Modern Software Experience

2007-12-20

Best of 2007

GeneAwards 2007

 

GeneAward Best Product 2007

Best Genealogy Product of 2007: Ancestral Quest 12

Ancestral Quest (AQ) is far from perfect. Its import is slow, it lacks a master place list, its user interface is somewhat clumsy, its display of citations is one long run of text, and that Incline Software does not allow you to evaluate AQ’s GEDCOM output without buying it first is definitely the wrong way round.

Version 12’s thorough Unicode support makes it a must-have upgrade for users of earlier versions, but what makes AQ 12 truly noteworthy is that it offers full PAF compatibility. AQ12 does not just read, but even edit PAF 5 databases directly. With Ancestral Quest version 12, Incline Software is providing a very real alternative to all the PAF users abandoned by FamilySearch.

 

GeneAward Best New Product 2007

Best New Genealogy Product of 2007: FamilySearch Records Access Programme

FamilySearch has always collected records, and has in recent years been digitising these. The Record Access programme is about digitising other collections. FamilySearch offers services to archives to help digitise and index their collections, at relatively low cost. The resulting digitised collection can be published on the archive’s web site, FamilySearch or elsewhere, and full access may require payment to the archive, but the index will always be made available for free on the FamilySearch site.

The practical result is that the FamilySearch web site will become a genealogical search engine for many collections all over the world that need not be on the site itself.

 

GeneAward Best Organisation 2007

Best Genealogy Organisation of 2007: Genes Reunited

An Internet search showed that there was a tree on Genes Reunited with what appeared to be some close family members. I signed up for half a year and made contact - genes reunited indeed. There are many good genealogy sites, but there is no arguing with actual success.
Genes Reunited warned me when my subscription was set to expire, but did not spam me incessantly to renew.

 

GeneAward Best New Organisation 2007

Best New Genealogy Organisations of 2007: Social Genealogy Sites

The emergence of more social genealogy sites is a trend worth recognising.

It is too early to pick an the best site, but honourable mentions go out to Kindo, Verwandt.de and Zooof.com for their multilingual approach, to FamilyBuilder (originally iFamily) for making good use of existing social networks, and to Geni.com for their much-copied home page design.

 

Worst of 2007

Worst Genealogy Product of 2007: Family Tree Maker 2008

Family Tree Maker 2008 (FTM2008) is slow, buggy, incompatible and incomplete. Two Service Packs followed in quick succession and the second one was so broken that Ancestry.com itself revoked it. Read the review for the horrifying details. This is the worst downgrade in the history of genealogy software – and that is quite an accomplishment considering how unimpressive FTM 16 already is.

Well-deserved dishonourable mentions go to MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 2.0 for being a danger to your data, and to Evoo Systems WinFamily 7 for stunningly disappointing performance: WinFamily 7 has only 3 per mille of the performance of its predecessor.

Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2007: Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com (The Generations Network, or whatever they call themselves nowadays) did not just push FTM 2008 out before it is was ready, they also decided to steal copyrighted content from other websites and resell it to their subscribers. Their unconvincing denials tried to paint their Internet Biographical Collection of stolen content as a search engine. Public outrage and no doubt several lawyers on their doorsteps convinced them to stop selling other people’s property.

Worst New Genealogy Organisations of 2007: Social Genealogy Sites

They are not just the best new thing, they are the worst new thing too. Many of these sites lack basic features, and some go down way too often. Their software is painfully slow and can only handle small trees. Several do not support GEDCOM import or export. They demand that you turn on browser scripting and expect you to have Flash installed. They do not exactly draw attention to privacy issues, and many do not let remove your tree.

It is too early to pick the worst site, but dishonourable mentions go to Famillion for making a lot of noise about their ostensible patent without backing that claim up with a patent number and to familiepagina.nl for not showing anything, not even a blog or a forum, until you register and log in.

Special Recognition 2007

GeneAward Special Recognition 2007

Most Important New Service of 2007: International Tracing Service

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen maintains the archives of the Nazi persecution. It has opened up tot the public and now allows you to file your requests for information online.

 

GeneAward Special Recognition 2007

Most Promising Utility of 2007: GenSmarts 2.0

GenSmarts suggests online sources to help fill in gaps in your database. Their Artificial Intelligence claim seem rather overblown marketing hype but it sure is a nice idea. The product has serious potential to become a must-have product, but even version 2.0 is still disappointingly Americentric and way too focussed on pay sites.
Some programs, such as RootsMagic, can call upon GenSmarts for suggestions, but I’d like to see GenSmarts actually integrated into RootsMagic and other genealogy programs.

 

updates

2008-09-02: GeneAward design

There is a GeneAward Design now. The page has been updated.

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