Friday, May 17, 2013

An Overview of Genealogy Programs for the Mac

What programs are available if you want to do genealogy using your Mac or other Apple devices?

In this post to AppleSider, I list all of the genealogy programs I am aware of that are currently available. They are listed in alphabetical order. I have provided links to the web site for each program.

The first thing you need to be concerned about when you start looking for genealogy software is, Does the software support the GEDCOM format? This format was developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the early days of computer-supported genealogy. If the program supports the GEDCOM format you can rest assured that you can share your data, or at least the most important data, with other people doing genealogy no matter what the platform. Just be aware that if the software that you decide to use has special features, the data entered using those features may not be transferable to other software programs. In particular, the way different programs store information concerning sources may not permit the transfer of this information from one program to another.

Family Tree

Family Tree is a relatively new genealogy program for the Mac. It is available from the App Store and costs $12 to download. It has the ability to import or export GEDCOM files. But it does not have the ability to generate HTML files for displaying your results on the web. There are three main views available from the toolbar the Time view, the Chart view, and the Map view. The chart created is in the form of a circle graph with the target person in the center and ancestors radiating out from the center. The map view is where locations of events are entered as either text or geo coordinates.

Family Tree

Family Tree Maker

The largest genealogy company in the world is Ancestry.com. You may have seen a television program sponsored by Ancestry.com called "Who Do You Think You Are?" They have their own software called Family Tree Maker for Mac 2. It runs on Max OS X 10.5 or later. It regularly sells for $70, but you may at times be able to find it on sale. Upgrades are $49. You also need a subscription to Ancestry.com. These start at $8 a month for the "U.S. Essentials Membership", $23 a month for their "U.S. Discovery Membership", and $35 per month for their "World Explorer Membership", which you will really need if you want to follow your family tree back beyond the time your ancestors came to the United States. Ancestry.com has recently added a feature called TreeSync to Family Tree Maker. This allows you to synchronize your tree in Family Tree Maker with an online family tree which you maintain on the Ancestry.com web site. You can give permission for this online family tree to be viewed by family members or the public, which will allow those folks to assist you in maintaining your family tree. Ancestry.com also publishes Apps for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. The apps are free. But it appears that data entry capabilities are limited. They would mostly be used for reading or reviewing the information you stored on the Ancestry.com site. Other features of Family Tree Maker include templates which allow you to create family trees or design your own to be printed out; you can create books to share with friends and family which include your family trees; there are sourcing tools to document your research and discoveries. There is a place authority database to ensure that you enter place names consistently and in the standard format. There are a variety of reports to gather information and export them in many formats. You can view multiple generations, navigate to any individual in your tree with the click of the mouse and add or edit life events. And of course you can import data from other genealogy programs that you may have used or are using.

Family Tree Maker

GEDitCOM II

GEDitCOM II is the program I use. I have used it since it was GEDitCOM I. It sells for $65. Upgrades cost $20. There is a fully functional demo that will run for 15 days. GEDitCOM pays very close attention to the GEDCOM standard with 100% support for GEDCOM 5.5 files. GEDitCOM provides many different interfaces for entering your information. The entire user interface is totally customizable. So basically, you can probably use the interface that you are most familiar with or that you find easiest to work with. Besides the standard data entry capabilities, GEDitCOM II is fully capable of entering multimedia including pictures, sounds, movies, PDF files, etc. This means that you can build links to the original source material stored on your computer. You can document your research and tie your research log to people or events. You can organize your records into albums. GEDitCOM can create an HTML file which can be used to display your family tree in a web browser. The best feature in my opinion is the place advisor for identifying a location where an event occurred. (See my previous blog: Places in GEDitCOM II). Rather than identifying the location as a point on a map as many other genealogy programs do, GEDitCOM identifies the location as an area on the map. So, for example, if an event took place in Denver, Colorado, the map that you will see does not have a pin at a particular location in Denver, Colorado. Rather you see a box which encloses Denver, Colorado, on the map. At this time GEDitCOM has no mobile applications available.

GEDitCOM

Genealogy Pro 2.2

Genealogy Pro 2.2 by Genealogy Pro Software Services is a bare-bones genealogy program that runs on either an Intel Macintosh or a PowerPC Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.4 or better. It costs $20 to buy it online using PayPal. It is available as a free download for an evaluation period of 30 days. Genealogy Pro Software Services also provides the capability of uploading your family tree to their Web server where you can share the family tree with friends and relatives over the Internet. There are only four charts you can produce, an horizontal or a vertical descendant chart and an horizontal or a vertical ancestor chart. There are only two reports that can be run, a family report or an Ahnentafel report.

Genealogy Pro 2.2

GenScribe

GenScribe is a family history research tracking and record keeping program, designed to help you plan and manage your genealogy research. It is not a genealogy data entry program. It only runs on older PowerPC Macs. The cost is $12. Quoting from their web site,
Here are some of the things you can do using GenScribe:
  • Create research "to do" lists for any given venue.
  • Record the actual research data that you find (GenScribe includes standard text entry fields as well as templates for the 1790-1880 and 1900-1920 U.S. censuses).
  • Manage genealogy projects, including linked subprojects.
  • Review research that you've done in any given source, or on any given project.
  • Review research that you may wish to incorporate into a lineage-linked database.
  • Keep track of your genealogy correspondence, including dates of correspondence and money that you've paid for research or to cover costs.
  • Keep track of page-by-page searches for specific references in unindexed materials.
  • Assign file numbers to specific research items and print cover sheets that can help you quickly locate hard copies.
GenScribe is designed to support the process of evaluating research by giving you easy access to the evidence you have gathered, as well as to help you plan where and what to look for next.

GenScribe


Gramps

Gramps is a FREE open-source genealogy program that supports GEDCOM 5.5. It runs on Linux, both PPC and Intel Macintosh computers, and Windows computers. It is primarily developed for the Linux environment, so installation on other platforms ranges in difficulty. There are only a few mobile platforms that can install Gramps. Gramps has all the features you would ordinarily expect and demand in a quality genealogy program. Most views of the data appear as lists. So you will see a list of people, you'll see list of the families, you'll see list of the events, you'll see the list of sources, and only in some views can you see, for example, the event tied to the person. There are seven types of reports. It also has the built-in capability of creating web pages that can be uploaded to the World Wide Web.

Gramps


GWintree

GWintree was developed to run on Windows and is a port to Linux. The GWintree version runs on Mac OSX 10.5 and above and is freeware. The interface is very bare bones, providing all the fields necessary to create your family tree. Because it is a port, the windows have two sizes, large or small. There are also other interface quirks brought over from the Windows environment like having to exit the window rather than quitting the program. In the brief time I took to explore the program, it crashed twice. The help file opens in your default browser and is context sensitive. It provides individual, family, and pedigree views of GEDCOM data. It has full support for sources, source citations, and repositories. There are descendent, ancestor, or complete reports. You can save your family tree in many different formats, including HTML, PDF, and RTF.

GWintree


Heredis

Heredis is a very strong genealogy program. It runs on most platforms including Windows, Mac OSX (Snow Leopard or 10.6 or later) and iOS. One of its major features is synchronization among all your devices. It advertises high-speed data entry because one screen can be used to enter all the information about an individual or a family. You can customize the format so that you can enter only the data that is important to you. Another feature is the ability to enter witnesses as sources associated with an event. There are a wide variety of tree charts that you can print out or display with several themes and designs to choose from. Maps are a part of Heredis, but like most programs that use maps, Heredis pinpoints a location with the use of a point rather than describing an area. A 30-day trial version is available with limited capabilities. With the trial version you can create up to 50 individuals in a single file. But you can import GEDCOM or Heredis files of any size. You can also export files created by Heredis. There are sample files provided to play with. The regular commercial version costs $60 and is available from the Heredis web site or the Apple App store.

Heredis


iFamily for Leopard

iFamily for Leopard is genealogy program that runs on the Mac with OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later. Even though the title says "iFamily for Leopard" it will run on Macs with later operating systems. They have said that the name has to stay what it is because somebody else has the name "iFamily". The main feature of this application is that it is designed to focus on the individual person rather than on the family unit. Plus you can see at a glance whether an individual has more than two parents, more than one spouse, or the number of siblings that they have. It allows you to display parent-child relationships such as the natural relationship which is the default, step relationships, adopted, or foster relationships. So you can display multiple spouses and stepchildren. One nice feature of the program is that every action taken is saved immediately so no data is ever lost. It also remembers the navigational route the user has followed so you can go from where you are currently working to where you were previously working. You can get a fully working demo version which lasts for 16 days. The only function that is unavailable is export to GEDCOM. If you like you can import a GEDCOM file containing more than 100,000 people into the demo version. It costs $29.95 to purchase, and upgrades are free.

iFamily for Leopard


MacFamilyTree

MacFamilyTree is one of the programs written by Synium Software. It runs on Macintosh OS X 10.5 and later. It costs $60. MobileFamilyTree Pro is a full-featured genealogy program that runs on iOS. It costs $15. You can sync your data to all your devices running MobileFamilyTree Pro or MacFamilyTree. MacFamilyTree's user interface received a major overhaul for Version 6. There are four distinct categories when working with MacFamilyTree edit, views, reports, and export. It features integration with new.familysearch.org, an external database maintained by the LDS Church that is one of the leading resources for genealogy research. You must be a member to use the service, however. MacFamilyTree offers access to other external websites from within the program to do genealogical research. Such services as Ancestry.com, EllisIsland, FindAGrave, Footnotes, WorldVitalRecords, or Google search can all be accessed from within MacFamilyTree. MacFamilyTree allows you to do your to-do list management right within the program. It provides for many print-ready charts and new and improved reports. A research assistant analyzes your database and helps you identify missing information in your family tree by asking easy questions about your relatives.

MacFamilyTree


Myblood-line

In Myblood-line there are several ways to look at data. e.g. People, Ancestors, TimeMaps, Chronology... From each view you can easily navigate to the information and modify it. For example, the Ancestors View shows the Timeline of 5 generations, and highlights the Person the cursor is moving over. Myblood-line includes a very powerful web publishing capability. It includes a set of templates, making an up-to-date family tree website only a couple of clicks away. For the more advanced users there is also the possibility of creating or importing your own template (using straight-forward .css files). Myblood-line also features integration with Google Maps to display the exact location of places stored within the program's database. Time maps are also available, tracing the location of events over time. It also integrates with social network sites. Pictures and documents stored in the MyBlood media section can now be shared by using the Picasa online service. It is possible to use group photos in Myblood-line because you can attach people to a photo and identify the person in the photo. You can also attach events to a photo, such as a wedding. Translation to several languages is supported within the program. The program also links to Translation services provided through Google-Translate. Mac OS X 10.4 or higher is required (Intel). Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 are all supported. A free trial version of Myblood-line can be downloaded directly from the program's website. The full program can be purchased for $60. If you purchase both the Windows version and the Macintosh version, your cost is $90.

Myblood-line


ohmiGene

The help integrated into ohmiGene is exclusively in French, which is a shame for English-speakers because this is a very powerful and complete package. ohmiGene is compatible with MacOS X from Tiger (10.4) and later. The main windows include the Main Page, the Individual Card, the Family Card, the Union Card (marriages), a Relation card, an Avatar card, and an Event card. Most of these support an unlimited number of associated files for notes, texts, sources, and "sakouveux" (witness, epoch, etc. an open format not defined by the GEDCOM format which allows you to record what you want). There are many high-quality report formats output as PDF files. Reports include a fan chart, an ancestry notebook, a family tree, individual and family sheets, and some diagrams of descent. It tries to strictly conform to the GEDCOM standard for both importing and exporting. A free trial allows the input of 509 individuals. The regular version costs $40.

ohmiGene


Personal Ancestry Writer II

Personal Ancestry Writer II is freeware. There are two versions. Version 100 runs on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) through 10.7 (Lion). Version 102 runs on Mac OS X 10.6.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.8 (Mountain Lion). Version 100 is no longer being updated. Quoting from their website, "It combines most of the features of the LDS Personal Ancestral File program (PAF) for the Macintosh (for which all development stopped a few years ago after release 2.3.1), with additional features that generate web pages (in HTML), word processing files (in RTF for, e.g., AppleWorks) and desktop publishing files (in MML for FrameMaker)." The program was written especially for people who were using the old LDS genealogy PAF format genealogy databases. In addition to the capabilities provided by these older programs, Personal Ancestry Writer II added the ability to add an unlimited number of people and the ability to add notes of any size, it doubled the length of person and place names, tags permitted in the new GEDCOM standard, the ability to create books with an automatically generated index, and the ability to export to HTML format. Notes are allowed to carry most of the weight of evidence with complete footnote capability. New events included in GEDCOM 5.5 standard are not supported. Same-sex marriages are not supported. The inclusion of audio and video files is not supported. The author considers the merging of two genealogies to be largely impractical because of all the errors and inconsistencies generally brought in by such a merger. So he does not include that capability, either.

PA Writer


Reunion

Reunion by Leister Productions is now up to version 10. It is available on Macs running Mac OS X 10.5 or newer. It is also available on iOS devices. iPhone and iPod Touch must be running iOS 4.3 or newer. iPad must be running iOS 5.1 or newer. A demo version is available for the Mac that permits the entry of up to 50 people in a family file. A download of Reunion can be purchased for $99 from the Reunion Web Store. An upgrade to Reunion 10 costs $50 or more depending on your location. You can get the software on a CD by paying the additional shipping costs. Reunion is a full-featured genealogy program for storing all of your information including names, dates, places, facts, attributes, plenty of room for notes, free-form text, memos, custom fields, contact information, marital status, and research logs. It has plenty of capability for storing media of all types including movies and sound recordings. You can link them to people, families, and source records. You can link multiple multimedia items to a single record, or one multimedia item to multiple records. It even has the built-in capability to search the web from within the program. Pedigree and descendant charts can be created for up to 99 generations. Reunion integrates with Google maps and allows you to draw maps with pin points for locations of births and deaths, etc.

Reunion


Summary

I hope this brief overview has been helpful to you. If you are going to get serious about doing genealogy on your Apple machines, you need to be serious about the software that you pick to work with. Though the GEDCOM standard lets you export your data from one software package to one that imports GEDCOM data, as I said in the beginning there may be some data that does not transfer completely, especially information about the sources you used to document your findings and possibly links to the photos or documents you were able to include. So if you start out with a program that you become unhappy with, it may take hours to transfer your information from one program to another. So consider your choice of software carefully. If a demo version is available, grab it and play with it for awhile. Is it easy to understand and use? What kind of support comes along with the software? A pretty interface may hide flaws and/or omissions underneath. Free software is always nice, but to get what you want you may have to spend some money up-front. How important is the ability to use your portable devices while recording your information? How meticulous do you want to be in your research? How important is it that the genealogy program does everything? Maybe you will find a program outside of the genealogy program that would be much better to use for keeping a research log. How important are the family stories? Does the software provide a good way to include them? Does the software permit tying together people in non-standard families? Of course, one thing that is almost impossible to predict is whether the software is going to be around a few years from now.

Good luck in finding something that really does a good job of helping you to record your family and its history.

3 comments:

  1. Why didn't you include My Heritage. It really is an excellent genealogy software. In many respects I believe it's better than Ancestry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MyHeritage is a web-based genealogy program. It runs in your browser and the data is stored on the web. It is not specificaly designed to run on the Macintosh. They are associated with a genealogy program called Family Tree Builder. But that software only runs on a Windows machine.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

    ReplyDelete

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