The Future of Genealogy Software

Warning: this article contains personal opinions.

genealogy-softwareI recently exchanged email messages with a newsletter reader who is looking for a replacement for his favorite genealogy program, the now-defunct program called The Master Genealogist. He raised some good points about today’s available genealogy products, and I responded with some of my views and predictions. I decided to write an article based upon our “conversation” and to also expand our comments as I imagine many newsletter readers also are interested in finding new and (hopefully) better programs.

First, let me write specifically about The Master Genealogist.

The Master Genealogist, usually referred to as TMG, was a very powerful Windows genealogy program. It had features that appealed to the serious genealogist who wanted a tool to not only record genealogy findings but also to track and manage the entire family history research process. TMG had an army of strongly dedicated users, most of whom seemed to enjoy wringing every last ounce of productivity out of the program.

Many TMG users are still using the program as it seems to work well on every version of Windows, from Windows XP through Windows 10. However, most of the users also realize that some day a new version of Windows probably will break some of the features in TMG. Future use of the program is not guaranteed. Since the program is no longer supported or updated, a large number of these users are thinking about replacing TMG with something that will hopefully be supported for many more years.

I do not know the finances of Wholly Genes Software, the producers of TMG, but I suspect the company saw declining revenues every year accompanied by either stable or increasing expenses for support and future development. No company stays in business very long with those opposing factors. In addition, TMG was written in what has long been an obsolete programming language, so the idea of porting it to a new language or even to new operating systems (Macintosh, Android, iPad, etc.) probably was cost-prohibitive.

While the decision to drop TMG and to close the doors of the company was disappointing to the customers, I imagine the owner of the company had no other choice.

Alternative Genealogy Programs

OK, here is the sad news for present TMG owners: there is no other genealogy program on the market that has the power and the advanced capabilities of The Master Genealogist. None.

That’s bad news for dedicated TMG users, but it is a fact of life.

There are programs that are better than TMG at various individual tasks, such as searching online databases, better at comparing family trees with distant relatives who have uploaded their family trees to a myriad of web services, better at providing user-friendly interfaces, and perhaps better at a number of other tasks. Indeed, there are more than a dozen excellent genealogy programs available today for Windows, Macintosh, and other operating systems.

However, I am not aware of any genealogy program available today that matches the power of TMG at recording all facets of the research process, at providing tools for evaluating genealogy evidence, and at a number of tasks that serious genealogists expect. Maybe there will be such a product someday, but such a product does not exist today.

Other Factors That Affect the Future of Genealogy Software

I read a lot of printed and online computer trade magazines. Over and over, I have read that the number of desktop computers being sold is dropping rapidly every year. In addition, depending upon which manufacturer’s report you read, the sales of laptop computers are either holding steady or else are declining slowly every year.

The only laptops that are growing rapidly in numbers are the cloud-based Chromebook laptops that run the Chrome operating system. The sales of Chromebooks are exploding for a number of reasons: they are very easy to use, very reliable, perform most of the tasks that every-day computer users want, have been widely adopted in the public school systems, and have very low prices.

The Windows 10 and Macintosh OS X operating systems only run on desktop and laptop computers if we ignore the tiny fraction of 1% of the tablet computers that can also run Windows. Anything less than 1% can safely be ignored; it is not a significant factor.

The bottom line is this: the number of Windows and Macintosh systems being sold is already dropping every year.

This leads to one inescapable conclusion: Windows and the Macintosh OS X operating systems are also slowly dying. If the only systems that run these operating systems are declining, the operating systems themselves are obviously declining as well.

To be sure, Windows and OS X will not disappear any time soon. Your present desktop or laptop computer probably will be very useful for a long time yet. I believe Windows will survive in ever-smaller numbers for at least another decade, especially in the corporate environment. Businesses seem to love their Windows systems and probably will keep using them for at least another 10 years, perhaps longer. Sales of Windows systems to in-home users are already declining rapidly and that trend undoubtedly will continue.

I am not as sure about Macintosh OS X. Apple apparently has already seen “the writing on the wall” and is slowly merging the advantages of OS X and the advantages of mobile iOS systems (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) into one powerful, but future, product. OS X will probably change radically into something new, perhaps with a new name, and then will continue for a long time.

It seems obvious to me and to many others that the trend is moving to mobile systems, namely iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets and cell phones. These tiny devices are selling like hot cakes. In my frequent travels to airports and on board airplanes, I see hundreds of portable computing devices, mostly those running Android or Apple’s iOS operating system.

Next, can you name a single brand-new genealogy program that has been announced for either Windows or Macintosh OS X in recent years? I am not referring to any new, upgraded release of an existing program. Instead, how many NEW genealogy programs can you think of that have been announced for Windows or Macintosh in the past 2 or 3 years?

NOTE: I can think of a couple, but they also seem to have since disappeared.

RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Maker, Reunion, MacFamilyTree, Heredis, GRAMPS, and other genealogy programs for Windows and/or Macintosh OS X are still being used by millions of people around the world; but, one has to question the future of these programs. If the number of Windows and Macintosh OS X desktop and laptop computers being sold every year is declining, what is the inevitable result for Windows and Macintosh OS X genealogy programs?

I will suggest that sales of these present programs will slowly decline.

Of course, many of the companies that produce today’s genealogy programs are releasing new versions for Android and/or Apple iOS. I believe that most of these companies will remain in business and will remain profitable as they adapt to changing marketplace demands. The growth of genealogy programs appears to be taking place in the mobile marketplace. Dozens of new Android and Apple iOS genealogy apps have appeared in recent years, some of them produced by companies that have been producing Windows or Macintosh products.

There is one “elephant in the room” that I have not yet mentioned: the cloud.

Cloud-based apps are taking over the world in many areas although apparently not yet in genealogy.

Google Docs seems to be destined to replace Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, WordPerfect, and many other desktop/laptop word processors. Similar stories seem to be happening for Excel and other spreadsheet programs, for Photoshop, and for many computer games.

If the Windows and Macintosh computers are to slowly disappear, it seems reasonable that the programs for those operating systems will also become less and less popular every year. OK, perhaps not entirely. Again, almost all the producers of word processors, spreadsheet programs, photo editing programs, and games are rapidly creating new versions of their programs for Android, iPhone, iPad, and cloud-based operating systems. Most of them have also developed or are developing cloud-based versions. I predict that their Windows and Macintosh versions will fade away, but most of the companies will remain in business by selling versions for the newer operating systems and for the cloud.

Let’s examine cloud-based genealogy programs.

Cloud-based genealogy programs are available in two versions:

1. Many of the huge online database services digitize millions of records and make them available to their customers. I am thinking of the databases on MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, Ancestry.com, and other online services. While valuable, I will ignore their company-contributed digital records for the remainder of this article. Instead, I will focus solely on services where individuals can upload their own family tree information for online storage and often for online collaboration with other genealogists. These are the online services that allow users to build their family trees on the web sites instead of in their personal devices.

2. In addition, there are only two well developed, state-of-the-art genealogy programs available today for implementation by single users in the cloud: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (which I will abbreviate to “TNG”) and WebTrees, an open source, free genealogy program. Both of these programs are great for use by one person, by one family, or by one family association.

For more information about TNG, see http://www.tngsitebuilding.com.

For more information about WebTrees, see https://www.webtrees.net.

Note: Do not confuse the cloud-based TNG program (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding) with the now-defunct Windows genealogy program called TMG (The Master Genealogist). These are two entirely different products, developed for different operating systems by different software developers. They are unrelated.

There are many advantages to using cloud-based programs, although not all of those advantages are apparent in today’s cloud-based genealogy programs:

1. Most of these programs can be used with a variety of operating systems— Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, iPhone, iPad, Chromebooks, and probably future operating systems that have not yet been invented. No longer will cousins using different operating systems have difficulty exchanging genealogy data or be restricted to the multiple problems of GEDCOM data transfers. If everyone is sharing data within cloud-based genealogy programs, everyone will have access to the same data. The choice of the user’s computer is now unimportant.

2. The security of cloud-based programs is equal to and often better than that of desktop and laptop computers. Admittedly, many people do not yet believe that. Yet today’s security techniques on cloud-based systems are far better at locking out thieves, hackers, and spies than either Windows or Macintosh.

Note: I had a Windows laptop computer stolen from the trunk of my automobile a few years ago. The thief gained access to all my genealogy information on the laptop’s hard drive, as well as my credit card numbers, my Social Security Number, the name, email addresses, and telephone numbers of hundreds of my relatives and business associates, my checking account information, my investment portfolio, and much more. Even the simplest cloud-based application has better protection than a stolen laptop computer that has not been encrypted! I spent weeks canceling credit cards and bank accounts and obtaining replacements. Such problems are rare in today’s strongly-protected cloud-based systems. Had I been using a cloud-based banking system, cloud-based credit card company access, and other cloud-based services, the thief would have accessed nothing personal.

3. In cloud-based genealogy services, sharing information theoretically is easier to implement and control than it is with desktop and laptop genealogy programs.

Notice my use of the word “theoretically.” Not all of today’s cloud-based genealogy services have implemented controls for sharing. However, TNG, WebTrees, and some of the huge online databases intended to be used by thousands of users provide options to keep your genealogy information private, to share it with only a few trusted relatives, or to make it visible to everyone on the World Wide Web. With many of these services, the user is in control of his or her own privacy. Be aware that there are exceptions, however.

Summation

The future of genealogy software appears to be in programs installed in the cloud, not programs installed in Macintosh or Windows computers. None of those programs contain the power of either TMG or most of the other Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs in the versions available today. However, they are improving every year.

Today’s cloud-based genealogy programs have capabilities that approximately match the genealogy programs of the 1990s, plus they are compatible with many operating systems and can support multiple simultaneous users. Those of us who have been using genealogy programs since the 1990s can report that the available genealogy software has improved greatly since those days. I am certain that today’s cloud-based genealogy services and even the mobile apps for Android and Apple iOS also will improve at least as much in future years.

The new cloud-based programs will not match the power of the Windows and Macintosh programs this year, probably not next year, and I doubt if they will be as powerful even the year after. But I anticipate that they will match and even surpass the power of today’s desktop and laptop genealogy programs within a few years. The genealogy programs of the 1980s and 1990s continually improved to become the powerhouses of today. I believe history will repeat itself: today’s cloud-based genealogy programs will continually improve to become collaborative services that do far more than anything we have today.

The way I see it, the future of genealogy software is in the cloud.

45 Comments

FWIW: I was a TMG user for several years. It was one of the most amazing products I’d used for genealogy, and I’d switched to it after Family Tree Maker started to get stale. Once TMG folded I decided to take the plunge and move along. After doing a fair amount of research, I settled upon Roots Magic. It’s pretty chock full of features, and they were one of the first programs to embrace those of us who were using TMG, and they jumped on the FTM exodus quickly when that program was going to be shut off by Ancestry (before it was sold to MacKiev). The program IS runnable on both OSX and Windows, and they have a Read Only app for running it on Android and iOS (iPhone).

Yes, this isn’t a true cloud-based system. But, you can save your data to an online system, such as Google Docs or Dropbox, and then open it that way, creating a “best of both worlds” option.

You mentioned Ancestry. However, the issue with them is that you rally need to pay their huge subscription fee to get the most use of their features; something I think most people aren’t ready to do.

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An interesting and thoughtful post.

In my view until cloud-based software exceeds the functionality of the current range of desktop software then I don’t see it becoming the predominate platform. Like many people, I use software on my computer for genealogy, but back-up to the cloud. This hybrid-model, or “best of both worlds” as Robert Marshall noted above, is likely to be the case for some while yet. I think for at least another ten years, so would disagree with your suggested time-frame.

Many of us genealogists are aging baby-boomers who are resistant to change and many are on fixed incomes who will not be attracted to subscription based software. People have invested enormous amount of time on their family trees, overwhelmingly on desktop software, and will be very reluctant to move to a new platform. If you read the hundreds of comments when Ancestry announced the end of support for its popular FTM program, you will see this sentiment expressed over and over again.

I work in the software business and fully appreciate the growth and attraction in the cloud for nearly all software vendors. The new and enormously profitable services like Uber and Airbnb began on the cloud and are very feature rich and easy to use. But given the legacy nature of genealogy software I think the hybrid model will be around for a long while yet.

Adobe have done this well with their software remaining desktop-based but with cloud-based subscription, sharing and storage platforms available. That is a good model I think, rather than a purely cloud-based platform.

I think mobile is a definite growth area and the ability to sync family trees across devices will continue to increase. Being able to take your family tree with you when on holiday or research trips is a great boon .

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Dick,

You seem to have very different views than Tamura Jones has expressed in a couple of his very recent articles:
http://www.tamurajones.net/DesktopOrWebGenealogyProgram.xhtml
http://www.tamurajones.net/WhyYouNeedADesktopApplicationAsYourMainGenealogyProgram.xhtml

Personally, I believe the reason why desktop sales are diminishing is that they have got to the point that most people already have a desktop, and it’s been reliable and fast and a brand new one doesn’t have enough improvements to incent people to replace their existing one. Same thing is happening for large screen TVs.

With regards to Bob Velke, the fine fellow who created TMG: He ran into health issues and decided he could not effectively do the work to keep it going: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs140/1105531002059/archive/1118052201942.html

Louis

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    Louis, in some respects you’re right about desktop maturity/market proliferation. Desktop platforms are declining because the market will not bear more saturation. This is not because everyone on planet earth has a desktop, but because everyone who can afford one either has one or access to one.

    However, the main reason for this Dick alludes to is that the proliferation of mobile devices make it possible for those who cannot afford desktop computers to access web services like never before. Translated, 9 out 10 people who are new to connectivity are doing so on mobile devices – not desktop operating systems. Of the ~7.4 billion people on planet earth – not even 50% have the benefit of access to connectivity yet. (See these links for Internet population stats and world population stats: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats & http://www.worldometers.info). In my mind this spells out a huge opportunity and none of us should miss it.

    For some time I’ve been studying and quietly suggesting to some of my colleagues on the tech side of this community that the way we will expand our reach to the broader market is to find folks who are newcomers to tech – who will primarily do so via mobile devices – and to give them an experience they can digest there. I did a presentation at RootsTech 2015 that you can find the slides to here: http://www.slideshare.net/GregCollier/megatrends-in-tech-greg-collier-rootstech-2015

    All that said, those of us who are in need of great tools still have many options via every platform. In the long term, none can ignore the benefits and power of the cloud. However, like Dick points out, it’s going to be accessed via different means (and in most cases it already is). I could go on an on about this but in June started jotting my thoughts down (and never completed I hasten to add) but will start to resume after reading this entry and replies. You can find that here: https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/observingtech.wordpress.com

    Best,

    Greg

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    Very interesting comment, Greg. Will you be at RootsTech 2017?

    Louis

    p.s. Your last link doesn’t seem to work.

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I have been using TMG since 1995 and will continue to use it as long as I have a computer it will run on. I, too have looked at other software, but there are just some features no other software has. I have, at this point acquired RootTrust as a “near” – should I ever be forced. I will continue to keep an eye open, but for analyzing data, I don’t know how TMG can be beaten. As for the cloud and chrome books…I was in an Oregon state park, at a family reunion. Guess what? No Internet, no cellphone service, no nothing. Except for what I had on my laptop to share, there was no access to the web to develop new information from the relatives. It is not a solution for me.

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    When I go visit my family in the hills of Pa there is no cloud anything or cell phone reception. There are many place like that in the US. I don’t even have a good internet reception here in my home and no one seems to be able to figure out why. I live in a small city. This cloud stuff seems to be for only those who live in certain areas. Cloud base is not a solution for me either.

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Is cloud safe? No.
The flaw in your reasoning is that any data stored in the so called cloud will be hacked, sooner or later . And sooner or later, hackers will break security. So, the probability to be stolen for data in a cloud is close to 1.
Indeed, if a laptop is left in a trunk (or just forgotten in a taxi, as I did), the risk of having the data in hostile hands is high (unless you’re lucky with the taxi driver. . I was) But while this risk is high, what is the probability of occurrence of such an event? In real life, not so high.
So the actual probability of being hacked for data stored on a local hard disk is not that high.
Although encryption cannot be 100% safe either, it’s by far the best option (unless you use, as many computer users, stupid and obvious keys) for desktop, laptop or cloud data.
Now, your post is about genealogy data. What happens if it’s hacked? Well… It’s already public data (most of it) and it’s of no interest for the hacker (unless if the hacker is your cousin…). So indeed, for genealogy, cloud based software is an option, as web based applications are. Because in genealogy activity, only stupid people don’t share.
So Ok, why not… But of course only if you live in areas where internet access is not an issue…

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Thanks for this great summary of the current situation, especially regarding TMG. Like many users, including those in our TMG-Sydney (Australia) User Group, I’m going to keep using the program as long as I’m able because it does what I want it to do and as a user of some 13 years I’m a bit attached to it! The English program, The Family Historian, has been examined by some of our group and seems to have many similar features, plus more. In fact, the authors have been in contact with quite a few TMG users and have set up some features to accommodate TMG data, including a direct import. However, personal customisations of TMG need to be “manually” fixed after import. So it is certainly a consideration for TMG users who want to explore options now or later, and it has a free download short term trial download.

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About TMG: you are confusing hard to use with powerful, and about the cloud: it is no magic bullet.
Sorry, but you are wrong. I dont care about sales figures, I care about what is best for me. I am keeping my data on my PC, away from greedy companies like your sponsor.
You are right that TMG is written in an obsolete language. It is FoxPro.
Genealogy technology expert Tamura Jones warned TMG and other vendors almost ten years ago!
The Effect of FoxPro’s Death on Genealogy

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To use “the cloud” you always have to be connected to the internet – either with your own paid monthly subscription for the connectivity or using a library, coffee shop or someplace else that supplies that connectivity. I’ve tried many programs throughout the years (since 1990), and finally went with Roots Magic (TMG had way too many bells & whistles for me), but I am also one who will still use the books at the library, or courthouses and make digital copies with my camera of what I want to look at later on. By doing that I don’t need connectivity – just electric for my own computer to be on to run my own stand alone program. I’m one of the baby boomers you mentioned, while I adapt with the times (I’m in the computer industry), I still prefer “my way” of doing the documentation for my family history.

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I’m not convinced that cloud-based systems such as TNG, or subscription services such as Ancestry or MyHeritage, are the way I should go. I want to share my 30+ years of intensive family history research with others and have it available in the future, without having it disappear after I am no longer able or around to pay for a subscription service. I have decided to combine my research with what will probably be around for the longest time: the unified Family Tree of FamilySearch. I’m slowly but surely combining my research and materials with that shared, cooperative approach. And I’m still using The Master Genealogist as my desktop-based, stand-along genealogical database. I’ve tried the other stand-alone genealogy software programs; they’re either too limited or would take years of work to transfer what I already have in TMG: Roots Magic has the most features, but it still doesn’t compare favorably with the ease of use of TMG.

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There are some points I would like to make in response to some of what you said compared to what I see happening. Not critiquing or anything but there are some things not taken into account.

1. Desktop Computing is not going any where. While it is true that people are not buying as many Windows or Mac OS PCs, there has been a huge shift in people moving to the Linux operating systems. You can go to any Linux community board, or even Microsoft or Apple’s websites and there is nothing but talk of frustration with Windows and Mac OS and people discussing going to Linux. Linux is the future, unfortunately there is not many native compatible Genealogy programs for Linux, just Rootstrust and Gramps, and Companies that make software need to start catching up to this trend of Linux growth.

2. The “CLOUD” is not the future. If anything people are migrating away from the Cloud and with good reason. There are several stories circulating the web where certain cloud services have recently be hacked. The Cloud is way less secure than anything else. Why is this? Well you are gathering data from millions of users in one centralized place, rather than that data being stored on each individual’s computers. This makes Cloud Computing a Hacker’s wet dream as they only have to have 1 time to get millions of user’s data rather than hack millions of times to get the same data. Hackers are centering their attacks on cloud based systems lately. This is also why we see a decline in Cloud based software usage and more interest in Open Source Programs, go check out GitHubs stats.

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The greatest vulnerability that I see about cloud-based systems is that the lack of control by the end user. Any website can disappear, and if that happens, your data goes with it. It may seem unlikely that Ancestry or FamilySearch or any of the other robust web-based services would ever cease to exist, but I’m not willing to take that chance. I’m a “belt and braces” researcher, so I have the data in my personal computer backed up to a local external hard drive, a cloud-based back-up service, and in paper files. Disasters can strike from any direction, so why put all of your eggs in one basket?

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    —> Any website can disappear, and if that happens, your data goes with it.

    Absolutely! But that should never be a significant problem. Maybe an inconvenience but nothing worse.

    If you have been reading my articles about the need to make frequent and multiple backups of your important files, you already know that I strongly recommend never depending upon one copy of your data. Any one copy, whether it is in the cloud, on a flash drive, or stored in your computer’s hard drive, may disappear at any moment. Experienced computer users make MULTIPLE copies of everything that is important to them and then they store those copies in different locations.

    I keep copies of all my important files in the cloud, both for convenience and for security. But they are not my only copies…

    L.O.C.K.S.S. – Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe

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You might be right that eventually almost everything will be in the cloud. But often what happens is not really what should happen! The Amiga was the forerunner for the computer age and look what happened to it. I use Legacy Family Tree on the desktop and TNG on our website with almost 30,000 descendants. TNG is great for website display, but when I’m working on a whole branch of persons that requires powerful features such as Find and Replace, TNG just can’t handle anything that advanced. However, many TNG users state they no longer use their desktop programs. I just hope you are wrong. Long live the desktop. I even hate to type on a laptop, let alone a tablet for serious work!

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I’m still using PAF! Does everything I need, although the printing leaves quite a lot to be desired.

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My primary issue with cloud-based products is what the company itself will do with my data. I reluctantly use Google Calendar because my company switched to it and I don’t want to use multiple calendar programs. I also have a Gmail account, but only because it is required on my Android tablet. I will never use any other Google product because I can’t trust their use of my information. The same especially goes for Ancestry. I will NEVER ever have a tree on Ancestry. I regretfully took an Ancestry DNA test years ago and now wish I hadn’t given them my permission. You just can’t trust how these companies will use your data. What you initially agree to later morphs into something more intrusive.
And yes, security is also a concern. There’s hardly a day goes by that we don’t learn of some new data breach. This article is about cloud-based genealogy and I agree most of this information is publicly available and of little interest to hackers. But this is only one aspect of cloud-based computing. Unless and until companies get their act together and truly protect and honor my privacy, my data stays on my computer, as inconvenient as that may be at times.

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    —> My primary issue with cloud-based products is what the company itself will do with my data

    If your data is encrypted, the company cannot do anything with your data.

    Not all web-based storage services can use encryption but many of them can.

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As a long time TMG user I totally agree with your assessment that nothing else even comes close. I did purchase RootsMagic which can import from TMG. It has the great new features like automatic searches for some sites. I intend to keep using the two programs for a long time with TMG being the master database.

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Will cloud always be available or will the company decide there are betters things to do, cloud will disappear ….something to think about.

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Thank you for your interesting article. My issue is that the internet can be expensive and/or difficult to obtain. I live in the country and don’t see that changing for quite some time. Even those living in the city can’t always afford the web. Too many companies ignore that fact. Needing constant access to the web to do anything with a computer would be way too limiting for me.

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Re “In addition, there are only two well developed, state-of-the-art genealogy programs available today for implementation by single users in the cloud “.
There is also “Kiwitrees”, (www.kiwitrees.net) which like webtrees is a development of the venerable PhpGedView. Similar in many respects to webtrees, but with many additional features as standard.

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I am pleased that I am of the age that the future you see I probably never will.

That said, I don’t understand how data input from a keyboard fits into the future of phones and pads. You can give dictation verbally to a computer, but you still have to spell many words, especially names. There are still many, many sources – from original records to published genealogies to journals that will have to be manually input. How else can this data be input into input boxes in genealogy software but from a keyboard?

Also, I am a bit apprehensive about all of this stuff going to the cloud, as our whole civilization seems to be going that way. If we are that dependent on something working, it is bound to fail – whether someone turns off the electricity or a solar flare gets too hot for earth or Yellowstone blows up, or who knows what. Of course, if something like that happens, we’ll have bigger things to think about – like getting hold of your money and finding food!!

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    —> That said, I don’t understand how data input from a keyboard fits into the future of phones and pads.

    Because future phones and tablets will have either (1.) keyboards or (2.) even better means of entering data, such as by voice input.

    My iPad Pro has a (removable) folding keyboard and I use it as easily as I use the keyboard on the desktop computer I am using at the moment. In addition, add-on (extra-cost) Bluetooth keyboards are available to add to almost any smartphone or tablet computer. Then of course, there is the voice input methods of Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Amazon Echo, and others. My Amazon Echo doesn’t even have a key board or any other method of entering information, other than by voice. It really works well. They are amazing to use and I believe that technology is only going to improve as the years go by.

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You made me realize that, with changing of computer code, by the time GEDCOM X gets developed, it could very well be obsolete.

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As others have indicated, I am still using TMG and expect to for as long as I can — bw that computer-capability or life. My research now is for my own enjoyment as I have no one to leave it to except a local society. Many other TMG users feel the same. The only problem is that some users of older versions are seeing the end of use as their current computer dies and the new one will not allow TMG to run. Some are able to obtain the latest version from a TMG reseller, but that probably will not last much longer.

As for the cloud, that may be the future. But some of that depends on how it develops. Many people are becoming more concerned (almost paranoid) about their privacy so leaving personal information in the cloud (even encrypted) is (for them) a no-no. I know a few TMG user who have two computers — one which is only used for internet connections and the other for everything else and it is not connected to anything except the wall power plug. (One only connects his laptop to the power when the system is turned off — as I said, paranoid).
I suspect that while the cloud may be the future, there will still be stand-alone genealogy program for quite awhile.

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What happens to your information in a cloud is one should die or not pay the fee to use the cloud service, webhost, etc.?

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    —> What happens to your information in a cloud is one should die or not pay the fee to use the cloud service, webhost, etc.?

    That should never be a significant problem.

    If you have been reading my articles about the need to make frequent and multiple backups of your important files, you already know that I strongly recommend never depending upon one copy of your data. Any one copy, whether it is in the cloud, on a flash drive, or stored in your computer’s hard drive, may disappear at any moment. Experienced computer users make MULTIPLE copies of everything that is important to them and then they store those copies in different locations.

    I keep copies of all my important files in the cloud, both for convenience and for security. But they are not my only copies… I keep other copies at home and in other locations as well. If any one cloud-based service disappears, I still have my other copies.

    In case of my death, my other copies go to the person(s) that I designate in my will or to whom I have previously given copies. That is true of data in the cloud, data on my hard drive, data on paper, and copies of my data stored someplace else.

    L.O.C.K.S.S. – Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe

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Just when you think you know the future – it changes.

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There is also HuMo-gen (www.humogen.com) which is a very good self-hosted genealogy app.

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I don’t know if you are aware, but there has been a relatively recent desktop genealogy program developed by a company called Atavus in Virginia. It is called rootstrust (all small letters). I have started exploring it and it appears to be feature rich, allowing you to store anything about your family and its history, including your resume. It has some of the features TMG had such as the ability to differentiate between proven and unproven ancestors and non- relatives. Extensive section on DNA and biomedical data. Provides the ability to store your data on your local drive or the cloud (so far GoogleDrive and OneDrive). It appears to be quite comprehensive. You can find out more on this software at http://www.rootstrust.com/.

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So I use the Cloud, but make a back-up. The Cloud blows up, or fails, or I can’t afford it. What use is my back-up? Where can I view it without a lap-top or PC with up-to-date software?

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    —> The Cloud blows up, or fails, or I can’t afford it. What use is my back-up? Where can I view it without a lap-top or PC with up-to-date software?

    Yes.

    The backups can be read on most any Windows or Macintosh or Linux desktop or laptop computer. The backups contain normal computer files, the same as any other program you have installed on your computer.

    If you have been reading my articles about the need to make frequent and multiple backups of your important files, you already know that I strongly recommend never depending upon one copy of your data. Any one copy, whether it is in the cloud, on a flash drive, or stored in your computer’s hard drive, may disappear at any moment. Experienced computer users make MULTIPLE copies of everything that is important to them and then they store those copies in different locations.

    I keep copies of all my important files in the cloud, both for convenience and for security. But they are not my only copies… I keep other copies at home and in other locations as well. If any one cloud-based service disappears, I still have my other copies.

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I will upload a family tree to FamilySearch because, and it’s just a blind hope, I believe they’ll never charge for access to it. (I’ll do it when it’s ready. Or I can no longer make it better. I.e. with my last breath.) And after uploading a tree previously, and realizing I wanted to update it, I easily deleted it. Try that at Ancestry.com. (I imagine it’s no better, paying someone to take my data, at any of the other services.)

(I believe I have to manually create the Family Tree, at FamilySearch, one person at a time, and I’m not going to do that for the 12K people from the 1600s until now, but otherwise that would be one “Cloud” option.)

Uploading a tree to Ancestry.com, many years ago, and then unwilling to continue making the $100/year access payment, I found that Ancestry.com kept my data, it’s theirs now, and they offer it, on their service, to their paying customers. I paid them to give them my data and make more money with it. (And, for better or worse, worse for sure, it’s out-of-date information. They’ll never have it fixed. At least at FamilySearch I’m allowed to remove my tree, which is a good thing particularly if it’s bad/out of date/incorrect.)

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    My issue with FamilySearch is that others are allowed to change information that I have researched and know to be documented so as near the truth as I can get it. I cannot continually be on guard to re-correct the data, and will eventually die, so it can be changed to anything.

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It would be nice to have a combination of desktop and cloud just as some other applications provide. My webpage is in the cloud and I also have backup on my hard drive.The cloud, like desktops and other valuable material, requires backup, and I recently had an issue with Snapfish losing my videos that were paid for to supposed to be there forever and fortunately I had backup on another drive as well as another cloud client. I wonder what will come next when the desktop and the cloud (cloud servers being an oversize desktop) fade away – fortunately I will not be here that long.
Right now I use RootsMagic and since I do not like their ancestor charts I still have FTM2010 to use their printing with GEDCOM. Too bad I cannot merge the best of TMG with the two of them. I have a website with TNG, but having to try and keep two databases and also deal with the website has turned me off of that program so am looking for something to allow an easy website using the RootsMagic database.
Genealogy + Technology = never boring!

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Dick, you said, “In addition, there are only two well developed, state-of-the-art genealogy programs available today for implementation by single users in the cloud: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding…” I’d like to point out that the Guild of One-Name Studies has implemented a Members’ Websites Project, which includes use of TNG as an option. Not only has the Guild committed to maintaining each website once a member can no longer do so, but via this project the Guild is now testing new ways how collaboration between various researchers can be handled in One Name Studies. As one example, although TNG is indeed one installation, this installation is not necessarily limited to a single user.

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I wish someone would put together a spreadsheet comparing the various genealogy programs. Id like to make a change before the end of the year from FTM but have read so much that I’m now totally confused.

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Take a moment to think about GRAMPS and any other open source genealogy program available right now. It is free, you can see on the GitHub page how active they are and it is already a cross platform solution. The best part about this type of software is that there isn’t a direct cost associated with it other than the passion of its contributors. The reason I’m going to invest my time in it is because I want to know I can run the system in 50 years come whatever may. I’m afraid of plenty of cloud services because I don’t know if the data will be there tomorrow, always keep backups (and offsite backups!).

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Just a quick comment on the fall of desk top machine sales – just because there is a long term slowdown of sales doesn’t mean the desktop is becoming obsolete, or even being used less.
It is just saturation of the market with computers of a power sufficient to run all “home” type programs. No need to upgrade yet again!
Most people I know use a desktop, tablet and smart phone at different times for different uses I also believe most people would think genealogy is best viewed on the largest screen possible.

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