Modern Software Experience

2014-01-01

Best of 2013

GeneAwards 2013

2013

Genealogy 2013: events & trends presents an overview of technologies, events, companies and products that shaped the year in genealogy, and highlight some industry trends.
There is a small change to the GeneAwards. For several years, the GeneAwards have featured a Best New Product category. The GeneAwards 2013 features a Best New Technology category instead, simply because the technology behind the application is more important than the application itself.
Here, without further ado, are the GeneAwards 2013.

GeneAward Best Product 2013

Best Genealogy Product of 2013: RootsMagic 6

RootsMagic continued to lead by example. They continued to test features and apps before releasing them, never rushing things out of the door, and continued to act quickly on defect reports. There were several minor releases of both RootsMagic for Windows and RootsMagic for iDevices, and RootsMagic for Android entered Beta. The new Problem Alerts feature, based on an innovative idea I published in Integrated Consistency Checking, was received enthusiastically. RootsMagic continues to offer free webinars, and these have now been indexed for easier access.

honourable mention: MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 7

Family Tree Builder still doesn't charm me, but it is probably the most improved product of 2013. Not only does version 7 offer full syncing between desktop and website now, but it has finally become Unicode-based, and is now able to handle any character.

honourable mention: Family Tree Maker for Mac 3

Ancestry.com released Family Tree Maker 2014, the first major release since Family Tree Maker 2012, and frankly, despite the fact that two years had passed and they include a 64-bit build now, neither its overall quality nor the amount of new features impressed.
Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 however, was a pleasant surprise; it finally offers almost the same features as the latest New Family Tree Maker for Windows, uses the same file format, and sells for the same price.
It is true that things should have been like this from the start, and Family Tree Maker for Mac remains based on a Windows product that's considerably less than excellent, but it is also true that Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 represents a few serious steps forward.

GeneAward Best New Product 2013

Best New Genealogy Technology of 2013: LegacyTec

Legacy Mobile isn't a desktop application, it's a mobile app, currently only available for Apple iDevices. What sets Legacy Mobile apart from other genealogy app that let you build a tree is the LegacyTec technology. which which provides you with information from several sources when you take a photo with your iDevice.
LegacyTec may seem a big name for a small feature, but it's a smart and worthwhile feature, one that makes it clear that there's no need to deface gravestones with QR-codes or other ill-conceived passing fads; all you need is GPS coordinates.

honourable mention: Open Archieven

Bob Coret's new Open Archieven (Open Archives) site is demonstrating the power of open data and protocols by collecting data from various sites, and making it available to visitors in formats such as GEDCOM files and PDF documents, as well as offering an API to developers. Its feature set is in continual flux, as the site is a sandbox for new functionality, that may disappear, stay, and perhaps even find its way to Genealogy Online. The site has awful colour, but a fairly clean and simple user interface, but it's not really the site itself that matters; the site is a demonstration that open genealogy data can be used, combined, mashed up, and offered up again.

GeneAward Best New Organisation 2013

Best New Genealogy Organisation of 2013: Project 1950

With the excitement over the release of USA 1940 Census behind us, the first preparations for the release of the USA 1950 census have started.
Joel Weintraub, an emeritus biology professor at California State University, and Stephen Morse of One Step Search fame (and a microprocessor called the 8086), have started Project 1950, a volunteer project to associate USA 1950 street addresses and enumeration districts, to serve as the basis for tools similar to those they offered for the USA 1940 Census.

Special Recognition 2013

GeneAward Special Recognition 2013

Best New Trend: single cross-platform file format

Arguably, BSD Concepts should have received the GeneAward for Best New Feature last year already, when they introduced Heredis 2013, the first release of the Heredis Blue Suite. Heredis does not only features syncing between platforms, but also uses the same database file format on all Windows, Mac and iDevices, which means that users can simply copy their files from one platform to another, no conversion required.
Heredis 2013 was introduced mid 2012, and thus offered this feature before RootsMagic introduced RootsMagic for iDevices in December of 2012, which uses the same file format as RootsMagic for Windows. This year, RootsMagic starting Beta-testing RootsMagic for Android using that same file format, and Ancestry.com finally synchronised the file formats of New Family Tree Maker for Windows and New Family Tree Maker for Mac.

GeneAward Special Recognition 2013

Best New Feature: RootsMagic Problem Alerts

With the release of RootsMagic 6.3, RootsMagic became the first genealogy application to implement my idea that you do not need to re-evaluate the entire database and then create reports to find impossibilities and implausibilities, but that you can remember any issues found and show alerts on regular screens.
Because RootsMagic Problem Alerts is an implementation of an innovation of mine, this almost seems like giving myself an award, but make no mistake, having an idea is the easy part, actually implementing it and making sure it works right is the hard part, and I'm grateful the folks at RootsMagic not only dared to be first, but even managed to release their implementation about half a year after my publication.
Users reacted positively, even downright enthusiastically, despite the fact that this feature highlights their mistakes; it sure seems that users don't mind having have mistakes highlighted as much as they dislike having to run reports to have to find them.
Millennia became the second vendor to release their implementation, in Legacy Family Tree 8.

honourable mention: WikiTree GEDMatches

WikiTree's new GEDMatches feature allows you to upload a GEDCOM file for free comparison to WikiTree profiles. You can do so as a temporary guest member, without having to contribute that GEDCOM file to WikiTree.
Actually uploading your data to WikiTree remains a separate opt-in decision. Other genealogy sites that offer matches will silently keep your data, unless you decide to take action to opt out, and several do not even offer the option to opt-out.

Worst of 2013

Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2013: USA Senate

The USA approved a bill that limits access to the SSDI. Now, it is only fair to mention that American genealogists enjoyed - and even after the changes, still enjoy - a ridiculously easy access to death records that's practically unheard of in the civilised world, and that's hardly something to complain to about.
Still, there's little doubt that the USA Senate made the wrong decision, as the access was limited over fear of identity theft and its costs, while an open SSDI enables easy detection of identity theft.

dishonourable mention: Central Bureau for Genealogy

The Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG), the Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2012, should not remain unmentioned. They still haven't done anything about the colossal embarrassment known as StamboomNederland, and the WieWasWie site that was supposed to be so much more than Genlias continues to disappoint. It still does not offer all the same data as Genlias did and does not even have an English user interface yet.
Perhaps the CBG had a good reason to block the PlusGenealogie Chrome extension that added some functionality to WieWasWie, but they did not bother to publish that reason, and that sure makes it seem that it was done out of spite.
Last but not least, they didn't make many of the CBG friends (members) happy by announcing that they will no longer produce yearbooks, but a bigger quarterly magazine instead.

Not-so Special Recognition 2013

Vapourware Award: AncestorSync

I'm probably better informed than anyone else outside AncestorSync LLC about the problems they've encountered, the changes in direction and the progress they've made. I do not doubt that they are dedicated to their product, and I certainly appreciate that they are not rushing it to market before it is finished. However, the hard fact remains that they not only announced AncestorSync in the first half of 2011, but also took money for pre-orders. 2011 has gone, 2012 has come and gone, 2013 has come and gone, and AncestorSync still hasn't made it to market. What's more, there have hardly been any Beta releases either.

Vapourware Award: SourceTemplates

The SourceTemplates Initiative was supposed to provide a practical open standard for citation templates, provided by Real-Time Collaboration (AncestorSync) with a bunch of ready-made templates based on Legacy Family Tree's SourceWriter provided by Millennia.
SourceTemplates should be a proven technology, based on the model that AncestorSync uses to convert citations from one application to another, so SourceTemplates is likely to be delayed beyond the first General Availability release of AncestorySync, or at least a very stable beta.
Right now, the sourcetemplates.org website does not even show a placeholder place, but times out.

not awarded

Best Genealogy Organisation, Worst Product, Worst New Product, and Worst New Genealogy Organisation were not awarded.

links

Genealogy 2013

Best of 2013

Best Genealogy Product of 2013: RootsMagic 6

honourable mention: MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 7

honourable mention: Family Tree Maker for Mac 3

Best New Genealogy Technology of 2013: LegacyTec

honourable mention: Open Archieven

Best New Genealogy Organisation of 2013: Project 1950

Special Recognition 2013

Best New Trend: single cross-platform file format

Best New Feature: RootsMagic Problem Alerts

honourable mention: WikiTree GEDMatches

Worst of 2013

Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2013: USA Senate

dishonourable mention: Central Bureau for Genealogy

Vapourware Award: AncestorSync

Vapourware Award: SourceTemplates