After testing a few desktop genealogy applications for how well they handled GEDCOM files, it occurred to me that I should write an article about my testing philosophy and methodology, as well as some of the problems with complying with the GEDCOM standard. Take a moment to ponder that: this series was motivated by the problem of genealogy software like Family Tree Maker (FTM) not complying with the GEDCOM standard. But there may be unintended consequences, both for users and software publishers, of following the standard. [Read more…]
Today I finished methodically testing which source and citation information reliably survives GEDCOM import and export. It’s not a pretty picture! A mere five of fourteen key GEDCOM tags are safe across the nine leading genealogy software packages I tested. Fortunately, the ones I previously identified as essential to source citations are among them.
Why You Should Care
The ability to move your family history data from one application to another is important. Even if you have no intention of changing software or sharing your research you ought to be concerned. It’s entirely possible that the person or people that inherit your research will choose a different package. They may load your data and probably won’t even know they lost anything in the transfer. Well, that fate needn’t be yours if you know where you can safely store information.
What You Can Do
This research is part of the work I’ve been doing to create the very first GenealogyTools ebook and video course: Practical Citation. After completing the course, you will be able to safely and confidently record sources, citations, and quality in your genealogy software without having to consult a book or quick sheet. Say “goodbye” to uncertainty about citation templates and formats.
 I tested Family Historian 5, Family Tree Maker 2012, Family Tree Maker for Mac 2, GEDitCOM II, Legacy 7.5, MacFamilyTree 6, Reunion 10, RootsMagic 5, and The Master Genealogist 7.
When you’re choosing a new genealogy application it helps to compare the features. It’s also helpful to quickly see which ones support the features essential to your genealogy workflow and practice.
I just compiled a set of tables I hope you’ll find helpful in comparing features of PC genealogy software. I published it on the Family Tree Maker 2012 buyer’s guide page.
My plan is to update the version I have already created for Mac genealogy software and post it in the same way.
Focus groups are sets of people you can define in PC genealogy software The Master Genealogist. Actions within the program, like reporting and exports, can then be focused on this group.
One useful focus group is one which contains a subject’s patrilineal
and or matrilineal lines. Learn a quick way to create such a focus group in this video.