(+) Where is Genealogy Software Headed?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

I have been using genealogy programs for 34 years. In 1984, I started with Family Ties, a program written by Neil Wagstaff. I ran it on a homemade CP/M computer with two 8-inch floppy disk drives and a huge memory capacity of 64 kilobytes. No, that is not a typo error: those were 8-inch floppy disks drives. Many of today’s computer users have never seen an 8-inch floppy disk although the later 5 1/4-inch disks became quite popular and then were replaced by 3 1/2-inch floppy disks.

Over the years, kept upgrading both the hardware and the software in use. I upgraded from the CP/M operating system to MS-DOS, then to Windows 2.0 and through a series of Windows releases: 3.0, 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 (which I still believe is the best version of Windows ever released), Windows XP and I briefly used Windows Vista. In fact, after using Vista for a few weeks, I got rid of it and switched to Macintosh OS X. I never looked back, until recently. While I have kept both Windows and Macintosh systems but found that Macintosh was more reliable and easier to use for most tasks. However, two years ago I switched again. (More on that later.)

Along the way, I have used many different genealogy programs: Family Ties, Genealogy on Display, The Family Edge, Personal Ancestral File (versions 1, 2, 3, and 4), Roots II, Roots III, Roots IV, Roots V, Family Origins, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, The Master Genealogist, Reunion, Heredis, MacFamilyTree, and Family Tree Builder. I have also used GRAMPS (on Linux), Ged-Star (for Palm handheld computers), The Pocket Genealogist (for Windows Mobile handheld computers) as well as The Next Generation and PhpGedView, both of which store their databases on web servers. Because of articles I have written in this newsletter in the past twenty-two years and in other online publications prior to the newsletter, I have also briefly used many other genealogy programs and have written reviews of them.

I won’t claim to be an expert but I do think I am experienced at a wide variety of genealogy programs. I also believe that I can see some trends. Today, I thought I would write about those trends and even attempt to forecast the future. I won’t go too far into the future, perhaps five years or so.

Why Do We Use Genealogy Software?

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