Looking for a Genealogy Program that Will Be Around for a Long Time

A newsletter reader wrote to me today expressing dissatisfaction with the recent “retirement” of Family Tree Maker. He wants to switch to a different genealogy program but is concerned that the next program he uses also might be “retired” before long. He asked, “Which genealogy software will stand the test of endurance?”

I decided to publish my answer in this newsletter in case others have similar concerns.

Family Tree Maker certainly did not “stand the test of endurance.” Since it was supported by the largest commercial company in the genealogy marketplace and reportedly was the most popular genealogy program in the world, many of us assumed it would be a viable product forever. We were wrong, as the recent announcement about “retirement” of the program shows. Obviously, support by a multimillion dollar corporation is no guarantee that a program will be available in the future.

Several other major genealogy programs have also disappeared over the years, including Personal Ancestral File, Roots 4, The Ultimate Genealogist, The Master Genealogist, The Family Edge, and a few others I cannot remember right now. All of these were leading genealogy programs at one time but have since faded into oblivion.

Of course, the risk also extends to all of today’s genealogy programs: RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Mac Family Tree, Family Tree Builder, Reunion, RootsTrust, Heredis, Family Historian, The Next Generation, WebTrees, Ancestral Quest, and every other genealogy program I can think of. I wouldn’t bet on any of them surviving forever. That is especially true as the trend of the computer industry these days is to move away from programs installed in personal computers and toward cloud-based solutions.

This is not a “genealogy problem.” The same is true for non-genealogy software as well. We have lost Lotus 1-2-3, VisiCalc, dBase, WordStar, and a few hundred other excellent programs over the years.

There are no guarantees with anything in this world.

My advice: When looking for a new program for any purpose, find one you like and use it. However, never lock yourself in. Always have an exit plan in mind in case your favorite program suddenly becomes non-functioning for any reason and cannot be replaced. This is true for genealogy and non-genealogy programs alike.

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Another MIA: “Family Tree Legends” by Pearl Street Software.
The only guarantee that you will always be able to use a program is: get the GRAMPS source code (https://gramps-project.org/), a free compiler (https://gcc.gnu.org/) and find someone who will compile it for you.

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I understand the problem, but how do we “not lock ourselves in” and what do you mean by “an exit plan?” I am very new to genealogy, and I am aware of the long hours and hard work involved. How do we keep our work from disappearing? Thank you for your answer.

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    —> what do you mean by “an exit plan?”

    Make sure you have a plan for moving your genealogy data to some other program or database. Hopefully, you won’t need to do that for a long,, long time. However, having a backup plan can be a life-saver if your favorite program disappears at some unexpected time or if your hard drive crashes and for some reason you cannot obtain a new copy of your favorite genealogy program.

    An exit plan doesn’t need to be complicated. I make new GEDCOM files every few months containing my latest genealogy data and save those files in 3 or 4 different file storage services in the cloud. If I have to switch to a different program, I know I can do so at any time simply by obtaining the new program, installing it, and then importing one of my latest GEDCOM files.

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    Part of the contingency plan should be to try other programs periodically to test how compatible data transfer from your current program will be, and see if their features fit with your preferences. Keep up with genealogy news and check program specifications, so that you have the maximum time to protect your data, when there there is an announcement like ancestry’s surprise.

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    Thank you very much for your response. This is very helpful!

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    Dick,
    Maybe I’m more OCD than you, but at the end of each RM session, I export to GEDCOM. I takes all of a minute and I always have a current GEDCOM, and then back up my database to a file with the date on it. I also run their built-in database integrity checker as part of my month-end process.

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    Use a program that saves all of it’s data to a fully and openly documented text file.

    GEDCOM is a poor choice for such a backup file because it is a very old standard and loses everything that modern genealogy programs store that wasn’t thought of 17 years ago when the 5.5.1 standard was finalized. It’s why current programs all have mutually incompatible extensions to the standard.

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Dick,

You forgot Multiplan, the spreadsheet that I used to run on my old TI 99-4/a. It did the job.

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    I still have one of my TI99-4a! It is fun to know there is someone who even knows what you are talking about. I learned to program music on it!

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    For me, it was SuperCalc3a on the Apple II. And, we shouldn’t forget the “forerunner” of Windows: AppleWorks on the Apple II.

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    Elaine,
    I had the TI 99-4/a with the expansion box, with the extra memory card and probably another card or 2. Did we need one for a parallel printer?
    I got my MBA in 1986 and used multicalc and their text editor. I remember that we had to put all of our formatting instructions in-line with the text as commands starting with a period.
    Quite frankly, that was probably the best personal computer around at the time for expandability, cost and ease of use. It’s too bad that it is overlooked in the history.
    It’s cool to know that you still have one.

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We’re probably kin….. Just saying…
Sally East
Sallyeeast@aol.com

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I would suggest one more thing. Printing your data (hopefully to a PDF) as Family Group Sheets with as much information as the software allows (i.e. pictures, SOURCES, addresses, witnesses, etc.) with an index. As a total last resort you still have your data in a readable form that is still widely recognizable in its format. I just found that importing a GEDCOM to a software for evaluation, it did not bring over all the details of the sources. Not a killer if you are still using the original program for input, but I would be devastated by that news if the original program was no longer available!

As for the cloud: I still like Rootweb for uploading my GEDCOM. 1) It allows updates – you don’t have to have 50 different versions on the same site. 2) It does a great job of searching and displaying data 3) it displays sources in a intelligent format 4) You can always retrieve you own GEDCOM if needed. 5) Can’t beat the price.

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    Gene>”I still like Rootweb for uploading my GEDCOM. 1) It allows updates – you don’t have to have 50 different versions on the same site…”
    Gene, Is Rootweb the same as Rootsweb, which says it is part of Ancestry.com? If so, can it be used to combine two versions of a myHeritage family tree and then delete the two versions in myHeritage and upload the combined GEDCOM from Root(s)web into myHeritage? If so, that would be a great problem-solver for me.
    Nate

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    Nate, Sorry – yes I didn’t catch that I dropped the “s”. Rootsweb (as of now) is still the free side of Ancestry. When you upload your GEDCOM to the WorldConnect Project in Rootsweb, you can overwrite/update your current file. There is no such option on Ancestry so if you are not using it as your main database you are kind of screwed. I have deleted my Ancestry database and reloaded it once, but that causes several issues besides it is a real hassle. So I just quit updating my tree on Ancestry. I am not sure how MyHeritage works. If you have 2 versions of a GEDCOM that you are trying to combine into 1, I don’t think Rootsweb would be the place to do that.

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    There’s every certainty that Ancestry will shut down Rootsweb sooner rather than later.

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In thinking about an exit strategy, what do you consider to be the best location for media files that serve as sources for our data? I’ve used FTM since its inception and have Media files in the same folder as my data. Is it better from an exit-strategy perspective to have media in a different folder or the same? What happens to all the links to supporting info? I’m already having to redo it with a move to another program and would like to avoid having to redo everything multiple times. Hope this makes sense!

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    —> what do you consider to be the best location for media files that serve as sources for our data?

    Never, ever store all of your files in one location. That is an invitation for disaster. Store copies of your files in multiple locations in different geographic areas. For instance, I generally keep one copy in my computer’s own hard drive, another copy on the same hard drive’s /Backups folder, another copy in the external USB drive that sits beside my computer, another copy in a USB flashdrive or two, another copy in Dropbox, another copy in Google Drive, another copy in Amazon S3 storage, and so on. Yes, that is overkill but I do believe I am well protected from data loss.

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You must mean Ultimate Family Tree, not Ultimate Genealogist. UFT was purchased by Ancestry along with Generations and Bruce Buzbee’s Family Origins, and were subsequently discontinued in favor of Family Tree Maker. Lotus 123 is actually still available.

Programs with source code are not immune. Programming languages and database systems become unsupported and vanish, e.g. FoxPro’s demise limited the future of The Master Genealogist.

Also re GEDCOM, check that your program is exporting all your data, including notes, citations, links to media, etc., using GEDCOM 5.5.1 and as few program defined tags as possible. Otherwise it will not be possible to transfer all your data to your next program.

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Compared to my 120 year old pictures and turn of the century letters, computers in general have been around for a very short time. My first tree was drawn using lines and boxes in Lotus 123. Then I tried a homemade program using graphing commands. I have been on Family Tree maker since it was owned by Broderbund so I actually think it has lasted for a long time. Somebody on another blog said that printing a book was the only real way to make sure your data would be available for the next generation. I have done that with one of my lines. I hope to never have to re-enter my data but I would think that physically printed sheets are one step better than a PDF file. Gedcom’s are a good way to weather changes in genealogy programs but as everyone has mentioned it is a lossy format, that is, some data can be lost in the translation. I tend to think our 100 year old pictures will be viewable for longer than any Jpegs stored on a computer today. I am backing up my data to protect it from fire, theft, and hardware failure. Periodically I manually save the FTM file to the cloud. Years from now I will be looking for how best to ensure the data lives beyond me.

Learning how to save and organize linked source documents to Family Tree Maker instead of having them embedded in the database has been a trick. For the files referenced by Family Tree Maker, a subdirectory in the same directory as the FTM file works best for me. I do not like the random alphanumeric files names generated by FTM and prefer a naming convention that lets you understand the file contents without using any outside program.

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    I would think that physically printed sheets are one step better than a PDF file.
    Only if it’s acid-free paper. Otherwise, it turns brown and brittle after only a few decades.

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What about storing a copy on the WayBack Machine/Internet Archive as well?
And, if you do print-on-demand volumes for the family, be sure to place copies at the Library of Congress and the DAR.

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I’ve been writing software for over 40 years and have had to deal with all kinds of data in many different forms and formats. I’ve recently come to the computer genealogy world and am frankly astonished at the lack of a truly flexible, extensible, and STANDARDIZED, database format for archiving. I first thought GEDCOM was it, but it clearly isn’t up to snuff (old, poorly implemented, too many disorganized extensions, etc), and the newer GEDCOM-X (and XML-based GEDCOM) seems like a move in the right direction but doesn’t seem to have much traction. So, before I go all wild and create my own archival setup with tools to reformat into GEDCOM, is there some real database format out there for genealogical data that is widely supported and watched over by a standards group with some teeth???

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    Good comment, but the answer is no, nothing with traction. It seems like the genealogy cloud-based world is still evolving, and until that dust settles and one vendor become dominant, it will be tough for global adoption of anything better than GEDCOM.

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    As lkessler says, “No”. That’s because vendors have no incentive to let you easily leave for another product, and every incentive to lock you in to their product.

    The Gramps native export format is a zipped XML file that describes *everything* about the database. As long as computers are around in 100 years, we can be highly confident that zip and programs to read XML text files will exist. Thus, a Gramps tree would be able to be reconstructed.

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“There are no guarantees with anything in this world. — Except death and Taxes?—

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This happens with everything in time. New technology comes along and a change is needed. We have seen it OS, software, and hardware. My first PCs ran CP/M and my first genealogy software was ROOTS/M by Commsoft in the early ’80s. Both long since history. Unfortunately, unless you have time machine, none of us will know what will be around 5, 10, 25, or more years from now. So best we can do, is as has been said here, be prepared for possible changes, and as we say when dealing with any software, make multiple backups of everything, stored in multiple places and formats.

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I still happily use Personal Ancestral File 3 on my P5 Pentium computer running Windows 3.1 at 166 MHz. No turmoil for me.

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Still using Brothers Keeper 5.2 for DOS.

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I don’t use family tree software anymore. I am a paid subscriber of Ancestry and store everthing on Ancestry, and that’s it…

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Although it’s not guaranteed in this always-connected world, remember that your software will (probably!) not suddenly stop working just because it’s no longer supported by the parent company. You won’t get any further enhancements or bug fixes – but it should carry on working just as it did before. While it might be comforting that your software is being actively maintained, it’s not essential. For example, for home finance I use a version of Quicken which has been unsupported for at least a decade – it still does the job I bought it for.

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    … a follow-up clarification. “It’ll keep working as before” obviously does NOT apply to web-based or cloud services. If you only keep your tree on Ancestry (for example) and Ancestry goes out of business, then your data is probably gone!

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    And for when Windows drops backward compatibility, there’s always virtual machines.

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This is what I have been doing since the beginning. I got PAF right when it was introduced. Maybe late eighties, earlier nineties? When it was discontinued I switched to something that was supported, because that’s what you do. I realized it was the same thing, so I switched back. Worked for me since Windows 3.1 or 95 and still does on Windows 10. Why would I switch? Never needed support.

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    Quite right, and PAF runs well in Linux too. And IMO, it’s also as close to ‘standard’ GEDCOM as you can get. More modern programs have extensions that can’t be read by others.
    It is not always safe, however, because some programs don’t really follow the GEDCOM standard, and throw away extra parents. RootsMagic does that, and Ancestry too.

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What software is suggested for the beginner? As compared to many others that read Dick’s daily email, I have been enjoying this hobby for about 10 years. But I am still uncertain what is the best choice and with the recent deaths of PAF and the changes at FTM, does My Heritage or is there something else to consider an answer.

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    Personally I started on Legacy Family Tree, mainly because there’s a free version and I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay interested! I used the free version quite happily for a year or so before deciding to pay for the full version. I can’t now remember if there was some function missing from the free version that I decided I needed at that point, or whether I just thought I ought to support the company who had provided this great tool for free – I think it may actually have been the latter, and any additional features were just a bonus.

    I’m afraid I can’t give you any comparisons with other packages, because so far (7 or 8 years now) I’ve been very happy with Legacy and seen no reason to change.

    Returning to the original blog posting – while Legacy does have some online features, if they disappeared tomorrow it would continue working as a Family Tree program just as it does now, so I’m not worried on that score.

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    JR,
    Roots Magic also has a free version.
    Whatever you do, try each program out for a month or so to give it a fair trial and enter the same set of people in each software. Once, you’re past the initial couple week learning curve you can accurately evaluate the program for ease of use.
    Two other things:
    First, create all of the reports the software can, just to see if you like their layout and there isn’t something that you want that isn’t in the program.
    Second, go to the programs website and browse through the user forums to see how responsive the program’s authors are and also to see what type of support is available from other users. I know that Roots Magic has a very active user forum. I’ve never looked into Legacy’s user forums since I don’t use the software.

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When I learned that FTM was being retired I started a 1 year plan to clean up my FTM database. I realized I had become too dependent on the FTM-Ancestry connection and had allowed my work in FTM to get sloppy because just syncing was so easy and before the “new Ancestry” I had done a lot of my work on Ancestry and synced back down to FTM. I want my FTM files to be in the best possible shape for when syncing is no longer available and for when I may decide to abandon FTM and have to port everything over to a new Software.

Things I am doing:
Renaming all my media files to make sense and make life easier if something bad happened and I had to relink all my media files. No more 1860 US census(105).jpg 1860 US Census(106).jpg, etc. Deleting duplicate media files.

Double checking all my sources and source citations. Have I added everything from the source citations that I want? Are my citations correct or what just Ancestry chose to call it at a particular point in time?

Verifying that all the media I want are actually downloaded from Ancestry, (not just the 1st page but creating multi page PDFs of media). Also I have found a surprising number of missing media.

Cleaning up all the place names.

When doing major clean up, I back up my FTM file daily as well as sync to Ancestry. I also maintain a master FTM file that is not linked to Ancestry in a different folder as well as on an external hard drive. I make a new copy of the master unlinked file on a regular basis.

I still expect to be using FTM long into the future, but I have ramped up my preparedness plan.

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I have used Brother’s Keeper for many years. There are two versions – a free download and a paid for version with more features and a manual.

The paid version is available as a disk or download.

Regular updates are available through the website.

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Dick,
Which software programs create the “most – standard” GEDCOM files? I would like to find out who is the best in case of something bad happening in the future.
Thanks
Charles

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Hi Dick, this popped up on my facebook feed at a good time because I too have been thinking about this. I’ve heard that FTM is being bought by another company and so in essence it isn’t “going away.
But it did make me think about what a next step could be. I have decided to set up a password protected website and plan on inviting every relative to access it. So much of what I’ve done is known only to me and I keep having flashbacks to Orson Welles dying words in Citizen Kane. “Rosebud.” So this was a good kick in the pants to do something all family can access.
Yes, I know that there is the probability that whatever URL/site owner company may close down and it could be lost but it is a start to get it out there.
I am also going to stop research and start adding all the information I’ve collected. I’m a researcher by trade and by avocation and I realize that I need to take a breath and organize what I have that I haven’t added to the tree.
So, now I am searching for a good, stable company who sells domains as well as genealogy templates that I can use. I’ve never done this before so I am at the bottom of the learning curve. On the hunt for a good way to go in that direction.

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    I am 83 years old and In my opinion ROOTS MAGIC IS THE BEST AND EASIEST TO USE I was using Family Origins to start with. I like RootsMagic over Family Tree Maker and I have both.

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    —> So, now I am searching for a good, stable company who sells domains as well as genealogy templates that I can use. I’ve never done this before so I am at the bottom of the learning curve. On the hunt for a good way to go in that direction.

    Take a look at The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (usually abbreviated to “TNG”) at http://www.tngsitebuilding.com/ . It may fit your search. Also, one partner company that will install the software and host the site for you is listed near the bottom of the same page.

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A lot of people seem to think that their Family Tree Maker will stop functioning when it is retired. I am still using FTM v11 (2003) which is running perfectly on Windows 10 64 bit. Even though it is 13 years old I have yet to use all of its features and prefer to stick with what I know. I have reinstalled it many times on upgraded computers and the only important thing is to make sure you have the install program and any service packs or updates stored safely. I have even copied the original CD to a thumb drive for future use and have used it to install V11 on a Windows 8 tablet. There is no need to upgrade if you are happy with what you have.

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    the only important thing is to make sure you have the install program and any service packs or updates stored safely.

    That’s the part which only 1 in 1,000 think to do.

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So much to get our arms around. Perhaps the genealogy user community needs to establish a customers consortium to get genealogical companies on board to our needs and concerns? A mission statement, scope of concerns, goals and requirements would get the ball rolling. As often is stated, … there is power in numbers!

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David Paul Davenport February 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Somewhat tongue in cheek may I suggest archival quality paper inside the “plastic” sheets held in three-ring binders? Seriously, no program will ever be permanent. Even if the software is never ungraded the computers we use will change and make whatever storage devices we use obsolete. I am still looking for an 80 col IBM card reader, because my first genealogy database dates from 1977 and used a mainframe computer – a Cyber 175. My next was a Kaypro with 5 1/2 floppies, etc etc.

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What about creating/using html (webpages) for all your genealogy work. I started to do this over 10 years ago. Each family is grouped on a page, then each name is hyperlinked to more info. I have photo pages, birth and death certificate images, etc. Each webpage has a name and all the page information can be easily searched for on your computer. I have over 1600 people, that I know of, in my “database,” and never lost anything – so far.
If you are not sure of any info, just write a short note next to that “fact.” I got tired of searching for the ideal genealogy program and settled on the webpage format and linking everything. It’s easy to get started with many free or cheap web creation programs around. Once the webpages are created they are not dependent on any one program since they are written in html.

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GFanning, when you say “…In my opinion ROOTS MAGIC IS THE BEST AND EASIEST TO USE” can you tell us the names of the other genealogy apps you have compared it to? It would help a lot to know the extent of your research and, depending on the extent and breadth of your research, it might save the rest of us a lot of time and frustration if indeed your conclusion is based on exhaustive research. On the other hand, if you’ve just tried it and liked it without much comparison, that’s okay too but might affect the amount of weight others might want to assign to your conclusion.
Best wishes, Nate
Just turned 80

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No one mentioned Familysearch.org. I use that and then added Roots Magic as a second
backup. I love the way family search works but want some of my pictures and documents
in my personal file only. It is free and the search portion is great! Sources can be added
automatically when found. Also easily add pictures, documents, stories, or audio.

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Interesting comments!
When Roots III came out in the late 1980’s, replacing Roots II, I loved the way the program worked, as well as the output formats, So, I decided to spend whatever time I might have on research, not chasing the latest and greatest genealogy program. I even chose not to attempt Roots IV. Consequently, I am likely the only Roots III user left in the world. I have over 50,000 kin in my data base, and a dedicated Windows 98SE to run the DOS program. I even enjoy using the old dot commands when developing Roots text files. My only issue these days has been finding a new printer which works with a DOS program. Of course, I can always save my Roots III files in Word Perfect 5.1, and print from that, Word Perfect, another great program which has left us. Just call me dinosaur Bob!

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    There are several workarounds to keep using your Roots III. The first is LibreOffice which will read and convert Word Perfect documents into any format you want plus allow the editing of the original. DOSBOX will allow you to run Roots III on more modern computers or the free Virtual Box will let you create a Windows 98 virtual machine and a DOS one if you still have the disks. Finally, there are a number of programs like DOS2USB that will capture the output to a LPT printer port and re-direct it to a USB port for printing. Genealogists seem to be good at adapting to technology changes. All of the above are free.

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    Thank you! I’ll give it a try.

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    Bob J.,
    I think I may be the last user of ROOTS III on the planet; well, perhaps the last purchaser of a ROOTS III manual (a few weeks back, from ebay). I have a manual–somewhere–but spent two days hunting for it. Most of retirement is spent trying to remember something.
    Shortly after, I got a bright idea to check ABEbooks.com (which I’ve used since its inception) for a ROOTS III manual, and instead found Donna Przecha’s two “Understanding ROOTS III” publications.
    From the second of them, I learned that there was a 1991 upgrade to ROOTS III which I never learned about but which included at least one serious new feature I could sorely use. So now I am hunting for a way to get that upgrade to which I was entitled. It so happens WorldCat showed two libraries holding copies of ROOTS III, but my inquires to cause them to update their entries to show they had been discarded. I contacted one of them which told me “It was only a 2.5″ diskette anyway…” (“I followed everything they said, right up to ‘only’.”) :^( The remaining time in retirement is spent on quests.

    Bob D.,
    I too have been running ROOTS III right along through Ubuntu Linux versions, using DOSEMU. When I just started/finished my first book recently (the impetus for all the furor to find a manual), I tracked down ROOTS III’s “C:\” to Linux’s /.dosemu/drive_c/. In that particular directory I created symbolic links to directories on my ROOTS III store on one of my networked servers which let me write files to the server with paths; e.g., “C:\NELSON\NELSONJ.FAM”.
    If anyone can assist me finding a late-model copy of ROOTS III software, I’m all ears, and am not opposed to taking your old version off your hands.
    I’d also be interested in finding an active “ROOTS III” users group determined to keep using the best software. (A friend observed that one of the advantages of using “dead” software and OSs is that “They’ve stopped ‘improving’ it.” Shortly thereafter I discovered hardware dies and the new stuff won’t even respond. However, using a DOS emulator has “endured” my version of ROOTS III into at least a few extra decades.
    Thanks.

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    I thought I was reading a message from 20 or so years ago, through some sort of a cyberspace anomaly, but, no, it is new! I had thought I was the last Roots III user in the world. It is nice to know there are one or two others. I still run Roots III on a XP desktop, but its days are limited. In the last four years I’ve self-published two books, combining my Roots data base and its wonderful print routine with WordPerfect, which, as you know, is integrated with Roots. The old Roots handbook was never very useful for me, but Donna P.’s two books, mentioned, are very useful. Donna and I were charter members of the late San Diego Computer Genealogical Society. I do not know of another Roots user group still functioning. Much to my great surprise, I just found the original Roots III (small) disks, as well as all updates through 1991. I will consider sharing, but not sure how that can be done.

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Belonging to the Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, I took the advice of their IT guy, and use Legacy Family Tree. He said that program’s gedcom sends notes with it. Since the SGGEE utilizes its members gedcoms to spread the info gained among the membership, it sounded great to me. Also Mllenium Corp., the company running Legacy, does free webinars, publishes a few things and updates without charge about every year. I have bought their latest reiteration, Legacy 8, but the basic program is free. The bells and whistles are nice at about $30, but not really necessary.

BTW, SGGEE is based in Calgary, but half US and Canadian each, with a smattering of Germans and Aussies. Very devoted bunch! http://www.sggee.org

Gary Tober

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torleif haugodegard February 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Dick wrote;
-> I make new GEDCOM files every few months containing my latest genealogy data and save those files

As mentioned above the UK Family Historian’s “database” is a GEDCOM file, which you can save anywhere you prefer.

Unfortunately FH has a serious problem, it can’t show us an index with ALL names (primary + married + alternate) together. Therefore I’m looking closely at RootsMagic, which unfortunately has another issue; not being able to collate correctly names that starts with Norwegian special characters æøå.

My “retired” TMG v9 can do both, running ok under windows 10.

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    Since I am a Gramps developer, this is not a neutral advice, but there is a script to convert a TMG database and transfer more than can be done via GEDCOM. And if you have persons with more than one parent family in your database, you better not use RootsMagic anyway, because it will disconnect the person from the other family without warning. I have tested this with a few persons for whom I know that the biological father was another person than the father that registered these persons as his, and took care of them. I have both fathers in Gramps, but in RootsMagic, only one of them is left.

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Lots of good info here. I have my own website and run webtrees. It is written in php and uses a MySQL or similar database backend. It is open source, so people can freely develop for it. I also subscribe to Ancestry, and use FamilySearch to help fill in research gaps. I’ve been looking for a good package that would help me prune my tree of lines that I have built up but no longer wish to keep in my main tree. I was about to bite the bullet on FTM when I found out about the discontinuation. I really wish I had bought it at the warehouse store when they sold it for a reasonable price. Since FTM is actually made by Nova Software for Ancestry, I was also suspecting that it may be soon reborn under a different parent.
I like having control over my data using WebTrees, but the lack of syncing with Ancestry or other sites is a bit frustrating.

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Why not purchase a second choice program and one that allows GEDCOM 5.5 import. That way you can import your current tree once a month or every quarter or as often as you feel the need. That becomes your stand by family tree in the event your primary program goes the way of the doo doo Bird. I personally keep my tree on both Family Tree Maker and Roots Magic 7. By adding to only your primary tree then importing a copy of your primary work to your second choice program you have an exact replica without any duplications or omissions.

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    The problem is that a statement on GEDCOM 5.5 import doesn’t really protect you from omissions. I see that when I import GEDCOM 5.5 from Gramps into RootsMagic. When I do that links to alternative parents are lost, even though the standard allows for more than one such link from an individual to a parent family. Associations are lost too, and all this happens without warning. You might not notice this if FTM doesn’t allow you to add alternative parents, or you don’t have them in your tree, but I have, and the issue is real.

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At this point, I can safely give high marks to my never-exit plan for “The Master Genealogist,” the best genealogy software ever. This plan is working great after 3 months with no issues! The plan began with installing VMWare (cost: $250) on my current computer, a Windows 7 laptop. Within VMWare, I opened a new virtual blank computer and I installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 on it by inserting a Windows XP installation CDROM and installing it just like a normal computer. After the installation was done, I installed TMG 6.0 from the CDROM I bought 12 years ago. Then I copied my genealogy files over from my old Windows XP laptop — and everything is JUST FINE!! When I want to do genealogy, I start up VMWARE, boot my Windows XP computer up within its own window, switch to that window, and go to town. So — I will *never* leave TMG 6.0. I will *never* migrate my data. I will *never* pay for genealogy software again. Instead, I will simply move my VMWare virtual machine to the next computer I move to. And to back up my family history files, I just backup the entire VMWare file directory, which backs up the entire Windows machine at once, meaning all software plus the TMG instance. Risk = 0.000000!!! VMWare is very liberating — it is the world that must adjust to me, instead of the other way around!! TMG and SecondSite forever!!! Yay!!!

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