Modern Software Experience

2008-03-15

LongFamilyHistory

new

LongFamilyHistory is new genealogy program for Windows by Philosoft Kft. The first version that Philosoft made available for download was 1.2.4 on 2008 Jan 24. This review looks at the current of LongFamilyHistory, version 1.2.5, released on 2008 Feb 14.

The program is a free download. You need to buy a license to edit databases with more than 30 individuals, but you can import larger databases without a license.

install

You can download and install without a need for registration. The setup program allows changing the default installation directory, and creates a desktop icon.

getting starting

When you first start the program, it briefly displays a splash screen, soon followed by the New LongFamilyHistory Database dialog box. This is not the standard File Open dialog box, but a dialog that asks for a database name and a directory.

Unsurprisingly, the file extension of the database turns out to be *.lfh.

user interface

The program has a clean user interface that largely follows Windows user interface guideline. There are logically ordered menus. The program has several views, which can be selected by clicking a tab. The clickable tabs themselves are not along the top of the windows, but along the bottom. These tabs can be selected with the mouse, but seem to lack keyboard shortcuts, making the program unnecessary inaccessible.

The toolbar is customisable and the program comes with three colour themes to choose from.

language

The interface supports two languages, which you can switch between without restarting the application. The application claims to support English and Magyar (Hungarian), and display an English flag next to the word English, but actually supports Amglish and Magyar. Apparently, the publisher is aiming at the saturated American market, not any of the European neighbours.

The Amglish is pretty good, there are just little things, such as the use of settlements instead of locations that hint at a non-native speaker.

help

There are Windows help files for both languages, but they are not much help. The version number may be above 1.0, but help files are simply not finished yet, they contain just two topics.

import and export

GEDCOM import

The program supports import of GEDCOM files, but weirdly demands that you specify a folder, even when you already opened a new LFH database.

import listing

Once the import of a GEDCOM completes, LFH shows a dialog with the import messages. When cancel the dialog, the listing is gone. There is no listing file on disk, not in the LFH database directory, not in the LFH program directory, and not in the directory of the GEDCOM file, an not in the TEMP directory. It is just not there.

The includes messages about what tags that were not imported, and that is nice, but the import listing format is unusable, because the messages do neither quote the GEDCOM line, nor provide a line number.

import speed

Import speed is moderate. Import of the 3.5 megabyte royalfam.ged file with 8753 individuals took 2 minutes and seconds on a 2,7 GHz PC. That is the time from the start of the import until the display of the persons list. That includes a quick click in between to get rid of the import listing, which you may actually want to look at.
Import of 8753 individuals in 140 seconds is 62,5 individuals per second. Import of 3.579.808 bytes in 140 seconds is 24,97 KB per second.

export

The program offers GEDCOM import, but no GEDCOM export. In fact, there is no export function at all. Until Philosoft offers export functionality, users of LFH will be locked into their product. That is a Bad Thing.

features

tabs

The program has some features that are noteworthy for a new program, such as master list of locations, multimedia support, and a to-do list. Each of these is behind a tab.

There is a total of five tabs, the default is the person list. The only one I have not mentioned yet is the chart.

Persons List

The Persons List displays quite a few fields by default and you can add a few more, fields it displays in configurable. There is a list fields it can display and the program allows to check which fields you want. You can sort the display by any field. With the files I tried and managed to load, the sort seemed quick enough.

When you click on a person record, you get a dialog box with several tabs. A nice features of this dialog is that shows the father, siblings and children on the left side, and that you can click on these to view a bit more info on them.

The tab names are Names, Families, Jobs, Address, Bio Facts and Events. These names are rather self-explanatory. The Bio Facts tab is there to allow you to add such things height or eye colour, but does not provide any standardisation. There are no predefined properties, you can enter anything you like.

Events can have source associated with them, but in this program, a source is nothing a but a single string, and there is Master Source List.

To-Do List

The to-do list is as basic as it gets. It is just a collection of text notes you’ve made from the To Do tab itself. There are no options on dialogs in the program to enter to-do items and see them there. The to-do do not link to anything and cannot be categorised or prioritised.

master place list

The master place list is not just a list. It shows the number of references to each place, you can double a place to a get list of these, and then double-click a person in that list to get the person dialog box. The program allows you to put latitude and longitude and you click through to see the place in Google Maps.

chart

This program supports no graphical reports, but it does display all individuals in one large chart. Generally, that chart will be too large for display, so it displays only part of that chart in the window. You can click & drag the chart around to see another part.

An zoomed out image of the entire chart overlays this all. Within it is a small rectangle. That rectangle is your view window on the chart, it is the section displayed in the main window. You can select a part of the chart by either clicking & dragging the main window, or clicking & dragging the small rectangle.

GenoPro

LFH always makes this chart. I immediately thought of GenoPro, another program that always makes a chart, and decided to do the test that GenoPro failed:

Just to make sure the test was fair, I first downloaded and installed the very latest version of GenoPro 2007, version 2.0.1.4, to give this latest version another chance at processing my 100k INDI file.

GenoPro gobbled memory for twenty minutes and then decided to display an Out of memory box. It had apparently gobbled up all 2 GB of user space a Windows XP program has available. Page file usage was already at 3 GB. Well, it’s a bit of an improvement on the last test I remember, which ended with a program crash. When I exit GenoPro, page file usage drops almost 2 GB. GenoPro apparently need more than 20 KB per individual.

LongFamilyHistory

LongFamilyHistory needed 110 minutes, close to two hours, to import the file, but it did not crash, and memory usage remained modest. However, when I clicked away the dialog with the import listing, the program became unresponsive again, and memory usage started to climb. More than thirty hours (!) later, it was still calculating something… and I decided to end it. On the positive side, all this time its memory usage remained stable at approximately 1 GB. That is about 10 KB per individual.

When I restarted the program, and opened the database, it turned out to be empty…

option to not draw

Obviously, both programs would benefit from an option to not draw charts and the authors would be wise to make that the default, as both have trouble dealing with anything beyond toy trees of Donald Duck and his family. Neither program is able to import my research database, which the more than five years old PAF 5.2.18 handles effortlessly.

GenoPro wastes memory as if it is a boundless resource, and could not even finish reading the HundredThousand.ged file on a machine with 2 GB of RAM and a swap file to match. LFH is less voracious, and succeeds importing the file, but the amount of time it then needs to build the chart still makes the program utterly unsuitable for anyone with a less than masochistic level of patience.

reports

This program does not support any reports. You can view ancestor and descendant charts for a person. When you choose to do so, the program shows the relevant part of the chart it created in pop-up window.

It lack of reports is not entirely surprising. Support for reports would not make much sense yet, because its printing capabilities are as limited as possible.

printing

This program does not support printing. There is no printing menu, no printing button, no printing feature at all. It is not there for one tab, and absent for others, it is completely and utterly absent.

technology

LongFamilyHistory is written in Visual C++ using the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC).

conclusion

LongFamilyHistory looks nice, the clean, dual-language user interface works well and is customisable, but it is just a pretty face. That the author confused English and Amglish and that the help file is unfinished are the least of this program’s problems.

The program supports GEDCOM import but not GEDCOM export. It does not support export to any format. GEDCOM Import speed is moderate, but the program fails to import larger files. The GEDCOM import creates an import listing, but it is not stored on disk and the listing is too incomplete to be usable anyway.

The chart feature is nice, but building it takes so much time for larger files, that the program really needs an option to turn it off. Support for sources is truly weak, but that hardly matters as the program does not support any reports and will not print a thing.

This program should not be on the market yet. It lacks basic features. Its lack of export, report and printing capability ensure complete vendor lock-in, making it utterly unrecommendable.

product details

propertyvalue
productLongFamilyHistory
version1.2.5
companyPhilosoft Kft.
websitedefunct
price29 Euro
requirementWindows 2000 or later
noteVendor lock-in.
VerdictPartial Program.
RatingUtterly Unrecommendable.

updates

2011-06-12: Philosoft.hu gone

The philosoft.hu domain no longer exists.

links