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

Monday, January 5, 2015

GenSoftReviews Best Genealogy Software for 2014 compiles user reviews of genealogy software programs from around the world. In many cases the reviews are insightful and very blunt. I often use reviews of products as a measure of their value but always take the reviews with a grain of salt. It seems that no matter how good a product, there is usually someone who is very unhappy with it. Alternatively, no matter how bad the product, there is usually someone who is happy with their purchase. I have stayed away from genealogy software reviews as a zero sum game. No matter what I say, good or bad, someone will always disagree and be offended. But in the case of, there are enough people participating that you can get an idea about any of the existing programs, even the venerable old Personal Ancestral File.

Genealogy software falls into some general categories. Here is one way of looking at the various products using the criteria of the manner in which they are produced:

  • Software produced by large online genealogy database companies
  • Software produced by large software companies with other products unrelated to genealogy
  • Software produced by large, dedicated genealogy-only software companies
  • Software produced by small, sometimes singe programmer, genealogy software companies
  • Software produced by open-source, collective software programming groups

The quality of the software does not seem to be dependent on the type of company producing the software. Some of the products that are highly rated come from small, individually-run software companies. Some of the products from the larger, online companies are not so well rated.

Another way of looking at the programs is based on their connectivity and the ability to transfer their data to an online family tree or to use or find data in other programs. Here is a way of dividing up the market on this criteria:

  • Programs that stand alone and do not easily share data with other programs
  • Programs that are closely associated with and can synchronize data with an online family tree
  • Programs that suggest data from sources outside the program itself
  • Programs that come in a variety of languages 
  • Programs that come on different computer operating systems

This type of criteria is more likely to influence prospective purchasers than the first list. Although in the first list, larger companies obviously have more resources to advertise and sell their programs and casual genealogists are more likely to hear about highly advertised programs.

Another criteria for selection of a genealogy program involves the feature set. In many peoples' minds, more features equals greater value. I have found this not to be the case because I tend to use only a very small portion of the features of any program. There are some programs I have used for years and years and have never even explored some of their most extolled features. I could give many examples but then I would be breaking my customary silence on reviewing products. I do mention products from time to time when there are important new developments, but my mention of a product does not necessarily infer an endorsement. I am very feature driven, notwithstanding the fact that I do not use all of the features. When a program does something I like or want to do, I will often switch programs.

Now, what about the for 2014? The list of recognized software is here. You might be surprised at the variety of software available. You might also figure out pretty fast that there are a lot of programs with high ratings to choose from. I might also suggest that a highly rated program may not work well for you for a variety of reasons. I suggest reading the reviews and remembering the different criteria for evaluating programs.

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