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

Monday, January 8, 2018

An Abandoned Genealogy Program Is Not a "Good" Program

A computer program is not like a cherished piece of furniture that, over time, can become an antique and treasured forever. Genealogy programs, in particular, are tools that become old and useless like a tire on a car. The only thing that keeps a genealogy program worth using is if it is constantly maintained by its developer. As much as you might love the tires on your car, they are consumables and need to be replaced periodically or there might a catastrophic problem. Once the program is abandoned, absent some continued programming maintenance, it becomes unreliable per se and therefore useless for storing and maintaining a genealogical database. Just like an old tire, it might keep going for a long time and it might blow out the next time you drive it. It just isn't worth losing all your data just because you love your computer program.

I just don't know how to say that more clearly. Every time I write on the subject of old, discarded genealogy programs, I get a significant amount of blowback about how wonderful these programs were or are and how they work perfectly well except for a few problems. I don't do programs with problems. If a program has "problems" especially those that endanger my data, I abandon the program without a moment's remorse.

At the core of the problem is the unwillingness of the genealogists to adapt to a new program. Genealogists abhor change. It comes with the territory.

How do I know when my programs are out of date? Generally, I start to see functions that don't work and error messages. We should all be aware of error messages since they are endemic online, but in a particular program, especially one used to record and store genealogical data, malfunctioning programs are not acceptable. If you look at both computer programs and the computers themselves as consumable items, then you will begin to understand that you do not just buy one and keep it forever. You replace the computer and the programs regularly.

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