Modern Software Experience

2011-12-28

industry & technology

2011

2011 is the year that Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9, a.k.a. Microsoft Web Browser 1.0, and started their own anti-IE6 campaign. Google continued its rapid release schedule for Google Chrome, and Mozilla decided that rapid releases were a good idea for Firefox too.

Hewlett-Packard bought Palm, made an HP TouchPad running WebOS, then decided to stop making mobile hardware, and held a fire sale of its stock. RIM's BlackBerry platform continued to fade, and Nokia sold out to Microsoft to start making Windows phones. Sales of Android phones surpassed sales of iPhones. Tablets became really popular and smartphone wars devolved into patent wars. Amazon was selling more ebooks than hardbacks.

People got really fed up with FaceBook and Google introduced Google+.
Duke Nukem Forever was released, New FamilySearch was not.

Duke Nukem Forever was released, New FamilySearch was not.

changes

takeovers, mergers, changes

FamilyLink sold GenealogyWise to the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.
Real-Time Collaboration, creators of SharingTime, acquired Ohana Software, best known for its FamilyInsight product.
MyHeritage bought the Polish family tree site Bliscy.pl, and the online backup site BackupMyTree. More importantly, MyHeritage finally bought most of the remnants FamilyLink; FamilyLink is no more.
Embla Norsk Familiehistorie AS, makers of Embla Family Treasures, bought the Danish calendar program DAYS.

The FaceBook app FamilyBuilder was bought by Intelius, an American company best known for providing background checks. The did so very quietly, dedicating neither a press release nor a blog post to it, and renamed FamilyBuilder to LiveFamily.
Ancestry.com acquired Footnote last year, and this year they renamed it to Fold3. Generation Maps wasn't taken over, but decided to change its name - to Family ChartMasters.
The SharedTree site is gone, the sharedtree.com domain displays information for the NGO Management Association Switzerland now.

On 2011 Oct 11, Bridgett Schneider announced that Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) would go offline for awhile. On 2011 Nov 13, Gus J. Marsch reported that Bridgett Schneider had passed away.

Several genealogy database sites offer the SSDI, a.k.a. the Death Master File (DMF), a valuable resource for American genealogy, and because of an SSA decision, effective 2011 Nov 1, the DMF will no longer contain protect state death records. The SSA removed more than 4 million records from the file.
In December, USA senator Sherrod Brown urged sites hosting the SSDI to stop displaying the social security numbers. RootsWeb even removed the SSDI completely.

DNA Heritage was acquired by Family Tree DNA. That reduced choice, but prompted increased portability of genetic data. Family Tree DNA had to import the DNA Heritage data into its own database, and is now offering to import your 33- and 46 marker Y-DNA test results from Ancestry, GeneTree and SMGF for a nominal fee.

software upgrades

There were major releases for several well-known desktop genealogy applications.
Ancestry.com released Family Tree Maker 2012 and Family Tree Maker for Mac 2. RootsMagic released Personal Historian 2 and RootsMagic 5.
Wholly Genes released The Master Genealogist 8 and MyHeritage released Family Tree Builder 6.0. Peter Evans released GENP 4.0.

BSD Concepts has announced that it will release a new version of Heredis for Mac soon.
Calico Pie has announced that it plans to release Family Historian 5 in February of 2012, and has started offering free upgrades to anyone buying version 5.
Millennia released Legacy Family Tree version 7.0 in 2008, but there is still no word about version 8.0. The Gramps Project did not release a major new version, but did bill version 3.3.1 as The Tenth Anniversary Edition.

Real-Time Collaboration introduced the first Public Beta of its AncestorSync product in June. They also started the SourceTemplates Initiative in October.

new products & services

desktop products

Real-Time Collaboration introduced the first Public Beta of its AncestorSync product in June. They also started the SourceTemplates Initiative in October. Ancestry introduced Family Tree Maker's TreeSync feature through the Family Tree Maker 2012 Public Beta.

Lorel Kapke introduced Sort Your Story, an application to manage scanned genealogy records.
Louis Kessler released Behold 1.0.
Vertical Horizon changed the name of their cross-platform desktop application from MyBlood to myblood-Line, and introduced Calendar Converter for iOS.

RumbleSoft introduced GenDetective 1.0, a tool that helps you decided what to research and plan research trips. The first version had serious installation issues, but there have been several updates since.

web services

After Ancestry.com's disconnect of Expert Connect, existing genealogy-as-a-service companies saw a boost in traffic. New companies GENEApro and 24-7 Genealogists entered the genealogy-as-a-service market.

FindMyPast and Eneclann introduced FindMyPast Ireland.
Funium introduced the FaceBook game FamilyVillage, partly financed by FamilyLink.
This year, BackupMyTree was introduced and sold to MyHeritage.
In April, news broke about start-up YouWho, yet another company that claims to be the next generation in family history services, but it is not out of beta yet.

The University of London Computer Centre has released the Transcribe Bentham Transcription Desk, a MediaWiki plug-in, as Open Source on on Google Code. Social genealogy sites WeRelate and WikiTree are both based on MediaWiki.
Christian van der Ven wrote a blog post about this plug-in, back in September of 2009 already (in Dutch).

Nigel Munro Parker introduced GED-inline, a free GEDCOM validator.
American genealogists looking forward to the release of the 1940 USA Census will be interested in Stephen Morse's latest tool, the Unified 1940 USA Census ED Finder.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com introduced the World Memory Project, a project to crowd-source the digitisation of records held by the museum.
BrightSolid and the British Library introduced the British Newspaper Archive.
The Amsterdam Municipal Archive introduced the VeleHanden (Many Hands) crowd-sourcing platform.
Three young German students started openSNP, an open database of genotyping results.

genealogy search

There were some developments in genealogy search. Mocavo, an Americentric genealogy search engine introduced in March, attempts to get at the deep web but did not impress, and was criticised for presenting search results within a frame.
Ancestry.com introduced Ancestry Web Search. An interesting aspect of Ancestry Web Search is that Ancestry actually works with the indexed sites to make sure they index everything. Ancestry introduced Ancestry Web Search in May, but only made it available as part of the regular Ancestry search, not as a separate service.
In June, Mocavo improved by adding the ability to upload your GEDCOM and have Mocavo report matches. Oddly, that feature is free, while the advanced search introduced in December is only available with a paid Mocavo Plus subscription, introduced at the rather steep price of US$ 119,40 per year.

Ancestry introduced Ancestry for iPhone and iPad early in the year and Ancestry for Android late in the year. MyHeritage followed with the MyHeritage app for iOS and Android, based on their new Family Graph API. Geni teased an iPhone app, but did not release it.

apps

There were quite a few new apps for smartphones and tablets.
TelGen was already offering Families for iPhone and iPad. On 2001 Jan 31, they introduced Families for Android. TelGen's Families app was designed to sync with Millenia's Legacy Family Tree. GEDCOM import remains the most requested feature.

Ancestry introduced Ancestry for iPhone and iPad early in the year and Ancestry for Android late in the year. MyHeritage followed with the MyHeritage app for iOS and Android, based on their new Family Graph API. Geni teased an iPhone app, but did not release it.

Wolfram Alpha introduced the Wolfram Genealogy & History Research Assistant for iPhone and iPad.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) introduced their FGS App.

companies

Ancestry.com

Following on a successful IPO in 2009, Ancestry went on buying spree. In 2010, Ancestry.com bought Swedish online records site Genline.se, American genealogy research company ProGenealogists, and iArchives, the parent company of competitor Footnote.com. In August of this year, Ancestry.com renamed Footnote to Fold3, and announced that it would have a military focus. The marketing positioning now seems to be Ancestry for civilian records, Fold3 for military records.

In March, Ancestry UK introduced Living Relative Search, a search engine to find living relatives. It is just a bit of co-branding, as it is actually powered by PeopleTracer, and not included in any Ancestry membership.

In early September, the Ancestry Content Publisher Programme article introduced Ancestry's new Content Publisher Programme, followed by some critical notes in Some Ancestry Content Publisher Considerations.
Ancestry introduced their Ancestry app for iOS in January, announced the Ancestry for Android Beta in September, and officially released the Ancestry for Android in December.

Expert Disconnect

Mid 2009, Ancestry.com started Expert Connect, a service that connects their users with independent genealogy researchers providing paid services. In January of 2011, Ancestry announced the termination of Expert Connect, and it was all over in March. Ancestry.com never explained this decision, but it was widely speculated that it related to their acquisition of ProGenealogists, and the positioning of their more expensive services.
There were several genealogy service sites already. These sites experienced an increase in traffic, and a few more sprang up.

Family Tree Maker

Ancestry.com put some effort into promoting and improving New Family Tree Maker. The familytreemaker.com site got a make-over. The new site offered an Family Tree Maker 2011 Version 16 Upgrade Guide, now replaced with the Family Tree Maker 2012 Version 16 Upgrade Guide. It is a marketing flyer highlighting New Family Tree Maker features, to convince users that New Family Tree Maker is better than Family Tree Maker Classic. This promotional flyer directly aimed at Family Tree Maker 16 users is the first sign that Ancestry.com management has taken note of the many users that tried New Family Tree Maker, but switched back to the latest version of Family Tree Maker Classic.

There was a Family Tree Maker 2012 Public Beta. Ancestry is one of the few companies that does not provide a lite or trial edition of their desktop genealogy software. Back in 2007, Ancestry provided a Public Beta for the first version of New Family Tree maker, and received lots of feedback, but did not care for it; although they knew full well that the product was far from finished, Ancestry released Family Tree Maker 2008 anyway, and it promptly won the GeneAward for the Worst Genealogy Product of 2007.

There was some hilarity around the Family Tree Maker 2012 Public Beta because Ancestry.com tried to have a Public Beta with an NDA.
Family Tree Maker 2012 has few new features to offer. The one big new feature introduced with Family Tree Maker 2012 is TreeSync. Users are still having troubles with this feature, but Ancestry.com has already released an Update for FTM 2012 to address complaints.
Family Tree Maker 2011 is available as Family Tree Maker Basic or in Deluxe or Platinum bundles, which include a limited-time Ancestry.com subscription. For Family Tree Maker 2012, Ancestry.com introduced the Family Tree Maker Complete bundle, which does not include an Ancestry.com subscription.

Ancestry.com has not synchronised Family Tree Maker for Windows and Family Tree Maker for Mac in any way. The file formats, features, release dates and retail prices continue to be different.
Family Tree Maker for Mac

Ancestry.com has not synchronised Family Tree Maker for Windows and Family Tree Maker for Mac in any way. The file formats, features, release dates and retail prices continue to be different.
The Family Tree Maker 2012 Public Beta was followed by a separate Beta for Family Tree Maker 2012 for Mac, which was eventually released in mid December as Family Tree Maker for Mac 2.
It is the second major release of New Family Tree Maker for Mac, but it is the third major release of Family Tree Maker for Mac OS, and it corresponds to Family Tree Maker (for Windows) version 21.

Family Tree for Mac still cannot read Family Tree Maker (for Windows) files. Conversion of Family Tree Maker files has to be done with the Family Tree Maker File Migration Utility, which only runs on Windows. When Ancestry reintroduced Family Tree Maker for Mac, they made the utility available on the FTM for Mac installation CD. This year, the FTM File Migration Utility became available as a download.

Geni

Late in 2010, Geni.com made noise about their Borg Tree assimilating almost 50 million profiles, and introduced the Borg Tree assimilation statistics page. The Borg Tree had assimilated 50 million profiles on 2011 Jan 3.
During 2010, Geni.com made so many improvements that it earned the GeneAward for Most Improved Product of 2010. This year, PC Magazine included Geni.com in their list of Best Free Web Apps of 2011.

At the end of 2010, in the blog posts Looking back at 2010 and Looking Forward to 2011, Geni promised to improve improving sources and revisions.
The Geni API was introduced late in 2010, and this year, Geni started to reap its benefits, as third-party products and services integrated with Geni.com; Tpstry and Progeny Charting added direct import from Geni and MobiWolf released the Android app GeneaDroid.

Things seemed to be going well, until Geni announced changes that restricted the already limited access of free users even further. Frustrated users left hundreds of comments on the Geni blog posts about these changes.
Users left Geni for other sites. WikiTree and WeRelate reported a jump in traffic and sign-ups.
Geni introduced their Public Access programme while all this was going on, which may have been the worst time to do so.
Geni changed things a bit, then changed them again, but it was too late. Geni's usage stats and GenSoftReviews rating took a serious hit.

FamilyLink

FamilyLink supported Funium in their development of Family Village, a FaceBook game that wants you to fill your village with your ancestors. Family Village connects to WorldVitalRecords to find records and newspapers clippings. The Family Village game is as tedious as FarmVille without being as funny, and did not become the success FamilyLink needed.

Last year, it became very clear that GenSeek was dead; FamilyLink discontinued WebTree, and sold WorldVitalRecords.au, and tried to sell a FaceBook application they had bought earlier. This year, FamilyLink continued to close down and sell of its assets. In February, they sold GenealogyWise to the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). The revolution ended in November, when most of the remnants of FamilyLink were bought by MyHeritage.

MyHeritage did not waste time taking advantage of their WorldVitalRecords acquisition. Family Tree Builder version 6.0, released in December, finds matches to records in WorldVitalRecords.

MyHeritage

Back in 2010, The Cost of Genealogy Software not only concluded that the best desktop genealogy software costs less than a half dollar per month, while sites like Geni and MyHeritage easily costs ten times as much. This year, MyHeritage introduced a partial solution to that issue: a group subscription, to allow family member to split the subscription cost.

MyHeritage continued to grow by acquisition. They bought the Polish family tree site Bliscy.pl, the new online backup site BackupMyTree, and most of the remnants of FamilyLink, including WorldVitalRecords.

Family Tree Builder version 5.1 incorporated GenBridge to directly import data from other desktop genealogy applications.
MyHeritage did not waste time taking advantage of their WorldVitalRecords acquisition. Family Tree Builder version 6.0, released in December, finds matches to records in WorldVitalRecords.

MyHeritage introduced the Family Graph API to allow third-party access to data on MyHeritage. It is practically sure that Real-Time Collaboration is already working on AncestorSync for MyHeritage.
The MyHeritage App Competition for the new API failed to generate excitement, and MyHeritage had to extend the deadline from 2011 Oct 15 to 2011 Feb 15.

MyHeritage took advantage of their new API to introduce the MyHeritage app for both iOS and Android. Version 1.0 is read-only, because the Family Graph API is still read-only, but that is likely to improve next year.

MyHeritage has over 900 million profiles now, and is practically sure to pass 1 milliard profiles early next year.
GenBridge helps MyHeritage get more data into Family Tree Builder and thus into MyHeritage, while AncestorSync for MyHeritage (on top of the still read-only Family Graph API) will help users get their data out again.

Archives.com

Started in 2009, Archives.com is a relatively newcomer to the genealogy database hosting field. This year they made sure that every American genealogists has heard about them; Inflection, the parent company of Archives.com, was selected to design and host a free web site for the 1940 USA Census, to be released on 2012 April 2. On that day, 72 years after the 1940 USA Census, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will release the scanned images.
Archives.com is doing the smart thing: they've set up the The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project to crowd-source the index for these images, and they are not doing so by themselves, they are collaborating with FindMyPast and FamilySearch.

FamilySearch did not support either OpenGen or BetterGEDCOM, but did reveal that they are working on FamilySearch SORD. The GEDCOM X article revealed details about this supposedly secret project, now known as GEDCOM X.

FamilySearch

FamilySearch made a lot of noise about their first RootsTech conference, which they promoted as a conference about genealogy and technology, to bring users and developers together.
Their social genealogy site New FamilySearch (NFS) continues to be vapourware, but there appears to be some progress. NFS, now known as FamilySearch Family Tree has been in Alpha for years. In February of this year, it finally went into Limited Private Beta. That was promptly misreported as a NFS going public by one of their less technical employees, but NFS still isn't public nor in Public Beta.

FamilySearch did not support either OpenGen or BetterGEDCOM, but did reveal that they are working on FamilySearch SORD. The GEDCOM X article revealed details about this supposedly secret project, now known as GEDCOM X.
The NFS API, now known as the FamilySearch Family Tree API, turned out to be publicly available as well.

WikiTree

WikiTree, a social genealogy site started in 2008, regularly made the news this year. They made the most of the Geni fall-out with a press release about their jump in traffic, and founder Chris Witten engaged in blog discussion about Borg Trees. WikiTree introduced a relationship calculator, the Wikid Tree widget for embedding your WikiTree genealogy on your own site, and hired a Cousin Connector to help users collaborate and merge profiles.

media

census

New Zealand was supposed to do a census on 2011 Mar 8, but it was cancelled because of the Christchurch Earthquake. A new census has been planned for March of 2013.

On 2011 Mar 27, the U.K. census took place, and for the first time, people were able to complete their forms online. The official UK census website is no more, but the National Archives has preserved a snapshot.

magazines

The Nu? What’s New? newsletter from Avotaynu, converted from a free to a paid subscription.
Leland Meitzer, former editor of the now defunct Everton Newsline, started the free Genealogy Newsline.

The BBC sold a bunch of magazines, including Who Do You Think You Are Magazine. Exponent Private Equity acquired the magazine business from BBC Worldwide, and, after approval from the Office of Fair Trading, combined it with its already existing Origin Publishing and Magicalia to form Immediate Media Company Bristol Ltd on 2011 Nov 1.

television

There was no dearth of genealogy television. The Who Do You Think You Are format continued to be an international success.
The American Top Chef show had an episode in which the contestants had to create a meal based on their ancestry, prepared by Megan Smolenyak.

Pay-TV broadcaster UKTV worked with BrightSolid, owner of FindMyPast, to produce a ten-part series called Find My Past for the Yesterday channel.
The Swedish SVT produced the show Allt för Sverige (Everything for Sweden), inspired by the Norwegian format Alt for Norge (translated as Culture Shock:Norway). In Allt för Sverige, ten Swedish American contestants were eliminated one by one until only one remained to receive the grand prize: dinner with his Swedish relatives. Eliminated contestants did receive an envelope containing phone numbers and addresses.
The Irish company Big Mountain Productions has produced a four episode series called The Genealogy Roadshow for RTE and is working on a second series.
Dragonfly TV announced that it was looking for people with British roots for their upcoming show Guess the Relative.

trends

Genealogy 2011 continues with part two: Genealogy Trends 2011.

updates

2011-12-30: vendor overviews

Millennia and Geni.com have published their own overviews. Remarkably, Millenia titled their overview Legacy Family Tree in 2011, while Legacy Family Tree is hardly mentioned.

2012-07-01: Embla

The link to Embla Nyhedsarkiv: Kalenderprogrammet dage ejes nu af Embla (http://embla.dk/ArticleView.aspx?id=72 )keeps timing out. The link has been removed.

2012-07-01 BigMountain: The Genealogy Roadshow

BigMountain removed their The Genealogy Roadshow news item. The link has been removed

links

Genealogy 2011

takeovers, mergers, changes

software upgrades

new products & services

desktop products

web services

genealogy search

apps

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com

Expert Disconnect

Family Tree Maker

Geni

FamilyLink

MyHeritage

Archives.com

FamilySearch

WikiTree

media

census

magazines

television

vendor overviews