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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Genealogy and Premium Features: The Family Nexus

One of the most interesting recently developed programs or "apps" for genealogy is The Family Nexus.

The Family Nexus is following what has now become a standard program development model. A programmer or developer comes up with a new idea for a program (for genealogy or any other area or interest) and after creating a workable product begins to promote a "free" version. Once the free version gains some traction, the developer adds a number of features and then introduces those features as a fee-based add-on to the original free version. Huge online genealogy programs such as still maintain their "free" version of their programs. The developers count on the fact that the added value of the upgrades or new features will attract paying customers.

This whole process is necessary since there are few options for providing a "free" program without ultimately obtaining some method of support. For example, in the case of The Family History Guide, a completely free program that intends to remain free, we are now promoting The Family History Guide Association, a non-profit corporation that will ask for and solicit donations to continue the work of the free website. Users of free computer programs should not be at all surprised when this happens.

One other trend is that programs and apps are going to a subscription model of marketing rather than a one-time sale. The reality is that the subscription model is really what has been happening all along. Every program that has endured for any period of time has had to be upgraded. Genealogists seem to be more prone than the rest of the computer world to complain about upgrades and the cost of upgrades. But since I used the first, pre-release versions of programs such as Microsoft Word and what is now called Adobe Photoshop, I have been constantly paying for upgrades. In some cases, the upgrade cost alone has caused me to abandon the program. Now, many of the programs I use are on annual subscriptions rather than paying for an annual upgrade.

The Adobe Creative Cloud is a good example. We use several Adobe programs regularly and the cost of upgrading those individual programs has, for some time, exceeded the cost of a subscription to the Creative Cloud. I also have subscriptions for my online backup program, some online storage programs and some other apps and programs such as the Microsoft Office Suite.

Going back to The Family Nexus, I strongly suggest downloading the free program and taking a look at the new features linked above. One of the challenges of trying to implement a fee-based program by piggy-backing it on a free program is setting a price that will be acceptable to subscribers. This issue engenders a lot of discussion and thought. Genealogists should realize that they wouldn't have any programs or apps or databases or anything at all unless someone paid for it.

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