Thursday, February 19, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 7

This week in our Genealogy Do-Over are topics are (1) reviewing genealogy database software and (2) digitizing photos and documents. When I first signed up for the Genealogy Do-Over I started reviewing and sampling other genealogy software because I have used nothing but Family Tree Maker (aka FTM) since 1998 but did purchase Legacy 8 last year too. I am not a technology wizard, far from it in fact! I do better when I can read a manual or have one on one training. Instruction videos definitely help but not always.

Now if I could design a software program for genealogy, I would take all my favorite aspects of the genealogy software I have been looking at these last several weeks and combine them into one program. As well as adding a few extra ideas. Unfortunately, I am technically challenged when it comes to designing computer software. That being said, lets take a look at the programs I have been looking at.

Genealogy Software Review

Family Tree Maker (FTM) - 

Considering I have been using FTM software since 1998 I felt that I was between intermediate and advanced in my understanding of FTM. In 2012, I purchased and updated to the newest version of FTM. From the get go I had problems with that version. It took me two days to get the software to load properly. There were unusually long response times and a host of other issues. 

When I called Ancestry's FTM Help Desk, I was repeatedly told in polite yet condescending tones that the problem was "operator error". By "operator error" I mean that instead of taking the few extra minutes to actually determine "why" I was having problem(s) or to ask specific question(s) two things would happen. The first thing I would be asked was for my email address. Then I would be asked what they could do help. After a short and brief conversation I was told "we are sending you a link as to how to fix the problem(s). I can't begin to explain how frustrating that was especially for someone like me who spent my entire adult life in the customer service industry.

Fast forward two years to 2014. Once again, I upgraded to the newest and latest version of FTM 2014. I got so frustrated with constant freezing and hung up in "la-la land" that I decided I wanted purchase Legacy 8 (aka L-8). Of course my impatience at learning something new got the better of me and I I went back to FTM. I had hoped that it would not be a repeat of FTM 2012. There were indeed some improvements and the synch factor between and FTM was definitely an improvement. But I still wasn't a happy camper!

Here are my pros and cons for Family Tree Maker:

  • Pros
    • Importing/Exporting of documents, photos & videos in multiple formats
    • Synch feature between & FTM
    • Fairly easy to use
    • Merging of duplicate people
    • Smart Story feature 
    • Import/Export of Gedcoms
    • Import/Export of Reports in PDF format
  • Cons
    • Technical support for FTM is not great
    • No color coding availability
    • No mobile app for FTM per se but app is available but not great - constantly freezes on my new Android phone & tablet
    • I continue to get "not responding" 
    • It gets hung up in "la-la land" even though I am using Mozilla's Firefox web browser which is recommended by and FTM Help Desk

Legacy 8 (L-8)-

After a frustrating day with FTM last year I decided to purchase Legacy 8 Deluxe rather than go for the standard free version. I am bells and whistles kind of gal even if it takes me a while to figure them all out! The reviews were great and I thought it would be a welcome change. It has not been easy for me to learn but between the instructional videos and the manual I am progressing slowly but that is okay. Although I am still learning all the ins and outs of L-8, I am confident that I will get more comfortable as time goes on. I don't really have a list of cons for L-8 but here is my pros list

  • Pros
    • Importing/Exporting of documents, photos
    • Color coding features
    • Standard version is Free
    • Import/Export of Gedcoms
    • View different families simultaneously in multiple windows (up to 6 I believe)
    • Additional programs that can be purchased as add on's such as Legacy Charting Companion and Genelines
    • Calendar features
    • Record DNA test results
    • Import/Export of Reports in PDF format
    • Mobile Version available for Android, i-Phone, i-Pad, i-Touch & Windows
What I Plan to Do - 

I am going to use Legacy 8 for my Genealogy Do-Over. However, I will continue to use Family Tree Maker 2014 until I have completed a brand new "Master" tree using Legacy 8. Once that is complete I will reevaluate the pros and cons of keeping Family Tree Maker 2014. Considering my "Master" tree in Family Tree Maker has more than 94,000 people, 14,000 plus photos, more than 4,200 stories and nearly 100,000 records attached this is going to take an incredible amount of time. 

I estimate that 96% of my duplicate persons/families has been either merged or deleted by me. I have been working on deleting duplicate photographs but making sure that all individuals are still attached to said photographs. A very time consuming process I might add. I would estimate that nearly 90% of my stories have their source citations in the story itself but that I did not create an actual source citation in that individual's profile.

As I build my new and improved tree in Legacy 8, I am working in stages. The first stage is to add each family member with their supporting evidence and properly citing the sources. The second stage is to add photographs with proper source citations. Finally in stage three I will add narratives, stories and interviews with proper source citations.

Digitizing Photos and Documents -

I have a Canon Pixma MG-5420 printer/scanner that I love! I have learned a lot about scanning formats from our Facebook discussions and from fellow genealogy blogs. I have reset the scanner to high resolution rather than standard as well as resetting the format from JPEG files to TIFF files. From here on out I will hopefully have a better class of photos. It is not possible for me to rescan many of my photos but I wonder if there is anything I can do about that? I will have to consult with Miriam Robbins and Thomas MacEntee on that thought. (Question posted to Genealogy Do-Over page at Facebook)

Photos - DIY or Use a Professional Service?

Over the years I have saved photos to floppy discs, cd disks and flash drives in more recent years.  

I don't currently use a mobile scanner such as Flip-Pal but I do put my cell phone and tablet to good use by photographing documents to attach to my research extracts and/or notes for said document whenever possible. Some libraries and archives are very particular about this so I always ask before doing so. 

I have never considered using a professional service (other than for having film developed) for my photos or documents. There are many reasons but the top ones would be cost? fear of losing the photo or document in transit from me to the service and back to me and fear of damage to the original (or further damage). This is something I will have to research at a later date and have added to to my list. 

Documents - How to Convert Image Test to Searchable Text 

I will begin this section with are you kidding me? I didn't know such a thing was possible! I have learned a lot in the last seven weeks. I have learned new computer skills as well as  new research skills. I have saved the link for "How to Convert Images and PDF Files to Editable Text" to my Genealogy Toolbox in Evernote for future reference.

Next week we will be discussing Conducting Collateral Research which I am curious to see if I have been using in the proper context. We will also be Reviewing Offline Education Options. 

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.   

No comments:

Post a Comment