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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Master Genealogist Software Discontinued

I picked up a post from John D. Reid in his Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections blog that the software program, The Master Genealogist published by WhollyGenes is being discontinued. I have been familiar with the program for quite a few years. At one point, I used the program for about three months but decided to move to another program. I am very interested in this development and additionally interested in the comments John made about some of the likely reasons that the program was discontinued.

My views on the future of stand-alone software programs is fairly simple. Unless they are strongly associated with a large online research database, the programs will not likely survive. This is not an observation on the merits of any of the programs that are still being sold. I believe this process is inevitable and has nothing to do with the programs themselves. This is a sad outlook for the reason that many very good programs will likely disappear. The main reason for this viewpoint is the importance of the availability of moving data from the online database to the local program. In addition, the larger online databases are developing very effective automatic document searches.

Do I think that all the independent software programs will disappear? This is highly unlikely because some of the specialized programs such as GRAMPs and Brother's Keeper, have sizable numbers of supportive users and do not depend on advertising and casual sales. There is an interesting list of genealogy programs in Wikipedia. See Comparison of genealogy software.

There are really very few of the local database programs that market their products to genealogists at conferences and through societies and other venues. You seldom see ads for these products even in genealogically related publications. In addition, gathering data on the sales of genealogy programs is essentially impossible. To my knowledge, none of the programs publish sales numbers or even give any other information about their sales although some claim to be "best selling" etc.

Another interesting aspect of the trend in genealogy programs is their availability on a variety of computer devices and platforms. There are still relatively few of the developers who have Apple OS X versions of their programs. In addition, very few have versions for iOS or Android devices. It is a fact that sales of tablets and smartphones now exceed the sales of desktop computers. If would seem very short sighted to ignore this major trend. It is also significant that some of the programs that are associated with large online database programs, also have apps for mobile devices, such as RootsMagic that exchanges data with FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. It is also important to note that three of the large online genealogical database programs, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com also have their own mobile apps.

If the developers limit their software programs to one operating system and one type of computer, their ability to grow in the future would also be very limited. From this type of analysis it is not difficult to see why a product such as The Master Genealogist would be discontinued.

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