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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Further Observations on Family Tree Maker for the Mac

In technology, I always hope that new developments are really new and helpful and not a step backwards. Software development falls into this same category. I expect that the "upgrade" or "new release" will solve some of the issues with the existing program and maybe, just maybe, solve some additional concerns. Both systems software and word processing are good examples. (Warning: approaching editorial opinion and preferences, not facts). I use both Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Both have been updated many, many times. In my opinion, most of the "new features" in both programs are worthless. The features enhance things I will never use in my life time. Some one, some where out there in the computer world is probably overjoyed with the new features, but I don't really care and I am quite happy using older (much older) versions of the programs.

By and large newer versions of genealogy software programs have the same problems. That may be one reason for the persistent use of Personal Ancestral File (PAF). The program does what most people need and updates don't help. I am looking at the box for the new Family Tree Maker for Mac. The box has some interesting claims:
  • Easily discovery your family history
  • Print family books, chard & reports
  • Includes the Family Hisotry Toolkit
  • Create slideshows to share with others
None of these "features" happen to be anything I am particularly interested in. Some of them, especially claims that genealogy can be made easy, I disagree with. I could go on with the box and list many more of the advertising claims and for each one say, "I am not really interested in that feature." So what is the point? Why aren't I just using Personal Ancestral File and forgetting the whole updating thing?

First of all, I do most (nearly all) of my genealogy on an iMac either using Mac OS X or Windows 7.  For that reason alone, I am interested in using Mac software and not being forced to use Parallels Desktop to run PC software. Secondly, I really do need a better way to document my sources than that provided by PAF.  I also need to integrate my thousands of documents and photos with my lineage files. PAF doesn't help me with any of these issues. Although the promotional materials for Family Tree Maker for the Mac refer to managing photos they also mention slideshows, I am not particularly interested in slideshows. In all fairness, I must say that nearly all of the other possible genealogy programs make similar claims for features I either do not use or care nothing about.

The real question is whether or not Family Tree Maker for the Mac is at least as good or even better than half a dozen other programs I could and do use? How does it stack up against RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, The Master Genealogist, Legacy Family Tree, Mac Family Tree, Reunion and a host of others?

In my first use of the program, I find that it is very usable and warranting further investigation. Surprisingly, to me, there was nothing about the program that would immediately stop me from using it. I expected problems because of my experience with past PC versions of the program. So, I am over the first hurdle. But there is a big hurdle next; is it really a Mac program or merely a ported over PC program with a new label? I am not quite ready to answer that question, since the answer is getting more and more complicated with the introduction of Apple's OS X operating system.

I am sure I will have more comments on this issue in the near future.

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