Tuesday, January 2, 2018
More Comments About Genealogy Software
I am always amazed at the number of junk cars there are as you drive across the United States. Some of the yards have as many as three or more sitting out there rusting to death. At the same time, there is a huge market for "classic" cars. Every year, the Barrett-Jackson car auctions come to Scottsdale, Arizona and every year cars are sold for astronomical prices. Perhaps it is this same instinct that fills the farms and yards of America with junk cars that also makes a car sold in the 1960s cost a small fortune. Personally, I love to look at rare and collector cars. But I choose to drive an immensely more practical one.
I have no idea what this has to do with genealogy. But I also have no idea why people keep using old, abandoned, software programs that have been outdated for years. Software cannot be restored and become a collector's item. You are never going to get rich selling your old computer programs at a nationally advertised auction, especially one held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure. But software does not grow more valuable with age. Additionally, as genealogists who might put a few hours of research time and effort into their database, using a program that is no longer supported is not very smart (there are a lot of other words I could use here but will not out of courtesy to those do not know better).
Let's take Personal Ancestral File or PAF for an example. Because it is a DOS-based program, i.e. runs on PC computers and still runs on many computers, it is still being used extensively. Here is the reality of running a software program that stopped being developed or upgraded back in 2002,
The version of Microsoft Windows that was being used in 2002 was Windows XP N.T. 5.1. Windows XP was replaced by Windows Vista in 2007. I am still finding computers that are running versions of Windows XP. Guess what, if you are still using Windows XP, you cannot use any of the current browsers to access the internet, Chrome and FireFox have stopped supporting both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Many online websites will not work with the older browsers. If you are still using XP in order to keep your copy of PAF running, you are cutting yourself off of much of what is available on the internet. Not to mention the fact that the internal memory of those old PC computers will not support much of the currently available software both online and that sill available to purchase on disks.
An old Chrysler Imperial that I drove got about six miles per gallon of gas. Even if you loved that car, you would not want to drive it around too much. Even if you love XP and PAF, you have to admit that you are tethered by the limitations of the programs.
OK, I realize that all these observations are not persuasive to a "dyed in the wool" PAF user. You use the program because it is simple, it works and does everything you want it to do. You are also too old or set in your ways to change to a new program now. Also, you do not know how to move your data to another program. Did you know that both Ancestral Quest and RootsMagic both directly support and load PAF files? There is a simple path to having a new fully-functional program. Both programs are sold for $29.95, a ridiculously low price.
Here is the real problem. PAF will one day stop working. Your program will not be compatible with any existing operating software and your XP based computer will stop working some day. There is no path to making PAF a valuable collectors item.