Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The continuing transition story from Personal Ancestral File

As one of the original Apple computer users, all of my early attempts to record my genealogy in a software program involved Apple compatible software. Beginning with an Apple II and working my way up through all of the Macintosh models, I kept all of my research in older programs and then Personal Ancestral File (PAF) on a Macintosh for about ten years or so. There came a day when the Macintosh version of Personal Ancestral File stopped being a viable alternative. Reluctantly, I purchased a PC and began using PAF in the PC environment. Another ten years or so passed and I began to realize that Personal Ancestral File was not being updated. At that point, I had to decide which direction to go.

I began by visiting various software vendors at genealogy conventions. I ended up purchasing several programs and entering my information into each to see how they might be better or worse than continuing to use PAF. Because of my background, I would be considered to be a very sophisticated computer user. I was not completely happy with any of the programs, but continued to use two or three different ones while waiting to see if one program emerged as clearly superior.

Meanwhile, back to the Macintosh world. PAF for Macintosh was completely abandoned and even stopped working consistently on subsequent Apple operating systems. Since I had moved to the PC world, I somewhat ignored any Apple compatible software programs for a long time, even though I always continued to update and use a Macintosh computer. Yes, I had and have both Apples and PCs all the time and sometimes I work on them both at the same time.

Finally, Apple adopted Intel processors, the same ones used in the PC world. At the same time Macintosh computers became so fast and had so much storage capacity, that it became practical to run both Microsoft Windows and the Apple operating system on the same computer at the same time. As a consequence, I stopped using my PC and converted to two Macintosh computers. About the same time, I began investigating Apple genealogy programs. Most of them turned out to be so non-traditional that they had no appeal. Few of them were strong in providing support for sources. As it turned out the ability to provide adequate source citations became the one overriding main issue with my selection of programs.

Now, if you are expecting me to explain which programs I use and like, you are going to be disappointed. The jury is still out. No one program has taken the clear lead in all categories. But, I do sympathize with all those people out there who are trying to decided if they want to move from PAF to some other program. I have now been through the process twice with huge data files. I recognize that many people cannot understand enough of the basics about computers to know how to transfer their data from one program to another and resist the idea of even having to learn a new program. But the process of change in inevitable.

Here are some of my conclusions, subject to change at anytime due to new hardware or software:

1. I clearly like Macintosh computers over any model from any manufacturer of PCs. Compared to Apple computers, any PC is clunky and hard to use.

2. There are factors about the current state of the genealogical world, such as synchronization with New FamilySearch, that mandate using Windows compatible programs for a while.

3. Although there are a few challenges, running Windows 7 on an iMac beats using a PC for the same purpose, anytime.

4. I would move to a Macintosh based platform instantly (well it would take some time to convert everything) if there were integration with the FamilySearch environment.

5. All of the current genealogical database programs have good features and there is yet to be one clear leader in all categories.

6. I would like to see further integration between online sources of data and the programs, i.e. allowing you to import images while at the same time capturing the source data and associating the source with an individual or individuals.

7. I would like to see the programs be more consistent in transferring sources and images between programs.

There is still a long way to go.

1 comment:

  1. For those of us who don't have lots of technological background with computers and still use PAF, would you recommend that we wait for a while longer before choosing a different gen. program?
    Nancy from My Ancestors and Me