheable in both Ancestry and RootsWeb within a matter of days, this is an ideal option for other varied genealogies I work on. For example, I use Ancestry Family Trees for the tree of a co-worker of mine so that she too can log in and edit and work on the tree; for my step-mother’s sister-in-law’s tree, for the tree of someone whom I suspect may be the slaveowner of one of my ancestors, and for a couple of African-American former slaves that I’ve come across in my transcription work – I do this to help increase the chances that someone from any of these lines may find the information I’ve posted to it.

Another aspect that I’d like to mention are applications on the horizon in light of the Web 2.0 movement. Ben Crowder, a BYU student, has conceptualized a program he names Beyond. His ideas excite me and though he is a student and busy and may not get to develop this “soon”, I hope that he does continue to work on it and hopefully produce it one day. What excites me about his approach is that he is very well-tuned to the concepts of Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies and he hopes to build these into his program, while at the same time keeping it clean and simple. Also, he’s considering the idea of linking individuals with non-familial relationships (friend, co-worker, slave-owner, etc) – wouldn’t that be cool! Talk about community genealogy! Check him out.

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