Modern Software Experience

2009-11-27

new genealogy application

MyBlood

MyBlood is a new desktop genealogy application, created by Vertical Horizon, a Belgian company.

Alpha experience

I first wrote about an early MyBlood Alpha build in December of 2008. That early build was clearly a work in progress; there were competing visual styles, the GEDCOM import was slow and did not support ANSEL yet, it used memory like crazy, switching between tabs was unresponsive, the geocoding simply did not work, the GEDCOM export produced an invalid GEDCOM header, there was no web site generator, no report capability, in fact there were very few features and there was no help file at all.

The overall impression that first look created was not good, but it was just an early Alpha, and a lot has changed since then. There have been several more Alpha and Beta releases, and the company now feels that MyBlood is ready for prime time. Version 1.0 was released on 2009 Nov 23. Its exact version number is 1.0.802.

MyBlood 1.0 About Box

One thing I remarked upon back then is how their everything is related slogan reminds me of Geni’s everyone is related, yet they’ve kept this.

cross-platform

One of the things that made the early Alpha worth writing about is that MyBlood is a cross-platform application, available for both Windows and MacOS. This review examines MyBlood for Windows and compares it to other genealogy applications for Windows.

AppleScript

The MacOS variant of MyBlood supports AppleScript. The MyBlood Getting Started manual has some basic information on that. There appears to be no full reference, but there are some scripting examples on the MyBlood website. Although Windows supports scripting, the Windows variant of MyBlood does not provide similar scripting capability.

multi-language

MyBlood is not only a multi-platform application, it is also a multi-lingual application. The initial versions supports Amglish, Dutch, French, German and Spanish. The Spanish language file was created with Google Translate, so it may not be as good as the others.

The Amglish is mislabelled as English; naturalisation is spelled naturalization, so it is not English, but Amglish. Disappointingly, the initial release of MyBlood does not support English.

Lots of Capitalised Words. It is Very Silly

The quality of the Amglish sentences leaves to be desired. For example, I noticed Number of Man and Number of Woman instead of Number of men and Number of women; these particular sentences from the Statistics report use singular instead of plural. These examples also show another problem that is present throughout the application’s Amglish sentences; Lots of Capitalised Words. It Is Very Silly.

translator tool

MyBlood comes with a translator tools that allows you to adapt existing language or create a new one.
The release version reports a fatal error as soon as you start it, so what I say next is really based on Beta 3 version, but unlikely to have changed. Sentences have been grouped by the dialog boxes they appear in, and the structure of the language files is such that it should not be difficult to take advantage of a language file made for MyBlood 1 to support the same language in MyBlood 2.

download and installation

To get the MyBlood Alpha you had to register first, but it has not been like since the Beta releases. The MyBlood application can be freely downloaded from MyBlood website. MyBlood is a commercial application, but you can download it as a free trial.

Vertical Horizon offers an Installation Manual for MyBlood on its web site, and it is included in the setup, but that is a superfluous document.
The installation program is still swift and simple, allows changing the installation directory, and creates a desktop icon. The download page warns to remove old versions, but I did not and it worked fine anyway, except that it did not create a desktop icon again. Most applications I install after moving the icon into some folder recreate the desktop icon; vendors just love having their icon on your desktop.

trials and registration

During the Alpha and Beta periods, you needed to request a free registration key to use MyBlood. If you started the application without a registration key, everything but the save feature worked.

Now that MyBlood is officially released, you no longer need to request a registration key just to evaluate it. You can simply download MyBlood and start using it in trial mode.

fifteen times

Most genealogical applications disable editing for all but toy sized databases. Vertical Horizon takes a different approach with MyBlood; the trial is the full the application, but may start it only fifteen times. After that, you do need to register. By the way, it really is just fifteen start-ups; if you start the application and then immediately kill it from the Task Manager, you’ve lost one of your fifteen start-ups.

MyBlood 1.0 Trial About Box

price

During the Beta period, Vertical Horizon offered MyBlood for half price, and if you went for that, your registration key is good for all 1.x releases. I got a key and after installing 1.0, it immediately showed up as registered.

During the Beta, the list price was listed € 40, the introductory price is now listed in US$ only. I find it strange that a Belgian company, lists its product price in a national currency of another country instead of the international currency that has replaced Belgian Francs.
The price itself has hardly changed. As an introductory offer valid till the end of 2010 January, you’ll get a license for both the Windows and MacOS variant.

starting up

MyBlood always opens the last database you used, even if you explicitly closed it before exiting. I find that disrespectful behaviour very annoying. Luckily, the databases load pretty fast, so even if you were using a large database, you won’t have to wait very long. Moreover, this behaviour can be turned in the Preferences dialog.

MyBlood does not annoy by always maximising it window, but does respect your wishes with regard to desktop placement by remembering its last size and position.

updates

Another thing I don’t like is MyBlood immediately tries to connect to the Internet and check for updates. That behaviour can be turned off to, but no application should be trying to do so without asking permission first.

MyBlood can automatically check for updates on start-up, but also allows you to check for updates whenever you feel like it, using the Check for Updates... menu item on the help menu. You can set the update frequency to either daily, weekly or monthly.

There is no update for version 1.0 available yet, so I am not sure about the behaviour of the update functionality, but the Betas I tried would only inform you about the existence of an upload, not automatically download or install it for you.

help file

The website has a lot of stuff on the documentation page that is not included in the installation package, most notably a bunch of Flash movies that show how to install the software and get started using some of its main features.

documentation

There is no help file. The Help | Getting Started... menu item opens the Getting Started Manual, an Adobe PDF document.
There is no User Manual either. The application comes with a brochure, a Getting Started manual, the superfluous Installation Manual, a Translation Tool User Manual and an Quick Charts document.

The Getting Started manual is quick tour of the application’s features. The Quick Charts document is not a manual for a some feature called Quick Charts, but a collection of annotated screenshots.

MyBlood QuickChart People

The MyBlood QuickChart for the People view.

MyBlood is fairly easy to use, but having neither a help file nor a user manual is still a minus point. Vertical Horizon does offer some free video tutorials. These are not included in the installation package, but can be downloaded from the documentation page of the MyBlood web site.

new database

When I looked at the early Alpha of MyBlood, I commented upon the fact that the application demands that each database contains at least one person and demands that you enter one manually as soon as you create a database. That is rather impractical. I was surprised to notice that this design defect has not been fixed yet. The application still demands that you enter some person as soon as you dare create a new database.

Interestingly, cancelling the dialog box that prompts for the person’s details is all you have to do to get an empty database anyway - but the application does not allow you to save that database and it still does not allow you to import a GEDCOM into an empty database either.

GEDCOM import

MyBlood does not support importing a GEDCOM into an empty database yet. There is a GEDCOM export option on the file menu, but no GEDCOM import option. The application only offers an Open GEDCOM option, which automatically creates a new database to read the GEDCOM file into, whether you like that or not - and MyBlood does not allow you to pick the name of that database.

import log file

The MyBlood GEDCOM import does not create an import log file. If something goes wrong during the import, you will not see any log that might give you some clue about what went wrong or what went right at all.

Earlier versions of MyBlood did not even create a post-import report, but this versions does - but only if you help it do so. MyBlood shows a post-import report in the import dialog once the import done, and you will need to choose Save Report... to keep it. You even need to choose the filename yourself and it does not default to filename.log, but to Report GEDCOM Import.txt, so if you do not change the filename, you will end up overwriting earlier post-import reports. If you do not choose to take that option, you will have no import report at all.

What is especially odd about this is how inconsistent this behaviour is. MyBlood does not allow you to choose your database when you import an GEDCOM file, but decides to base the databases file name upon the filename of the the GEDCOM file, yet forces you to choose the name for the post-import report. That is just weird.

import speed

MyBlood does not create an import log and does not show statistics once import is done, but it does show a running estimate of how long the import process will take to finish. That estimate is always off by at least a few seconds, as is the difference between the two times listed in the post-import report. The post-import report does list the times that MyBlood opened the GEDCOM and closed it again, but the GEDCOM import is not finished until the post-import report has been created and saved. The times reported below do include the roughly four for five seconds needed to save the post-import to a unique file name.

measured speed

1 MB GEDCOM

On the Vista machine, the 1 MB GEDCOM imports in 55s. On the Windows XP machine, the 1 MB GEDCOM imports in 1m34s.

100k INDI GEDCOM

On the Vista machine, the 100k INDI GEDCOM imports in 28m17s (1.697s). On the Windows XP machine, the 100k INDI GEDCOM imports in 1h15m44s (4.544s).

These import times are better than those of Family Tree Maker 2009 and just a bit slower than those of Legacy Family Tree, but there is an important difference; Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker only support the 256 characters in Windows ANSI character set, while MyBlood supports the entire Unicode character set.

import problems

For the 1 MB GEDCOM The post-import report only complains about the many TYPE ORDM and TYPE ORDP lines contained in the 1 MB GEDCOM created by BASGEN98. Few applications make any sense of it, so that is not surprising.

For the 100k INDI GEDCOM, the post-import report complains about _UID and _AKA tags in the 100k INDI GEDCOM, which are PAF extensions. Technically, MyBlood does not need to recognise those two tags, but the _UID tag can be very handy when merging files. PAF’s _AKA tags contains information that should really be in a second NAME tag, to prevent it from being thrown away upon import. FamilySearch has always known that PAF is wrong to do it the way it does, but still has not fixed it.

CONC and CONT tags

A more worrying issue are the many complaints about CONC and CONT tags. Browsing through the post-import GEDCOM report, you’d get the impression that MyBlood does not support CONC or CONT at all.

Near the end of the MyBlood post-import log report, it contains line numbers such as Line 1.808969e+6.
line numbers

When trying to compare the post-import report messages with the GEDCOM file, I noticed something rather disconcerting: the line numbers reported by MyBlood are wrong. The few I looked at were all higher, but not even by a fixed amount. I used the many _UID tags throughout the post-import log as a sure way to find a nearby line and thus the line the next or previous message is about.

I think I’ve discovered why the reported line numbers seem to fluctuate with respect to the actual line number. Apparently, MyBlood uses a floating point variable to store the line number in. Near the end of the MyBlood post-import log report, it contains line numbers such as Line 1.808969e+6. It thus seems that MyBlood uses a floating point number for line numbers.

That MyBlood has been released with this mistake still in there strongly suggests that no one at Vertical Horizon ever bothered to take a look at a post-import report for a large database.

truncated notes

I wondered whether the imported notes had been truncated to the text contained in the NOTE tag and and are all missing the rest of text, contained in CONC and CONT tags. The few notes I checked looked fine.
After a bit more browsing through the tree and another good look at the post-import file I understood what MyBlood is doing wrong. The MyBlood GEDCOM import never complains about notes on individuals, because it supports that and imports it correctly. MyBlood does not appear to support notes on source citations, yet somehow does not complain about the NOTE tags, but only about the CONC and CONT tags.

GEDCOM export

character sets

The GEDCOM export support multiple characters sets and encodings and defaults to UTF-8 as it should. It is disappointing to note that MyBlood was released without support for exporting ANSEL.
The MyBlood GEDCOM export does not even support plain ASCII. The GEDCOM export does support a whole of DOS, Windows and MacOS codepages it should not support. Apparently, support for all those was available in the code library they used, and Vertical Horizon simply listed all of them - while the GEDCOM specification clearly states that code pages may not be used, and that ANSEL should be used instead.

Standard or MyBlood

As was the case with the early releases, the GEDCOM export dialog has two radio buttons that seem to let you choose between Export Standard GEDCOM 5.5 format and Export GEDCOM 5.5 with MyBlood Specific Items, but the latter option can not be selected.

progress

Once you’ve made your choice and confirmed the default filename, MyBlood displays a dialog with two progress bars. This export dialog box does not show an estimated time to completion as the import dialog box does.

smaller

The resulting GEDCOM file was several megabytes (!) smaller than the original, some ten percent smaller than the original MyBlood had imported.
I decided to test the file by importing it into PAF.

Random examination of the resulting PAF database showed that all source citation comments were gone, and the PAF import also found several things to complain about.

PAF import

TEXT values are too long

PAF rightly complains that various TEXT values are too long. The GEDCOM specification allows TEXT values to be 248 characters longer; longer values must be supported using CONC and CONT tags, which MyBlood fails to do.

unexpected DATE tags

PAF complains more than once about unexpected DATE tags. At least one such complaints seems to have been provoked by the all-uppercase word DATE in the way-too-long TEXT values that MyBlood writes. Most such cases are a double error: MyBlood does something wrong, and PAF rightly complains about it, but with an erroneous error message. PAF reports the error Ignoring unexpected tag 'DATE', but should have said Ignoring 'DATE' tag without a date. It seems that MyBlood either does not keep last-changed dates for records, or at least does not import these dates.

Another PAF error that crops up several times is that PAF Skipped unassociated CONT/CONC lines. A quick look shows that MyBlood writes level 1 CONT tags (1 CONT), for level 1 records. The CONT tag does belong at that level, but should have level 2 to associate it with the level 1 PUBL tag it continues.

GEDCOM header

Other than these errors, the MyBlood GEDCOM seems fine. Make no mistake, these are serious error, but when I looked at the MyBlood 1.0 Alpha almost a year ago, its GEDCOM support it was still as bad as that of that of Family Tree Maker; it would not even write a correct GEDCOM header.

Back then, MyBlood labelled the resulting GEDCOM file as version 5.5 even while it uses UTF-8 and several version 5.5.1-specific tags. Even FamilySearch’s own PAF still does this wrong, but MyBlood 1.0 correctly labels its output files as GEDCOM 5.5.1 now.
Another error was that the header failed to link to the submitter record. That error has been fixed too.

A problem that has not been fixed is the lack of a Byte Order Mark (BOM). An UTF-8 file should start with a Byte Order Mark. The UTF-8 GEDCOM files that MyBlood 1.0 produces lack a Byte Order Mark.

character set support

Supporting export of character set is easier than supporting import, so if MyBlood 1.0 does not support ANSEL on export, you really have to wonder whether it support ANSEL on it input. MyBlood imported the 100k INDI GEDCOM without warning that it does not support ANSEL.

A quick test confirms that MyBlood does support ANSEL on import. Why it supports ANSEL on import yet does not support ANSEL on export is not clear.

user interface

tabs

The user interface is vaguely reminiscent of New Family Tree Maker. Like New Family Tree Maker, MyBlood offers multiple view of the data, each of these view on its own tab pages, but with the tab for those pages having the visual appearance of flat buttons.

menu

Unlike Family Tree Maker, MyBlood has its main menu in the usual place, and does not keep changing that menu whenever you change from tab page to another. Whereas the navigation in New Family Tree Maker is a confusing mess, navigation in MyBlood is reasonably intuitive.

consistent

The early versions of MyBlood did not offer a consistent user-interface style, but was a hodgepodge of competing visual styles. This has improved over several versions. The icons could be improved, but and MyBlood 1.0 has a fairly consistent visual style.

multiple databases

MyBlood allows you to have multiple databases open at once. Each database gets its own multi-tab window. A minus point is that MyBlood lacks a tile menu item to quickly show two databases next to each other. I do like how well MyBlood maximises a database window; when you maximise the window for one of the open databases, MyBlood uses its window space to maximally support that database and that one only. The child window and main window integrate so seamless that the window menu is all that still reminds you that that you might have more databases open.

Views

MyBlood 1.0 offers nine different views: People, Ancestors, Descendants, Chronology, Time Maps, Media, Places Timelines and Reports. I think you could do without some of these, but also that some things are missing.

People View

The People View is the default view. Vertical Horizon calls it a people view, but I associate that with a list of all individuals, which MyBlood does not offer. What this tab page really offers is a multi-generation family view.

The People View shows the focus person next to their spouse, as well their children below them and their parents above them, for a total of three generations. That makes a busy screen but shows a lot of information at once. When possible, this view shows how old each individual in the view became; for living persons, it shows their current age.

After repeated struggles with the horribly slow Individual dialog box, I gave up trying to use it.
Individuals

It looks like you can easily add and edit events from this window, but when you try to do so, MyBlood pops up an Individual dialog box. That is not immediately obvious, and it may seem as if MyBlood is not responding to your clicks at all, because it may takes minutes (!) for that dialog box to appear. I do not understand why it takes so long nor why it is a dialog box in the first place. I consider that an inconsistent user interface, and believe the Individual dialog box should be the Individual View. It would be even more consistent if the Sources and Repositories dialog boxes became views too. A feature I miss is a list of individuals to browse through.

I have tried using the Individual dialog box to add a person, but found it impractical to do so. The dialog is not just slow to appear, even each characters I type only shows up after counting five or ten second. After repeated struggles with the horribly slow Individual dialog box, I gave up trying to use it.

Ancestors View

MyBlood Ancestors View

The Ancestor View is your typical ancestor view, except for the addition of the antichronological timeline above it. There are five bars, one for each generation shown, and these bars stretch from the earliest birth to the latest death. When dates are known, the bars are solid. When dates are not know, the bars are dotted and indicate a maximum range. When you select some individual in the tree, their lifespan is highlighted in the timeline above it.

Descendants View

MyBlood Descendants View

The Descendants View shows four generations of descendants, again with an antichronological timeline above it. The Descendants View does not show a tree, but three columns of descendants next to the focus person.

Chronology View

The Chronology View show events for the focus person as a chronologically ordered list. The events are not limited to events that the individual participated in, but also includes events the person was a witness to.

There are buttons next to this list. These look just like other normal buttons in the application, but are in fact option buttons; by clicking one of these buttons, you include or exclude events in the list. These buttons allow you to include or exclude children, parents, siblings of the focus person in the chronology. The Timelines button includes a Global Time Line, with no obvious way to select another one.

Time Maps

MyBlood Time Maps

The Time Map view shows important events connected by lines. That sounds simple but there are many options. You can select which events are shown, as well as which generations are shown. The individuals in the generations are colour-coded, and you can customise the colours.
This works fine. When you first try this, it seems to not work, because by default, no events are selected. It would be better if the default consisted of all vital events. Another issue is that, although MyBlood integrates with Google Maps, it keeps displaying just one greyscale drawing of the entire world.

Media

MyBlood Media View

The Media tab is where you can manage all the media you have included in your database. It does not just provide an overview, it also lets you rotate, crop, resize and annotate images. Adding another overlay rectangle highlighting a person is a three-step process: first you bring a search dialog to find an existing person, then you add than person to the list of persons in the photograph, and then you add a rectangle for that person. It may be logical, but it is cumbersome, especially because MyBlood takes it sweet time showing the search dialog and the search dialog itself lacks a person list, you must find the person you are looking for by typing part of the name and then performing a query; it is a Quick Search without the Quick part.

Places

The Places view is where you manage MyBlood’s master location list. It shows a list of places on the left and a Google Maps view on the right. It did not seem to work at all in the Alpha, and it still does not work right.

You can choose to show all places or just the places for the currently selected person. MyBlood shows all the selected places on the map, but it needs improvement; if you choose the Schematic view, you get see just those places without any map, and if you choose Google Map view, you get to see a map, but with only the currently selected place highlighted.
The Get Coordinates button is supposed to retrieve coordinates from Google Maps, but when you try do so, it usually reports that it did not find anything, not even for something as well-known as New Orleans. It only seems to work when you have listed a country, and then it redisplays the list, losing the focus on your selection.

Timelines

The Timelines view is where you can create and edit timelines, which are simply lists of events. MyBlood uses simply comma-separated lists (CSV), which makes it relatively easy to transfer timelines from or to another application that supports timelines.

Reports

MyBlood Reports Hourglass Chart

The reports tab is not really a view. It is where you make reports. MyBlood lets you print reports to either your printer or an Adobe PDF. There is a drop-down box above the view that lets you choose a zoom level, but it does not seem to work. The three boxes to the left of it, which let you adjust the zoom level to the display area, work fine.

live data

What I really like about the Reports view is that it shows live data. It does not show some static item, but as you browse through the reports, each report is shown as it would like look for the currently selected person.

performance

The Reports implementation disappoints a bit; it works fine for the toy-sized example databases included with the product, with each view displaying almost instantly. For the 100k INDI database, MyBlood takes a few seconds to display each view, and it displays nothing while you wait for the view to appear; no progress bar, no hourglass cursor, just a completely empty view.
Although the user interface experience is a bit disappointing, displaying a all individuals, a complete place list or 12-generation ancestral chart in a few seconds is not bad performance at all, but it is just a tad too slow for casual browsing through the various views.

customisability

What I do not like is that the reports are hardly customisable at all. There is a customisation dialog, but it only allows you to set some distances and opt for a shadow. You cannot even set a title or background colour. I hazard a guess that more and more customisable report can be expected in version 2.0.

The PDF files that MyBlood makes are real PDF files, not bitmap images packed in the PDF format.
PDF

I tried creating a few PDF files. What seems to be a progress dialog box does not show a progress bar, but the files were created in seconds. The created files actually do look just like the report view in the application.

Many ancestral displays do not fit onto a single A4 sheet of paper. MyBlood solves that by adjusting the paper as necessary. The screenshot shows an hourglass chart at one-seventh size to make it fit, and as a results none of the names on the chart is readable anymore. However, when you export such a view to Adobe PDF, you simply get one large virtual sheet of paper, with perfectly legible names.

The PDF files that MyBlood makes are real PDF files, not bitmap images packed in the PDF format. You can copy and paste text, find individuals by searching for them and the files themselves are not impractically large. The PDF for the chart shown in the image is just 37 KB.

navigation

Navigating the various views is easy. Clicking any person but the selected one make that the selected person. Double-clicking a person opens the Individual dialog box for that person. That could be nice if that dialog box showed immediately. A it is now, accidentally double-clicking some individual forces you to wait for minutes while MyBlood takes it time to show the Individual Dialog for that individual. Only when the dialog is drawn can you escape from it again by choosing the Cancel button. Hitting the Escape key while MyBlood is still drawing the dialog box has no effect.

Look through the screen shots; whatever view you are on, the top bar of MyBlood always shows the currently selected person.

MyBlood does support the concept of a home person, correctly defaults the home person the record with Record Identification Number (RIN) 1 in the GEDCOM you import and allows you to set another individual as the home person.

MyBlood lacks the ability to jump to a person by entering their RIN and has no list of people to browse through either, so navigating to a particular individual is a bit of challenge with this application.

This deficiency is compensated somewhat by MyBlood’s support for bookmarks. You can bookmark any individual and then later jump that individual, so once you’ve bookmarked your key individuals, MyBlood’s limited navigational support is hardly an issue anymore.

Find Dialog

With no list of people to browse through, the easiest way to find anyone in your database is using Find Dialog. I find having to use a Find Dialog at all too cumbersome for quickly navigating to some individual, but it may well be the easiest to use Find Dialog in any genealogy application, but it is not perfect. The Find Dialog is a bit slow to appear, and its performance and reliability are spotty. Sometimes it returns results within seconds, and sometimes it just hangs, and you to terminate the application because of it. Searching for a frequently occurring names such as Jansen seems to be sure-fire way to make the application hang.

research

MyBlood supports a simple task list in which you can register to-do items. The quality of this Task List can be summed up by saying that it allows Vertical Horizon to claim a check mark in a feature list.

MyBlood 1.0 supports sources and citations, but it does not provide support for EE-style citations.

web sites

It is nice to see a version 1.0 application that includes support for web site generation, but MyBlood’s current web site creation capabilities are nothing to get excited about.

The resulting web pages bear some similarity to the MyBlood screens, and it is easy to navigate from one page to another; just click on any individual to go to their page.

The generated pages claim to be XHTML 1.0 pages, but are still full of errors typical of HTML 4 pages, and it is not just syntax errors either. The generated pages abuse tables for layout, and contain many hard-coded values. The generated pages make limited use Cascading Style Sheets, but does not use an style sheet, instead it repeats the same small set of styles inside every page.

A serious problem with the MyBlood’s web site generation is that it slow. After more than half hour, it had not processed 10.000 individuals yet. It had not even processed 6.500 individuals yet, so creation of the individual pages alone would already take about eight hours.
MyBlood displays the name of each individual it processes, so you can actually see how slow it is; it seems to process just four individual records per seconds. That is embarrassingly slow, it should easily process thousands of records per second.

code quality

I’ve already mentioned that parts of the user interface are remarkably slow to respond. I’ve also experienced several errors that prompted MyBlood to shut down of its own accord or simply crash.

MyBlood crash

That is not entirely unexpected for a version 1.0 application, and I did experience serious data loss as I did with MyHeritage Family Tree Builder. Still, after working with this application for a few days, I an under the impression that Vertical Horizon should have tested more, because MyBlood version 1.0 is of Beta-release quality.

A defect I reported for Beta 3 was fixed in the 1.0 release. MyBlood used to crash if you deleted a database you had been working with and it expected to open again. I had to mess with the configuration files to fix it, but now you can just delete whatever database you want to delete.

support

A brand new application such as MyBlood does not have a user group yet, but those willing to give this product a try are not entirely without support. Vertical Horizon has set up a support forum.

conclusion

missing

MyBlood is reasonably complete for a version 1.0 application, but I would not call it an all-round genealogy application yet. It is still lacking consistency checks. The web site generation is so slow and low quality that it would have been better to release MyBlood without it. There are plenty of GEDCOM to HTML publishing tools to fill that gap in functionality with.

customisability

The initial reporting capabilities are rather basic and have to become more customisable to please a wide range users. The same is true for the web site creation; there are just a few basic choices.

cross-platform

That MyBlood is cross-platform is nice, rare even, but not unique. What truly matters is how well the application performs on your platform.

code quality

The overall reliability is not too hot. MyBlood crashes and hangs too easily. Additionally, the performance issues with the Individual dialog box seriously degrades the overall usability of the application, in my opinion down to unusable by anyone with less than near-infinite patience. Vertical Horizon should have delayed the release to perform a month of stress and performance testing.

It is remarkable how well MyBlood compares to New Family Tree Maker.

Family Tree Maker

MyBlood’s user interface practically invites comparison to the current Family Tree Maker. It is remarkable how well MyBlood compares to New Family Tree Maker.

MyBlood does not load very fast, but it sure loads faster than Family Tree Maker. MyBlood support multiple open databases while Family Tree Maker supports only one open database. MyBlood uses tab pages with tabs styled to look like buttons as Family Tree Maker does, but MyBlood does not confuse the user with oddly placed menus that are different for each tab.

MyBlood’s web site creation capabilities may not be much, but Family Tree Maker offers none at all. Family Tree Maker offers more and more customisable reports, but MyBlood offers a live preview.

MyBlood’s GEDCOM support still need some works, but is already better than Family Tree Maker; MyBlood 1.0 writes correct GEDCOM headers, while Family Tree Maker 2010 still does not. MyBlood also support UTF-8 on both import and export as it should, while Family Tree Maker 2010 still does not.

Family Tree Maker 2010 is still limited to the 256 characters in Windows ANSI. MyBlood has no such outdated limitation, but allows you to use any Unicode characters. MyBlood does not support ANSEL on export, but its character set support is still superior to that of Family Tree Maker 2009, which does not support ANSEL at all. And oh, MyBlood is not as inflexible about dates as Family Tree Maker is.

overall

MyBlood seems to have been released a bit too enthusiastically. The 1.0 release suffers from several serious issues in navigation, user interface performance, GEDCOM export quality and overall reliability that need to be fixed as soon as possible. Additionally, a brand new application like this should have a User Manual.

MyBlood’s feature set may be wide for a 1.0 product, but it is not deep; its major features lack the richness of more mature offerings. The limited support for note fields, GEDCOM errors and the unusable slow Individual dialog make version 1.0 so problematic that I have to disrecommend it.

Still, since the early Alpha, new MyBlood releases have continually improved upon previous ones, and it already compares quite well with Family Tree Maker on fundamental features. The 1.0 version number is premature, but this is a serious new product that may well grow into a contender to be reckoned with.

updates

2009-12-09 updates

Vertical Horizon has released a few minor updates. MyBlood alerts you to the update and direct you to the download page. You can then download and install it.

2010-01-05 MyBlood 1.1

Vertical Horizon takes criticism seriously. The 1.1 release fixes several issues noted above.

Individual dialog box

The Individual dialog box appears faster now, it no longer takes minutes, but MyBlood still takes multiple seconds for what should be instantaneous.

Byte Order Mark

The GEDCOM export does not support ASCII or ANSEL yet, but export to UTF-8 GEDCOM does include a Byte Order Mark (BOM) now. Inclusion of the BOM in the export not optional, but that is not a big issue; when a BOM is included, applications that do not support UTF-8 yet are sure to complain they don’t understand the file.

last changed date & time

MyBlood 1.1 has not replaced the post-import log with a real import log, but post-import log no longer uses floating points numbers.
MyBlood’s own GEDCOM files do include a change date now, but still do not include the change time, and its post-import does complain loudly about CHAN.DATE.TIME tags, in a way that makes it clear that MyBlood 1.1 does not support the change time.

source notes

Upon round-tripping a PAF GEDCOM through MyBlood back into PAF again, the source citations are preserved now, but the notes on these are not. The MyBlood post-import log contains many complaints about SOUR.NOTE tags, so MyBlood 1.1 does support sources, but does not support notes on sources yet.

CONC and CONT

The CONC and CONT issues seem to have been fixed. MyBlood no longer complains about uses CONC and CONT on import.
MyBlood’s GEDCOM export now uses CONC and CONT as it should, to keep all lines within limits. Upon round-tripping to PAF, PAF no longer complains about excessively long lines.

ANSEL decoding and UTF-8 encoding

PAF did complain about not encountering a second slash on NAME tags. That second slash is there, but names it complains about seem to be encoded in ANSEL instead of UTF-8, and that encoding error throws PAF off. I am guessing that MyBlood failed to import the ANSEL GEDCOM correctly.

It appears that MyBlood has not processed the E2 code, the ANSEL code for a Combining Acute Accent, U+0301, but simply imported it as E2.
When E2 is interpreted as Unicode, it is Latin Small Letter A with Circumflex. Thus, the failure to process the E2 code on import has already mangled the data, it has changed ANSEL E2 65 (é, Latin Small Letter E with Acute Accent, U+00E9), into Unicode U+00E2 U+0065 (âe, the Latin Small Letter A with Circumflex followed by the Latin Small Letter E).

The UTF-8 export is also wrong; MyBlood exports U+00E2 as E2, but when encoded in UTF-8, code point U+00E2 should become C3 A2.

MyBlood’s character encoding and decoding needs more attention.

overall

Vertical Horizon continues to improve MyBlood. Several serious issues remain, and the encoding issues alone make it impossible to recommend MyBlood, but the speed with which improvements continue to be made gives hope for the future.

2010-03-26 MyBlood Personas for Firefox

Vertical Horizon has created two MyBlood Personas for Firefox.

2010-04-29 Family Tree Maker for Mac

Ancestry.com has announced that it will release Family Tree Maker for Macintosh.

2010-07-30 MyBlood 1.3

Vertical Horizon has released MyBlood 1.3. I tried it with the database I last loaded into version 1.2, my own database of about 250.000 individuals.

The criticism regarding the lack of help files has been partially addressed; there is a brand new on-line help system on their website. That is an understandably cross-platform approach, but won't work when you do not have an Internet connection.

MyBlood 1.3 People view with Person List

MyBlood 1.3 People view with Person list.

A nice new feature is the collapsible person list on all the views. Sadly, poor performance makes it a less than convenient feature; when you double-click a person in the person list, the current view updates to show that individual - but only twenty five seconds later (on a 2,4 GHz quad core CPU)! The person list includes bookmarking capability, but with lacklustre performance like that, it's best to completely ignore the Person list feature for now.

MyBlood takes more time to close a dialog box than Windows takes to start up.

The Individual dialog box continues to have serious performance issues too. When you click the Cancel button, MyBlood makes you wait about 20 seconds before the dialog box disappears; that is 48 billion CPU cycles. MyBlood takes more time to close a dialog box than Windows takes to start up. Even merely trying to resize the MyBlood window is a serious struggle during which the application regularly becomes not responding.

The product and visible progress continue to be promising, but the fact remains that release of MyBlood as version 1.0 happened too early in its development. The significant delays between choosing an action, even a simple one, and something happening is showstopper that will continually frustrate even the most patient user. Version 1.3 remains disrecommend.

2011-04-24 forum gone

Vertical Horizon has chosen another forum. The link has been updated.

2011-04-24 name change

MyBlood has changed name to myblood-line.

2012-11-08 MyBlood forum gone

The MyBlood forum seems to be gone. The link has been removed.

import speed

Windows XP machine

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time1m34s1h15m44s
time in seconds94 4.544
INDI per second49,8122,02
bytes per second11.232,938.538,60

Windows Vista machine

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time55s28m17s
time in seconds551.697
INDI per second88,4058,97
bytes per second19.198,0922.863,52

product details

propertyvalue
productMyBlood
version1.0 (1.0.802)
organisationVertical Horizon
websiteMyBlood
priceUS$ 59,95 (about € 40,00)
requirementsWindows: XP SP2 or Vista SP1
MacOS: Mac OS X 10.4
note 
Verdictreleased too early
RatingBeta

links

personas